Official B/R Rankings for July: The Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

Sal DeRose@@TheSalDeRoseCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2012

Official B/R Rankings for July: The Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

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    After a little lightweight action this past June that featured Clay Guida and Gray Maynard, our lightweight rankings have been shaken up just a tiny bit.

    With the big lightweight action not happening until August at UFC 150 when Benson Henderson tries to defend his title against Frankie Edgar, it seems our rankings have met an impasse that won't be cleared until the two lightweight juggernauts meet.

    Ten fighters grace our rankings for July. Some are prospects, some are veterans and heck, there is even a cowboy on our list.

    So which lightweights are a part of Bleacher Report's official lightweight rankings?

    These rankings are the combined efforts of some of Bleacher Report MMA's best writers, as we continue to try and provide you with the best content on the web.

10. Donald Cerrone

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 18-4

    Most Recent Fight: Unanimous victory over Jeremy Stephens at UFC on FUEL TV

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 10

     

    Donald Cerrone is now just a couple months removed from his big win over Jeremy Stephens that helped him get back on track after a loss to Nate Diaz.

    Cerrone has proved he is at the top of his game with good striking and grappling skills in the last year. Cerrone finds himself still at the ten spot in our rankings.

9. Michael Chandler

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    Promotion: Bellator

    Record: 10-0

    Most Recent Fight: TKO victory over Akihiro Gono at Bellator 67

    Next Fight: vs. Rick Hawn (TBA)

    Previous Ranking: No. 9

     

    Michael Chandler is the lone name on here who isn't under Zuffa's banner. Chandler is the current Bellator lightweight champion and is coming off a demolition of Akihirio Gono at Bellator 67.

    The wrestler earned his Bellator belt after steamrolling through the lightweight tournament and then putting an end to the Eddie Alvarez hype.

    Chandler will most likely face Rick Hawn who won the Bellator lightweight tournament this previous season.

8. Jim Miller

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 21-4

    Most Recent Fight: Submission loss to Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 3

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 8

     

    At number eight we have New Jersey's own, Jim Miller.

    Miller was on a roll until last August when he met Benson Henderson and didn't have an answer for the future lightweight champion.

    That was the closest Miller had ever gotten to a title shot and he was sent to the back of the line after the loss. Miller then worked his way back into title contention after a huge win over Melvin Guillard.

    All that came to an end though when he fought Nate Diaz and was outmatched from the start. Now Miller finds himself needing another big win to get back into title contention.

7. Clay Guida

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 29-13

    Most Recent Fight: Split decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 6

     

    Clay Guida was a getting back to title contention and had a big opportunity to do so at UFC on FX 4.

    Guida's gameplan though—which is questioned by many people—proved to fail him as Gray Maynard took a split decision from him in a headlining fight that bored many.

    Guida has slipped only a little in our rankings with the loss and will most likely look to get a big win later this year.

6. Anthony Pettis

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 15-2

    Most Recent Fight: KO victory over Joe Lauzon at UFC 144

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 7

     

    Anthony Pettis earned enough voter points to jump the man who last beat him, Clay Guida.

    Even with inaction, Pettis jumps up one spot with his last win being an impressive knockout of Joe Lauzon in Japan at UFC 144.

    Pettis is currently sidelined after having shoulder surgery following his UFC 144 bout, but he is looking to fight Nate Diaz in what would most likely be considered a No. 1 contenders fight.

    Has Pettis earned the shot with his current two-fight winning streak?

5. Nate Diaz

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 16-7

    Most Recent Fight: Submission victory over Jim Miller at UFC on FOX 3

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 5

     

    Nate Diaz stays the same in the fifth spot and is considered the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division after Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar meet at UFC 150 in Colorado.

    After Diaz's drop down back to lightweight, he has won three consecutive fights in impressive fashion.

    His win streak includes submission victories over Jim Miller and Takanori Gomi—both impressive submission wins too—and a decision victory over Donald Cerrone.

4. Gilbert Melendez

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    Promotion: Strikeforce

    Record: 21-2

    Most Recent Fight: Split-decision victory over Josh Thomson at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 3

     

    Gilbert Melendez drops slightly this month and is the highest ranked non-UFC lightweight in the rankings.

    El Nino is coming off of a big and closely contested fight against Josh Thomson in an end to their trilogy.

    Melendez is currently riding a seven-fight win streak that dates all the way back to April of 2009. While many feel he should make a jump to the UFC, it seems the Strikeforce lightweight champion will be sticking with Strikeforce just a tad longer.

3. Gray Maynard

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 12-1-1

    Most Recent Fight: Split decision win vs. Clay Guida at UFC on FX 4

    Next Fight: N/A

    Previous Ranking: No. 4

     

    A win over Clay Guida lets Gray Maynard leapfrog Gilbert Melendez in the rankings.

    After a draw and a loss to then-UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, Maynard got back to it when he beat Guida last month.

    Maynard is keeping himself at the forefront of fans minds with the win, and if Benson Henderson defends his title in August, Maynard is still pretty close to a title shot.

2. Frankie Edgar

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 14-2-1

    Most Recent Fight: Unanimous decision loss to Benson Henderson at UFC 144

    Next Fight: vs. Benson Henderson at UFC 150

    Previous Ranking: No. 2

     

    Frankie Edgar comes in at No. 2 which shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.

    Edgar was the champion until he met Benson Henderson in February at UFC 144. Edgar had previously beaten Gray Maynard and B.J. Penn in his title run.

    Now Edgar finds himself back as the challenger going against Henderson in August in a rematch for the lightweight belt.

    It seems everytime Edgar has a rematch with a fighter, he gets better and has a better understanding of his opponent.

    We'll see if his third rematch in the last two years brings him back the belt.

1. Benson Henderson

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    Promotion: UFC

    Record: 16-2

    Most Recent Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 144

    Next Fight: vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 150

    Previous Ranking: No. 1

     

    No surprises here as current UFC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson, comes in as the top lightweight in the world.

    Henderson has been on a roll since the UFC-WEC merger last year and it has gotten him the UFC belt.

    Henderson is also the former WEC lightweight champion so it should be no surprise he has been able to make the leap. Henderson has beaten the likes of Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller and Clay Guida in his career and has shown no signs of slowing down now that he holds the belt.