Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
- Benson Henderson
- Gray Maynard
- Khabib Nurmagomedov
- Michael Chandler
- Gilbert Melendez
As stated at featherweight, the lightweight division is packed with wrestlers and takedown artists. It is also one of the most crowded in terms of numbers, which may explain why there is such an abundance.
The champion of the weight class, Benson Henderson, has shown that you don't need Division I wrestling credentials to be the best wrestler. A wrestler at Dana College in Nebraska, Henderson went on to be a two-time NAIA All-American, which combined with his martial arts background, brought him to MMA. From there, he has used his takedowns and top game to become the UFC champion and the best MMA wrestler in the division.
Not far behind is Gray Maynard, who despite recent attempts at being a stand-up fighter, is better suited as a wrestler. Before his striking fascination, he dominated his fights with his ability to put people on their backs. Not only that, he did it in convincing fashion and smashed faces along the way.
Though not from a traditional college wrestling background, Khabib Nurmagomedov has proved to be an effective wrestler like many other Russian fighters. A Judo black belt and master of sambo, he has outwrestled some tough competition in the UFC and ruled over them in the process. This skill set is rapidly moving him into the title picture at such an early time in his UFC career.
The first Bellator competitor on the list, Michael Chandler has sort of gone the route of Maynard lately. Chandler's boxing has vastly improved, but his bread and butter is undoubtedly his wrestling. The University of Missouri standout came into MMA with little training and has turned into a world champion in the process.
Finally, Gilbert Melendez sneaks into the last position in a division packed with grapplers. His takedown defense is solid, but his offensive wrestling is underrated. It led him to being a Strikeforce champion for a long time.