UFC 164 Results: Top 10 Lightweights in the UFC

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2013

UFC 164 Results: Top 10 Lightweights in the UFC

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    UFC 164 shook up the lightweight division in the biggest way it could by crowning a new divisional king.

    Anthony Pettis is the new UFC lightweight champion, and he earned the strap in exciting fashion with a verbal-submission win over Benson Henderson. The win marks his fourth straight and his third straight finish.

    The lightweight division is one of the deepest in the sport, and plenty of challenges await Pettis. He now has the bull's-eye painted on his chest. The dynamic champion will have many interesting challengers fighting for their spot opposite him.

    As 2013 begins to wind down, the 155-pound division got a breath of fresh air.

    This is how the top 10 of the lightweight division shakes out after UFC 164.

No. 10: Pat Healy

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    Pat Healy made a successful return to the UFC with a win over Jim Miller, but it was taken away thanks to a positive drug test. Even so, he is undefeated in his last seven bouts.

    Healy is a grizzled veteran that can grind out opponents. He should be recognized for his talented.

    He likes to make fights dirty. He did so against Miller. Unfortunately, the no-contest does set him back a bit. It cannot be counted as a win. When he returns, he will have to make up for that fight.

    Other lightweights are close, but Healy earned his spot in the top 10 before he returned in April.

No. 9: Jim Miller

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    Miller is 2-2 with 1 NC in his last five bouts. The no-contest is the aforementioned fight against Pat Healy.

    Miller may not be on a winning streak, but his level of competition is second to none. He has losses to Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz and wins against Melvin Guillard and Joe Lauzon. All are tough opponents.

    It is hard to believe he was just one fight away from a title shot in 2012, and now he is close to dropping out of the top 10. That should put a chip on his shoulder for when he returns to action.

    All of that aside, he is a fine lightweight talent. He will make the adjustments to return as dangerous as ever.

No. 8: Gray Maynard

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    Does Gray Maynard deserve to be higher than No. 8? One could make that case.

    The reason he ends up at the bottom of the top 10 is a combination of his last performance and his inactive schedule. Since New Year's 2011, Maynard has fought four times: twice in title fights against Frank Edgar, a win over Clay Guida and the devastating loss to TJ Grant.

    Other lightweights have been on tears. They have significant win streaks over quality competition, and MMA is very much a "what have you done for me lately" sport. Maynard hasn't done much lately.

    The former title challenger has good wrestling, solid boxing and big power. He has the tools to return toward the top, but he needs to be more active.

No. 7: Khabib Nurmagomedov

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    Khabib Nurmagomedov may be the most underrated lightweight in the world. He is not ranked in the official UFC rankings, but he winds up at No. 7 here.

    Why?

    He is 20-0 with four straight wins in the UFC. That is impressive in its own right, but he mauled Abel Trujillo in his last outing. Nurmagomedov is a scary lightweight that the top-tier talent are not calling out. They know he is a threat to take their spot.

    He returns in September in a big bout against Pat Healy. That will test him and Healy both. The winner deserves a major boost in the rankings.

    With an unblemished record and sizable win streak, he's should already be ranked.

No. 6: Rafael Dos Anjos

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    Rafael dos Anjos doesn't always get the credit he deserves, but his victory over Donald Cerrone helped his cause this past Wednesday.

    The win over Cerrone marked his fifth straight win inside the Octagon. The slow rise up the ranks is well deserved, and it highlights his growth as a fighter. He has matured inside the UFC organization.

    His win streak is impressive—not just the length but whom he has defeated. Kamal Shalorus, Anthony Njokuani, Mark Bocek, Evan Dunham and Cerrone is no easy road up the lightweight ladder. Dos Anjos has accomplished that but has much more to do.

    He will have a big-time fight in his next outing, and it will challenge his position in the division.

No. 5: Josh Thomson

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    Josh Thomson was supposed to be the next big thing in the division when he made his UFC debut in 2003. It didn't quite pan out that way, but he got the chance to develop and improve outside of the organization.

    His Strikeforce stint included a trilogy of razor-thin fights against Gilbert Melendez. That proved he was still one of the best lightweights in the world.

    Thomson returned in emphatic fashion by stopping Nate Diaz.

    His charisma will help earn him bigger and better fights. If he wants a title shot, he won't have to win many thanks to his looks and personality. Thankfully, he can back it up in the cage.

No. 4: TJ Grant

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    It seems almost criminal to have TJ Grant this low on the list, but the current No. 1-ranked lightweight is sitting behind champions.

    He was supposed to be fighting for the title at UFC 164, but an injury in training camp sidelined him. He earned the shot with five straight wins, three of which were finishes.

    Gray Maynard was his last victim, and the win was impressive. If Grant can return with a win in a title bout, he will shoot to the top of this list. If he doesn't get a title shot in his return, he will have to fight one of the men sitting above him in this list without question.

    Some may argue about his spot on this list, but he isn't that far behind and will have his chance when he returns.

No. 3: Gilbert Melendez

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    Gilbert Melendez entered the UFC as a highly touted lightweight and as the Strikeforce champion.

    He gave then champion Benson Henderson everything he had to offer. The fight went to a decision, and Melendez ended up on the losing end. It was a very close fight. It validated Melendez's position as one of the very best lightweights in the world.

    He still has work to do in the UFC. Many fans have yet to see his true brilliance.

    If he can pick up a couple of wins, he will earn another crack at gold.

No. 2: Benson Henderson

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    Benson Henderson got the title and defended it against Frankie Edgar. That put him atop the division.

    Since then, he has defended it against Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez to cement his spot at the top of the division and to set him up as the most successful UFC lightweight champion to date.

    Pettis stopped all that talk on Saturday.

    Up until Pettis landed four straight hard body kicks, Henderson was winning the fight. He was dictating the pace and not getting caught up in Pettis' strengths. Little did he expect an armbar to be his undoing.

    He may have lost decisively, but no one else has beaten Henderson in the UFC. He'll hold the No. 2 spot behind Pettis.

No. 1: Anthony Pettis

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    The new No. 1 is clear to see. Not only did Pettis defeat the champion, he did so in exciting fashion.

    He is the most exciting lightweight in the division and one of the most exciting athletes in the sport. He possesses incredible striking technique with huge power, good wrestling and a solid submission game. He can win wherever the fight goes, and he showed that at UFC 164.

    After the bout, word came that his knee "popped" in the bout. Time will tell just how significant that injury is. Fans hope that the new champion will not be out of action for an extended period of time.

    That is the unknown. What we do know is that Pettis is now king.