After the Sean Sherk-Frankie Edgar fight, it is worth updating the UFC lightweight rankings.
Total Rankings incorporate more than just win-loss record. They also incorporate where Dana White & Joe Silva see a fighter in terms of the title equation.
So, being marketable is a factor.
Everyone in the UFC can now take a page from Lyoto Machida’s book. Be elusive and aggressive at the same time. Don’t let yourself get hit, but hit your opponent often and hard.
Records reflect UFC records, not overall MMA records.
Let’s get to the rankings.
1. B.J Penn (9-4-1): Despite getting dominated by George St. Pierre, Penn is still the best lightweight the sport has ever seen. He needs to beat Kenny Florian to maintain that icon though. Back to back losses for the Prodigy would not bode well for his image or his psyche.
If he gets past Florian, names like Diego Sanchez, Frankie Edgar, and Gray Maynard await.
2. Kenny Florian (9-2): Florian is the consensus No. 1 contender now that Sean Sherk lost. A lot of people felt Florian should have had to avenge his loss to Sherk before getting a title shot. Florian has grown by leaps and bounds since that title fight, but he has never faced someone with the skill and killer instinct of Penn.
We finally get to see just how good Florian really is.
3. Diego Sanchez (9-2): Some may not feel at ease ranking Sanchez over guys like Edgar and Maynard considering he has only fought once as a lightweight. But his record at welterweight has to be factored in, along with his marketability.
Diego moved down to lightweight with the sole intent of winning a title, and Dana seems ready to acquiesce provided he gets by Clay Guida.
4. Gray Maynard (5-0): If Maynard had not beaten Edgar, Edgar would take this spot. However, Maynard is undefeated and looks to be a tough out for anyone in the division. Maynard had been labeled as a boring wrestler who can’t finish fights, but his striking looked much improved in his last fight as he punished Jim Miller in the stand up game.
Fans await Maynard’s next foe.
5. Frankie Edgar (5-1): Edgar holds wins over Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, Hermes Franca, Spencer Fisher, and Jim Miller. His one loss is to the man ranked above him. With his win against Sherk, Edgar looks to be one fight removed from a title shot. Logic may call for a rematch with Gray Maynard.
If so, the winner of that fight should get a title shot in writing.
6. Sean Sherk (7-4): While the loss to Edgar caused an emotional Sherk to leave the building, Sherk is still one of the best lightweights in the business. He holds wins over Tyson Griffin, Kenny Florian, Hermes Franca, and Nick Diaz.
Sherk will look to rebound and can likely land a fight with the Nate Diaz-Joe Stevenson winner or could take a tune up fight.
7. Tyson Griffin (6-2): Griffin has beaten guys like Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, and Marcus Aurelio. He also holds a razor thin decision win over Clay Guida. But, he has failed to get past guys ranked above him, like Sean Sherk and Frankie Edgar.
Griffin is currently without an opponent so a possible fight with Gray Maynard or a rematch with Edgar or Sherk are always possible.
8. Clay Guida (5-3): Guida seems to be in the same boat as Griffin in that he beats guys he is supposed to, but can’t beat the top tier fighters. Guida notched a big win in beating Nate Diaz and is now awaiting the biggest fight in his MMA career when he takes on Diego Sanchez.
If he wins, he could skip to the front of the line and get a title shot; it's more likely he’ll need one more win.
9. Nate Diaz (5-1): If Nate Diaz could have beaten Clay Guida, he could have catapulted into the No. 6 position. Instead, a fight with gatekeeper Joe Stevenson awaits him. This will be a pivotal fight in Diaz’s career. A win solidifies his Top 10 standing while a loss would be devastating to his immediate prospects.
10. Hermes Franca (6-4): Franca shares a similar fate to Griffin in that he has lost to both Sherk and Edgar. Outside of that, he holds wins over Nate Diaz, Spencer Fisher, Marcus Aurelio, and current WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner.
Franca has been recovering from injury and will look to reestablish himself in his return at UFC 103.
On the verge: Joe Stevenson (6-4), Spencer Fisher (7-3), and Joe Lauzon (5-1)
If Stevenson wins over Nick Diaz, then he goes in and Diaz goes out. If Spencer Fisher gets past Caol Uno, he will take Hermes Franca’s spot. Joe Lauzon is sidelined with injuries.