Ranking the Lightweights, Post-UFC 112
Much like I did in my recent article, "Ranking the Heavyweights", I've decided to take a look at the UFC Lightweight division post UFC 112 as there has been a lot of recent action from the little guys.
Two local boys made some big noise at UFC 111 in New Jersey, Kenny Florian welcomed Takanori Gomi to the UFC and BJ Penn put his title on the line against Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
So lets get down to it and see how the recent fights have mixed up the divisional rankings.
1 - Frankie Edgar
Whether he deserved the win at UFC 112 or not is a separate argument that I won't go into for my rankings. The bottom line is that Frankie Edgar is the Champion and for my selections the Champions are always ranked No. 1, regardless of whether they are actually the best fighter or not!
Having shocked the world by beating BJ Penn, the future is going to be very interesting for the new Champion. An immediate rematch with Penn could await Edgar, a fight with Florian makes a lot of sense or the only fighter to beat him in recent times and the guy he jumped over to get a title shot, Gray Maynard will be chomping at the bit!
Whatever the future holds, for now we have a new king of the Lightweight Division, Frank "The Answer" Edgar.
2 - BJ Penn
Pound for pound great, Lightweight invincible and all round UFC legend, BJ Penn seemed to have it all going into his fight with Frankie Edgar at UFC 112.
For whatever reason everything did not go according to plan in Abu Dhabi. A close fight led to BJ losing a judges decision, the Lightweight Title and consequently his eight year unbeaten streak as a Lightweight in the UFC.
Due to the nature and controversy surrounding the judges decision an immediate rematch could well be in order for BJ Penn, the question for him and the UFC is will they want that fight.
With all the talk of BJ moving up to the Welterweight division, this could be the perfect time to do it. The question is will BJ want to leave the division having lost his title, we shall all have to wait and see.
He is still in my eyes the best Lightweight in the UFC, but for now he has to be ranked No. 2.
3 - Kenny Florian
Kenny Florian recently defeated Pride legend Takanori Gomi at UFN 21 collecting the submission of the night honors. The win cemented his place as the best UFC Lightweight not named BJ Penn.
The problem that 'KenFlo' faced is that he has already had two UFC title shots, including a loss to former Champion BJ Penn.
Frankie Edgar could prove to be Florian's saving grace in his future career fights. A likely fight with Gray Maynard had seemed to make the most sense but with a new Champion, Florian may get thrust right into another title fight depending on what BJ Penn and the UFC decides to do.
For now he is No. 3 in the division.
4 - Gray Maynard
The undefeated Xtreme Couture product, Gray Maynard is the fighter who many believe should have challenged BJ Penn for his title at UFC 112.
Currently riding a seven fight win streak, there is no questioning Maynard's place in the division as one of the top contenders. The problem for Maynard though is that he is not entertaining and does not finish fights. It's arguably the reason he was over looked when the UFC needed an opponent for BJ Penn in Abu Dhabi.
So having patiently waited and faced everyone the UFC has put in front of him, it would appear that he will likely get one more fight before he gets the title shot he feels he deserves.
A fight with Kenny Florian has been rumored and it makes a lot of sense in my mind. Beat Florian and there is no questioning his right to a title shot.
However with Frankie Edgar as the new Champion and having already defeated Edgar before, Maynard may now jump over Florian in the line for a title shot.
5 - Tyson Griffin
Tyson Griffin has been in and around the top end of the UFC Lightweight division for some time now.
Set to face fast rising star Evan Dunham at UFC 115 in Vancouver, Griffin could really be in the title mix should he win. He needs to make the most of his opportunity because the division is so deep and any losses on your record will set you back a long way.
For now he is No. 5.
6 - Sean Sherk
The former UFC Lightweight Champion has suffered from a string of injuries in recent months and consequently has struggled to get back towards the title he once held.
Recently with drawing from a planned fight with Clay Guida at the UFC debut on Versus card a new opponent and date has not yet been set for Sherk.
Sherk needs a win soon to keep up with all the rising stars in the division but for now he holds onto to his ranking at No. 6 but only just!
7 - Jim Miller
The New Jersey native, Jim Miller put on a great show in his home town at UFC 111 be defeating Mark Bocek in a closely fought fight.
Now on a four fight win streak, with his only UFC defeat coming to Gray Maynard, it is time to start talking about Miller as a contender in the division.
He still needs a big win over a big name fighter to really push his case in the division. Although arguably a step back, a win over someone like Joe Stevenson or Sean Sherk would be huge for Miller.
8 - George Sotiropolous
Sotiropolous won the biggest fight of his career against Joe Stevenson, as he won in impressive fashion on home soil at UFC 110.
That win was hist fifth successive and means he is currently undefeated in the UFC and on a roll. At 32 he is at a good age and realistically likely one more win away from a title shot.
The best fight for George to look for to improve his standing would be Sean Sherk or Gray Maynard.
9 - Kurt Pellegrino
Kurt Pellegrino is finally putting his experience and abilities together and delivering in the octagon.
Another win at UFC 111 over Fabricio Camoes was Pellegrino's fourth in a row and has really put him in the upper end of the division.
He is ranked ninth as he still needs a big name fight to be considered for a title shot but he is heading in the right direction.
10 - Joe Stevenson
Joe "Daddy" Stevenson has had a very mixed record in his last few fights and is in danger of getting lost in the mix and becoming a gate keeper to the upper end of the lightweight division.
Impressive against Spencer Fisher at UFC 104, but very disappointing as he was outclassed by George Sotiropolous at UFC 110 his last two fights really show where Stevenson now sits in the division.
He needs to evolve more to stay relevant at the top end of the division and that why I am ranking him at No. 10 in the division at present.
In the Mix
Ross Pearson - Undefeated in the UFC, a TUF winner and recently coming off a strong showing at UFN 21 against Dennis Siver, the young Brit is growing as a force.
Evan Dunham - Simply on a roll, 10-0 in his career and on a three fight win streak in the UFC. A fight with Tyson Griffin at UFC 115 could be his coming out party as a title threat.
Clay Guida - The always dangerous Guida he is eternally in the mix due to the nature of his fights. The problem is that he keeps losing when he steps up to face a real top tier opponent, for now he is the gatekeeper.