Official Bleacher Report MMA Rankings May 2011: Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

Sal DeRoseCorrespondent IMay 17, 2011

Official Bleacher Report MMA Rankings May 2011: Top 10 Lightweights in MMA

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    Here is the first installment of the Bleacher Report MMA Rankings. Each month on the first and 15th of the month we will publish divisional rankings. On the first of each month we will post our pound-for-pound rankings.

    The rankings were voted on by numerous writers on Bleacher Report and do not reflect any of their rankings personally. The rankings are an average of each writer's vote for each weight class.

    Special thanks to those who contributed:

    Jason Schielke

    Nick Caron

    Nick Colon

    J.P. Smith

    Dale De Souza

    Blake Dreisbach

    Andrew Mahlmann

    Michael Evans

    Sean Smith

    Sal DeRose

Honorable Mentions

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    Others Receiving Votes

     

    Melvin Guillard

    Record: 27-8-2, one no contest

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 28 years old

     

    George Sotiropoulos

    Record: 14-3 

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 33 years old

     

    Sean Sherk

    Record: 36-4-1

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 37 years old

10. Dennis Siver

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    Record: 18-7

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 32 years old

     

    Reason

    Dennis Siver is coming off of his third consecutive victory after losing to Ross Pearson in March of 2010. Siver's last fight—a unanimous decision victory over George Sotiropoulos— was an impressive underdog performance by a man no one thought would win.

    That win over G-Sot helped catapult Siver's name into the top lightweight status and is now considered a possibility to eventually earn a number one contender's spot.

9. Ben Henderson

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    Record: 13-2

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 27 years old

     

    Reason

    Ben Henderson, or for you casual guys, "The Man Who Ate the 'Showtime' Kick." Henderson is coming off of an impressive UFC 129 performance against Mark Bocek that helped earn Henderson a unanimous decision victory.

    The former WEC lightweight champion has made his return after losing his belt and shown he can still hang. Although Bocek isn't exactly a top fighter, Henderson will be facing top lightweight, Jim Miller, at UFC on Versus 5 in August.

8. Clay Guida

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    Record: 28-11

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 29 years old

     

    Reason

    Clay Guida is one of the most exciting fighters the lightweight division has to offer. Guida's last fight against Takanori Gomi helped earn Guida "Submission of the Night" honors for guillotine choke victory.

    Guida is now set to face the next man in line for shot at the UFC's lightweight title (after Gray Maynard, whenever he may get the shot), Anthony Pettis, at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale in early June.

7. Anthony Pettis

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    Record: 13-1

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 24 years old

     

    Reason

    Speaking of Anthony Pettis, here he is at number seven. Pettis is the last ever, WEC lightweight champion. Pettis won with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Ben Henderson at WEC 53.

    Since then Pettis hasn't fought, and instead has waited for the winner of the Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar trilogy. Unfortunately for Pettis, their fight has yet again been postponed.

    Pettis will risk his title shot against Clay Guida in early June.

6. Shinya Aoki

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    Record: 27-5, one no contest

    Promotion: Dream/Strikeforce

    Age: 28 years old

     

    Reason

    The submission specialist comes in at number six after an impressive submission victory over Lyle Beerbohm at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley in April. Since his disastrous performance against Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce lightweight title, Aoki has pulled off four straight victories.

    Aoki will fight at DREAM 17 on May 29 against Antonio McKee.

5. Jim Miller

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    Record: 20-2

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 27 years old

     

    Reason

    In a hugely backed up UFC lightweight division, Jim Miller is the big loser. Miller has done everything possible to earn a title shot that includes seven straight victories since he lost to Gray Maynard in 2009.

    Miller's only losses have come against the aforementioned, Maynard and against Frankie Edgar, both the top two lightweights in the UFC. Miller will now face Ben Henderson in August hoping to keep his lightweight title shot alive.

4. Eddie Alvarez

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    Record: 22-2

    Promotion: Bellator

    Age: 27 years old

     

    Reason

    Eddie Alvarez successfully defended his Bellator lightweight title for the first time this past April against Pat Curran with a win via unanimous decision. Alvarez has only two losses in his career, once to Nick Thompson, the other against the likes of Shinya Aoki.

    Alvarez is currently riding a seven-fight win streak and has yet to find another opponent to defend his Bellator title against.

3. Gray Maynard

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    Record: 10-0-1, one no contest

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 32 years old

     

    Reason

    All right, here is where the rankings get interesting. In close voting, Maynard is the third-best lightweight in the world according to the voters.

    Gray Maynard has an impressive undefeated record and will now get a second shot at the UFC lightweight title sometime later this year after both him, and Frankie Edgar, recover from injuries.

    Maynard holds wins over Edgar, Roger Huerta, Kenny Florian, Dennis Siver, Jim Miller and Nate Diaz.

2. Gilbert Melendez

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    Record: 19-2

    Promotion: Strikeforce

    Age: 29 years old

     

    Reason

    Here is what readers might not like, Gilbert Melendez being the second-best lightweight. Voters came together and decided "El Nino" was deserving of the second-best spot.

    Melendez has avenged both of his losses and is now coming off an amazingly impressive first-round knockout victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri in early April. People are calling for Melendez to face either Gray Maynard or Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight title, and fans may get their wish soon enough.

1. Frankie Edgar

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    Record: 13-1-1

    Promotion: UFC

    Age: 29 years old

     

    Reason

    Frankie Edgar is the current UFC lightweight champion and was a unanimous selection for the best lightweight in the world. Edgar has successfully defended his lightweight title against B.J. Penn, a man who has become a legend inside the Octagon.

    Edgar now must recover injury, and then have his third fight with Gray Maynard to decide who is the UFC's lightweight champion...finally.