Rankings compiled by Richard Wade.
The lightweight division continues to be the biggest rankings dilemma in MMA. There are essentially two major pools of competitors virtually no cross-pollination in the last three years. Since taking the UFC lightweight title, #1 B.J. Penn has made a strong case for being the best in the world at 155 lbs. Until #2 Shinya Aoki beat #9 Joachim Hansen at DREAM.11 to take the DREAM title, the Japanese contingent had produced more of a muddle than a clear champion.
Both Penn and Aoki have furthered muddied the waters by making repeated unsuccessful attempts to move up in weight and fight top welterweights. The outcomes have been as unforunate for the lightweight champs as they were predictable.
#1 B.J. Penn will defend his title against #7 Diego Sanchez at UFC 107. This is one of those instances where rankings just fail to capture the degree to which Sanchez is the biggest threat Penn has faced since winning his title.
That's because rankings capture what a fighter has done rather than how formidable he is. Diego Sanchez, for all his accomplishments in the Octagon just hasn't done that much to impress in his two decision wins at 155lbs.
#3 Eddie Alvarez pulled out a submission win in a squeaker against the unranked Katsunori Kikuno at DREAM.12. Kikuno is a fast rising prospect who will likely rise in the rankings off a loss since he gave Alvarez such a stiff challenge. It will be interesting to see how Kikuno fares against the likes of #26 Mitsuhiro Ishida. It's not clear yet if Alvarez will fight in Japan again before defending his Bellator belt in the spring.
#4 Kenny Florian will face #19 Clay Guida at UFC 107 in a fight that will either cement Florian's position in the top tier of the UFC lightweight division or propel Guida into the upper ranks at long last.
#6 Gray Maynard will fight #21 Nate Diaz at Ultimate Fight Night 20 in January. Maynard will likely get a title shot against the winner of Penn/Sanchez if he can avenge his TUF exhibition bout loss to Diaz.
#8 Tatsuya Kawajiri got a squash match win at DREAM.11 over Melchor Manibusan. He's agitating for a New Year's Eve title fight against Shinya Aoki. It's hard to believe the two have never met. Beating Kawajiri would cement Aoki's status as Japan's top lightweight. But the tough boxing/wrestling style of Kawajiri seems tailor made to beat the champ.
Based on the premise that all MMA rankings are subjective but that it’s still useful and informative to know who the online MMA community as a whole ranks as the best fighters in MMA, we collect and average the rankings of the top MMA websites to produce our consensus rankings.
We compile the top MMA rankings from each of our sources and award 25 points for a first place ranking, 16 for a 10th place ranking, 1 for a 25th place ranking. A formula is used to "normalize" the data so all fighters are awarded points from those lists that do not include a full 25 fighters. This formula ensures that each ranking site awards the same number of total points regardless of how many fighters they choose to rank. Each fighter’s total is divided by the number of possible points to determine their standing in the Consensus Rankings.