Rankings compiled by Richard Wade.
The biggest change in the lightweight rankings in the last year has been the rise of the UFC lightweight division.
A year ago, only three UFC fighters were in the top ten, now there are six with #5 Gray Maynard (was #13), #6 Frank Edgar (was #16), and #7 Diego Sanchez (was #7 at welterweight) joining #1 B.J. Penn (was #1), #4 Kenny Florian (was #8) and #9 Sean Sherk (was #4) in the elite.
On the non-UFC side of the street, #2 Shinya Aoki (was #3) cemented his status as the best lightweight outside the UFC by beating #3 Eddie Alvarez (was #2), David "Hello Japan" Gardner, Vitor Ribeiro, and #10 Joachim Hansen (was #5). A loss against Welterweight Hayuki "Mach" Sakurai doesn't seem to have hurt Aoki's standing at 155lbs anymore than Penn's loss to Georges St Pierre hurt his.
Alvarez rebounded from his DREAM loss to Aoki to sweep the Bellator lightweight tournament against three unheralded opponents including #25 Toby Imada. Then he ended his year with a very impressive submission win over fast-rising Japanese star Katsunori Kikuno. It will be interesting to see in 2010 if Alvarez' deal with Bellator prevents him from remaining relevant in the division.
Kenny Florian may have lost a tough four round fight with B.J. Penn, but after seeing the beat down that Penn put on Diego Sanchez and Florian put on #23 Clay Guida (was unranked), Florian is looking better and better. If Penn moves up and out of the division to chase
Moby Dick GSP, Florian may very well win a title yet.
Gray Maynard has to get past #17 Nate Diaz (was #21) at January's Ultimate Fight Night to earn his shot at B.J. Penn. He's lost to Diaz before on the TUF show, we'll see which fighter has improved more.
#8 Tatsuya Kawajiri had been hoping to get his shot at Aoki at the NYE Dynamite! show but rumors are that Aoki wants to hold off on fighting in Japan until he gets a shot at the Strikeforce lightweight title in the States. He'll presumably take on the winner of this Saturday's Strikeforce: Evolution bout between #13 Gilbert Melendez (was #11) and #24 Josh Thomson (was #9). Thomson's long injury-induced sabbatical has made people forget just how good he is.
The biggest falling star of the year was #20 Takanori Gomi (was #7). Back-to-back losses to end 2008 against #20 Satoru Kitaoka (was #19) and Sergey Golyaev were not redeemed with wins over Takashi Nakakura and Tony Hervey. Word is that Gomi is shopping deals in the U.S. We'll see if he can turn it around stateside.
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.