USAT/SBN September 2009 MMA Consensus Rankings: Lightweight

Rank Fighter % Promotion Last Rank
1 B.J. Penn 100 UFC 1
2 Shinya Aoki 94 DREAM 2
3 Eddie Alvarez 89 Bellator/DREAM 3
4 Kenny Florian 81 UFC 4
5 Frankie Edgar 74 UFC 5
6 Tatsuya Kawajiri 69 DREAM 6
7 Diego Sanchez 66 UFC 8
8 Joachim Hansen 61 DREAM 9
8 Gray Maynard 61 UFC 7
10 Sean Sherk 51 UFC 10
11 Josh Thomson 35 Strikeforce 11
12 Gesias Cavalcante 34 DREAM 12
13 Tyson Griffin 30 UFC 16
14 Gilbert Melendez 28 Strikeforce 14
15 Mizuto Hirota 26 WVR 13
16 Satoru Kitaoka 25 WVR 15
17 Takanori Gomi 21 WVR 23
18 Jamie Varner 20 WEC 17
19 Eiji Mitsuoka 20 WVR 18
20 Joe Stevenson 19 UFC 19
21 Spencer Fisher 19 UFC 20
22 Clay Guida 18 UFC 20
23 Kurt Pellegrino 18 UFC 22
24 Nate Diaz 17 UFC 25
25 Vitor Ribeiro 16 DREAM 31

Rankings compiled by Richard Wade.

Due to the fallout from the Rampage Jackson A-Team casting, fans will have to wait until December's UFC 107 to see #1 B.J. Penn defend his belt against the very formidable #7 Diego Sanchez.

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.

He's already an established draw so there was no need to build his credibility, rather he was rushed into a title shot after decisioning #19 Joe Stevenson and #20 Clay Guida.

Fans won't have to wait so long to see the second most highly ranked lightweight. #2 Shinya Aoki will challenge #8 Joachim Hansen for Hansen's DREAM lightweight belt at DREAM.11 on October 6.

This will be the rubber match between the two rivals. Aoki submitted Hansen via gogoplata back in 2006 only to lose by TKO last year.

#3 Eddie Alvarez will fight at DREAM.12 against hot prospect Katsunori Kikuno. It will be nice to see Alvarez back on a big league stage after his title run at Bellator, but I can't help but wish he was fighting someone more proven.

#4 Kenny Florian will look to bounce back from his second loss in a title fight against the game Guida at UFC 107. It promises to be a long, hard slog back to the top of the mountain for Florian.

#5 Frank Edgar will face #22 Kurt Pelligrino at the TUF 10 Finale in December. I have a hard time seeing a win over the tough Pellegrino propelling Edgar into immediate title contention.

Meanwhile #7 #8 Gray Maynard jumped two hard won rungs up the ladder is inexplicably punished for his Judo Chop worthy performance over the former #24 Roger Huerta at UFN 19 by dropping a slot. Maynard's win over Edgar seems to disqualify Edgar from an immediate title shot and Maynard says he's not quite ready.

This is the division the UFC has the weakest grip on with only thirteen of the top twenty-five. DREAM is their nearest rival with five ranked fighters. WVR is breathing down the neck of their Japanese rival with four contenders. Strikeforce is barely edging out WEC with two.

The failure of the non-UFC promotions to produce a clear champion has really helped the UFC's case to be the strongest in the division. This contrasts very poorly with B.J. Penn's utter dominance of the very tough UFC 155lb class.

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