SB Nation Rankings: Lightweight


A look at how the six SB Nation panelists currently assess the lightweight division. Ben Henderson continues to lead the way.

The lightweight division has seen a big influx of fighters from Strikeforce, and three of of the top 10 are now ex-SF guys. Gilbert Melendez was a mainstay on the list for a long time, and his narrow loss to Ben Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 helped him take over the number two spot. But Josh Thomson and Pat Healy have used big victories (over Nate Diaz and Jim Miller respectively) to rocket up the standings.

Our six panelists (Ariel Helwani and Dave Doyle from MMA Fighting; Brian Hemminger and Thomas Myers from MMA Mania; Dallas Winston and yours truly from Bloody Elbow) give you their assessment of 155 in the chart below.


(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. At the moment, Anthony Pettis is ineligible at lightweight due to the fact he is scheduled to fight at featherweight next).

First of all, I'm sure people think I'm crazy for not ranking Michael Chandler, and I can understand it to a degree. I'm just at a loss to explain why he moved from the eight spot in our last rankings up to five by defeating Rick Hawn. I ranked him at 8 last time (and Eddie Alvarez at nine), and felt that the Strikeforce guys deserved to move ahead of them with their big wins. Yes, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone have lost since then, but I still think they deserve their spots. I also moved Rafael dos Anjos ahead of the Bellator fighters despite him not fighting lately, because I feel that I had been underestimating him. So, there's that.

Looking at the overall picture, we were all in agreement with the top three. Gray Maynard was almost unanimously number two the last time we did these, but Melendez looked great against Henderson and deserved to move up. Thomson's win over Diaz earned him the four spot, while Chandler moved up to five (despite me). Healy took the six spot after we all ranked him all over the place. Diaz sits in the seven spot, while T.J. Grant made the list for the first time at number 8. Rounding out the top 10 is a tie between Donald Cerrone and Eddie Alvarez. Just missing the list were Miller and Dos Anjos.

Upcoming matchups for ranked fighters

Gray Maynard (3) vs. T.J. Grant (8) - UFC 160, May 25th

Michael Chandler (5) vs. Dave Jansen (NR), Bellator 96, June 19th

Donald Cerrone (9) vs. K.J. Noons (NR), UFC 160, May 25th

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