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2011 Year End Report: The Lightweight Division

| December 19, 2011 | Reply

Becoming the best at something requires dedication, training and perseverance even in a scenario that would have the odds against you. When you are the smaller in the fight and still manage to come out victorious, being the best has a greater sense of accomplishment; the UFC lightweight division is undoubtedly the “best” division in MMA; home to legacy fighters, rising stars and men capable of their own hall of fame status one day.

Here is the MMA Valor 2011 best of the “lightweight Division” and features fighters within the UFC and other promotions


Frankie Edgar (14-1) – Always the underdog going into a fight, a position he has known to embrace and welcome, “The Answer” was revealed to everyone left in question after his first title defense against Gray Maynard. Holding strong in a flurrying first round from the challenger, Edgar bounced back and finished Maynard in round four of their main event bout at UFC 136 this fall. Looking to headline UFC 144 in Japan next February, he will again be the underdog against former WEC lightweight champion, Ben Henderson.

Regardless of your opinion of him as a fighter or champion, looking at the improving standup, jiu jitsu and dominant wrestling he brings into the cage, a threat at lightweight would be a dangerous adversary should he ever try to retain a title in other weight classes, specifically the 145lb division, where many have suggested he go before his career is ended.

Gilbert Melendez (20-2) – Not losing since June of 2008, only to avenge the loss, recapture the Strikeforce lightweight title and defend it while waiting his opportunity to compete with the top-level of the UFC, the Cesar Gracie fighter has been humble in interviews and dangerous on the mat. Utilizing superb striking, wrestling and jiu jitsu, “El Nino” has left wreckage against whoever stood in the storm’s path.

2012 could hold the biggest year for the California fighter, many fans along with himself are wanting him inside the octagon but until his Strikeforce contract is over, he will do his part and let his skills speak for themselves.

Michael Chandler (9-0) – Being one half of the Bellator (possibly MMA) fight of the year, the Xtreme Couture wrestler upset the favorite and former champion Eddie Alvarez to capture the Bellator lightweight belt in November of this year. As his current promotion is blossoming with a following, it would be ideal to see him move into Strikeforce to face against someone like Jorge Masvidal or KJ Noons, building up to a match with current champion – Gilbert Melendez.


Gray Maynard (10-1) – Although his last two bouts have been title fights, he walked away both times with nothing around his waist. “The Bully” has lost his edge and will need to find some motivation or driving force if he wants another shot at the belt anytime soon. A division talent deep with strong wrestlers, boxers and submission specialists, Maynard needs a whole new approach to fight game. Coming off of his first professional loss should be enough for the mental edge but could be all it takes to extinguish the competitive fire forever.

Jim Miller (20-3) & Melvin Guillard (29-9) – Both of these men are phenomenal fighters before I go any further, they have everything it takes to be in the elite rankings of their weight class, however both of them also lost fights they were favored to win. Miller was expected to get a title shot if he could get past Henderson, he was outclassed and out wrestled for fifteen minutes; Guillard was ready to knock out Joe Lauzon and enjoy another consecutive win, instead he was submitted in less than one minute at UFC 136. Ironically, they will face each other as they headline the UFC’s first card on FX next year and many will be watching to see who can bounce back after such successful win streaks.


Donald Cerrone (17-3) having only been defeated three times, the men who have defeated him were all former champions of the WEC. Riding the success of five wins through 2011 alone, “Cowboy” was ready to ride whenever asked and he did so each time looking better with the victories. Going into the co-main event of UFC 141 to face off against Cesar Gracie fighter, Nate Diaz, the fight will be explosive and the favor on Cerrone’s side as they battle for a closer shot to a championship match.

Missed the featherweight division, check it out here

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Tags: Bellator, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez, Gray Maynard, Jim Miller, Lightweight, Melvin guillard, Michael Chandler, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Strikeforce, UFC, UFC 141, Year End

Category: Bellator, Exclusive, Featured, MMA, Opinion, Strikeforce, UFC

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