HeavyMMA February Rankings: Lightweight

Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard

photo by Josh Hedges/UFC.com

Edgar continues to rule the roost

There isn’t much movement in the lightweight division this month, but we could see drastic changes over the next five months.

Note: Our rankings are subjective and are weighted heavily towards recent performance and not an entire body of work.

Check out the rest of our February 2011 rankings: Heavyweight | Light Heavyweight | Middleweight | Welterweight

1. Frank Edgar

Edgar split with manager Shari Spencer early this month, leaving him in limbo from a managerial standpoint. He doesn’t have to worry about a lack of stability in his fighting career, however; Edgar knows exactly who he’s facing and when. He’ll face Gray Maynard in the main event of UFC 130. They say the third time’s the charm, and Edgar will be looking to cement his place as the best lightweight in the world.

2. Gilbert Melendez

Melendez signed a six-fight, two-year extension with Strikeforce late last month, dashing the hopes of fans who wanted to see him end up in the UFC. Truth is, Melendez had no choice. He has a champion’s clause in his contract that tied him to Strikeforce and there was no way to break it, so his only real option was to re-sign. In the meantime, Melendez will continue hosting Skrap Pack Radio right here on HeavyMMA.com. Yeah, that’s a cheap plug. Sue us.

3. Gray Maynard

Maynard told us this week that he’ll start his camp for the third Edgar fight in mid-March. He believes in his abilities and is more confident than ever that he has what it takes to beat Edgar and win the belt.

4. Eddie Alvarez

The Bellator lightweight champion defends his title against Pat Curran at Bellator 39 in April.

5. Shinya Aoki

It’s difficult to know what to make of Aoki. One moment he’s screaming obscenities and being his usual competitive self; the next he’s talking about retiring and training other fighters for a living. He’d certainly like to get his hands on Gilbert Melendez again, but this time in a Dream ring. Of course, that rematch depends on how long Dream sticks around.

6. Tatsuya Kawajiri

Kawajiri will likely face Gilbert Melendez at a Strikeforce event in April. A win would do wonders for his career, but he may run into the same problems with the cage that Aoki did when he fought Melendez.

7. Jim Miller

Miller has taken plenty of shots at the WEC lightweights that were absorbed into the UFC in January. He’ll get the chance to back up his words when he welcomes former WEC lightweight contender Kamal Shalorus to the UFC at UFC 128. Miller’s only two career losses came at the hands of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, so he has a strong case for title contention.

8. George Sotiropolous

Sotiropolous will fight in front of his home country once more at UFC 127, this time against the resilient German Dennis Siver. A win would give Sots 8 UFC victories in a row. You’d think he’d be nearing title contention, but he’ll have to wait until the Edgar/Maynard/Pettis/Guida web is untangled this summer. If Sotiropolous keeps winning, he’ll get his shot.

9. Clay Guida

Guida’s Greg Jackson-led career resurgence could take a dramatic step forward if he beats Anthony Pettis at the TUF 13 Finale. Pettis was scheduled to face the winner of Edgar/Maynard 2, but a draw prevented that from happening. One of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster could punch his ticket to a title shot with a win over “Showtime.”

10. Anthony Pettis

Pettis opted to take a fight against Guida rather than wait until the fall to face the winner of Edgar/Maynard 3. Was it a smart decision? Only time will tell. In the meantime, Pettis must focus on Guida or risk losing his title shot.

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