The UFC is weak at the top and bottom (Part 2)
In part 1 of this article I tackled the easier piece, the HW's. The Lightweight Division is a whole different animal. Here I type that the UFC has a weak Lightweight division when they are seeminlgy stacked. The fact is that if you look at the Top 10 lists out there the UFC is weak in this division. We can battle and argue over the validity of this list and that list all day long, there are some good LW fighters not currently in the UFC.
MMA Worldwide Rankings (UFC fighters noted)
#1 - Takanori Gomi
#2 - Shinya Aoki
#3 - BJ Penn (UFC)
#4 - Gilbert Melendez (just lost a fight)
#5 - Tatsuya Kawajiri
#6 - Gesias "JZ" Calvancante
#7 - Sean Sherk (UFC)
#8 - Mitsuhiro Ishida
#9 - Vitor Ribeiro
#10 - Joe Stevenson (UFC)
Right off the bat let me say that I agree with all who are going to blast me with notes that BJ Penn should be at the top of this list. It's not my list, go yell at MMA Worldwide. In my opinion the LW Division is the hardest to have a top 10 because it seems as though everyone's LW roster is stacked. Just off the top of my head we had Tyson Griffin do pretty good last night, Roger Huerta has been doing great and will fight Kenny Florian in a few weeks. The winner of that fight should get a match with BJ Penn. Jamie Varner and Razer Rob out of the WEC are pretty good. KJ Noons out of Elite XC and Josh Thompson just beat the #4 guy on the list. It is ridiculous how many 155 pound guys their are. I know I left some good fighters off the list I just made.
As a comparrision lets take a look at the next lightest division in the UFC, The Welterweights.
#1 - Georges St. Pierre
#2 - Matt Hughes
#3 - Josh Koscheck
#4 - Matt Serra
#5 - Jake Shields (not a UFC fighter)
#6 - Jon Fitch
#7 - Diego Sanchez
#8 - Thiago Alves
#9 - Carlos Condit (not a UFC fighter)
#10 - Karo Parisyan
8 out of 10 in the UFC
It is extremely hard to sit here and say that the UFC is weak, I personally feel like it's the best division across the board in MMA. You almost never see a bad fight in this weight class. This Division is the best argument for cross-promotions in MMA. I'd love to see Gomi and Aoki in particular. Not that I'd turn down anyone else on the top 10 or on the 'honorable mentions' list I created. If cross-promotions could be worked out down the road I think a big hole will be filled. Unfortunately I don't think this will happen in the Dana White era.
Will we see more weight classes in the middle down the road? In MMA we basically have 135, 145, 155, 170, 185, 205 and HW. There are a couple exceptions on different promotions. Boxing from 135 - HW boxing has 135, 140, 147, 154, 160, 168, 175, 200 and HW. Again, there are exceptions to this rule. With boxing you get 2 more weight classes in that middle area. MMA and the UFC certainly has the talent to fill all those slots in the lower weights.
I haven't heard much about Dana White going after people like Gomi and Aoki. Just like I mentioned in the HW division it may be that the UFC feels like they have the guy, BJ Penn, and it's the guys in the other organizations that need to come to them. The UFC monopoly is pretty strong, they put on more shows and with a few exceptions they have the best fighters. I just feel like in these early stages of the sport going mainstream we are missing out on a couple of key things.
I will say that I'm enjoying the DREAM Lightweight Tournament, something I wish the UFC would somehow incorporate into thier arsenal of events, I think it would bring a lot to the table and give some people an opportunity to shine.