MMA Top 10 Lightweights: B.J. Penn Is the Best, Then There's Everyone Else



In B.J. Penn's seven fights since returning to the UFC in 2006, he's 4-3. That record doesn't even come close to telling the story of Penn, the most dominant lightweight fighter in MMA history.

Penn is 4-0 when fighting at lightweight, and he has absolutely dominated all four opponents: Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk and, most recently, Kenny Florian Saturday night at UFC 101. The three losses came when he foolishly tried to move up to welterweight to take on Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre (twice). When Penn is a well-conditioned 155 pounds -- as he was against Florian on Saturday night -- he's all but unbeatable.

And that raises an interesting issue that faced me when I made my new rankings of the Top 10 lightweights in MMA: There's such a huge gap between Penn and everyone else that I have absolutely no idea how to order the nine guys after Penn.

I think Florian, who became the first lightweight in more than six years to make it into the fourth round with Penn, deserves to remain at No. 2. But if you want to say Penn's next opponent, Diego Sanchez, ought to be No. 2, that's fine too. Or one of the other top UFC lightweights, like Gray Maynard or Frank Edgar. Or you could say it should be Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, or Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, or Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson, or maybe even Sengoku lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota, who didn't even make my Top 10. I just know that Penn is No. 1.

Top 10 Lightweights in MMA
1. B.J. Penn
2. Kenny Florian
3. Shinya Aoki
4. Eddie Alvarez
5. Diego Sanchez
6. Gray Maynard
7. Frank Edgar
8. Sean Sherk
9. Joachim Hansen
10. Josh Thomson

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