Top 15 LWs

March 18, 2004

The largest collective of fight stats and voter polling offers this latest update for the 155 pound division.

The rank extends its view beyond the "big two" and acknowledges the accomplishments of quality fighters who have yet to be given their opportunity to perform on PPV.

A system is in place to evaluate a fighter on a broad scale, rather than simply rely on any one single fight result.

The rank also factors in all serious entries to the voter poll, which stands at 64 current voters.

If you disagree with a placement, you can do your part to invoke your opinion by submitting your votes at

1. Vitor 'Shaolin' Ribiero

Shooto Champion. Many considered Takanori Gomi the #1 LW at the time of Jens Pulver's demise. Granting that, Ribiero would be considered the linear champion, having beat Joachim Hansen, the fighter that dethroned Gomi. Shaolin has not lost in his 9-fight career whilst climbing the formidible Shooto system.

2. Duane 'Bang' Ludwig

TKO Champion. Maybe more direct, Ludwig was the one to hand former #1 Pulver his first loss in a long while. The tarnish on that scenario might be that prior to that, Jens had dropped his level of competition and was returning from a 5 month absence. There is also some unrest in the controversy surrounding Ludwig's match with Genki Sudo where a technicality allowed him to escape danger, (through no fault of his own). The controversy sparked a rule change, so it has to be considered significant. Bang also has the ghost of being subbed by Eric Payne. Nonetheless, Ludwig did catch Pulver, beat the capable Charles Bennett, and proved he could hang with the slick Genki Sudo.

3. Hermes Franca

A BJJ specialist knocking out one of the division's top performers in Caol Uno? That puts Franca in exclusive company with BJ Penn. The only blemish on his 9-fight career is a 2 rounds to 1 decision loss to Josh Thomson that had its share of controversy. Many feel that some confusion between referee and fighter caused a pause in the fight that made a huge difference. Despite that, a great track record against fighters including Mike Brown, Rich Crunkilton, Ryan Diaz, and Uno show that Franca can get it done repeatedly against quality opponents.

4. Yves Edwards

Turned around from a decision loss to Caol Uno, and proceeded take flight. Mixing a submission on the talented Rich Clementi with a series of strikes that ended Nick Agallar's 7-fight win streak. He did have a glitch with a decision loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri who is gaining momentum himself, but with just the one decision loss in his last half-dozen outings, Edwards has done enough to impress voters. April 2nd will tell a tale, as he faces Hermes Franca in the UFC.

5. Caol Uno

He seems to be the guy who faces only the best of the best. Sato, Thomas, Pedeneiras, Cromado, Hallman, Pulver, Iha, Penn, Edwards, Franca... The kind of dancecard that could easily land someone a boatload of losses. Not so however. Maybe #5 is absolutely fitting for someone with a win-some-lose-some record against the elite of the division. He has another big test ahead of him in his upcoming return to Shooto against Kawajiri.

to be continued...

6. Josh Thomson

The crown jewel of his 10-0 record is a big decision win over Hermes Franca. He should be turning to a tougher bunch of opponents now, so the prospects of Josh moving one way or the other are looming. The test will be if Josh can maintain that consistency against a group of elite fighters. Beating Franca was an awfully good start.

7. Takanori Gomi

A recent slide has put a damper on the great run he was on, including wins over Sato, Mishima, and Brennan. We know that a loss to BJ Penn is always possible, but his loss to Joachim Hansen poses questions. There's no reason to believe that Gomi can't crank it back up however.

8. Joachim Hansen

Like Josh Thomson, he had a good thing going in some more obscure markets. He met up with Sato during a soft-spot in Rumina's career, and parlayed it into a shot at Gomi where he scored his one big win. While Thomson is awaiting his next big test, Hansen already failed his, tapping out to Ribiero. A big win like the one over Gomi is going to dangle your name out there, but repeating a big accomplishment like that is the challenge.

9. Jens Pulver

It looks like Pulver's focus is moving to 145 pounds in Shooto, but the string of decision wins against Uno, Hallman, and Penn cannot be completely dismissed. Of coarse the bads have outweighed the goods recently. A big test is forthcoming in Shooto where Jens takes on Naoya Uematsu. Look for Pulver on the 145 pound list if he wins that.

10. Bart Palaszewski

Here's where we delve into the shadows. Out of sight of the UFC or Pride cameras, there's a guy who has rhymed off 7 straight wins with a mix of subs and stoppages from strikes. They call him "Bartimus". Only 3 people were able to beat Mark Long in his last 11 fights. One was UFC-vet Tyrone Roberts. One was UFC-vet Sean Sherk. The other was Bartimus. Only one person has EVER beat Jay Estrada. His name is Bartimus. He is more deserving to be on the UFC stage than many have been before him. Something that might prevent that however is the fact that he's trained by Jeff Curran who is on the UFC scene in the same division. Regardless, this guy's accomplishments measure up very well.

to be continued...

Thomson being below Franca already gives that list no credablility.

11. Marcus Aurelio

From "Bartimus" to "Maximus". Another fighter whose path to the UFC is seemingly blocked by a teammate, (Hermes Franca). He made us take notice when he TKO'd Rich Clementi in the finals of ZST's 16-man tournament. He also handed super-striker Remi Morkevicius his only loss during that same night.

12. Javier Vazquez

Fans swarm to Showtime for his absolute warrior spirit. Ironically, he may have gained most of his respect in a loss to Alberto Crane. During that match he suffered a freakish accident to his knee/leg but forged on to gut out an outstanding performance despite a split decision loss. An overall record of 10-2 which included holding the KOTC belt gets Javier this spot. Harsh reality wonders if Javier can continue to fight though, given injury problems. Down may be the most likely direction for his rank.

13. Din Thomas

Though strangely cast out of the UFC picture, Din is not forgotten for wins over Jens Pulver, Mishima, Iha, Serra, and Berger. He tried his hand with the heavier Amar Suloev last New Year's Eve, but came up short there. With Aurelio and Franca, he's yet another member of the American Top Team, so don't expect Thomas on the UFC screen soon.

14. Genki Sudo

Loved by fans for his showmanship and athleticism, Sudo just doesn't have victories over any substantial opponents. Overcoming the huge weight disparity of Butterbean was mildly amusing, but bottom-line is, it was a win over a hapless rookie opponent. There is definitely something there though. A different outcome against Ludwig, which was at his fingertips would've made a big difference.

15. Santino Defranco

Another name from behind the curtain of big name PPVs. Here's a guy who worked out some early kinks to put together 7 straight wins in smaller shows including KOTC and Rumble On the Rock. With 11 wins and only one by decision, Defranco is overdue for some better exposure.

In the big picture, perhaps beating the quality of fighters that Franca has and suffering a marginal loss, is better than racking up wins against a collection of far inferior opponents. That combined with the collected opinion of 64 people put them where it stands right now.

It's a fair point though King. People like to see the winner of a fight leapfrog the loser, but in the 'anyone can win on any given night' world of MMA, it doesn't hurt to be a little more thorough in our examination.

I trust I can count on you for an honest vote to be submitted at A change in majority opinion can start with yours.


Edwards is WAY too high.He has consistently lost to top competition.Why is he higher than Serra who beat him? Serra isn't even in the list, but a guy he beat is number 4? Yeah, Serra then lost(by decision to top fighters Penn and Thomas) but edwards lost to uno and the japanese fighter after Serra.
Yves lost to Iha, serra, Uno...and beaten no top 10 guys.
I think he's a great fighter, and that he will soon be near the top, but he hasnt earned it yet.

Where is takaya? Where is Imanari?

lol @ duane ludwig @ 2. He clearly lost to Sudo and he get's the 2 space?

This is the most biased list ever. the zst boys are not there nor the Shooto fighters.

Kawajiri? lol.

exactly. I mean Marucs Aurelio just won the ZST tournament and had fought some decent names before that and beat them. Palazsewski has won like 7 straight but he hasn't beat any name fighters. yet Palasewski is about Aurelio. Makes no sense.

Marcus Aurelio beat the King of Leglocks... LOL. He should be ranked higher than most of these people.

And Genki below Bang? That's ridiculous.

Where is Dokonjonosuke Mishima? LOL. He is way better than half of the fighters on that list.

YOshirio Maeda? LOL.

porra--yamamoto and pequeno--if you count 143 as light weight


Fair points. Although I personally have nothing to do with how the results pan out, looking at it closer, and considering everyone's recent history, Yves only has the one loss in his last 6 fights whereas Serra has 3.

I think we've got to let fighters "work off" their losses, meaning not anchor them to past losses if they get back on track afterwards. We can't hold Silva to his losses vs Ortiz and Belfort forever. He's regrouped and tunred things around since then.

Similarly, Yves regrouped and has piled up wins since losing a couple back in UFC 33/37.

Something that I think is under-valued is the win over Agallar. Even though few, if any, placed Agallar top 10, we're talking about a guy who had/has a very credible resume.

Ah, the beauty of opinion. Yours is certainly as valid as the next person's. I will say that a lot of people place Yves right up there though.

Takaya, Imanari, Pequeno, Maeda, Yamamoto...

All featherweights.

Why isn't Kawajiri above Edwards? He beat him recently.

Mishima has beaten King of Leglocks imanari, Shooto star Tetsuji Kato, ryan bow etc. and he's not on that list?

Gomi loses to the P4P #1 fighter in the world and suddenly drops 9 spots? LOL.

Imanari is not a featherweight, he fought in the ZST 155 tournmanet.

In the same post you say that Ludwig clearly lost to Sudo, and then this list is biased?


Quite frankly I like Sudo much more than Ludwig, and quite CLEARLY, Sudo did not CLEARLY beat Ludwig. Not according to many, including the people responsible for judging.

I didn't care for the decision, but too bad for me.

We can vote Genki ahead of Ludwig if we choose, but the majority haven't. Perhaps due to the fact that Ludwig got the win, and Genki hasn't beat anyone close to Jens Pulver.

glad to see bart on it.

"Imanari is not a featherweight, he fought in the ZST 155 tournmanet."

Imanari's a featherweight.....The ZST tournament mainly consisted of fighters from the 143 & 155 lb weight divisions.

Masahiro Oishi is the former 132 lb champ in Shooto, I doubt anyone will try to argue Oishi is a lightweight simply because he fought in the ZST tourney.

It's interesting looking at these rankings since it's a mixture of stats & votes. For the life of me, though, I don't see how Palaszewski & Defranco can be higher in any poll/stat mixture than Kawajiri, Mishima, etc.....

Rude22, I fully agree with the points bill made, and your response to him still leaves room for debate. You point out that Serra has lost three fights- in his career. But one of those fights,(which was his very first in the UFC), was years ago in the 169 pound division. We're talking now about the 155 ratings of 2004. That should not be a major consideration in keeping him out of the top 15.
Also, unlike many of those you have in the top 15, Serra's never been knocked out or submitted at 155, and his only two losses were somewhat questionable decision losses to highly ranked Din Thomas and UFC champ BJ Penn (who as far as I know hasn't said he wouldn't fight again at 155 again, so how can you have a real top 15 list without his name?)

Rude22, well said.
But can losses to top guys be worked off by beating B level guys? Surely Serra could beat 3 local level guys without too much risk, but should he then be rewarded enough to dive into the rankings and up near the top?