To say that it has been a rough ride for the UFC’s 155 lbs division would be a bit of an understatement. The trouble began when the first champion of the weight class Jens Pulver left the organization in 2002 amidst a contract dispute. The UFC held a four-man tournament to crown a new champion, but failed to come up with a definitive winner when BJ Penn fought Caol Uno to a draw in the finals. And so the division was completely dismantled as the Zuffa-owned promotion was struggling financially at the time.
Fast forward to 2006: after the success of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series boosted UFC’s popularity and momentum, the organization decided to reinstate the lightweight division and crowned a new champion with a matchup between Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk. But the troubles were not over - after Sherk’s very first title defense, Sean as well as the challenger Hermes Franca both tested positive for banned anabolics and were suspended by the California State Athletic Commission. With the title once again vacated, BJ Penn defeated Joe Stevenson then Sean Sherk in back-to-back bouts, staking his claim as the new lightweight king. However with Penn now set to challenge Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title, the lightweight championship may once again be placed on hold if Penn wins.
All these tribulations left the division weakened: according to the latest Fightmatrix.com rankings
, only 4 of the Top 10 and 8 of the Top 20 lightweights in the world compete in the UFC’s Octagon. But don’t let the lack of top-ranked fighters fool you; this is a very deep division beyond the Top 20, with over 30 ranked fighters competing in UFC at 155 lbs. Here is a closer look at the UFC’s 20 highest ranked lightweights:UFC’s Lighweight Division