Melendez BARELY beat Guida and honestly Clay Guida is about the same level I see Melendez being at and also about the same level I see Bendo at. I realize Bendo has yet to really fight a guy who would even be a gatekeeper in the UFC but he has looked impressive beating solid opponents. I honestly think that as much as your dumping on Varner and Cerrone they are on the same level as a guy like Josh Thompson.
Here is my (American) LW hierarchy
Frankie Edgar/BJ Penn
Gray Maynard/Kenny Florian
I disagree on almost every count. And Melendez has shown heavy improvent where Guida has proven to not develop all around skills as effective. In fact I'd take Thompson over Clay Guida in a rematch anyday.
My Heiarchy for American LWs would go....