It might be an understatement to say the UFC has some questionable rankings. You would expect rankings to be questionable as they are subjective; however, in this column, I will point out rankings that I think are glaring mistakes.Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons
There are times when it makes sense for Fighter A to be ranked ahead of Fighter B even though Fighter A lost to Fighter B. However, this rarely makes sense when the fight in question happened quite recently. When this week’s UFC rankings were released, two examples of this situation stood out to me. In both cases, the movement happened without any of the four fighters having had a recent fight.
Kevin Lee ranked ahead of Al Iaquinta?
In the UFC lightweight division, Al Iaquinta dropped two spots this week to No. 12, beneath the No. 11 ranked Kevin Lee, a fighter whom he has defeated twice.
Iaquinta defeated Lee early in their respective UFC careers, all the way back in 2014. Between their first and second fights, Lee went 10-2 in the stacked UFC lightweight division with notable victories over Michel Prazeres, Jake Matthews, Francisco Trinaldo, Michael Chiesa, and Edson Barboza. His losses came against Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title and Leonardo Santos.
Iaquinta was less active, having went 5-2 between his Lee fights, with notable victories over Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and Diego Sanchez. His losses came to Khabib Nurmagomedov for the vacant lightweight title and Mitch Clark.
Considering Lee and Iaquinta’s respective records since their first fight, this is a case where it made sense for Lee to be ranked ahead of Iaquinta going into their second fight, despite Lee having the previous loss to Iaquinta.
Iaquinta scored the unanimous decision upset over Lee in their rematch, which was the main event of UFC’s last card on Fox in December of 2018. Since that fight, Iaquinta suffered two unanimous decision losses in a row to Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker. Lee has gone 1-2 with losses to Raphael Dos Anjos at welterweight and Charles Oliveira back at lightweight. Lee had a highlight reel knockout against Gregor Gilespie that was sandwiched between his most recent setbacks.
Iaquinta hasn’t fought since the Hooker fight, which was in October of 2019. You can point to his inactivity to justify the ranking change. However, Lee hasn’t been very active himself with his last fight being in March of last year and his last win coming in November of 2019. Neither fighter has a fight lined up right now.
Macy Chiasson ranked ahead of Lina Lansberg
In the UFC women’s bantamweight division this week, Macy Chiasson moved up two spots to No. 10 and Lina Landsberg dropped one spot to No. 11, even though Lansberg holds a recent victory over Chiasson.
Lansberg defeated Chiasson by unanimous decision at UFC on ESPN+ 18 in September of 2019. Since then, Lansberg and Chiasson have both had just one fight each.
Lansberg lost a unanimous decision to perennial top 10 and former title challenger Sara McMann. Chiasson won a unanimous decision over Shanna Young, who was making her UFC debut. These results rightfully did not move Chiasson ahead of Lansberg at the time. However, this week, with neither fighter having fought recently, Chiasson moved ahead of Lansberg to enter the top 10.
Chiasson has an upcoming fight scheduled on February 27 and as I mentioned in the last Rankings Review column, fighters with upcoming scheduled fights seem to move up in rankings, despite not having recently fought. Another prime example of this in this week’s UFC rankings is Gilbert Burns moving ahead of Colby Covington for the number 1 spot at welterweight.
In order to rank a fighter ahead of a fighter they recently lost to, you have to be able to make a strong case. There is no such case to be made for Chiasson to be ranked ahead of Lansberg. Chiasson is 3-1 in the UFC bantamweight division with her three wins coming against opposition that has a combined 4-10 record in the UFC at 135 pounds. Lansberg is 4-3 in the UFC bantamweight division, with all three losses coming against top 10 opposition and her last victory, as mentioned, came against Chiasson.
Chiasson has a chance to solidify her top 10 ranking when she fights No. 9 ranked Marion Reneau on February 27. A win over Reneau is a good example of what would justify Chiasson being ranked ahead of Landsberg, despite her loss to the Swedish fighter.
Unless a strong case can be made, a fighter should not be ranked ahead of a fighter they recently lost to. I don’t see a strong case to be made at this point for Chiasson to be ranked ahead of Lansberg or for Lee to be ranked ahead of Iaquinta. Furthermore, it’s another example of all four fighters moving in the rankings, despite not having had a recent fight, something we have seen in recent weeks.
My rankings would look different than any other writer or fan who follows the sport closely. This is to be expected, as rankings are subjective. However, the above examples are rankings I strongly disagree with. Rankings should be based primarily on results and not perceived potential or popularity.
Some people think rankings do not matter. Rankings do matter. They matter when it comes to matchmaking. They matter when it comes to contract negotiations.
Let’s keep the rankings conversation going. Do you agree or disagree that the above examples are glaring ranking mistakes? Which UFC rankings do you strongly disagree with? Express your thoughts in the comments below.