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. I will also analyze significant movement in the rankings that I agree with.
Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons
On one of the best cards of the year, at UFC 267 this past Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Khamzat Chimaev stole the show with his first-round domination over then No. 11 ranked Li Jingliang. Chimaev picked up Jingliang and carried him towards Dana White as he had a few words for his UFC boss, before slamming his ranked opponent to the canvas. After some ground and pound, Chimaev took Jingliang’s back and masterfully secured the rear naked choke that put “The Leach” to sleep.
Khamzat Chimaev ranked No. 10 at welterweight
I was critical of the UFC welterweight rankings when Chimaev entered the top 15 in the past. In my article titled Should Khamzat Chimaev Be a Ranked UFC Welterweight?, I listed ten welterweights who I felt should be ranked ahead of Chimaev at that time. I totally stand behind the points I made in this article and subsequent Rankings Review articles regarding Chimaev.
Chimaev enters the rankings ahead of his UFC 267 opponent Li Jingliang as well as previous No. 10 ranked Geoff Neal. I totally agree with this ranking after Chimaev dominated previous No. 11 ranked Li Jinglaing. Chimaev is behind No. 9 ranked Belal Muhammad. Do I think Chimaev would beat Belal Muhammad? Ablsolutely. Does this mean he should be ranked ahead of Belal Muhammad? Absolutely not. As I said in previous articles, I think Chimaev would beat most fighters in the rankings, but that did not mean he should be ranked ahead of most ranked fighters until he got the victories to put him there. Well, he just beat Li Jingliang who was a very credible opponent. Jingliang was 10-4 in the UFC welterweight division with recent stoppage wins over Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos and Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Chimaev had looked dominant in his first three UFC fights; however, his only welterweight fight was against a fighter in Phys McKee who was making his UFC debut. In Chimaev’s UFC debut, he defeated middleweight John Phillips who was 1-3 in the UFC at the time and ended his UFC tenure at 1-5. Chimaev’s most credentialed UFC victory, before UFC 267, was against Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev showed he was more than a dominant ground fighter as he KO’d the middleweight veteran with a right cross, just 17 seconds into the first round. As Daniel Cormier said on Saturday, Chimaev has only been hit once in four UFC fights which is unheard of.
Who should Khamzat Chimaev fight next? I heard the name Nate Diaz thrown out there. Although Diaz has one of the biggest names in the sport, I would prefer to see him fight any of the fighters in the top 10. I don’t think he needs to be rushed into a number one contender fight right away. As much as I would like to see him in a number one contender fight against a Vicente Luque or Gilbert Burns, I don’t see the rush. I’d like to see him fight the previously mentioned No. 9 ranked Belal Muhammad who does not currently have a fight lined up. Or what about the winner of Michael Chiesa and Sean Brady later this month. Then let’s see him fight a number one contender fight in the second or third quarter of 2022.
Upcoming Notable UFC Welterweight Fights
Nov 6 – (1) Colby Covington vs. (C) Kamaru Usman
Nov 13 – Khaos Williams vs. Miguel Baeza
Nov 20 – (14) Sean Brady vs. (6) Michael Chiesa
Dec 11 – (3) Leon Edwards vs. (7) Jorge Masvidal
Dec 11 – (11) Geoff Neal vs. (13) Santiago Ponzinibbio
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. 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 with the above Ranking Review? Express your thoughts in the comments below.