Rankings Review: Marlon Vera Moves Up Only Two Spots to No. 11 at Bantamweight with UFC 268 Victory over Frankie Edgar

November 10, 2021

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

Marlon Vera took full advantage of his high-profile opportunity against Frankie Edgar on the pay per view portion of UFC 268 this past Saturday.  “Chito” Vera knocked out the former UFC lightweight champion Edgar in the third round with a front kick to the chin, reminiscent of Anderson Silvs vs. Vitor Belfort and Lyota Machida vs. Randy Couture.

Marlon Vera ranked No. 11 at bantamweight

Vera was ranked No. 13 going into his UFC 268 fight against No. 8 ranked Frankie Edgar.  I do not always think that a fighter should take another fighter’s ranking with a victory.  In this case, I think Vera should have taken Edgar’s ranking.  In fact, I would have Vera ranked No. 7.

The No. 6 ranked bantamweight is Merab Dvalishvili.  I do not think Vera should be ranked ahead of Dvalishvili, however, let’s look at the fighters ranked 7 through 10 who I believe Vera should be ranked ahead of.

Cody Garbrandt Is ranked No. 7 at bantamweight.  Since winning the bantamweight title in 2016 over Dominick Cruz, Cody Garbrandt has gone 1-4.  I know he has fought top competition along the way losing his title and immediate title rematch to TJ Dillashaw.  Garbrandt also had a first round knockout loss to Pedro Munhoz in 2019.  Munhoz is currently ranked behind Garbrandt which is another ranking that does not add up to me based on their recent results.  Garbrandt’s only win since 2016 was a second-round knockout victory over current No. 13 Raphael Assuncao.  He is coming off five round decision loss in his last fight against current No. 4 ranked Rob Font.  Garbrandt is scheduled to drop down to flyweight in December to fight Kai Kara France.  Garbrandt will likely be dropped from the bantamweight rankings after his flyweight debut.

The previously mentioned Pedro Munhoz is the current No. 8 ranked bantamweight.  Munhoz and Vera have two recent common opponents in legends Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.  They both lost unanimous decisions to Jose Aldo, although Vera had the closer fight.  Munhoz lost a split decision to Edgar and Vera scored the third round KO.

Marlon Moraes is ranked No. 9 and like Garbrandt, he has fallen on hard times as of late, albeit against top ranked fighters.  Moraes has also lost 4 out of his last 5.  His only victory during that stretch is a controversial split decision victory over Jose Aldo.  Moraes lost in a title fight to Henry Cejudo.  He has lost three in a row against top contenders in Cory Sandhagen, Rob Font and Merab Dvalishvili, respectively.

Dominick Cruz is currently the No. 10 ranked bantamweight.  The first ever UFC bantamweight champion has only fought twice since losing his title to Cody Garbrandt in 2016.  He lost a title fight against Henry Cejudo in May of 2020.  Cruz scored his first victory in five years with his split decision victory over up and comer Cassey Kenney this past March.

Besides having better results against recent common opponents than current No. 8 Pedro Munhoz, Vera has been very active winning 8 out of his last 9 bantamweight fights since August of 2018.  The 28-year-old Ecuadorian gave top prospect Sean O’Malley his only loss in August of 2020.  Vera snapped Davey Grant’s three fight UFC winning streak this past June.  This setup his biggest win to date over previous No. 8 ranked Frankie Edgar.

Frankie Edgar doesn’t want to be done, but retirement not off the table

As I mentioned, I don’t think a fighter should automatically take the ranking of the fighter they beat.  In this Rankings Review column, I wrote about a recent example in the bantamweight division as to why Raulian Paiva should not have been given Kyler Phillips No. 14 ranking.  This was Paiva’s first fight at bantamweight and he went ahead of other top contenders who were more deserving of a ranking at the time.  Since then, Paiva has lost his ranking.

Sometimes rankings can be tricky when you’re comparing a fighter who is on a good run against top 30 competition, with fighters who are on a bad run against top 10 competition.   In the case of comparing Marlon Vera to fighters like Cody Garbrandt and Marlon Moraes, I feel that the Edgar victory combined with his other recent results should push him ahead of the fighters mentioned who are currently ranked 7 through 10.  

Upcoming Notable UFC Bantamweight Fights

Nov 13 – Julio Arce vs. (15) Song Yadong

Nov 20 – Davey Grant vs. Adrian Yanez

Dec 4 – (5) Jose Aldo vs. (4) Rob Font

Dec 11 – (10) Dominick Cruz vs. (8) Pedro Munhoz

Dec 11 – Raulian Paiva vs. Sean O’Malley

Dec 18 – Ricky Simon vs. (13) Raphael Assuncao

Dec 18 – Trevin Jones vs. Raoni Barcelos

Jan 22 – Said Nurmagomedov vs. (14) Cody Stamann

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.