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
Sometimes we see movement in the rankings between fighters who did not fight in the previous week. This begs the question, what changed from the previous week? Could it be a result of new voting panellists? Well, we don’t get to see the UFC ranking voting panellists anymore. Or is it because the current voters changed their minds? Or is it because the fighter who is moving up in the rankings has a high-profile fight coming up?
One noticeable ranking change from a fighter who did not fight last week was Jorge Masvidal who dropped two spots in the UFC welterweight rankings.
Jorge Masvidal ranked No. 7 at welterweight
It caught my attention this week to see Jorge Masvidal down two spots from No. 5 to No. 7 at welterweight. Masvidal dropped below No. 5 ranked Vicente Luque and No. 6 ranked Michael Chiesa. Neither Luque nor Chiesa fought this past weekend.
Masvidal lost his last two fights; however, those two fights were against the most dominant men’s champion in the UFC right now in Kamaru Usman. Other than the two Usman fights, Masvidal and Luque’s last defeats were both at the hands (and feet) of current No. 4 ranked Stephen Thompson.
After Masvidal’s loss to “Wonderboy”, he had won three straight over three top 10 fighters in Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz who were then ranked No. 3, 5 and 7 respectively. Since Luque’s loss to Thompson, the Brazilian has defeated a pair of unranked fighters in Niko Price and Randy Brown, and most recently he handed Tyron Woodley his fourth straight defeat. Woodley was ranked No. 7 at the time. Luque came into the Woodley fight at No. 10. Does it make sense for a fighter to go from No. 10 to No. 5 after beating a No. 7 ranked fighter who is no longer in the UFC?
Since moving up to welterweight, Michael Chisa has won four straight in the UFC. After defeating two veterans in Carlos Condit and Diego Shanchez, Chiesa has defeated two ranked opponents in Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny. In my opinion, this does not warrant a ranking ahead of Masvidal who has two victories over top 5 opponents. On a side note, Masvidal gave Chiesa his first career defeat in a lightweight fight back in 2013.
Dvalishvili ranked No. 10 at bantamweight
In last week’s column, I wrote about how I thought Merab Dvalishvili should be ranked No. 9, ahead of Raphael Assuncao and Dominck Cruz, after winning his sixth straight fight in the UFC. Dvalishvili went up one spot to No. 10 this week ahead of Raphael Assuncao who has lost three straight. This is a ranking change I obviously agree with; however, it should have happened a week earlier and in my opinion Dvalishvili should be No. 9 ahead of Cruz.
Gregor Gillespie ranked No. 12 at lightweight
Gregor Gillespie picked up a big win in his fight of the night performance over Diego Ferreira this past Saturday. It was truly an inspiring effort that saw Gillespie have a slight stumble in his step as he walked back to his corner exhausted after the first round. Remarkably, Gillespie kept up the relentless pace in the second round and “broke” his Brazilian opponent. Ferreira was ranked No. 12 going into the fight.
Gillespie moved to No. 12 ahead of No. 13 ranked Kevin Lee. This is where the issue comes in, as Gillespie was defeated by Lee in his previous fight. Not only did he lose, Gillespie was knocked out cold from a Kevin Lee head kick in the first round of their UFC 244 fight. Lee has also fought once since that fight, a third-round submission loss to one of tomorrow night’s lightweight title challengers in Charles Oliveira.
I do not feel that Gillespie’s victory over Ferreira or Lee’s loss to Oliveria are significant enough to put Gillespie ahead of Lee in the rankings. Also note that Gillespie became a ranked fighter originally on the merit of winning his first six fights in the UFC. Ferreira was Gillespie’s first victory over a ranked opponent. Lee, on the other hand, fought his way to an interim title shot against Tony Ferguson in 2017 and has since picked up victories over ranked opponents Edson Barbosa and Gregor Gillespie.
Gane ranked No. 3 at heavyweight
Gane is off to an impressive 5-0 to start his UFC career and 8-0 overall. Out of his 5 UFC wins, the undefeated Frenchman has defeated two ranked opponents in his last two against Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Blaydes is 14-3 with his only losses coming against two of the top three heavyweights in the world. Blaydes lost twice to current UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou and he is coming off a loss to No. 2 ranked Derryck Lewis. After losing his UFC debut to Francis Ngannou, Blaydes has defeated six ranked opponents in Aleksei Oleinik, Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Junior dos Santos and Alexander Volkov.
Could this ranking change be a case of a fighter moving up in the rankings because he has an upcoming high-profile fight? We’ve seen it before. An example that comes to mind, that I wrote about in a previous column, is when Alexa Grasso bumped Mondana de la Rosa out of the women’s flyweight rankings, taking her No. 15 spot just before Grasso fought Maycee Barber at UFC 258.
Cyril Gane is set to headline a UFC Fight Night card on June 26 against No. 5 ranked Alexander Volkov.
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.