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
Since writing this column for the past six months, I have focused on rankings that I thought were glaring mistakes. I am slightly broadening the focus moving forward. Along with pointing out rankings that I disagree with, I will also explain why I agree with certain rankings when there is significant movement involved.
In this week’s Rankings Review, I agree with the movement of the two high profile winners from this past Saturday.
Meisha Tate entered the top 10 for the first time in nearly five years after defeating previous No. 12 ranked Marion Reneau in the veteran Reneau’s retirement fight.
Despite defeating a fighter ranked below him in Thiago Moises who was ranked 14th, Islam Makhlachev climbed four spots in the lightweight rankings.
Miesha Tate ranked No. 8 at bantamweight
Miesha Tate returned to the octagon this past Saturday after nearly five years away from the sport. Tate 2.0, as she was calling herself, became the first fighter to finish Marion Reneau with a third round TKO. It was interesting to see where Tate would be ranked after defeating the 12th ranked Reneau in her first fight in over four and a half years.
Many times, a fighter takes his or her opponents ranking after a victory. Sometimes I find voters seem quick to give the lower ranked fighter the ranking of their opponent who they defeated instead of analyzing the other fighters higher in the rankings. In this case, I think Tate is worthy of her No. 8 ranking.
Tate is one spot ahead of the No. 9 ranked Sara McMann who is the last fighter Reneau defeated. Tate holds a win over the Olympic silver medalist McMann back in 2015, which I don’t put much stock into since it was not recent. Perhaps a more noteworthy gauge of where Tate currently stands is No. 10 ranked Macy Chiasson, who was Reneau’s last opponent before Tate. Chiasson defeated Reneau in a hard-fought unanimous decision. As previously mentioned, Tate was the first fighter to finish Reneau.
When Tate last fought in November of 2016, she was ranked No. 1 against Raquel Pennington who was ranked No. 8 at the time. In her previous fight, Tate lost her title to champion Amanda Nunes who hasn’t lost since and has become the first female two division champ, the pound for pound queen, and the GOAT of women’s MMA. Tate has publicly stated that she wants to climb the rankings and fight once again for the title.
Islam Makhachev ranked No. 5 at lightweight
Islam Makhachev has fought lower ranked fighters in his last several fights. This is largely due to the fact that higher ranked fighters did not want to fight him. This will likely change now, especially with the No. 5 next to his name.
Makhachev was ranked No. 9 coming into his main event fight this past Saturday against Brazilian Thiago Moises who was ranked No. 14. The 29-year-old Russian stopped the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a rear naked choke submission in the fourth round.
So how is Makhachev now ranked in the top 5 without defeating a top 10 opponent? For starters, Makhachev has won eight fights in a row in what is considered one of, if not the most stacked UFC weight divisions. He surpassed Tony Ferguson, Rafael Dos Anjos, Dan Hooker and Conor McGregor in the rankings. Ferguson has now lost three in a row. Dos Anjos has won just the one fight over Paul Felder since returning to the lightweight division. Hooker has lost two in a row. McGregor has lost three of his last four.
I know all losses aren’t the same. McGregor’s recent losses came against the best in Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier. After winning 12 in a row, Ferguson has lost against Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira and Beniel Dariush. That being said, I think Makhachev’s recent submission victories, and his eight fight UFC win streak make him worthy of his No. 5 ranking.
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.