Rankings Review: Robbie Lawler Re-Enters Rankings Despite Not Having Won a Fight in Over Four Years

August 27, 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

In this week’s UFC rankings, we saw two new entrants at No. 15 in the welterweight and bantamweight divisions.  This was a result of the UFC not re-signing long time ranked UFC fighters in Demian Maia and Jimmie Rivera.  I strongly disagree with the No. 15 rankings in these two stacked weight divisions.

Robbie Lawler ranked No. 15 at welterweight

Robbie Lawler’s last victory came against Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 in July of 2017.  The former champ has since lost four straight, to Rafael Dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and Neil Magny, respectively.  Lawler’s losses were against top opposition; however, there are a number of fighters who I think are more deserving to be in the UFC welterweight rankings.

Michel Pereira has now won three in a row in the stacked UFC welterweight division.  In his last two fights, the flashy Brazilian has notable victories against Khaos Williams and Nico Price.

Khaos Williams has won three of four in the UFC with his only loss in the octagon coming against the aforementioned Pereira.  “The Oxfighter” spent just 57 seconds in total in his first two UFC fights with highlight real first round knockouts over Alex Moreno and Abdul Razak Alhassan.  In his last fight, Williams handed Matthew Semelsberger his first UFC loss.

James Krause is better known as one of the best coaches in MMA these days and thus has not been as active as a fighter.  However, if we compare him to Robbie Lawler, he has fought five times to Lawler’s four since December of 2017.  Krause has now won five in a row in the welterweight division including his most recent win over Claudio Silva who at the time was 5-0 as a UFC welterweight.

Randy Brown has now won three out of his last four with his lone loss in the last three years coming against current No. 4 Vicente Luque.  His three recent wins were all finishes over notable welterweights Brian Barberena, Warley Alves and Alex Oliveira.

Daniel Rodrigues has been very active since making his UFC debut in February of 2020.  “D-Rod” has won five out of six in the UFC with notable wins over Tim Means, Dwight Grant and Mike Perry.  Having fought four times in 2020, Rodrigues will fight for the third time this year on Saturday night against ranked lightweight Kevin Lee.

Lawler is a legend and far more popular than the fighters listed above.  As I have said before in this column, rankings should not be a popularity contest and should be based on results.  I have also mentioned before that we sometimes see fighters move up when they have a high-profile fight coming up.  Lawler is scheduled for a feature five-round rematch against fellow legend Nick Diaz at UFC 266 on September 25.

As an aside, remarkably Diaz vs. Lawler 2 is a rematch that is over 17 years in the making.  Lawler lost to Diaz by second round KO at UFC 47 in April of 2004.

Jake Paul blasts former training partner Jorge Masvidal

Raulian Paiva ranked No. 15 at bantamweight

With the removal of Jimmie Rivera from the bantamweight rankings, enter Raulian Paiva who is 1-0 in the UFC bantamweight division.

Paiva was previously ranked at flyweight and moved up to bantamweight taking a short notice fight last month against Kyler Phillips who was ranked No. 14 at the time.  Paiva did an amazing job to win the second and third rounds after nearly being finished in the first round.  Paiva won the majority decision with only one judge scoring the first round 10-8 for Phillips.  I strongly felt the first round was a 10-8 round and therefor the fight should have been a draw.  Even with the victory over Phillips, there are a number of bantamweights who I think deserve a ranking more than Paiva.

Song Yadong is the clear pick to be in the bantamweight rankings.  I know Yadong lost to Phillips and Phillips lost to Paiva, but as we know MMA math rarely adds up.  If you look at Yadong’s full body of work in the UFC, it is very clear that he should be ranked ahead of Paiva.  Yadong fought to a draw with the current No. 14 ranked Stamann.  He then defeated current No. 13 ranked Vera.  After his Phillips loss in March, the 23-year-old Chinese fighter defeated top 20 bantamweight Casey Kenney at UFC 265 earlier this month.

It’s clear to me that Yadong should be in the rankings instead of Paiva.  Here are a few more fighters who I think deserve to be ranked ahead of Paiva.

Ricky Simon is 6-2 in the UFC with his only losses coming against Urijah Faber and current No. 4 ranked Rob Font.  He holds notable victories over current No. 11 ranked Merab Dvalishvili, Rani Yahya and Brian Kelleher.

Raoni Barcelos was 5-0 in the UFC before losing a majority decision in his last fight to Timur Valiev which was the Brazilian’s second straight fight of the night.  Barcelos holds notable victories over Chris Gutierrez, Said Nurmagomedov and Khalid Taha.

Timur Vaiev is 2-0, 1NC in the UFC with his biggest win coming over the previously mentioned Raoni Barcelos.

Adrian Yanez is 3-0 in the UFC with three stoppage victories.  He has notable victories over Gustavo Lopez and Randy Costa.

Although I don’t think Sean O’Malley should be ranked right now in the UFC, I think he deserves to be ranked ahead of Paiva based on his results and not his popularity.  O’Malley is 6-1 in the UFC and his only loss came to current No. 13 Marlon Vera.  O’Malley holds notable stoppage victories over Eddie Wineland and Thomas Almeida.

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.