Rankings Review: Sean Brady shoves Khamzat Chimaev out of the Top 15

March 11, 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.

Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons

Like two weeks ago, this week there was once again a lot of movement in the bottom half of the heavyweight rankings. Unlike two weeks ago, where the movement was a result of four heavyweight fights on the Lewis vs. Blaydes card, this week’s movement was a result of the UFC releasing long-time ranked heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos.

With two heavyweights out of the UFC, we didn’t just see two heavyweights enter the rankings at 14 and 15. Instead we saw two fighters enter the heavyweight rankings at 13 and 15 with other fighters moving up or down.

Tybura moves up, Pavlovich moves down, Aspinall enters at No. 13

A line that I wrote repeatedly in my last article when addressing a few unranked heavyweights was, “I don’t think he should be ranked ahead of No. 15 Marcin Tybura, but I think he should be ranked ahead of No. 13 Sergei Pavlovich.” This actually happened this week in the case of Tom Aspinall, who entered the rankings at No. 13 with Pavlovich dropping to No. 14 and Tybura moving up four spots to No. 11. Was somebody listening?

Needless to say, I agree with this movement. Four spots is a significant jump for a fighter in Tybura, who is currently idle. No. 11 is a more appropriate ranking for Tybura; who has won four in a row, including notable victories over Sergei Spivac, Ben Rothwell, and Greg Hardy. The Polish heavyweight should have entered the rankings higher in the first place.

Aspinall has went 3-0 since joining the UFC this past July. This includes two first-round TKO’s and a second-round submission over Andrei Arlovski, who had previously won two in a row and three out of his last four. Aspinall enters the rankings ahead of Sergei Pavlovich, which should have happened two weeks ago, after his recent victory.

UFC Vegas 19 results - Tom Aspinall defeats Andrei Arlovski
Tom Aspinall punches Andrei Arlovski at UFC Vegas 19

Walt Harris ranked No. 8 at heavyweight

With the movement in the heavyweight rankings, Walt Harris moved up three spots to No. 8 ahead of No. 9 ranked Augusto Sakai. This ranking stood out to me. I think there are other heavyweights who should be ranked ahead of Harris who are not, but here I will make the argument that Sakai should be ranked higher. Harris is 13-9 overall and 6-8 in the UFC. Meanwhile, Sakai is 15-2-1 overall and 4-1 in the UFC. I know records don’t tell the full story; their recent fights should be the main factor in determining their rankings.

Harris lost his last two fights, albeit to top competition in Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov. Sakai lost his last fight, in his only UFC loss, to Overeem.

What about their recent wins? Sakai had won his first 4 UFC bouts, including his last two wins against current No. 12 Blagoy Ivanov and current No. 11 Marcin Tybura. Harris had won two in a row against current No. 15 Alexei Olenik and currently unranked Sergei Spivac. Sakai’s last victory came in May of 2020 whereas Harris’ last victory came in July of 2019. I think it’s obvious who should be ranked higher here.

Augusto Sakai is scheduled to fight No. 7 ranked Shamil Abdurakhimov on May 1. Walt Harris is scheduled to fight Marcin Tybura on June 5.

Alexander Volkov punches Walt Harris at UFC 254
Alexander Volkov punches Walt Harris at UFC 254

Sean Brady enters welterweight ranks at No. 14

Sean Brady defeated Jake Matthews on Saturday night via third round arm-triangle. After the fight, the commentators as well as Brady himself were saying that he should get a top 15 opponent next. While I agree with that, I found myself telling my TV that Brady should now be in the top 15 himself.

With Brady entering the top 15, Khamzat Chimaev is now out of the rankings. I have written multiple times how Chimaev shouldn’t be ranked in the deep 170-pound division with just one win in the division, that coming against a fighter who was making his UFC debut.

I have made the case that Brady, along with a long list of welterweights, should have been ranked ahead of Chimaev. One fighter I had on this list was Brady’s opponent on Saturday night, Jake Matthews. The Australian, Matthews, had won 6 of his last 7, including a victory over current No. 12 Li Jingliang. Going into the fight, I thought the winner of Brady and Matthews should definitely be ranked. I’m glad to see the voting panellists for the UFC rankings get this one right.

Sean Brady punches Jake Matthews at UFC 259
Sean Brady punches Jake Matthews at UFC 259

Lina Lansberg and Macy Chiasson change positions… again

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Macy Chiasson went ahead of Lina Lansberg out of nowhere, despite the fact that Lansberg has a recent win over Chiasson. This week, the two fighters switched places once again, as Lansberg moved up to No. 10 and Chiasson moved down to No. 11.

While this is another change for the better this week, it makes you question how and why Chiasson would go ahead of Lansberg to begin with, only to trade places again.

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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.