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
Sean Strickland switched spots with previous No. 6 ranked Jack Hermansson, after defeating Hermansson by controversial split decision this past Saturday. The decision was controversial as no media member had scored the fight for Hermansson.
Sean Strickland ranked No. 6 at middleweight
The win over Hermansson on Saturday was Strickland’s sixth straight UFC victory and his fifth in a row at middleweight. He is 5-0 at middleweight after coming back in October of 2020 after a two-year hiatus from the Octagon because of a motorcycle accident.
In my opinion, Stickland could be ranked as high as No. 3 and he should be ranked no lower than No. 5 ahead of Paulo Costa. While Strickland has been active having fought five times in 16 months, Costa has fought once during that stretch and that was a loss to Marvin Vettori at light heavyweight after Costa seemingly had no intentions to make the middleweight limit. Yes, Costa’s previous fight was a title fight loss to current champ Israel Adesanya, but his resume before 2020 should not warrant him a ranking ahead of Strickland. Costa’s last victory was against Yoel Romero in August of 2019.
Strickland now has back-to-back five round main event victories over top 10 opponents Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson. Before the Hall fight, Strickland had back-to-back victories over two middleweights who are just outside the rankings in Brendan Allen and Krzysztof Jotko.
A fighter should be rewarded for their activity, in the case of Strickland, and not for inactivity and inability to make weight, in the case of Costa.
MMA Community rallies around Chris Leben after health scare
Norma Dumont ranked No. 15 at women’s bantamweight (despite not having fought in the division)
The current No. 15 ranked UFC women’s bantamweight fighter Norma Dumont remarkably has not fought at bantamweight! After making her UFC debut at featherweight in February of 2020 in a KO loss to Megan Anderson, Dumont attempted to drop down to bantamweight in her next fight against Ashlee Evans-Smith. Dumont missed the weight by 3.5 pounds making the bout against Evans-Smith a catchweight fight. Dumont has looked impressive in her last two fights with back-to-back wins over Felicia Spencer and Aspen Ladd; however, both fights were at featherweight. Dumont is scheduled to fight at 145 again in her next fight against Macy Chiasson in May.
Who should be ranked at bantamweight instead of Dumont? Women’s bantamweight is one of the UFC’s most shallow divisions. It doesn’t take much of a streak to be ranked at 135 in the women’s division. Alexis Davis is a fighter who is worthy of being ranked at bantamweight after her victory this past Saturday.
After a few fights at flyweight, Alexis Davis returned last February to the bantamweight division where she was once a title challenger to Ronda Rousey. Davis defeated Columbian prospect Sabina Mazo by unanimous decision in February of 2021. Davis returned at UFC 263 in June and lost a close decision to current No. 12 Pannie Kianzad. This past Saturday, Davis put on a solid performance defeating former Invicta FC bantamweight champion Julija Stoliarenko by unanimous decision. The Canadian veteran is now 7-3 in the UFC women’s bantamweight division.
When you look up and down the UFC women’s bantamweight roster, there is only one unranked fighter on a UFC win streak and that is Jessica Rose Clark. The Australian is scheduled to face Stephanie Eggar on February 19. The Swiss fighter Eggar is coming off a win of her own. The winner of this fight makes a good case to be ranked at women’s bantamweight.
I’ve been writing this column for just over a year now and have made many arguments when it comes to rankings. In the case of Norma Dumont being ranked at bantamweight, this should not even be debatable. How could a fighter be ranked in a division without having fought in that division? Beating a top bantamweight in Aspen Ladd at featherweight, should not get you ranked at bantamweight when you have never made the bantamweight (136 pound) weight limit.
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.