Rankings Review: Sergei Pavlovich Moves Up in Heavyweight Rankings Despite Not Having Fought in Over 22 Months

September 10, 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

Sergei Pavlovich last fought in October of 2019.  To give a sense of how long that’s been, Pavlovich’s last fight was on the undercard of Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren.  Maia has recently had his last fight in the UFC and Askren has since retired from MMA and fought Jake Paul in a boxing match.

We have seen fighters rightfully pulled from the rankings who have been inactive for a shorter period.  Nate Diaz is a recent example who comes to mind.  How long should a fighter stay in the rankings while inactive?  In my opinion, 18 months should be the maximum amount of time that a fighter should be eligible for the rankings without competing.

Sergei Pavlovich ranked No. 14 at heavyweight

Sergei Pavlovich was initially supposed to fight then No. 13 ranked Tom Aspinall this past Saturday.  However, visa issues prevented the Russian fighter from making the trip to Vegas to fight the rising British heavyweight.  Pavlovich was replaced by then No. 14 ranked Serghei Spivac who took the fight on just a week’s notice.

Aspinall, who is currently ranked No. 11, won his fourth straight UFC fight by finish and won a performance of the night bonus for his first round TKO of Spivac.  When this week’s UFC rankings came out, we saw the Moldovan Spivac drop from No. 14 to No. 15.  Pavlovich moved up to No. 14.  I don’t have a problem with seeing a fighter move down in rankings after taking a hard short notice loss to a fighter ranked above him; however, I do have a problem with seeing a fighter move up in rankings who hasn’t fought in nearly two years.

Spivac has fought five times since Pavlovich last fought.  He was coming off a three-fight winning streak going into the Aspinall fight.  

Not withstanding Pavlovich’s long layoff, I still think Spivac should be ranked ahead of him based off the two fighter’s UFC resumes.  After losing a tough octagon debut to Alistair Overeem, Pavlovich defeated Marcelo Golm.  The Brazilian Golm was 1-2 in the UFC going into their fight and was cut from the promotion after taking another loss.  In his last fight, over 22 months ago, Pavlovich defeated Maurice Greene who was ranked No. 13 at the time.  This was the victory that put Pavlovich into the rankings.  The victory has not held up well over time as Greene went on to lose 3 of his next four and was cut from the UFC.  Pavlovich is 2-1 in the UFC.

As part of his recent three fight winning streak, Spivac defeated top prospects Carlos Felipe and Jared Vanderaa before defeating veteran Aleksei Oleinik in June.  Oleinik was ranked No. 15 at the time.  Spivac is now 4-3 n the UFC with his three losses coming to ranked fighters in Walt Harris, Marcin Tybura and Tom Aspinall.  Spivac’s first UFC win came against Tai Tuivasa who had previously been ranked and who himself is currently on a three-fight winning streak, on the brink of the UFC rankings.

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As I wrote in a previous Rankings Review column, Tuivasa is another fighter who I feel clearly should be ranked ahead of Pavlovich.  Read Rankings Review: Tai Tuivasa Should Be Ranked After Three Straight First-Round Knockouts.

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.