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
Serghei Spivac won a unanimous decision this past Saturday against veteran Aleksei Oleinik who was previously ranked No. 15. It was expected that Spivac would have a number next to his name when the rankings came out this week. The Moldovan heavyweight entered the UFC rankings tied with Sergei Pavlovich at No. 14. I have written previously in this column how Pavlovich should not be ranked, mainly due to his inactivity. It has now been 20 months since Pavlovich last fought.
Serghei Spivac and Sergei Pavlovich tied at No. 14 at heavyweight
Sergei Pavlovich last fought on October 26, 2019. That makes it 20 months since he last fought. We have seen many times where a fighter has been pulled from the rankings due to inactivity for less time than 20 months. Nate Diaz comes to mind as he last fought in November of 2019, and was pulled form the rankings a few months ago. I personally think that 18 months without competing should be the maximum time that a fighter should be eligible for ranking.
The inactivity not withstanding, there is no way that Sergei Pavlovich should be tied with Serghei Spivac in the rankings. Pavlovich is 2-1 in the UFC. After losing a tough octagon debut to Alistair Overeem who was ranked No. 6 at the time, 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, 20 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 has recently been cut from the UFC.
Like Pavlovich, Spivac also fought in October of 2019. At UFC 243, in front of a record-breaking crowd in Australia, Spivac upset Australian Tai Tuivasa who was ranked No. 14 at the time. Spivac has fought four times since Pavlovich’s last fight. His only loss during that stretch came in February of 2020 against current No. 8 ranked Marcin Tybura. Spivac then defeated previously unbeaten Carlos Felipe last July in the Brazilian’s UFC debut. This win has held up well over time as Felipe has since won three in a row. Spivac defeated Jared Vanderaa by second round TKO in February. This set up the 26-year-old Moldovan’s next fight against a ranked opponent in Aleksei Oleinik. Spivac defeated the Russian veteran by unanimous decision.
Judging by their recent fight history, how could you have Pavlovich and Spivac ranked even? Do some voting panellists just see that Oleinik was ranked 15th and Spivac beat him, therefor Spivac takes Oleinik’s No. 15 ranking? It appears that way. Do voters even look at the individual fighter’s recent bodies of work in the octagon? It does not appear that way, at least not for half the voters.
Who should be ranked at heavyweight instead of Pavlovich?
Two fighters come to mind. One is a former UFC champ and near the end of his career. One is an undefeated prospect.
Andrei Arlovski has won four of his last six fights, with five of them coming after Pavlovich’s last fight. His two losses during that stretch were against current No. 6 ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik and current No. 12 ranked Tom Aspinall. Two notable victories during this stretch were against former ranked fighters in Tanner Boser and Ben Rothwell. The 42-year-old Belarussian shows no signs of slowing down, having already fought twice in 2021 including his last win over Chase Sherman in April.
Alexander Romanov went into his April fight against Juan Espino with both fighters having won their first two fights in the UFC by submission. Romanov defeated the TUF 28 winner by technical split decision to go 3-0 in the UFC’s heavyweight division and 13-0 overall. The fight ended in a little controversy with Romanov not being able to continue due to an illegal knee to the groin. However, the Moldovan was on his way to winning a decision with two out of the three judges having scored the first two rounds for him. Romanov made his UFC debut in September of last year, 11 months after Pavlovich last fought.
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.