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
Last week’s Rankings Review column was focused on Sergei Pavlovich’s rise in ranking despite not having fought in over 22 months. I did not realize that No. 7 ranked heavyweight Shamil Abdurakhimov had not fought in over two years until I looked at his record after reading the below comment from avid MMAWeekly.com commenter Timothy Malone.
Timothy wrote, “First of all: You are spot-on that Tuivasa should be ranked before Pavlovich (in fact you could also make an argument for Arlovski over him too considering Andrei’s recent losses have only been to ranked opponents)
But I am actually surprised your look at heavyweight rankings doesn’t focus on a problem closer to the top: Shamil Abdurakhimov is inexplicably ranked SEVENTH! This appears to be purely based on a win over #8 Tybura . From 2019. Since then Abdurakhimov is 0-1 and Tybura is 5-1. And that loss for Abdurakhimov was the lower ranked Walt Harris, a fighter that Tybura just beat. Abdurakhimov should be the one down on the bottom of the rankings, not in the Top 10!”
Shamil Abdurakhimov ranked No. 7 at heavyweight
Firstly, I don’t think Abdurakhimov should be ranked at heavyweight, period. This is because he hasn’t fought in over two years. In last week’s column, I mentioned that 18 months should be the maximum amount of time that a fighter should be eligible for the rankings without competing.
If inactivity was not a factor, I would have Abdurakimov in the 12 to 15 range, definitely behind No. 11 ranked Tom Aspinall who won his fourth straight two Saturdays ago. I think Timothy makes some good points above; however, Abdurakhimov lost his last fight in September of 2019 against Curtis Blaydes and not Walt Harris. He has a 2016 split decision victory over Harris. Abdurakhimov is 5-3 in the UFC and has notable victories over Walt Harris, Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura. He has notable losses against Timothy Johnson, Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes.
Abdurakhimov has a fight scheduled against No. 10 ranked Chris Daukus at UFC 266 on September 25. Since Abdurakhimov’s last fight, Daukus made his UFC debut 11 months later in August of 2020. He has gone 3-0 with three straight first round finishes including a first round TKO over then No. 10 ranked Aleksei Oleinik in February.
If Pavlovich and Abdurakhimov weren’t in the rankings due to inactivity, which heavyweights should be ranked?
Below are three heavyweights who I feel could be ranked. They all have fights scheduled soon that should have rankings implications.
Tai Tuivasa is a fighter who I have previously written about who I feel should currently be ranked. “Bam Bam” is coming off three straight first round stoppages which include notable victories over Stefan Struve and Greg Hardy. The Australian was previously ranked after starting his UFC career going 3-0 before losing three straight against top opposition. Tuivasa is scheduled to fight No. 12 ranked Walt Harris on October 30.
Andrei Arlovski has been active in the last couple of years winning four out of his last six fights which dates back to July of 2019 when he defeated Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision. During that stretch, Arlovski also defeated rising Canadian heavyweight Tanner Boser. The former UFC champ’s last two losses came against ranked heavyweights Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Tom Aspinall. In a fight that could have ranking implications, Arlovski is scheduled to fight Carlos Felipe on October 16. After losing his UFC debut to current No. 15 ranked Serghei Spivac, the Brazilian Felipe has won three straight.
Alexander Romanov made his UFC debut in September of 2020 and is now 3-0 in the UFC and 14-0 overall. The Moldovan won his first two UFC fights by submission which set up his third fight against TUF 28 winner Juan Espino who also won his first two UFC fights by submission. Romanov defeated Espino by technical split decision. Romanov is scheduled to fight Jared Vanderaa on October 9.
It will be interesting to see how the heavyweight rankings shape up with some intriguing heavyweight matchups on tap in the next month or so.
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.