Rankings Review: Should Merab Dvalishvili be Ranked in the Top 10?

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

This past Saturday was a good night for fighters from the country of Georgia.  Giga Chikadze picked up the biggest win of his career with a first round TKO that started with a brutal kick to the liver of perennial featherweight contender Cub Swanson in the co-main event.  This win moved Chikadze up four spots to No. 10 in the UFC featherweight division.

Chikadze’s countryman Merab Dvalishvili, opened up the main card this past Saturday with a unanimous decision victory over No. 13 ranked Cody Stamann.  The victory moved the Georgian bantamweight up only one spot in the UFC rankings.

Merab Dvalishvili Ranked No. 11 at Bantamweight

The win this past Saturday over Cody Stamann was Dvalishvili’s sixth straight victory in the UFC.  In my opinion, this victory should have moved “The Machine” up to No. 9 behind Pedro Munhoz and ahead of Dominick Cruz and Raphael Assuncao.

Dvalishvili’s win streak dates to September of 2018.  During this time, he has notable victories over TUF 27 winner Brad Katona, as well as against formerly ranked bantamweights Casey Kenney and John Dodson.  The Staman win was Dvalishvili’s most impressive victory of his career.

Raphael Assuncao is currently ranked No. 10 in the bantamweight division.  The Brazilian has lost three straight against top competition in Marlon Moraes, Cory Sandhagen and Cody Garbrandt.  He has not won a fight since July of 2018 when he defeated then No. 11 ranked Rob Font.

There are times when it makes sense that a fighter who has lost 3 straight could be ranked higher than a fighter who has won six straight due to the level of competition they have faced.  In this case, I think Dvalishvili has defeated high enough quality of opposition, as mentioned above, to warrant a higher ranking than Assuncao.  The fact remains, since Assuncao’s last victory, Dvalishwili has won six in a row.

Assuncao is scheduled to fight No. 14 ranked Kyler Phillips in July in a crossroads fight between the surging Phillips and the veteran Assuncao who looks to get back in the win column.

UFC Vegas 26 weigh-in results: Two fights cancelled

Dominick Cruz is currently ranked No. 9 at bantamweight.  He recently defeated Casey Kenney who is a common opponent of Cruz and Dvalishvili.  Cruz defeated Kenney by split decision in March of this year and Dvalishvili defeated Kenney by unanimous decision in February of last year.

The Kenney victory for Cruz was his first since June of 2016 when he defended the bantamweight title against Urijah Faber.  Cruz lost his title to Cody Garbrandt in December of 2016.  After the Garbrandt fight, injuries kept Cruz out until last May when he lost in his bid to recapture the 135-pound title against Henry Cejudo.

Cruz is a legend and the fighter who many think is the greatest 135 pounder in the young history of this sport.  He deserves to be ranked around the No. 10 mark now that he is back to active competition after a few years of battling multiple injuries.  However, in my opinion, he should not be ranked ahead of Dvalishvili.  Since his convincing victory over Cruz’s last opponent Casey Kenney, Dvalishvili had two victories over ranked opponents to cap off his current win streak.

The bantamweight division is one of the UFC’s deepest divisions these days and to rally off six straight victories in any division in the UFC is remarkable.  In my opinion, Merab Dvalishvili has done enough to be in the bantamweight top 10, ahead of veterans Raphael Assuncao and Dominick Cruz.

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.