UFC Rankings Review: Alex Pereira Goes from Unranked to No. 6 Ranked Middleweight with KO of Sean Strickland at UFC 276

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

The UFC rankings had a lot of movement this week after a stacked UFC 276, a card that was full of ranked fighters.  The middleweight division saw the most movement with Alex Pereira leading the way as he went from unranked to No. 6 in the UFC’s 185-pound division.  Andre Muniz and Dricus Du Plessis also saw significant movement with victories over higher ranked opponents at middleweight.

Alex Pereira ranked No. 6 at middleweight

Alex Pereira defeated previous No. 4 ranked Sean Strickland by first round KO on Saturday night.  This was just the third UFC fight and the seventh MMA fight for the former Glory kickboxing two division world champ.  Not often you see a fighter go from unranked to No. 6 ranked in the UFC.  I think Pereira should be one spot higher ahead of his Brazilian countryman, No. 5 ranked Paulo Costa.

The No. 5 ranked Costa has not been very active, having only fought once a year for the past five years.  His last victory came against Yoel Romero in August of 2019.  Of course, he has fought top competition, losing to Israel Adesanya in a title fight in September of 2020.  His last fight was a loss to Marvin Vettori in October of 2021.  Costa had the controversial weight issues going into the Vettori fight which was originally scheduled at middleweight.  After negotiating for a catchweight fight, the fight ended up being at light heavyweight.  Costa hasn’t competed at middleweight in nearly two years.

Since Costa’s last fight, Pereira has fought three times in the UFC.  He made his UFC debut in November with a performance of the night, flying knee knockout over Andreas Michailidis.  He returned in March with a unanimous decision victory over Bruno Silva who was 3-0 with three KO’s in the UFC.  Sean Strickland was 5-0 in the UFC middleweight division and was coming off back-to-back, five round, main event victories over Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson, respectively.

Given their recent bodies of work, I feel that Pereira should be ranked ahead of Costa in the UFC middleweight division.  Costa has a chance to solidify his ranking and perhaps move up in the UFC rankings when he faces former champ Luke Rockhold next month at UFC 278.

Andre Muniz ranked No. 10 at middleweight

Andre Muniz entered the UFC middleweight top 10, rising three spots from No. 13, with his unanimous decision over Uriah Hall on Saturday night.  In my opinion, Muniz should be ranked one spot higher, ahead of No. 9 ranked Darren Till.

Till has only won one fight at middleweight and that was in November of 2019.  Till defeated then No. 4 ranked Kelvin Gastelum who has since fallen to No. 11 at middleweight.  Till lost a very competitive decision against former champ and No. 1 ranked Robert Whitaker in July of 2020.  The former UFC welterweight title challenger lost by rear naked choke to Derek Brunson in his last fight which puts the English fighter at 1-2 in the UFC middleweight division.

Muniz made his UFC debut two weeks after Till made his UFC middleweight debut in November of 2019.  The Brazilian is 5-0 since entering the UFC.  Muniz had three straight first round submission victories going into the Uriah Hall fight.  His most notable victory was over legend Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, a fight in which he broke Jacare’s arm.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt dominated Uriah Hall by unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards.  Hall was ranked No. 9 going into the fight.

I don’t feel like Till’s victory over Gastelum in 2019 should hold up to have him ranked ahead of Muniz.  The Brazilian has gone 5-0 in the UFC during the same time frame that Till went 1-2 at middleweight.

Till will get a chance to move up in the rankings when he faces No. 8 ranked Jack Hermansson on July 23 on his home turf in London, England.

Dricus Du Plessis ranked No. 14 at middleweight

Dricus Du Plessis defeated previous No. 12 ranked Brad Tavares in the opening bout on the ABC portion of the UFC 276 prelims on Saturday.  The 28-year-old South African is now 3-0 in the UFC and 17-2 overall.  I agree with Du Plessis’ No. 14 ranking.

You may have heard on the UFC broadcast that along with being Du Plessis’ third UFC opponent, Tavares was also champion Israel Adesanya’s third UFC opponent.

Will these rising middleweight contenders challenge Israel Adesanya for the title?

We know that Alex Pereira is all but guaranteed for the next shot at Adesanya’s gold, barring injury.  With their kickboxing history, Adesanya vs. Pereira has the makings for a big selling and entertaining fight.

Andre Muniz could be a couple wins away from a title shot and Dricus Du Plesis could be three or four wins away from a title shot.

Even though they are coming off losses, the winner of Darren Till and Jack Hermansson could be a win or two away from a title shot.

There has been talk of Adesnaya having cleaned out the middleweight division.  I think he has far from cleaned out the division and there always seems to be new contenders rising like Pereira, Muniz and Du Plessis.

Upcoming Notable UFC Middleweight Fights

Jul 9 – Caio Borralho vs. Armen Petrosyan

Jul 23 – (9) Darren Till vs. (8) Jack Hermansson

Aug 13 – Bruno Silva vs. Gerald Meerschaert

Sep 3 – (2) Marvin Vettori vs. (1) Robert Whitaker

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.