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
Josh Emmett defeated Calvin Kattar by split decision on Saturday at the UFC Fight Night in Austin, Texas. With the victory, Emmett moves up three sports from No. 7 to No. 4 in the UFC featherweight division.
Josh Emmett ranked No. 4 at featherweight
I’ve written a couple of articles for this column as of late featuring fighters who took their opponents rankings where I thought these fighters should have moved higher up the rankings. Michel Pereira and Movsar Evloev took their recent opponent’s Santiago Ponzinibbio and Dan Ige’s rankings. I make the argument that too often voters seem to give a fighter their opponent’s ranking without looking in detail at the fighters ranked ahead. I feel this way in the case of Josh Emmett taking Calvin Katter’s No. 4 ranking.
When you look at the recent body of work for Josh Emmett compared to the No. 3 ranked Yair Rodriguez, I feel strongly that Emmett should be ranked ahead of Rodriguez. Emmett has now won five straight with victories over Michael Johnson, Mirsad Bektic, Shane Burgos, Dan Ige and Calvin Kattar.
Since defeating Jeremy Stephens in 2019, the current No. 3 Yair Rodriguez was out of action for just over two years when he came back to fight Max Holloway in November. Rodriguez lost a unanimous decision over the No. 1 ranked Holloway. With not having won a fight since 2019, I don’t feel Rodriguez has done enough to be ranked No. 3 over Josh Emmett who has put together consecutive wins over ranked opponents before defeating previous No. 4 ranked Calvin Katter this past weekend.
Yair Rodriguez has a chance to move up in the rankings as he faces current No. 2 ranked featherweight Brian Ortega in a high-profile, five round main event. The pair headlines the card which will air live on ABC on July 16 from Long Island, New York.
Damir Ismagulov unranked at lightweight
With his win over Guram Kutateladze on Saturday, Damir Ismagulov is now 5-0 in the UFC and 24-1 overall. You can say every fight is tough in the UFC; however, Ismagulov has truly faced some tough high-level competition in three of his UFC fights. Kutataledze was coming off a win in his UFC debut against current No. 12 ranked Mateusz Gamrot in a fight of the night performance. Ismagulov’s two other notable victories were against Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises in 2019. Both Alvarez and Moises went on to be ranked for brief periods in the stacked lightweight division.
I know that a lot of mainstream fans don’t know who Damir Ismagulov is. Popularity should have nothing to do with rankings. His body of work in the UFC should have the 31-year-old from Kazakhstan ranked. I think Ismagulov should be ranked No. 14 ahead of Brad Riddell and Diego Ferreira.
No. 15 ranked lightweight Diego Ferreira has lost three in a row since defeating Anthony Pettis who was ranked No. 11 at the time. The victory over Pettis, in early 2020, put Ferreira into the rankings. The Brazilian had two notable victories in 2019 against Mairbek Taisumov and Rustam Khabiliov. In my opinion, Ferreira has not done enough in the last couple of years to be ranked ahead of Ismagulov.
No. 14 ranked lightweight Brad Riddell is coming off his first loss in the UFC. The Australian lost by third round TKO to Rafael Fiziev in December. Going into the Fiziev fight, Riddell was 4-0 in the UFC. When comparing Riddell to Ismagulov, the question becomes, were Riddell’s four UFC wins as impressive as Ismagulov’s five UFC wins? Riddell’s most notable UFC victories were against Alex da Silva and Drew Dober. It’s close, but I think Ismagulov’s win streak is more impressive. Also, Ismagulov’s streak is active with his win over Kutateladze on Saturday.
Riddell and Ferreira both have fights coming up against tough unranked fighters in Jalin Turner and Drakkar Klose, respectively. See list of upcoming notable lightweight fights below.
Upcoming Notable UFC Featherweight Fights
Jul 2 – (1) Max Holloway vs. (C) Alexander Volkanovski
Jul 16 – Bill Algeo vs. Billy Quarantillo
Jul 16 – Charles Jourdain vs. (14) Shane Burgos
Jul 16 – (3) Yair Rodriguez vs. (2) Brian Ortega
Jul 23 – Jonathan Pearce vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Sep 17 – Damon Jackson vs. Pat Sabatini
Sep 17 – Andre Fili vs. Lando Vanata
Upcoming Notable UFC Lightweight Fights
June 25 – Christos Giagos vs. Thiago Moises
Jun 25 – (12) Mateusz Gamrot vs. (11) Arman Tsarukyan
Jul 2 – Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller
Jul 2 – Jalin Turner vs. (14) Brad Riddell
Jul 9 – Rafael Fiziev vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Jul 23 – Jordan Leavitt vs. Paddy Pimblett
Jul 30 – Rafael Alves vs. Drew Dober
Jul 30 – Drakkar Klose vs (15) Diego Ferreira
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.