It might be an understatement to say that the UFC has questionable rankings. You would expect the rankings to be questionable as they are subjective; however, in this column, I will highlight rankings that I believe are egregious errors. I will also analyze significant movements in the rankings with which I agree.
Editorial commentary by Peter Parsons
Last Saturday night, Andrei Arlovski won a split decision over Jake Collier to win his fourth straight fight and sixth of his last seven. Arlovski is still unranked in the UFC heavyweight division, a division that needs an overhaul at the bottom of its rankings.
Andrei Arlovski not ranked at heavyweight
Yes, I know it was a controversial split decision win for Arlovski over Jake Collier on Saturday night. Personally, Collier won the first and third rounds en route to a 29-28 decision victory. However, former champion Arlovski won the fight and has now won four in a row, which is not easy to do in any UFC weight division.
Arlovski has won 6 of his last 7 fights with his only loss in that streak being against current #6 Tom Aspinall. Arlovski has not beaten a ranked fighter during this streak; however, he beat top prospects in Tanner Boser and Carlos Filipe who were themselves close to being seeded.
While some heavyweights near the bottom of the rankings have held ranking spots while inactive, the 43-year-old Arlovski has been very active. The “Pitbull” fought twice in 2020, three times in 2021 and already twice in 2022.
It’s been nearly two years since No. 15-ranked Blagoy Ivanov last fought in May 2020. Ivanov is coming off two straight losses. Bulgarian Ivanov returns this Saturday at UFC 274 against Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
14-ranked Augusto Sakai’s last win was a split decision win over Blagoy Ivanov in May 2020. Sakai is coming off three straight losses.
12-ranked Shamil Abdurakhimov last won a fight in April 2019. He went two years without a fight and somehow stayed in the top 10. Since his return last September, Abdurakimov has lost some two in a row.
No. 11 Sergei Pavlovich has somehow stayed in the rankings after going over 28 months without a fight. He came back in March with a victory over his compatriot Abdurakhimov, who, as I mentioned, was ranked higher than he should have been. If Abdurakhimov and Pavlovich were out of the rankings due to inactivity as they should have been, neither of them would be ranked yet. Pavlovich is set to face No. 5-ranked Derrick Lewis on July 30.
While some of the heavyweights at the bottom of the rankings have been inactive, we see heavyweights like Andrei Arlovski, Serghei Spivac and Alexander Romanov putting it on the line as they fight regularly. I think UFC voting panelists should be rewarding those fighters and not rewarding fighters who are inactive and sitting in their ranking spot.
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Alexander Romanov ranked No. 13 at heavyweight
Alexander Romanov (16-0) defeated Chase Sherman on Saturday night and has now won five straight in the UFC heavyweight division. The Moldovan has finished four of his five UFC opponents. He has notable wins over Marcos Rogerio de Lima and TUF 28 winner Joan Espino.
Not having defeated a ranked opponent, I wasn’t sure if we would see Romanov in the rankings this week. I think Romanov should be ranked No. 11 ahead of Sergei Pavlovich and Shamil Abdurakhimov.
Serghei Spivac not ranked at heavyweight
With fellow countryman Romanov entering the rankings, Serghei Spivac finds himself on the outside looking at the top 15 heavyweights in the UFC. Spivac is another active heavyweight and has won four of his last five fights with his only loss in this upcoming streak. against current heavyweight No. 6 Tom Aspinall. Spivac picked up notable wins over Carlos Felipe and Aleksei Oleinik during that streak. He also picked up a second-round victory over currently No. 3-ranked heavyweight Tai Tuivasa in October 2019. I think Spivac should be ranked ahead of Pavlovich, Abdurakhimov, Sakai and Ivanov.
Here are the aforementioned heavyweight records since January 1, 2020.
(11) Sergei Pavlovich – 1-0
(12) Shamil Abdurakhimov – 0-2
(13) Alexander Romanov – 5-0
(14) Augusto Sakai – 1-3
(15) Blagoy Ivanov – 0-1
Sergey Spivac – 4-2
Anrey Arlovski – 6-1
I know that records don’t mean everything and that the quality of the opposition counts. At the same time, you shouldn’t have to beat a ranked opponent to be ranked when you stay active and score big wins in the UFC. I recently wrote in this column how Romanov and Arlovski should be ranked. After last Saturday, I think Romanov should be ranked higher and Arlovski should definitely be ranked.
Notable Upcoming UFC Heavyweight Fights
May 7 – Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs (15) Blagoy Ivanov
June 4 – (8) Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs (7) Alexander Volkov
July 23 – (6) Tom Aspinall vs (4) Curtis Blaydes
July 30 – (11) Sergei Pavlovich vs (5) Derrick Lewis
September 3 – (3) Tai Tuivasa vs (1) Cyril Gane
My ranking would be different than any other writer or fan who follows the sport closely. This is to be expected, as the rankings are subjective. Rankings should be based primarily on results and not on perceived potential or popularity.
Some people think rankings don’t matter. Rankings matter. They matter when it comes to matchmaking. They matter when it comes to contract negotiations.
Let’s continue the conversation about rankings. Do you agree or disagree with the ranking review above? Express your thoughts in the comments below.