With UFC Vegas 37 in the books, the ranking panelists (which includes myself) went back to update our personal rankings. There were some divisions that saw major shake-ups. Let’s take a look at who moved and what the reason might be for it.
|Anthony Smith||#4 (+2)|
|Thiago Santos||#5 (-1)|
|Dominick Reyes||#6 (-1)|
It’s perhaps not terribly surprising that Anthony Smith jumped up a couple of spots. After being all but written off following a couple of losses, he’s now rattled off three wins in a row – all of which came by first-round stoppage. Not only was it a third straight win, but the dominance he showed over a tough opponent erased a lot of the doubt people had in him. It may be a little surprising to see him move ahead of Santos, who defeated Smith head-to-head back in 2018. However, given that Santos has lost three in a row, the same length as Smith’s winning streak, it isn’t too far-fetched to see that happen.
Also of note at light heavyweight is Ryan Spann, who came into the fight at #11 and stayed right there. While the loss was pretty lopsided, the lack of movement likely comes from the fact that he has a recent win over #13 Misha Cirkunov. Plus, he was ranked quite a bit behind Smith prior to the fight, and therefore the loss isn’t so bad in that regard.
|Raquel Pennington||#10 (NR)|
|Macy Chiasson||#11 (-1)|
|Lina Lansberg||#12 (-1)|
|Pannie Kianzad||#14 (-2)|
|Karol Rosa||#15 (-1)|
|Alexis Davis||NR (-1)|
Some might have been surprised to see that Raquel Pennington wasn’t ranked. After all, she does hold a win over Miesha Tate and has had close battles with Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. However, the UFC had removed her a while back. Despite having fought in June of 2020, she was removed in January of this year – the reason was not known. She re-enters the rankings here at #10 and will look to make her way back into the #5.
The rest of the movement is pretty self-explanatory. Each of the fighters moving down a spot were to accommodate Pennington getting back in. The only one losing more than a single spot was the woman who was beaten by Pennington, Pannie Kianzad. She fell two spots, which includes falling behind Julia Avila, who had beat her in the past.
Very little movement happened at lightweight from this weekend’s action. Arman Tsarukyan finished Christos Giagos in violent fashion. Being that it was a ranked fighter, who was a massive favorite, beating an unranked fighter, he only moved up a single spot. That spot comes at the expense of Rafael Fiziev, who beat Bobby Green last time out, albeit somewhat unconvincingly.
|Brandon Royval||#5 (+1)|
|Kai Kara-France||#6 (+1)|
|Rogerio Bontorin||#7 (+1)|
|Matt Schnell||#8 (+1)|
|Tim Elliott||#9 (+1)|
|David Dvorak||#10 (+1)|
|Matheus Nicolau||#11 (+1)|
|Amir Albazi||#13 (+1)|
|Tyson Nam||#14 (+1)|
|Tagir Ulanbekov||#15 (+1)|
The movement at flyweight is entirely due to the departure of Joseph Benavidez. After a long and storied career, Benavidez called it quits this week. He was previously ranked at #5 in the UFC’s flyweight rankings, which made way for anybody under that number to jump up a single spot.
Of course, all of this movement left a gap at #15. Here, the panelists collectively choose Tagir Ulanbekov to fill the void. Ulanbekov is just 1-0 in the UFC, but with the shallow nature of flyweight, it’s not surprising that a spot went to someone with that record. Ulanbekov will look to make it two straight and defend his newly found spot in the rankings on October 30th against Allan Nascimento.
A lot of people will see this movement and scratch their heads. After all, Song Yadong didn’t fight. Raulian Paiva didn’t fight. So why in the world would they switch places? It’s movement like this that typically makes the public question the UFC’s ranking system and to make fun of it’s ability to operate.
However, the answer is really simple. Most likely, Yadong and Paiva had similar scores in the aggregate rankings, with Yadong having only a slight edge. With Nate Maness winning and moving to 3-0 in the UFC, he likely began to get some votes for a spot at bantamweight. If more of those votes came at the expense of Yadong than they did on people who had Paiva ranked, then Yadong’s aggregate score would have dropped below Paiva’s and it would cause the shift. Of course, none of this can be confirmed as the UFC no longer releases all the votes of their panelists.