The Heavyweight Grand Prix is only a few weeks away and I look forward to the release of USA Today/SB Nation's consensus ranking so that I can see the huge leap that Fedor Emelianenko's opponent, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, makes in the standings. Currently he sits at number 10, but it is common wisdom that as soon as someone is announced as an opponent against Fedor they skyrocket up in the rankings.
Don't believe me, just take a look at what happened with Fabricio Werdum. On November 19th, 2009 he was ranked number 10 in the consensus rankings. This was less than two weeks after his victory over "Bigfoot" and before his match with Fedor had been announced. And so where was Werdum when the fight went down? By June 24th he had skyrocket all the way to... number 9. What is even more outrageous is that in his rise he had leapfrogged an inactive and unlicensed Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers, who was coming off two losses.
Ok, so maybe Werdum isn't the best example. But surely no one can forget the bump that Brett Rogers got after he was announced as Fedor's opponent, entering their November 7th, 2009 fight at number 8 in the rankings. And what was Brett's ranking in July of that year, several weeks before Strikeforce announced his fight with Fedor, and even before fans knew that Fedor would be even signed to the promotion? Number 8.
Well, then what of Josh Barnett who was ranked number 2 before their scheduled match at Affliction 3? Well, he was number 3 in January of that year, going into his "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" fight, and then jumped to number 2 immediately following it on the strength of his victory and, perhaps more importantly, then number 2 Andrei Arlovski's loss.
Andre Arlovski's himself was number 6 after leaving the UFC and before his fight with number 10 Ben Rothwell. After his impressive showing he jumped to number 4, over future "bump" beneficiaries Josh Barnett and Fabricio Werdum, eventually making it to number 2 in time for his fight with the Last Emperor. Now could we take Arlovski's rise as evidence that the "bump" exists. Perhaps, but the more likely answer might be that while Andrei was beating number 17 Roy Nelson on CBS, both Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, the two fighters that had been ranked above him, lost.
The fighter that best provides any evidence of a "bump" is Tim Sylvia, who was number 7 following his exit from the UFC and came in at number 5 by the time Affliction: Banned was held. One problem with using his rankings as evidence is that the consensus ranking where retooled during the interim. As Kid Nate wrote at the time:
Presenting the relaunch of the Bloody Elbow Meta-Rankings. We took a couple of months off and retooled our approach to include more sources. We also eliminated the weighting we were doing to favor statistical and fan-voting sites.
So are there any heavyweights that receive a bump? Well, there is one obvious example, a fighter who was unranked in March of 2008, following his victory over an unranked, 1-0 UFC novice, came in at number 15 after he was announced to fight for the interim title, and number 10 by the time the fight took place in December of 2009. And during that whole time, as he was rising in the ranks, he didn't have a single fight that could explain his rise.
This fighter's name is Frank Mir, and unfortunately for "bump" theorists his opponent was Big Nog and not Fedor.