Ranking the Rankers: Light Heavyweight Edition

Hello there, BE Community. This is the second in a series of posts in which I intend to examine the UFC rankings issued by our own BE staff.

As a fan, I was really excited when the UFC announced their intentions to offer an independent ranking system for their stable of fighters. What I found even more satisfying was when I learned that 5 Bloody Elbow staff would be involved in the ranking. In many ways, I view them as my representatives in the ranking process. Of course, that also means that I'm counting on them to "get it right."

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to analyze their rankings individually and as a group. Specifically, I will compare their rankings to each other as well as to the overall UFC averages. I will also lay out supporting data regarding wins and losses for each of the top 10 fighters. Basically, it's the type of analysis I would do if I were selected to be one of the few who get to determine the official UFC rankings.

Given the main event ranking implications from 161, I'll be covering the Light Heavyweights with today's post.

The Data:

Chris Light Heavyweight Steph Light Heavyweight Fraser Light Heavyweight Tim Light Heavyweight T.P. Light Heavyweight
C Jon Jones C Jon Jones C Jon Jones
C Jon Jones C Jon Jones
Lyoto Machida 1
Lyoto Machida 1
Lyoto Machida 1
Alexander Gustafsson 1
Lyoto Machida
Alexander Gustafsson 2
Alexander Gustafsson 2
Alexander Gustafsson 2
Lyoto Machida 2
Alexander Gustafsson
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 3
Rashad Evans 3
Glover Teixeira 3
Glover Teixeira 3
Phil Davis
Rashad Evans 4
Mauricio Rua 4
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 4
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 4
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Dan Henderson 5
Glover Teixeira 5
Rashad Evans 5
Rashad Evans 5
Glover Teixeira
Mauricio Rua 6
Dan Henderson 6
Dan Henderson 6
Dan Henderson 6
Rashad Evans
Glover Teixeira 7
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 7
Mauricio Rua 7
Phil Davis 7
Dan Henderson
Phil Davis 8
Phil Davis 8
Phil Davis 8
Mauricio Rua 8
Mauricio Rua
Gegard Mousasi 9
Gegard Mousasi 9
Gegard Mousasi 9
Gegard Mousasi 9
Gegard Mousasi
Ryan Bader 10
Ryan Bader 10
Ryan Bader 10
Ryan Bader 10
Ryan Bader

  • Notice that the only consistency across all 5 voters was Gegard Mousasi and Ryan Bader at #9 and #10 respectively. I'll explain later why I believe the facts disagree with their place in the rankings
  • Tim was the only one to rank Gus ahead of Machida in the #1 spot
  • Interestingly, Steph dropped Little Nog to #7, despite his recent win over Rashad Evans, a fighter she ranked higher than anyone on the panel at #3
  • T.P. showed the most love for Phil Davis at #3, which could be justified with his wins over Gus and Little Nog, but difficult to defend given his struggles against #6 on his list, Rashad Evans

The BE Averages Compared to UFC Overall Rankings:

C Jon Jones C Jon Jones
1.2 Lyoto Machida 1 Lyoto Machida
1.8 Alexander Gustafsson 2 Alexander Gustafsson
4.4 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 3 Glover Teixeira
4.6 Glover Teixeira 4 Rashad Evans
4.6 Rashad Evans 5 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
6 Dan Henderson 6 Dan Henderson
6.6 Mauricio Rua 7 Mauricio Rua
6.8 Phil Davis 8 Phil Davis
9 Gegard Mousasi 9 Gegard Mousasi
10 Ryan Bader 10 Ryan Bader

  • The only major difference between the BE crew and the Overall rankings is Little Nog's placement at #3 ahead of Glover Teixeira and Rashad Evans

Supporting Information:

Record Top 10 Wins ZUFFA Other Notable Wins Other Notable Losses
1 Lyoto Machida 19-3 Henderson, Bader, Rua, Evans 11-3 Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz, Thiago Silva, Couture
Rampage Jackson
2 Alexander Gustafsson 15-1 Rua 7-1 Thiago Silva, Vlady, Hamill, Te Huna
3 Glover Teixeira 21-2 N/A 4-0 Rampage, Te Huna
4 Rashad Evans 18-3-1 Phil Davis, Dan Henderson 13-3-1 Ortiz, Rampage, Thiago Silva, Griffin, Liddell, Bisping
5 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 21-5 Evans, Henderson 11-4 Ortiz, Vlady, Overeem (x2), Mezger
6 Dan Henderson 29-10 Rua 23-10 Fedor, Bisping, Franklin, Wandy, Belfort, Feijao
Jake Shields
7 Mauricio Rua 21-7 Machida, Nogueira 17-6 Griffin, Liddell, Coleman, Overeem (x2), Rampage, Arona
Forrest Griffin
8 Phil Davis 11-1 Nogueira, Gustafsson 7-1 Stann, Boetsch, Magalhaes
9 Gegard Mousasi 34-3 N/A 7-2-1 Lombard, Souza, Hunt
Mo Lawal, Draw with Jardine
Ryan Bader 15-3 Nogueira 8-3 Vlady, Rampage, Magalhaes, Jardine
Tito Ortiz

  • The evidence is overwhelmingly in support of Machida in the #1 spot. He has wins over more current top 10 fighters than anyone else with 4, and a very impressive list of notable wins overall. The biggest knock against Machida is his loss Rampage and his fights with Rua. I personally don't put as much weight on the Rampage loss because if you score that fight overall, he definitely looked like the better fighter that night
  • Gus is on the list at #2 on the strength of his win over Rua, his progressively more difficult list of opponents, and his impressive win streak
  • I'm really at a loss when it comes to the hype surrounding Teixeira. He has no wins over fighters currently in the top 10 and, although his overall record is impressive, its not exactly a murderer's row of challengers. He does have the win over Rampage, but it wasn't exactly dominant and it came at a time when Jackson was clearly on his way out of the top 10. The only way to justify Glover at anywhere close to the top is based on speculation and potential. I can't really justify putting him any higher than #8
  • Rashad Evans has key wins over Phil Davis and Henderson, but is one fight removed from a loss to Little Nog. To me, it seems like Evan's win over Henderson should be used to validate the significance of Little Nog's win over Rashad and push him into the #3 spot ahead of Evans
  • Hendo has some big wins, but most come outside of his current weight class. Even his win over Rua could have easily been called a draw. But, his split decision losses to the division's elite definitely validate his spot at #6. And, I'd bump him to #5 as part of the dropping of Glover in the rankings to a more realistic position
  • Rua's wins over 2 fighters currently at the top of the division justify his position at #7. I'd bump him to #6 ahead of Glover
  • Phil Davis has a great resume with wins over the very top of the division in Gus and Little Nog. The win over Gus was a long time ago, so its hard to justify ranking him much higher than #7. But, it says more about the accomplishments of the fighters above him
  • I'm a huge Mousasi fan, but the facts just don't justify ranking him above Bader right now. The justification for the ranking would have to be related to overall record, but lets face it, Mousasi has not been facing top competition. And, when he has had bigger chances to prove himself, he's struggled. I'm fine with him at #10, but not ahead of Bader
  • Bader has a big win over Little Nog and the strength of his overall schedule is top notch. He has to get dinged for his loss to Ortiz, which is why I'm fine with putting him at #9, just ahead of Mousasi

Ranking the Rankers:

  • I would give Chris the award for the most justifiable ranking given the supporting information above. He ranks Glover in a realistic spot and places Little Nog above Evans, giving him proper credit for his recent victory
  • The most head scratching picks would have to be Steph's placement of Little Nog at #7 despite his wins over Evans and Henderson, Tim's ranking of Gus over a clearly more proven Machida, and T.P.'s ranking of Phil Davis at #3 ahead of Evans. If I was forced to justify these picks I would say that Little Nog does have losses to Bader and Phil Davis, Gus is the #1 contender in the UFC's eyes given his upcoming bout with Jon Jones, and Phil Davis has wins over the very elite of the division

Call to Action:

My biggest call to action for the Light Heavyweight rankings is to overcome the peer pressure and drop Glover to a more realistic spot at #8. This placement could be justified given his win over Rampage Jackson, an achievement he shares with Ryan Bader. And, if you figure in Bader's loss to Ortiz and Glover's impressive win streak it makes sense for Glover to be ranked the higher of the two.

I applaud the BE crew for placing Little Nog ahead of Evans. In regards to the BE panel, I will also say that, on average, everything else seems justifiable given the evidence.

The last comment I would make is there seems to be an inconsistency between ranking based on merit and ranking based on potential. I see rankings as merit based, but it seems like many of the voters place a lot of weight on how they think a fighter might do against tougher competition. Should Glover be #3 because we think he might beat Jones, or should he prove it first against some tougher competition? Has the UFC given any direction to the voters as to how to handle this?

I look forward to hearing from the Rankers in the comment section.

Previous Ranking the Ranker Posts:

Flyweight Edition

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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