It didn't take long for Dana White to find something to vent over at the UFC Fight Night post-event press conference, despite most of the card including the Mauricio Rua vs Chael Sonnen main event delivering in spades when it came to action and audience satisfaction. Should the ratings for the newly launched Fox Sports 1 channel be on par with recent UFC FX cards, the whole endeavour should be seen as a resounding success.
A little under six minutes into the press conference Dana White is asked if a future bout between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva would be made after Sonnen called out Silva post-fight inside the Octagon. White began releasing some of his frustration over Sonnen's place in the official UFC middleweight rankings as part of his answer.
"Well it's obviously a fight that Chael wants, but there's a lot of options right now. At 205 he could fight there, he could fight at 185 because obviously ... 'The Media' had him ranked at number 9 or 10 at 185 underneath guys that he actually beat. So obviously a win over Shogun puts him in a great place at 205, and puts him at a great place at 185."
White remained relatively calm while giving this answer, though his body language and tone suggested it bothered him. A little later on he more passionately reiterates his disagreement with Sonnen's ranking as an addendum to Sonnen answering a question of his own.
"Plus the whole 'He's all talk' thing is just so crazy, I mean people write stories about this stuff and say this stuff, it's ridiculous. First of all he stepped up to fight Jon Jones on like no notice whatsoever, stepped up to fight Jon Jones and he fought Anderson Silva. He lost to the two pound for pound best fighters in the world, both world champions, one's the greatest of all time, one's on his way to be the greatest of all time. At 185lbs where the media ranked him at number 8 or 9 ... he beat Michael Bisping, he beat Yushin Okami, he beat Brian Stann, and the list goes on and on of guys who are ranked above him, he's beat all these guys.
"All that stuff comes from you guys. You guys rank these guys, you guys write all the stories, that's where all the 'talk' stuff comes from. Hes not talk, I say this all the time, this guy steps up and takes big fights. He asked for the Shogun fight."
It would seem Dana White has latched on to Sonnen's ranking by 'The Media' as a form of attack on top of the largely shared opinion that Sonnen has been awarded fights and main event status through his gift of the gab and not from his merit as a fighter. If I'm able to speak unofficially for 'The Media' majority, we haven't forgotten the UFC 151 non-event debacle from last year and it probably bothers White we haven't completely moved on from it when it comes to Sonnen being promoted in main event, marquee fights since then.
But really, I think Dana White misses the mark by pointing to Sonnen's place in the rankings almost as some sort of injustice from 'The Media' at large, and he possibly misunderstands the nature or context of these rankings as a result.
Rankings by their nature are very fluid and are in a constant state of flux. The more fights the UFC puts on, the more the rankings change and a fighter's inactivity in a weight class can cause a drop down the rankings just as much as a loss does. How a fighter does in one weight class also shouldn't reflect his ranking in another weight class, especially if as far as we know it's a one off fight or the fighter might not return there for some time.
The official UFC rankings were last updated on August 5th. Chael Sonnen last fought at Middleweight in July 2012 in a definitive loss to Anderson Silva in their rematch for the Middleweight strap. He had fought and beat Brian Stann and Michael Bisping to get to that rematch. It's hard to argue he had achieved the no#2 rank at that time (or no#1 rank if you consider Anderson Silva at the top based on the slightly confusing UFC rankings format).
Since that time Sonnen has fought twice at Light Heavyweight, losing in a blow-out to Jon Jones, and picking up a win over Shogun last night by a first round submission. Last night was also Sonnen's second only win ever in the UFC Light Heavyweight division; his only other win in the UFC Light Heavyweight division came against Trevor Prangley, 7 years ago in 2006. He also lost to Renato Sobral the previous year, and Jeremy Horn a little under 2 months after the Prangley fight.
The Shogun win is significant for his Light Heavyweight career in the UFC where he is now 2-2 in the division, but it is his first win over a top 10 Light Heavyweight opponent with Shogun currently ranked at No#8 in the official rankings. But again, this should have no bearing on his place at Middleweight. A win over Wanderlei Silva at Middleweight will do little to change this as Silva isn't ranked in the top 10 of either Middlweight or Light Heavyweight, with Silva's win happening over Stann at Light Heavyweight where Stann had not competed for a couple of years. Stann has since retired from MMA competition.
In the year that has gone by since Sonnen last fought at Middleweight, Michael Bisping has fought 3 times, beating Brian Stann, losing to Vitor Belfort and then beating Alan Belcher. Bisping has gone up and down in the rankings based on these outcomes. Brian Stann beat Alessio Sakara and lost to Bisping at Middleweight, before losing to Wanderlei Silva at Light Heavyweight, all the while Sonnen had not taken another fight at Middleweight. Again Stann has gone up and down the rankings and I expect him to be removed from the rankings altogether now he has retired.
The wins and losses of other fighters at Middleweight from fighters such as champ Chris Weidman, former champ Anderson Silva, Mark Munoz, Vitor Belfort, Ronaldo Souza, Costa Phillppou, Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch have seen shifts up and down in the rankings, but their activity save for Tim Boetsch (who has won once then lost twice in the year since Sonnen's last Middleweight fight) is what gets them above Sonnen in the rankings at this time.
Sonnen's win over Shogun might get him a top 10 spot at Light Heavyweight, but if Dana White continues to believe he's ranked too low at Middleweight, the solution is pretty simple: book Sonnen to fight at Middleweight consistently against the guys currently in the top 10. Wins over Boetsch, Philippou and Rockhold will likely send him up the rankings; wins over Souza, Munoz and rematches with Okami and Bisping certainly will.
Dana White can point to 'The Media' all he wants, but 'The Media' aren't the ones booking the fights that will or won't affect the rankings to begin with.
More from Bloody Elbow:
- UFC Fight Night 26: Chael Sonnen vs. Mauricio Rua press conference
- UFC Fight Night 26 results: Mauricio Rua submits to Chael Sonnen with just a minute left in round 1
- UFC Fight Night 26: Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen full fight video highlights online
- UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen results and post-fight analysis
- UFC Fight Night 26 results: Matt Brown, Travis Browne, Michael McDonald, Chael Sonnen, and Brad Pickett take home bonuses