Category: Rankings Updates

Meta-rankings – MMA Rankings Analysis

What are Meta-Rankings?
All rankings are subjective, but they are still used for various purposes such as consensus and debate. Meta-Rankings should be able to show who the online MMA community as a whole ranks as the best fighters in MMA. We collect and average the rankings of the top MMA websites that regularly update their Top 10 rankings.

We compile the Top 10 MMA rankings from each of our sources and award 1 points for a first place ranking and 10 for a 10th place ranking. Any fighter that does not receive a Top 10 ranking, is assigned a score of 11. This is used to “normalize” the data so computations are weighted appropriately. Each fighter’s total points is divided by the number of ranking sites to determine their average rank and standing in the Meta-Rankings.

Unfortunately, we had to eliminate plenty of bigger name sites that do not rank fighters outside of the UFC.

In addition, each ranking site that was chosen has their own ranking criteria. Fighters that have been suspended or inactive may still show up on various rankings sites if they do not have the same criteria. For example, here on RankingMMA, we remove fighters with inactivity over 18 months. Sherdog has a 1-year inactivity window if the fighter does not have an upcoming fight booked, although they self-admittedly do not comply with it. FightMatrix has a 450-day inactivity window. MMAjunkie is 24 months of inactivity. Lastly, ESPN has no criteria listed. As for drug suspensions, RankingMMA has always removed fighters that have been suspended. After compiling these rankings and noticing we are the only site to do so, we may change that practice.

Heavyweight Division
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Werdum and Velasquez were consensus picks for #1 and #2. After that comes the debate. Overeem’s ranking a couple of votes for #3, but MMAjunkie’s ranking dropped him down. Other fighters receiving votes were Vitaly Minakov and Frank Mir.

Light Heavyweight Division


Jones, Cormier, and Anthony Johnson were consensus picks for #1-3. Bader narrowly edged out Gustafsson for the #4 spot, thanks to MMAjunkie ranking Gustafsson at 7. Other fighters receiving votes were Quinton Jackson and Corey Anderson.

Middleweight Division


Rockhold, Weidman, and Yoel Romero were consensus picks for #1-3. Fight Matrix was the only ranking site to rank Belfort higher than Jacare Souza. Tim Kennedy’s ranking was hurt due to being pulled out for inactivity on Sherdog and FightMatrix. Other fighters receiving votes were Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, David Branch, Uriah Hall, and Mamed Khalidov.

Welterweight Division


Lawler was the only consensus pick at #1. Rory MacDonald would have been a consensus for #2, but Fight Matrix had him at 3. A litany of fighters that were suspended are ranked (Lombard, Palhares, Shields). Lombard is not ranked by 3 of the ranking sites, but Sherdog and ESPN have him in their Top 10. Other fighters receiving votes were Rousimar Palhares, Jake Shields, Benson Henderson, and Neil Magny.

Lightweight Division


Dos Anjos was the only consensus pick at #1. Khabib Nurmagomedov would have likely been ranked #2, but he has been inactive for over 18 months. Despite the inactivity and no scheduled bout, MMAjunkie and ESPN have him ranked at #2. Gilbert Melendez, currently serving a lengthy suspension is still ranked by MMAjunkie, ESPN, and FightMatrix. Other fighters receiving votes were Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, Justin Gaethje, Al Iaquinta, Evan Dunham, and Benson Henderson.

Featherweight Division


There were no consensus rankings for Featherweight. Even UFC champion Conor McGregor did not get a unanimous #1 rank, which makes him the only UFC champion not to be a consensus #1. Edgar and Aldo were tied for #2. Other fighters receiving votes were Jeremy Stephens, Dennis Bermudez, Hacran Dias, and Daniel Weichel.

Bantamweight Division


Cruz was the only consensus pick at #1. Raphael Assuncao’s ranking was hurt by his inactivity on Sherdog and FightMatrix. There was a 3-way tie for 9th place with Thomas Almeida, Eduardo Dantas, and Darrion Caldwell all averaging 10.0. Other fighters receiving votes were Caldwell, Marcos Galvao, Takeya Mizugaki, Michael McDonald, Jimmie Rivera, Frankie Saenz, and John Lineker.

Flyweight Division


Johnson, Benavidez, Dodson, Cejudo, and Formiga were all consensus picks for #1-5. 3 Reis, McCall, and Moraga are all tied for the #7 spot. Other fighters receiving votes were Dustin Ortiz, Louis Smolka, Justin Scoggins, and Zach Makovsky.

UFC Middleweight Rankings Analysis

Rankings are based on opinion. Even for a site like FightMatrix that bases their rankings off of statistical algorithms, it is easy to point out that some of their chosen statistical categories create biases for better or worse. The UFC has recently rolled out their media rankings that create all sorts of controversy.

Featured below, you will find 5 of the most consistent and popular ranking sites. From there, I collected the data and calculated the mean ranking for each fighter.

1Chris Weidman111111.0
2Luke Rockhold222222.0
3Ronaldo Souza433343.4
4Yoel Romero344433.6
5Vitor Belfort555555.0
6Lyoto Machida666666.0
7Michael Bisping887898.0
8Thales Leites111089119.8
9Uriah Hall911111179.8
10Tim Kennedy77NR71410.2
11Gegard Mousasi1091212810.2
12C.B. Dollaway12121010NR12.0
13Dan Henderson1313NR131013.0
14Derek BrunsonNR149141513.6
15Kelvin Gastelum14NRNRNR1315.0

Photo credit: Mandel

Best Light Heavyweight Prospects outside the UFC

Many fans feel as if the UFC and matchmaker Joe Silva have dropped the ball when it comes to replenishing the ranks of the heavier weight divisions. There are a host of reasons for why that may be true.

Some claim that athletes over 6’0 tall and 200 lbs. are likely competing in other sports. Other common reasons I have seen thrown around are as follows: it is more difficult for heavier weight fighters to find fights on the regional circuit, finding suitable training partners, and suffer a much higher rate in fights ending in KO (shorter careers/more risk).

Here is just a small sample size of current light heavyweights that have thus far not signed with the UFC, Bellator, or WSOF.


Stansbury is the clear #1 LHW prospect in the world. Stansbury nearly had his shot in the UFC, but was injured in the elimination round of TUF 19. Stansbury was dominating his opening round matchup against Chris Fields, but he ended up suffering a significant knee injury that required surgery. Stansbury has made his way back to the cage, and recently picked up a dominating submission win over fellow top prospect Jeremy Osheim. Stansbury has power in his hands and is very accurate with his strikes. Stansbury is a finisher and he has natural athleticism. He will likely struggle with elite level wrestlers and more technical fighters, but at this point in his career, he absolutely deserves an opportunity to fight in the UFC.

Stansbury vs. Jeremy Osheim (11/21/2014):


Tomasz Narkun has yet to fight outside Europe, but the time may be coming where he tests his skills stateside. Narkun’s striking is still a work in progress, but once he gets his opponents to the ground, he becomes a completely different fighter. Narkun is aggressive on the ground, constantly looking to improve his positioning, landing strikes, and hunting for submissions. Narkun is not a physical specimen and could potentially stand to cut down to 185 lbs. in the future, but with a lack of battle-tested LHW prospects, Narkun clearly stands out.

Narkun vs. Rafal Zawidzki (04/18/2013):


Nemkov has already fought the best that Russia has to offer. After 27 fights in the sport, Nemkov has proven that he is tough, durable, and a well-rounded fighter. I highly doubt that Nemkov will ever make his way to the UFC, but if he did, I could see him holding his with anyone outside of the Top 10. His lack of size and strength would ultimately hold him back from beating elite competition. Nemkov is 11-1 since 2011, with his only loss coming via split decision to Stephan Puetz.

Nemkov vs. Vasily Babich (11/16/2013):


Edilov looks to be taking the next step in his career as he’s won his last 10 fights. What’s even more impressive is that all of those 10 wins have come via 1st round finishes. Despite being dominant, there’s still significant questions regarding Edilov’s ability to win at the highest levels. He hasn’t faced the most stellar competition as of late, and when he did face off against stiffer competition, he failed. It is obvious that Edilov has made the necessary improvements to his overall skill set. At just 23 years of age, Edilov could truly develop into a force if he aligns himself with a top gym.

Edilov Highlights:


Jake Butler was featured in my 2013 Prospects Series. He has yet to truly become a household name, but he is steadily making strides towards becoming the fighter I thought he could be. Butler’s wrestling is his bread and butter. As long as he develops serviceable striking, which still has not happened, I could certainly see him competing at the UFC level. Butler really reminds me of Chael Sonnen with his fighting style. He may not be the most entertaining fighter to watch, but few opponents at 205, will be able to deny his takedowns.

Butler vs. Cristiano Kaminishi (09/27/2015):

Others in the Mix:
Joachim Christensen (11-3)
Max Nunes (15-3)
Mikhail Mokhnatkin (7-1-1)
Jeremy Osheim (6-1)
Marcin Lazarz (8-1)
Jiri Prochazka (13-2-1)
Myron Dennis (11-4)
Karl Albrektsson (4-0)
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (16-4)

Photo credit: Mills

Best Light Heavyweights outside the UFC

The UFC has 90% of the best fighters in the world, or at least that is what they want fans to believe. As we have seen with Strikeforce and WEC’s absorption into the UFC, it is obvious that there is significant talent outside of the UFC ranks. They simply need the opportunity to compete inside of the octagon.

Here are the best light heavyweight fighters currently competing outside of the UFC.


Phil Davis is clearly still a Top 10 Light Heavyweight. The UFC chose not to resign Davis, which was fairly surprising considering the lack of depth in the division and the fact that Davis is still under the age of 30. Davis’ fighting style has never earned him much fanfare, but with a 9-3 UFC record and wins over Alexander Gustafsson, Lyoto Machida, and Glover Teixeira, his standing amongst the top fighters in the division was unarguable. Davis has since jumped ship to Bellator where he won their 4-man tournament. Davis finished both his opponents in the 1st round, which was surprising since he only achieved 3 finishes in his 12 career UFC fights. Davis now is setup to fight for the Bellator Light Heavyweight belt in a fight which he should be the clear favorite.


Liam McGeary is one of Bellator’s homegrown champions. McGeary was just 3-0 when he first debuted in Bellator. Not many predicted championship success, but after dethroning Emanuel Newton and recently defending his title against Tito Ortiz, McGeary is a fighter that has proven his doubters wrong. McGeary is an aggressive fighter that is always on the hunt for a finish. He will have his biggest test to date when he defends his title against Phil Davis.


Emanuel Newton’s career is quickly trending in the wrong direction. After defeating Muhammed Lawal twice in 2013 and capturing the interim LHW title, Newton was garnering recognition as a Top 10 Light Heavyweight. Yet, despite a 3-0 record defending his title in 2014, he dropped back-to-back contests to Davis and McGeary. Newton has to get back to what made him successful, which was being an unpredictable fighter with an amazing knack to gut out victories.


Muhammed Lawal was supposed to be Bellator’s breakout star when they signed him after Strikeforce’s demise. That never ended up happening as Emanuel Newton proved to be Lawal’s kryptonite. Lawal has recently run off a 4-fight win streak that has him in on the brink of a title shot, but now that Phil Davis is in Bellator, Lawal will have his hands full ever claiming Bellator gold.


Most fans rolled their eyes when Tito Ortiz decided to return to the Bellator cage. After pulling off an upset win over Alexander Shlemenko and laboring to a decision over Stephan Bonnar, Ortiz got an opportunity to fight for a title once more. Unfortunately, Ortiz’s night ended early as Liam McGeary submitted him in the 1st round. Ortiz has nothing left to prove at this point in his career. With few big name fights that he can legitimately win, Ortiz should finally think about hanging up the gloves.


David Branch now holds the WSOF Middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles. Branch is 9-1 since being cut from the UFC. His only loss during that time period was a catchweight fight against Anthony Johnson. Branch has to be commended for resurrecting his career and truly challenging himself to reach his full potential. WSOF is a great home for Branch considering his close friendship with the WSOF matchmaker. Branch’s long-term home is likely at Middleweight, but with few elite 205’ers around, Branch may find success continuing to defend both titles.

Best of the Rest:

Outside of these 6 fighters, it is largely a list of fighters that have had their run in the UFC or other larger promotions. Roger Gracie still has the grappling to make him a threat against anyone, but we have seen how he fairs against anyone that can keep the fight standing. Teddy Holder recently fought for the WSOF title after knocking out Thiago Silva. Goran Reljic has resurrected his career overseas in the KSW promotion, going 7-1 since being released by the UFC in 2010. Vinny Magalhaes has all the talent in the world as a grappler, but has continually fallen on hard times when he fights elite competition. In regards to LHW prospects, there are a host of overseas fighters that have still yet to proven themselves against top competition. Maxim Grishin is probably the most noteworthy, having won his last 8 fights.

Photo credit: Mills

Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC

Here are my current Top 10 UFC Light Heavyweight rankings. Jon Jones (suspension) and Rashad Evans (Inactivity over 18 months) are excluded from these rankings. I still struggle with placing Shogun and Minotoro in the Top 10, but Manuwa has done little to prove himself in order to take their spot. Hopefully, the UFC will start signing and elevating new talent into the division because the roster of fighters in the 205 lbs. division is severely lacking compared to others.


For the time being, Cormier is the Light Heavyweight champion until Jon Jones returns. Cormier will likely never be viewed as the true champion until he defeats Jones, but he is gaining valuable experience preparing himself for 5-round title fights against the division’s elite. Should Jones return and defeat Cormier again, I would not be surprised to see Cormier return to Heavyweight as long as Cain Velasquez is not the champion.

Anthony Johnson’s out of the cage actions have overshadowed his career as of late. Johnson is still a top talent that has truly become one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport. Johnson’s conditioning is still his biggest question mark. Although his weight issues seem to be under control, one has to wonder if he ever will truly take the right steps to controlling his conditioning issues.

Alexander Gustafsson has a lot to prove as much of his current Top 5 status is based off his title loss to Jon Jones two years ago. Gustafsson still has all the potential in the world to be a future champion, and at just 28 years old, has time on his side to figure it out. Fans are still clamoring for a Jones-Gustafsson rematch, so even should Gustafsson lose to Cormier, he’s likely just one big win away from fighting Jones once he returns from suspension.

Ryan Bader is on a 4-fight winning streak and is likely on the verge of fighting for his first title. Bader has fallen short in his fair share of high profile fights, but he seemed to turn the corner with his last 2 wins over Phil Davis and OSP.

Glover Teixeira bounced back from consecutive defeats to save his Top 5 status. Glover is 3-0 against fighters currently active in the UFC’s Top 10. Cormier will need new challengers, and Glover seems to be the next man up after the Bader/Evans winner.

OSP has been one of the true breakout stars in the Light Heavyweight division. He came back to earth a bit following losses to Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira, but the potential is still there to eventually fight for a title. OSP has still resisted attempts at training at one of the bigger camps that has produced a champion. He has obviously defied the odds to get where he is today, but the time may come where for him to take the next step in his career he may have to venture over to ATT, Jackson’s, or AKA.

Rampage is back in the UFC, but his immediate career looks to be on ice as he is locked in a bitter battle between the UFC and Bellator. Jackson’s career was revitalized in his brief run with Bellator. Jackson has made it no secret that he did not like the UFC’s matchmaking practices of placing him against wrestlers. Fresh matchups against Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson could thrust Rampage back in the title picture, but that all hinges on him getting the green light to compete again.

Rua got back in the winning column, but signs are still not trending towards Shogun reclaiming his place amongst the top of the Light Heavyweight division. Shogun has reunited with Rafael Cordeiro, but his years of wars and injuries have left him a shell of his former self. Shogun is still capable of winning fights outside the Top 3 of the division, but it will be a tall task at this stage in his career.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s UFC run has been a bag of mixed results. Evidenced by his .500 record (4-4) in the UFC, Nogueira’s days of ever challenging for a title are likely finished. With an extremely thin LHW division, Nogueira still has relevancy and the likelihood to still be involved in high profile fights.

Patrick Cummins’ improbable rise in the UFC should prove to be inspiration for any prospect grinding away on the independent circuit. Cummins has fallen short against Cormier and OSP, but his wrestling has thus far earned him 4 wins in the UFC. Cummins still lacks elite finishing skills and his lack of striking can also come back to haunt him if he cannot ground his opponents early. Nonetheless, with an aging Top 10, Cummins has the chance to work his way into Top consideration should he win his next couple of fights.

On the bubble: Jimi Manuwa (15-2, 4-2), Fabio Maldonado (22-8, 5-5), Tom Lawlor (10-5, 6-4), Gian Villante (13-6, 3-3), Corey Anderson (6-1, 3-1)

Photo credit: Mandel

UFC Light Heavyweights Rankings Analysis

Rankings are based on opinion. Even for a site like FightMatrix that bases their rankings off of statistical algorithms, it is easy to point out that some of their chosen statistical categories create biases for better or worse. The UFC has recently rolled out their media rankings that create all sorts of controversy.

Featured below, you will find 5 of the most consistent and popular ranking sites. From there, I collected the data and calculated the mean ranking for each fighter.

1Daniel Cormier111111.0
2Anthony Johnson222222.0
3Alexander Gustafsson333353.4
4Ryan Bader454434.0
5Glover Teixeira545544.6
6Ovince St.Preux666686.4
7Quinton Jackson7107767.4
8Mauricio Rua879877.8
9Jimi Manuwa11881299.6
10Patrick Cummins109NR9NR12.0
11Antonio Rogerio Nogueira911NRNR1012.4
12Corey Anderson1514NR101113.2
13Fabio Maldonado1212NRNR1414.0
14Nikita KrylovNRNRNR11NR15.0
15Ilir LatifiNRNRNRNR1215.2

Photo credit: Mandel