Rankings Rumble: UFC 112

By Nicholas Bailey

The “Rankings Rumble” seeks to evaluate recent changes in our official top-ten divisional rankings, as well as provide some analysis of fighters that are not quite in the top-ten but are still relevant, either because they are gatekeepers to the stars or talented prospects that have a good chance of being ranked one day.

Our rankings contribute to the Independent World MMA Rankings as well as the USA TODAY / SB Nation Consensus MMA Rankings and generally conform to the standards set out by the IWMMAR guidelines, with the exception of athletic commission suspensions not disqualifying fighters from eligibility, due to the fact that venue strongly affects this, independent of a fighter’s actions (e.g. Japanese promotions don’t test for PEDs).

Lightweight Larceny

The true debacle of the evening is the judges doing such a horrible job of judging the BJ Penn/Frankie Edgar bout. The fight was close, true, and some of the rounds were a challenge to score, but if you don’t give Penn the first two rounds after a careful review (since everyone can make mistakes in the emotion of watching live), you don’t know how to score fights. If you gave Edgar the third round, you’re wrong, but it was not as clear-cut, so it is forgivable. There you go, BJ Wins. That’s it, regardless of how you score the other rounds, unless you’re some kind of simp and gave Edgar a 10-7 round in the fifth for no reason. The moronic judge that gave Edgar every round, Doug Crosby (sometime stunt coordinator for the television series Oz and various other hollywood connections) then showcased his professionalism by going to The Underground forum and trolling everyone there about the decision and making fun of Penn fans. Stay classy.

Penn has himself to blame to a degree for not putting on a better performance, as his edge was razor-thin, and he, one of the most versatile fighters in the game, limited himself and fought a completely uninspired, one-dimensional fight. He never seemed hungry to re-take the title or truly put his stamp on the fight, instead settling for a holding pattern with the expectation that the belt will simply be returned to him if nothing crazy happens. By letting Edgar dictate the terms of the engagement, BJ really sold himself short.

While BJ’s stock must drop for a poor performance and a (on paper) a loss, he is so head and shoulders above the rest of his division that he remains at #1, although Shinya Aoki is hot on his heels now and could surpass him with an impressive fight against Gilbert Melendez. Frankie Edgar, however, moves up to the #5 slot from #8 for picking up a huge win (questionable as it may be) and showing great conditioning, boxing, and gameplanning.

Middleweight WTF

In the most talked-about debacle of the evening, Anderson Silva cruised to victory amidst a hearty chorus of boos. While simultaneously offending many Brazilian fans for the apparently highly-offensive slurs he hurled at Maia in Portuguese.

Silva won the fight, behaved poorly, but didn’t look like any less of the champion, although he did give up a round to Maia simply by coasting. It’s hard to be too harsh on a fighter for simply running out the clock when he knows he should have the fight wrapped up, but Anderson’s actions really are strange. What goes on in this man’s head?

Demian Maia drops from #3 to #5. Althought his gutsy performance earned him more fans than he lost by losing, he certainly didn’t look impressive out there. He showed more guts than had been expected, but you don’t become a BJJ world champion by being a wimp afraid of pain, so it should not be that surprising.

Weary Welterweights:

Matt Hughes drops from #5 to #8 with a very poor performance for a win over a very deteriorated and disinterested Renzo Gracie. It looked like neither man trained for this fight. Hughes striking has never been good and it still isn’t, but he really looked like the more aged and decrepit fighter until the wheels fell off for Renzo. Both of these men are ready for the proverbial glue factory.

The change in Hughes’ ranking moves him behind Dan Hardy, Martin Kampmann, and Paulo Thiago, who he previously outranked. Hughes has an amazing record, but he has looked very diminished in his last two fights. His poor performance in the Serra fight had been heavily discounted due to a severe accidental headbutt, but he looked similarly sluggish against Gracie, so the Serra performance must be counted as more than an aberration, and someone that fights like that doesn’t deserve to be ranked ahead of young guns like Hardy, Kampmann, and Thiago.

Waffle Watch

Phil Davis was less impressive than expected in some areas, struggling mightily with standout Swede Alexander Gustafsson’s improved wrestling, but showed a real maturity in not getting desperate and working technical wrestling against a physically hulking opponent that could resist pure power moves. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Davis’ performance was the enormous maturity shown in having the presence of mind to pull Gustafsson just far enough away from the cage to give Davis room to roll. It’s always exciting to see a young wrestling convert bust out some real submission chops, so Davis’ growth will be something to watch. Gustafsson was handled by Davis, but he made a fight of it, and with his size and physical power, he’s going to make life rough for Light Heavyweights that don’t have the wrestling chops Davis does.

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