Fabricio Werdum, Gilbert Melendez and Why the MMA Ranking System Is Flawed
I have no problem admitting that I believe that the UFC has the greatest fighters in the world. From Bantamweight to Heavyweight, the elite organization dominates the top-10 rankings in each weight class. Only occasionally does one see the presence of Strikeforce or Bellator.
It's not because I don't appreciate other organizations or am unaware of them, but it's simply a fact: The UFC is the home of the most high-level fighters and the destination for all those who truly wish to test themselves.
With the recent addition of Strikeforce to the Zuffa brand, perhaps some of the interesting matchups will finally be seen and fans' questions answered.
A quick inspection of many top-10 rankings shows Fabricio Werdum listed at either No. 2 or 3, behind Cain Velasquez. For a long time, Junior dos Santos was listed behind Werdum despite easily besting him with a vicious uppercut in his UFC debut.
Let's be honest here: Werdum is there because of his submission of Fedor Emelianenko. But just how important is that submission victory over an aging legend? A win over Fedor, especially after witnessing the beating he suffered at the hands of Antonio Silva, should not be that valuable, and it certainly shouldn't render the knockout Dos Santos delivered to him negligible.
Werdum is now going to be fighting Alistair Overeem on June 18 in the quarterfinal of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Why, then, if Overeem is ranked at No. 7 or 8, is he such a huge favorite? It's because he's the superior fighter. Maybe Overeem doesn't have a win over Fedor, but he destroyed Todd Duffee and Brett Rogers in his last two fights.
Rankings should not be determined because of one win. Similarly, Gilbert Melendez was catapulted to the top of the Lightweight rankings with a beating of Shinya Aoki on April 17, 2010. But again, how is that one win so significant? Aoki is a grappling genius, certainly, but his striking is absolutely awful.
Although it's not reflected in his MMA record, Aoki accepted the knee of Yuichiro Nagashima to his face and was easily knocked out in their mixed rules bout on December 31, 2010. Essentially, it's almost disappointing that Melendez was not able to finish a fighter who was not worthy of his place at the top of the rankings in the first place.
Ultimately, a win over a top-ranked fighter does not mean you're a top-ranked fighter. There are too many variables to make the value of a single win that significant.
In addition, rankings should be reanalyzed to compensate for the decreased value of wins over certain fighters. Sure, Fedor was No. 1 in the world when Werdum beat him, but should he have been? I don't believe so. Just look at the difference in the way Overeem and Fedor handled Brett Rogers for comparison. Signs of Fedor's decreased value were already evident.
Same goes for Aoki. Anyone who analyzes fights past the mere wins and losses would realize that he is an incomplete fighter and undeserving of his rank.
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