Making Sense of the Updated Athlete Rankings After UFC on ESPN 6

Tom TaylorContributor IOctober 22, 2019

Making Sense of the Updated Athlete Rankings After UFC on ESPN 6

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    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman sought a fresh start in the main event of Friday's UFC on ESPN card in Boston, hiking up to the light heavyweight division to battle undefeated contender Dominick Reyes.

    Despite limitless quantities of confidence, the 35-year-old's debut in this new division did not go the way he planned, as he was nuked by a Reyes right hand in the fight's first frame.

    In the co-main event of this latest UFC on ESPN card, featherweight contenders Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens met for a second time, with both seeking closure after their first contest ended in seconds due to an inadvertent eye-poke.

    Although Stephens produced a strong final round, Rodriguez won this rematch by unanimous decision.

    This card didn’t cause a ton of movement around the official UFC rankings, but it did affect a few noteworthy changes.

    Let’s take a look at the lay of the land in the wake of the event.

    Note: The lightweight, welterweight, heavyweight and women's bantamweight divisions did not experience any changes in the new UFC rankings. Weight classes are organized based on the significance of the changes to the rankings.

Pound-for-Pound

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    No. 1 Pound-for-Pound: Jon Jones

    1. Jon Jones
    2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
    3. Henry Cejudo
    4. Stipe Miocic
    5. Amanda Nunes
    6. Daniel Cormier (down 1 spot)
    7. Max Holloway
    8. Israel Adesanya
    9. Kamaru Usman 
    10. Tony Ferguson 
    11. Valentina Shevchenko
    12. Conor McGregor
    13. Dustin Poirier
    14. Robert Whittaker
    15. Tyron Woodley

    The UFC on ESPN card in Boston did not have much impact on the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings. In fact, the only change in this category seems to be entirely arbitrary: Daniel Cormier slid down one spot to No. 6, despite the fact he hasn't competed since August. 

Light Heavyweight

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Champion: Jon Jones

    1. Daniel Cormier
    2. Thiago Santos
    3. Anthony Smith
    4. Dominick Reyes
    5. Jan Blachowicz
    6. Alexander Gustafsson
    7. Corey Anderson
    8. Volkan Oezdemir
    9. Glover Teixeira
    10. Aleksandar Rakic
    11. Johnny Walker (down 1 spot)
    12. Ilir Latifi
    13. Mauricio Rua (up 1 spot)
    14. Misha Cirkunov (down 1 spot)
    15. Nikita Krylov

    Had Chris Weidman defeated Dominick Reyes in Boston, the changes to the UFC light heavyweight rankings likely would have been extensive. With Reyes coming out on top, though, the changes have been minimal. 

    Reyes should be commended for defeating a former champion, but the fact is Weidman was not ranked in the light heavyweight division ahead of their fight—he had accomplished nothing at 205 pounds.

    As a result, Reyes has not moved from the No. 4 spot. That being said, he might just have earned himself the next crack at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The pair have been going back-and-forth on Twitter since the UFC's visit to Boston, and fan interest in the matchup seems high.

    While the UFC on ESPN main event did not force any changes to the UFC light heavyweight rankings, the division did experience some unrelated movement.

    Streaking contender Johnny Walker inexplicably fell one spot to No. 11, while former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua climbed one place to No. 13, bumping Misha Cirkunov down.

Men's Featherweight

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Champion: Max Holloway

    1. Alexander Volkanovski
    2. Brian Ortega
    3. Jose Aldo
    4. Frankie Edgar
    5. Zabit Magomedsharipov
    6. Yair Rodriguez (up 1 spot)
    7. Chan Sung Jung (down 1 spot)
    8. Renato Moicano (up 1 spot)
    9. Jeremy Stephens (down 1 spot)
    10. Josh Emmett
    11. Calvin Kattar
    12. Shane Burgos
    13. Mirsad Bektic
    14. Ryan Hall
    15. Arnold Allen

    The UFC men's featherweight rankings have undergone some interesting changes since Friday's UFC on ESPN card. Most notably, Yair Rodriguez propelled himself up one spot, settling at No. 6, while his vanquished foe, Stephens, dropped one spot to No. 9. 

    With this new and impressive victory over Stephens on his resume, Rodriguez is now eager for a featherweight title shot. With five men ahead of him in the rankings, though, his calls for a title shot are likely premature. Another win or two would change that. 

    Elsewhere in the division, "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung took a one-spot tumble down to No. 7—though he stands to make a huge climb if he defeats the No. 2-ranked Brian Ortega in Busan, South Korea on December 21. 

    Renato Moicano climbed one spot to No. 8 in the latest UFC rankings.

Middleweight

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    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Champion: Israel Adesanya

    1. Robert Whittaker
    2. Paulo Costa
    3. Yoel Romero
    4. Kelvin Gastelum
    5. Jared Cannonier
    6. Jack Hermansson
    7. Ronaldo Souza
    8. Derek Brunson (up 1 spot)
    9. Ian Heinisch (up 1 spot)
    10. Uriah Hall (up 1 spot)
    11. Brad Tavares (up 1 spot)
    12. Antonio Carlos Junior (up 1 spot)
    13. Edmen Shahbazyan (up 1 spot)
    14. Omari Akhmedov (up 1 spot)
    15. Krzysztof Jotko (not previously ranked)

    The only top-15 middleweight in action in Boston was Chris Weidman, and he wasn't actually competing in the middleweight division. 

    By moving up to light heavyweight to fight Reyes, however, he lost his spot in the middleweight rankings. Unfortunately for him, he also failed to nab himself a spot in the light heavyweight Top 15.

    With Weidman out at middleweight, a whopping eight fighters have moved up the list, including Poland's Krzysztof Jotko, who was not featured in the next most recent edition of the rankings.

    All of these middleweight fighters have Weidman's light heavyweight ambition to thank for their elevated stations.

Women's Flyweight

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Champion: Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Katlyn Chookagian
    2. Jessica Eye
    3. Joanne Calderwood
    4. Liz Carmouche
    5. Jennifer Maia
    6. Viviane Araujo
    7. Andrea Lee
    8. Roxanne Modafferi
    9. Lauren Murphy
    10. Maycee Barber (up 2 spots)
    11. Alexis Davis (down 1 spot)
    12. Montana De La Rosa (down 1 spot)
    13. Antonina Shevchenko (up 1 spot)
    14. Mara Romero Borella (down 1 spot)
    15. Paige VanZant (not previously ranked)

    Maycee Barber hopes to become the youngest champion in UFC history, and the 21-year-old is well on her way to accomplishing that goal.

    At last Friday's UFC on ESPN card, she defeated Gillian Robertson by first-round TKO to climb two spots closer to the flyweight division's champion, Valentina Shevchenko. 

    After this big win, Barber has been calling for a fight with Paige VanZant, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. While the 25-year-old is a big name in the division, she is ranked well below Barber in the newest UFC rankings, currently sitting at No. 15. 

    In fact, VanZant only has a spot in the newest rankings due to Robertson's exit from them. If Barber hopes to become the UFC's youngest-ever champ, she should probably looking forward, to the inside of the flyweight Top 10, rather than backward.

Men’s Flyweight, Bantamweight

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The men's flyweight and bantamweight divisions are both ruled by Henry Cejudo, and neither division's rankings experienced much in the way of change after UFC on ESPN in Boston.

    At flyweight, Rogerio Bontorin fell one spot to No. 8. At bantamweight, former champion Dominick Cruz also took a one-spot spill down to eighth spot. Why? Probably due to the whim of the voters who decide the rankings.

Women's Strawweight

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    Josh Hedges/Getty Images

    Champion: Weili Zhang

    1. Jessica Andrade
    2. Rose Namajunas
    3. Tatiana Suarez
    4. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
    5. Nina Ansaroff
    6. Claudia Gadelha
    7. Carla Esparza
    8. Michelle Waterson (down 1 spot)
    9. Marina Rodriguez
    10. Cynthia Calvillo
    11. Alexa Grasso
    12. Felice Herrig
    13. Tecia Torres
    14. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
    15. Amanda Ribas

    The only change in the women's strawweight division is a bit difficult to decipher. Former Invicta atomweight champion Michelle Waterson got a one-spot demotion and now sits at No. 8. 

    While the 33-year-old was defeated by Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC on ESPN+ in Tampa, Florida, two weeks ago, she did not move in the edition of the rankings that immediately followed that card.

    Evidently, the voters have had a change of heart and decided that loss was more damaging for Waterson than they initially thought.