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Rankings Review: Sean Strickland Moves into the top 10 of the UFC Middleweight Rankings. Did He Move High Enough?

It might be an understatement to say the UFC has some questionable rankings.  You would expect rankings to be questionable as they are subjective; however, in this column, I will point out rankings that I think are glaring mistakes.  I will also analyze significant movement in the rankings that I agree with.

Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons

In his first UFC main event, Sean Strickland won his fourth straight middleweight fight this past Saturday, defeating his highest ranked opponent to date in Uriah Hall.  The win put Stickland into the UFC’s middleweight top 10.

Sean Strickland ranked No. 8 at middleweight

With the victory over the previous No. 8 ranked Uriah Hall, Strikland moved up three sports taking Uriah Hall’s No. 8 ranking.  You often see a fighter take their opponents ranking after defeating them.  In this case, I feel Strikland should have moved up to No. 7, ahead of Darren Till and behind Jack Hermansson.

Since moving up to middleweight in November of 2019, Darren Till has went 1-1 in the 185 pound division.  The Englishman Till defeated current No. 9 ranked Kelvin Gastelum in his UFC middleweight debut.  He lost a unanimous decision to Robert Whitaker in July of 2020.  Meanwhile, since Till’s last fight, Strickland has went 4-0 since returning after a two year layoff as a result of injuries from a motorcycle accident.

Strickland returned in October of 2020 with a unanimous decision victory over Jack Marshman.  He returned less than a month later with a second round TKO victory over Brendan Allen who has since won two straight.  Strickland defeated tough Polish fighter and former ranked contender Krzysztof Jotko by unanimous decision in May which set him up for the Uriah Hall fight.  Stickland won a dominant unanimous decision over Hall, winning all five rounds on two out of three judges scorecards, breaking Hall’s four fight win streak.

I think this may be a case of voting panelists being quick to give Strickland Hall’s previous ranking of No. 8 and not carefully comparing him to the fighters ranked higher.  To me, it’s clear Strickland should be ranked ahead of Till based on their middleweight results.  It is also clear that Strickland should not be ranked higher than Jack Hermansson.

It was recently reported that Sean Strickland will fight former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold at UFC 268 in November.

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Brendan Allen unranked at middleweight

Two Saturday’s ago, Brendan Allen won his second fight in a row since losing to Sean Strickland.  Allen is now 5-1 in the UFC since making his debut in October of 2019.  Allen made a successful UFC debut with a second-round rear naked choke victory over current No. 14 ranked Kevin Holland.  He next fought in February of 2020 and scored a first round TKO over top British prospect Tom Breese.  In June of 2020, Allen won a unanimous decision over previously undefeated prospect Kyle Daukaus.  Allen suffered his only UFC loss to Sean Strickland last November.  He rebounded at UFC 261 in April with a first round ankle lock submission over Karl Roberson.  On July 24, Allen handed Hawaiian prospect Punahele Soriano his first loss via unanimous decision.

I think Allen should be ranked No. 14 ahead of Kevin Hollan who he previously defeated and No. 15 ranked Andre Muniz.

After losing to Allen in October of 2019, Holland put together an amazing 2020 going 5-0 which tied the UFC record for the most wins in a calendar year.  Holland’s biggest win of his career was his final fight of 2020 when he had a highlight real knockout over Brazilian legend Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.  Holland has lost his last two, albeit against top opposition in Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, respectively.

No. 15 ranked Muniz is 3-0 in the UFC.  The Brazilian made his successful UFC debut in November of 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over countryman Antonio Arroyo.  He returned in September of 2020 with a first round armbar victory over Bartosz Fabinski.  Like Holland, Muniz had his biggest victory of his career over “Jacare” Souza.  Muniz broke Souza’s arm with a first round inverted armbar submission in May of this year.

Both Holland and Muniz had their highest profile victories over “Jacare” who once was one of the top middleweights in the world.  The Brazilian legend was unranked at the time of both of those fights.  The 41-year-old “Jacare” has lost four in a row and has not won a fight since defeating Chris Weidman in 2018.

Meanwhile, on top of having a submission victory over Kevin Holland in October of 2019, Allen has defeated some top up and coming middleweights.  The 25-year-old Louisiana native’s most recent victory over Punahele Soriano may have been his most impressive.  Allen, who is known for his ground game, showed his well-rounded striking skills on route to a unanimous decision victory.  Soriano was undefeated and looked very impressive in his previous two UFC fights with two first round knockouts.

Next middleweight fight between ranked contenders

The UFC’s middleweight division is looking deep from the top to the bottom of the rankings.  The next middleweight fight between ranked contenders is on August 21 when No. 3 ranked Jared Cannonier takes on No. 9 ranked Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of a UFC fight night at the UFC Apex.

My rankings would look different than any other writer or fan who follows the sport closely.  This is to be expected, as rankings are subjective.  Rankings should be based primarily on results and not perceived potential or popularity.

Some people think rankings do not matter.  Rankings do matter.  They matter when it comes to matchmaking.  They matter when it comes to contract negotiations.

Let’s keep the rankings conversation going.  Do you agree or disagree with the above Ranking Review? Express your thoughts in the comments below.

This article first appeared at News | MMAWeekly.com


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