(Photo courtesy of SI.com)
There’s nothing like a title changing hands, a hatchet being buried, and an upset or two to give the arbitrary numerical rankings system of the Potato Index something to talk about. Let’s see who’s up and who’s down after UFC 98.
Lyoto Machida +316
He came into this fight as the favorite to win a boring decision. Less than ten minutes later people were talking about The Machida Era as if it were the Ming Dynasty and lamenting the fate of whatever poor bastard had to face him next. He proved you can be an elusive, complicated martial artist and still kick serious ass. Dawning of a new age in MMA, or just a beautiful anomaly?
Rashad Evans -127
Becomes another 205-pound champ to lose his first title defense, and barely lands a punch in the process. Keeping your back against the cage and trying to counter those whirlwind attacks can probably be ruled out as the strategy to beat Machida, but Evans had to try something. Back to the middle of the pack.
Matt Hughes +8
By insisting that the fight with Serra would be painfully one-sided he only made himself look less impressive as he settled for holding down a guy who wasn’t supposed to be able to hang with him. There’s no reason to think he can compete with the top welterweights like GSP, Alves, or even Fitch right now. Time to pack it in and join the Hall of Fame.
Matt Serra -3
So close to another big upset, but couldn’t capitalize. He proved what a scrappy, resilient fighter he is even in defeat. What he isn’t is a member of the division’s elite. That’s okay. He’s enough of a personality that people will still want to see him doing something in front of a TV camera, even if they hate themselves for it.
Drew McFedries +47
Put a man-sized beating on “Professor X,” and probably saved his own job in the process. Nothing like the prospect of unemployment to make a man dig deep. Now if you win the next one, Drew, they call that a winning streak.
Xavier Foupa-Pokam -32
The slack people cut him for losing a decision to Denis Kang in his first UFC fight does not extend to getting KTFO’d by McFedries in his second. Showed a lot of heart trying to battle through it, but heart won’t pay the bills. Consider yourself extremely lucky if the UFC gives you one more chance.
Chael Sonnen +33
Well, it’s a win. It wasn’t much fun to watch and it wasn’t all that pretty, but it may have been exactly what The Fastest White Man Alive needed.
Dan Miller -17
Couldn’t capitalize on a couple early submission opportunities, then got simply outwrestled. Looks like neither of the Miller brothers is there just yet, though their potential is too great to be ignored. Now he knows where the holes are in his game. And so does everyone else.
Frankie Edgar +68
The biggest win of his career, without a doubt. He looked sharp on the feet and at least good enough on the ground and in avoiding takedowns. He keeps this up and adds some finishing ability, Edgar might really do something.
Sean Sherk -79
What’s the worst thing you can do when you’ve got T-Rex arms and only decent boxing skills? For the answer, go watch Sherk miss with his hooks by at least a foot and a half. Worst. Gameplan. Ever. And what’s with disappearing to the Hard Rock right after the fight? Something’s not right here.
Krzysztof Soszynski +45
Yet another quick win, and without the kimura this time. Looks like K-Sos has some real skills. He’s also staying pretty busy. Maybe now’s the time to put him against another rising star like a Jon Jones.
Andre Gusmao -39
A second loss in as many UFC fights. Guess who might have a pink slip coming?
Brock Larson +34
Takes on a late replacement and makes him look like exactly that. Larson only knows one direction and that’s straight up into your face. That kind of pressure fighter can give lots of people problems. Let’s see how he stacks up against some of the better wrestlers in the welterweight class. Paging, Dr. Koscheck.
Mike Pyle -17
It’s not easy to cut a ton of weight in a few days and then face a guy like Larson, but the UFC is never terribly interested in excuses. Pyle needs to remind them what he can do with proper notice in his next fight.
Tim Hague +28
The win seemed to surprise him as much as anyone. He showed he can take a shot on the feet and was good enough to exploit Barry’s weakness on the mat. Call that lucky if you want, but also call it smart.
Pat Barry -31
A more explosive kickboxer is hard to find in MMA. Without a good takedown defense, however, that won’t get you very far.