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Measuring a Rankings Fall: Shinya Aoki Edition

In the wake of Shinya “The Man In Tights” Aoki’s TKO loss to “Mach” Sakurai at Dream.8, a lot of MMA pollsters are debating what this does to Aoki’s status in the lightweight division and his pound-for-pound ranking.  As we’ve said in the past, rankings are mostly useless speculation, but fun nonetheless, so we’ll entertain for the moment the idea that this is worth debating.  

When determining how Aoki deserves to fall in the rankings, you have to take a few different factors into consideration:

1) Quality of Opponent
The simple rule is, if you lose to a guy you were expected to lose to, you don’t suffer much from it.  It basically means you, like the Chicago Bears, are who we thought you were.  But if you lose to a guy you were expected to beat, like a Paulo Thiago, it can hurt you bad.  Sakurai is a solid fighter.  He’s been around forever, has beaten some good fighters and lost to some great fighters.  He consistently hangs around the perimeter of the welterweight top ten, so there’s no shame in dropping a fight to him, at least if you looked like you belonged in there with him.  Which leads us to our next variable…


In Defense of the WAMMA Rankings

(I’m sure it looks great on the wall next to Fedor’s prized "Wizard of Oz" commemorative plates.)

As you would have noticed if you weren’t so busy watching videos of midgets fighting on the internet, “MMA Live” has begun incorporating rankings from WAMMA recently.  This has the guys from Bloody Elbow in a twist because they just partnered with USA Today to feature their “meta-rankings,” and because they generally hate WAMMA.

I’m one of WAMMA’s rankings pollsters, so I can understand some frustration and confusion with some of WAMMA’s moves.  Naming Shinya Aoki champion, for instance?  I love the Man in Tights as much as anyone, but he’s not the world’s best lightweight and everbody knows it. 

WAMMA seems intent on giving out fairly meaningless titles to the best fighters not in the UFC, and that’s kind of dumb but it’s also not really hurting anybody.  And just because WAMMA’s executives make some stupid decisions and appear in hilarious photos from time to time, it’s not any reason to invalidate the actual rankings, which the executives have nothing to do with.


CagePotato Power Rankings Updated

(Still the best heavyweight. Still the best personalized t-shirt.)

Heads up: In the wake of Affliction and WEC’s shows last weekend, we’ve updated our heavyweight, light-heavyweight, and featherweight Power Rankings. Every top-ten list has been updated at least once this month, so swing by and get to debating/complaining, and be sure to check in again next week as UFC 94 may have significant impact on the welterweight and light-heavyweight lists. Fighters that are sitting just outside the rankings include…

HW: The winner of Gonzaga/Carwin at UFC 96 will most likely enter the top ten; also, Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum are close

LHW: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Luis Cane

MW: Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thales Leites, Ronaldo Souza, Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen

WW: Jay Hieron, Karo Parisyan, Nick Diaz, Matt Serra, Paul Daley, Mike Swick

LW: Jamie Varner, Frankie Edgar, Takanori Gomi, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Gilbert Melendez, Nate Diaz

FW: Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Hideki Kadowaki, Akitoshi Tamura, Joseph Benavidez

P4P: Lyoto Machida and Mike Brown



The Potato Index: UFC 93 Aftermath

Mark Coleman Shogun Rua UFC 93
(Mark "Frankenstein" Coleman staggers into an uppercut.  Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.)

Thanks to our psychic abilities, we know exactly what two questions went running through your precious little head immediately after the curtain dropped on UFC 93: 1) How did I fare in the Cage Potato UFC 93 Pick-em Contest?, and 2) What will the Potato Index’s arbitrary numerical ratings system say about this event?

The answer to the first question is coming soon.  There are, after all, a lot of entries to sort through, and for that we thank you.  The answer to the second question begins…now!  Potato Index!!!!

Dan Henderson +23

He won the fight.  That’s the good news.  He didn’t look spectacular doing it, and we aren’t dying to see more of that particular style in the future, but a win is a win.  Now we have Hendo-Bisping to look forward to.  And that’s, you know, okay…

Rich Franklin -8

Honestly, this decision easily could have gone the other way (just ask the judge who scored it 30-27 Franklin), but it didn’t.  This loss isn’t a sign that Ace is washed up and he didn’t want to coach TUF anyway, so it’s not the end of the world.  It is, however, an indicator that he’s just treading water in the UFC for now, going neither up nor down.  There are worse fates.  At least this one pays.

Mark Coleman -54

Poor, poor Coleman.  Literally.  He says he didn’t have the money for a proper training camp, hence the non-existent cardio and an enthusiastic but misinformed Phil Baroni in his corner.  But what did we expect?  The man was great once, but nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain and explosive wrestling ability.  Please, either fight someone else in your age bracket, or call it quits.  We say this because we care.


The Potato Index: UFC 89 Aftermath

Shane Carwin gnp
(Carwin looked impressive, but how about a tough opponent next?)

You’re wondering who’s up and who’s down after UFC 89. The Potato Index’s system of arbitrary numbers devoid of any unit of measurement will tell you. It’s kind of like the stock market, only less depressing. We spent all weekend doing the math and here’s what we came up with. You’re welcome.

Michael Bisping +16

“The Count” won a fight he was supposed to win. Via decision. He never took any chances, didn’t show anything extra special, but he fought smart and he got the win. As a reward, he gets the TUF coaching job and the fight with the Hendo/Ace winner that was already his anyway. At least he didn’t screw it up.

Brandon Vera -132

Once upon a time Vera was the heir apparent in the heavyweight division. Now he’s a mediocre light heavyweight who doesn’t even put on much of a show anymore. What happened? He’s no longer exciting or effective, and he’s far too conservative. He’s making too much money to be doing so little.

Chris Leben -8 1/2

Leben chased Michael Bisping for three rounds and only got a little frustrated and reckless toward the end. A sign of his maturity? Sure, but also a sign that middleweight gatekeeper is about as high as he can hope to climb. He’s still exciting, so he’s not going anywhere. He also won’t be back in the main event any time soon.

Joe Rogan’s tribute beard +18

Sounded a little hokey at first, but it turns out that facial hair can be an effective homage to a fallen champion.

Luis Cane +284

The biggest win of Cane’s career, by far, and one that should get him noticed by the UFC brass. We called his record padded before, but he added some meat to it on Saturday night.


CagePotato Power Rankings Updated

Miguel Torres WEC MMA
(Miguel Torres: The snub is over. Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)

In light of the recent DREAM and EliteXC shows, we tidied up the middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, and pound-for-pound lists on our Power Rankings page. Some things to keep in mind…

— Partly because we don’t have a bantamweight rankings page (yet?), I’d simply forgotten to include Miguel Torres on the pound-for-pound list. That insult stops today.
— Deep down, I believe that Fedor Emelianenko is the best fighter on Earth. But based on recent activity, I have to keep Anderson Silva as the pound-for-pound #1. If Fedor can smash another top-ten heavyweight this year, he’ll move into the top spot. Then again, if Silva can smash a top-ten light-heavyweight by the end of the year, he’ll comfortably stay where he is.
— Matt Lindland becomes the first fighter to leave the rankings after winning a fight. In my opinion, anybody who still thinks he’s a top-ten middleweight is living in the past. It’s been about six years since he’s beaten anybody even close to the top ten, and his less-than-thrilling decision win against the under-experienced Fabio Negao at Affliction: Banned suggests that he’d get smoked against anyone in the top 15. Just my $0.02.

Anyway, head on over and leave some comments on the individual weight class pages to let us know how you feel. And make sure to re-check ‘em in about ten days, as UFC 87 may have some serious impact on the 155- and 170-pound lists. Good day to you.



Jon Fitch is Feeling a Little Overlooked

Jon Fitch has a new blog entry up on in which he discusses his training at AKA in preparation for the bout with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87 next Saturday. Sounds like he’s none too pleased about all this GSP-B.J. Penn talk, as if it’s just a given that St. Pierre will walk though him en route to another meeting with “The Prodigy”:

Working like we do, when people are talking about how good certain fighters are, one of our first questions is, ‘who does he train with?’ That’s always a big question because I don’t care how good you are; if you don’t train with anybody at your level, you’re very limited in how good you can be and how good you actually are.

Outside of training, I’ve heard some talk over the last few weeks about BJ Penn moving up to 170 to fight GSP at the end of the year. Of course, they’ve forgotten that GSP has a fight with me first. But that just shows you where some people really are still in this sport and how they still have no idea what’s going on. There are a lot of so-called experts out there, but they know nothing about the sport. They’re spectators on the outside watching the sport through a telescope, and they think they’re on the inside and know everything, but they don’t. You can’t let that stuff bother you though. I think it’s funny and it’s just that little extra pleasure at the end of the day when you win and all those people are exposed.

Are we supposed to take this to mean that Fitch thinks GSP is generally overrated? We certainly hope not. Fitch’s win streak and overall skills make him deserving of the respect he’s getting, but so is GSP. Of all the strategic errors you could make when facing the welterweight champ, underestimating him really shouldn’t be one of them. Even if you are right behind him in the all-important Cage Potato Power Rankings.


UFC to Create Official Rankings?

It’s taken complaints from fighters and bitching from fans, but it appears Dana White and the UFC might actually put out their own official fighter rankings. The Sun printed a fan Q&A with the bald baron of fight and while not confirming anything, which always seems to be the case, White hinted that it could be on the horizon – although not too soon.

Numerous media organizations – CagePotato included – have produced rankings of all the fighters and other MMA outfits rank their own fighters. The UFC has refused to rank their fighters, which would at least give us an idea of who might get a title shot soon or how far away a fighter is in getting a shot. Here’s how the questioning transpired:

Will the UFC ever set up a ranking system in each of the weight divisions so people know which fighters are in line for a title shot? For example, fighters could score points for winning fights and lose points for any defeats they incur. – Dean Hayward, Leicester

White: “Actually, Dean, I said we’d never do that because I figured people would say our rankings are biased. But, when you look around at some of these other rankings that are out there I think we probably will do our own after all. I have no idea when we will get to that, though. I wouldn’t look for any rankings anytime real soon.”

When White was asked to pick who he thinks will be on top in each weight division in January of 2009, he deflected the question and only hinted that he thought Anderson Silva might be there. Although he thinks Dan Henderson could take Silva down in March.


Something’s Rank in Here!

If you’re bored this weekend and there’s not an “I Love Lucy” marathon polluting your TV screen, here’s something with which you can pass the time. Yesterday and again today, BloodyElbow did cool breakdowns of the latest rankings in MMA. Their overviews didn’t include the rankings for 5oz of Pain or MMA on Tap, but they included them in updates. To check out those rankings, follow the links we have for you. Kid Nate observes the obvious domination the UFC has on the rankings, especially the light heavyweight division. Pretty much across the board.


Roger Huerta as Smart as He Is Pretty

(“Do it, Roger! Choke that old bag out!”)

MMAWeekly posted an article today summarizing Roger Huerta’s recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio, in which El Matador declared that he’d be taking up to eight months off from fighting in order to rest, finish his degree in business management, and develop his takedown defense. Said Huerta:

“I’m not fighting for 6, 7, 8 months. I did everything I could this year, I tried to keep helping promote the sport, keep making it grow, but I think I didn’t get a lot of R&R. I trained through Thanksgiving for this fight, I didn’t even go home to Texas to spend time with my family…You know the truth is I need to finish school too. I fought 5 times this year and I think that’s the most anybody’s ever done in the UFC and I think I’m going to take some time off.”

Translation: “There’s no way I’m going to fight again — and potentially lose my shot at the UFC lightweight belt — until after Sean Sherk fights the winner of Penn/Stevenson, when I’ll obviously be the next in line to challenge for the title. What am I, a schmuck on wheels?”

Since the dude went 5-0 in 2007 and just proved that his pristine record is no joke, Huerta deserves a break as much as he deserves a chance to win the lightweight championship. So big ups to Roger for playing it smart and not immediately setting up a meaningless fight. On that note, here’s how I’d rank the UFC’s lightweight division, in terms of ability:

1) BJ Penn
2) Roger Huerta
3) Sean Sherk (w/o ‘roids)
4) Mac Danzig
5) Joe Stevenson

If you see things differently, by all means, post your own list in the comments section. I just can’t wait to hear you try to explain why Frankie Edgar and Ken-Flo are, like, the sickest fighters ever.