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The Top Ten Worst UFC Rankings Panelists

(Darren Uyenoyama was released by the UFC after going 0-2 last year. At the time of this writing, three different UFC ranking panelists still have him listed as a top 10 flyweight. Read on for more disturbing facts! / Photo via Getty)

By Cody Severtson

“These panelists may have a direct effect on how much fighters get paid.”

I kept telling myself that as I filtered through each UFC panelist’s ranking data, shaking my head in total disbelief.

For quite some time, MMA media, fighters and fans alike campaigned for better fighter pay. With the UFC announcing a six-year sponsorship deal with Reebok this past Tuesday (totaling an estimated $70 million), we were told that every penny would go into the fighters’ pockets. After all, the UFC’s primary reason for making this deal was to add a layer of professionalism to their organization, one which would make them in a way, similar to other major sports organizations.

So say goodbye to the fight banners, the sponsor-covered shorts, and the walkout shirts! For the next six years, it’s Reebok only, baby! Any sponsors that the fighters and their managers have already secured will be banned from being visible inside the Octagon. Depending on the loyalty of sponsors, we could end up seeing a lot more of this. Conversely, if the UFC does overhaul the ranking system and a fair pay structure is implemented, sponsor loyalty won’t be an issue. A new ranking system should provide an unbiased/accurate/educated selection of each division’s top 15 — a system that will award the UFC’s athletes with the fair and adequate sponsorship money they deserve.

As of right now, a fighter’s sponsorship cut will be tied directly to where they sit in the UFC rankings. That’s right… the same rankings done by the always reliable UFC-approved voting panelists. According to DFW, the current panelist voting system will soon be updated; White aims to narrow down the current field of panelists to a select few “legitimate, credible and ethical guys” in order to gain better results. Unfortunately for White, every “legitimate, credible, and ethical guy” in MMA media has already recognized the blatant conflict of interest this system presents and has refused to participate in the ranking system.

With that said, I have put together a list of the 10 worst panelists currently contributing to the UFC’s divisional rankings. Let’s get started.

10. Bruno Massami ( Pettis came into the UFC with a lot of hype, he was undefeated, the former RFA flyweight champion, and Anthony Pettis’s younger brother. Sergio won his bantamweight debut against short notice opponent and former #9 flyweight Will Campuzano. However, he followed his debut with a submission loss to the unranked Alex Caceres, before bouncing back with a forgettable decision victory over unranked Yaotzin Meza. Massami, like many panelists, may have personal favorites in the UFC, but rankings must be unbiased, objective, and logical. None of those criteria apply when Massami placed Sergio as the #10 bantamweight.

9. Steve Juon (Wrestling Observer) – From my analysis the bantamweight division appeared to give most panelists problems. The division itself had 101 records of questionable rankings. The closest division to having as many problems was middleweight with 28 recorded rankings issues. Now when I analyzed my data it wasn’t just a matter of pointing out who had Tim Kennedy at #7 when I think he should be #8. No, I noted every instance of downright BAD ranking. Steve Juon apparently missed the last few years of the bantamweight division as this is how he has the top names in the division seeded…

Urijah Faber #1

Dominick Cruz #2

Renan Barao #3

Don’t get me wrong, I love the California Kid, and Cruz’s destruction of Takeya Mizugaki should bring him back in the top 3 of the division without a doubt. However, having Faber ranked above the two guys that defeated him is downright ridiculous.

8. Jorge Correa (UOL Brazil) – Besides ranking Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen in the wrong division — eight other panelists ranked these two in the wrong weight class as well — Correa had Eddie Wineland ranked as the #7 bantamweight in the world, which at first doesn’t seem like a big deal, however the guy that recently knocked him out wasn’t even ranked. The shocking part is Correa wasn’t the only panelist to do this. Of the 21 panelists that did rank Eddie Wineland, 11 ranked him higher than Johnny Eduardo, while the remaining 10 didn’t have Eduardo ranked AT ALL.

On top of his baffling bantamweight decisions, Correa also ranked Stephen Thompson as the #9 welterweight, Patrick Cummins the #9 light-heavyweight and Soa Palelei as the #7 heavyweight in the world. Are they top 30 fighters? Absolutely! Are they top 10? I’m not convinced.

7. Joe Ferraro (Sportsnet) – The man they call “Showdown Joe” has been a fixture of Canadian MMA news for a long time, working his way up from colour commentary at local promotions, to hosting his own radio show before making it big and working for Rogers Sportsnet, hosting the station’s first MMA dedicated sports program. Now, Ferraro is a trained martial artist, an experienced broadcaster, and was awarded the Journalist of the Year award by Fighters Only Magazine in 2009, so one could only assume that his rankings would be free of any bias.

Besides being one of the eight panelists to rank Brad Pickett in the wrong weight class, Ferraro also ranked Brad Pickett in the RIGHT weight class! Ranking Brad as both the #7 bantamweight and the #10 flyweight; a prestigious honor for Pickett despite his current two-fight losing streak at flyweight.

Finally, ‘Showdown Joe’ is a proud Canadian, and I applaud him for giving credit to developing Canadian talent! However, Yves Jabouin being ranked as the #10 bantamweight is…confusing. In the past two years, Jabouin has beat Jeff Hougland, Dustin Pague and Mike Easton, none of whom still work for the UFC. Between those victories is a pair of knockout losses to Brad Pickett and Eddie Wineland. Again, Jabouin isn’t a BAD fighter; he’s even shown sparks of brilliance. However, based on his last two years in the UFC, one simply cannot justify him being ranked as the #10 guy.

6. Marcelo Russio (Canal Combate) – There are two things that make Marcelo Russio stand out from all other panelists in terms of being terrible. The first is, like Steve Juon before him, Russio has apparently not watched a bantamweight fight once this year. Besides ranking Renan Barao (former champion) below Raphael Assuncao, Russio ranked George Roop and Erik Perez the #8 and #10 bantamweights, respectively.

After a disappointing return to the UFC in the featherweight division, Roop decided to go full skeletor and drop to bantamweight where he picked up wins against Reuben Duran and former champion Brian Bowles. However, his time at bantamweight has turned ugly as he’s lost two of his last three fights by brutal knockout, with the most recent one against debuting fighter Rob “IMPACT” Font. Yes, I’m trying to get that nickname started. Try and stop me…

Erik Perez has victories over Edwin Figueroa, Byron Bloodworth, Ken Stone, and John Albert (all cut from the UFC since) with losses coming against top 10 competition in Bryan Caraway and Takeya Mizugaki. However, just because you FACE top 10 competition, doesn’t mean you’ve earned a spot IN the top 10.

The second thing that separated Russio from all 51 other panelists was that he had ranked the most fighters to not appear on anyone else’s list. Russio ranked Fabio Maldonado #10 in the light-heavyweight division, Ryan LaFlare the #10 at welterweight, and the aforementioned George Roop as the #8 bantamweight.

Wait, it gets worse — much worse. Continue to the next page for the five most dangerously confused UFC ranking panelists…

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