Rankings Focus: Anthony Johnson might not think he’s a contender, but he is
Humble "Rumble" thinks he’s a long way from a title shot. Those who vote on the UFC rankings beg to differ.
Anthony Johnson dominated Phil Davis in a unanimous decision victory Saturday night at UFC 172 in Baltimore and the media rewarded him by moving him up nine spots in the light heavyweight rankings — from No. 14 to No. 5. That’s one of the biggest jumps in the short history of the official UFC rankings.
"Rumble" was extremely understated in the post-fight press conference, saying he doesn’t feel like he’s a contender in the UFC yet and that he’s just going to take it one fight at a time. It’s easy to see where he’s coming from. Johnson last fought in the UFC back in 2012 and that was at a catchweight against Vitor Belfort, because he couldn’t make the 185-pound weight limit.
Now, after competing at World Series of Fighting at heavyweight and light heavyweight, Johnson is just getting his feet wet in the big show in a new division. "Rumble" fought eight times in the UFC previously at 170, which is ridiculous given his well-muscled, 6-foot-2 frame.
But look at it this way. Johnson came right in and beat Davis, a guy everyone had ranked in the top five — a guy who has beaten current No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson. So, it stands to reason that defeating Davis puts him among the elite — whether Johnson likes it or not.
Inexplicable move of the week: Belfort moves up — at light heavyweight
Vitor Belfort is probably the second best middleweight in the world right now after champion Chris Weidman. However you feel about his TRT usage, it’s hard to argue with his body of work.
He’s No. 2 at 185 in the rankings after Anderson Silva. Fine. But why is he ranked at light heavyweight and why on Earth did he move up a spot to No. 12 this week? Belfort is a middleweight. Yes, he fought Dan Henderson at 205 in the fall, but it’s pretty clear "The Phenom" is in the middleweight title picture, not the light heavyweight one.
— Did Erik Perez fight this week? Did Alex Caceres get another win overturned due to getting busted for pot? No and no. So why did Perez jump two spots in the bantamweight rankings and Caceres drop two spots? The UFC added some Mexican media to the panel, didn’t they?
— Erick Silva is fighting on May 10 in the main event of UFC Fight Night. So, of course that means he has to move up a spot in the welterweight rankings, right? Weird. Poor Ryan LaFlare.
— Phil Davis lost to Anthony Johnson on Saturday, but does that mean he should be ranked lower than 43-year-old Dan Henderson? Seems a little harsh.
— Can everyone stop ranking Daniel Cormier at heavyweight? He fights at light heavyweight now and having him hang around on the heavyweight list at No. 15 is embarrasing when he’s beaten No. 4 Antonio Silva.
— Flyweight is by far the hardest of the weight divisions to rank. After John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez (in whatever order), it’s a damn crapshoot.