Rankings Focus: Nick Diaz is out of retirement, so he should be eligible for UFC rankings

Nick Diaz meets Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on Jan. 31.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Once someone is removed from the rankings, the UFC doesn’t like to put them back in until they fight.

For example, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was at one time ranked in the top 10 among UFC light heavyweight contenders. But because he was out for so long due to injury, the organization pulled him from eligibility. Nogueira wasn’t placed back in until he fought — and lost to — Anthony Johnson on Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Lawler vs. Brown.

That seems a little strange. The biggest benefit of even having rankings is for promotional purposes. A number next to a fighter’s name gives him or her and the bout some context. Johnson was ranked No. 5 coming into the San Jose card, but Lil’ Nog was unranked. It would have been useful for the UFC to show Nogueira as being No. 7 or 8 or whatever he was going to be before Johnson almost knocked his head off.

So what’s my point? Glad you asked. Nick Diaz is out of retirement and just signed a new contract with the UFC as of last week. Now, he has a fight booked — and it’s a goodie — against Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas. But he is nowhere to be found in the UFC rankings and likely won’t be next week either.

Silva is still there, ranked No. 1 at middleweight, because he’s fought within the last year. Diaz, though, hasn’t stepped in the Octagon since March 2013 — a loss to Georges St-Pierre.

I understand why the UFC took him out. And now it’s time to put him back in. Diaz having a ranking at welterweight matters very little going into selling his next fight. You can hang a 63 on Diaz’s name and people are still going to buy UFC 183. Plus, the bout is going to be contested at middleweight.

But UFC president Dana White said on ESPN on Tuesday that Diaz could foreseeably fight for the welterweight title if he beats Silva. Well then, wouldn’t it make sense to have him in the rankings and show people where he stands? Of course it would.

Diaz, 30, is still one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world and that’s what the UFC will be selling us for the next few months. If Diaz were eligible next week, I’d probably slip him in at No. 4, just behind Carlos Condit, who beat Diaz in 2012. Some would probably put him below that, out of the top five. It’s open for debate, which is the beauty of rankings.

If Diaz has a contract and bout agreement signed, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be eligible to be voted on in the rankings. Why wait until after he fights?

When you look at the welterweight list now, you don’t get the full view of the division. Because Diaz is very much back and a threat.

Inexplicable move of the week: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira got knocked out and then found his way back into the rankings.

As noted above, Nogueira got knocked out in 44 seconds by Anthony Johnson on Saturday night. His reward was to earn a spot back in the rankings, at No. 14. What’s concerning is that he probably deserves that spot or higher, a referendum on the lack of depth of the light heavyweight division.

Nogueira can likely still compete with the Fabio Maldonados and Rafael Cavalcantes of the world. There’s a pretty good chance, if he fights again, he’ll get a top-10 guy, too, in Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. And that would probably be pretty competitive. Good thing 205 is so good at the top with Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier and now Anthony Johnson. Because it’s pretty brutal down below.

Rankings riffs

Jorge Masvidal didn’t move up in the rankings at all despite beating Daron Cruickshank.

— No love for Jorge Masvidal, eh? He looked pretty darn good in beating Daron Cruickshank by decision Saturday, yet guys like Gray Maynard are still ranked ahead of him at lightweight. Masvidal is ranked No. 13 and Maynard is No. 11. The other changes at 155 make sense. Josh Thomson slid down three spots to No. 6 and Bobby Green is up six spots to No. 7 after beating Thomson. The decision was split and it was close and overall Thomson has a better résumé. That’s fair. However, why Edson Barboza dropped two spots to No. 11 is beyond me.

— Dennis Bermudez moving up five spots to No. 7 at featherweight is accurate. There was no reason why he was below Conor McGregor last week in the first place. Of course, McGregor managed to hop another spot up to No. 9. There must be more Irish voters. Clay Guida slid five spots to No. 12 after losing to Bermudez. Also, for some reason Cub Swanson flip-flopped with Frankie Edgar and he’s back at No. 2.

— Remember how I wrote last week that McGregor made the top 10 at feathrweight because of his mouth? Daniel Cormier just did the same thing in the pound-for-pound rankings. Cormier came in at No. 15 this week. The only difference between Cormier and McGregor is that Cormier actually should have been there a long time ago.