Rankings Focus: The light heavyweight division is the worst in the UFC

Ryan Jimmo verbally submitted after breaking his arm against Ovince St. Preux at UFC 174.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Fabio Maldonao just got mauled by Stipe Miocic in 35 seconds. Ryan Jimmo was finished by Ovince St. Preux. And these two men, ladies and gentlemen, are considered "contenders" in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

That’s right. Maldonado and Jimmo are both included in this week’s official UFC rankings at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. And, honestly, this isn’t even as much of a case of the media voters being incompetent. No, there just really are not any good choices for those last two spots and that’s disturbing given that 205 was always the UFC’s premier weight class.

One can almost make a case for Maldonado being there. Almost. He did go up to heavyweight to fight Miocic in May and got pummelled. Before that, the Brazilian had won three in a row at light heavyweight. Not against anyone all too impressive, but three straight wins in the UFC still isn’t something to completely downplay. Even in the 50-events-per-year era.

Jimmo? Well, that’s where it gets dicey. He’s 2-3 in his last five fights and his lone wins have come against Sean O’Connell and Igor Pokrajac. Jimmo verbally submitted to St. Preux at UFC 174 last month when he broke his arm blocking a kick. There’s no way he should be No. 15.

But the other candidates don’t really make a great case, either. In my rankings (yes, I still vote), I included Ilir Latifi and Gian Villante. I didn’t do so with a smile. But at least those two are coming off wins. And Latifi, who I have at No. 14, actually looked darn good in submitting Cyrille Diabate (yeah, yeah, I know) in March. Villante just beat O’Connell in the Fight of the Night on the New Zealand card.

Honestly, who else is really out there at 205? Anthony Perosh? Hans Stringer? Robert Drysdale hasn’t even fought in the UFC yet.

Light heavyweight is the thinnest men’s weight class in the UFC and it’s unfair to compare women’s bantamweight, since that division is only a year old. Even the men’s flyweight division is deeper in the top 15 than 205. That’s sad.

Jon Jones is the light heavyweight champion and he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. He also has two legitimate contenders in Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier. But beyond that, it’s kind of a wasteland. And we’re not talking about a Linkin Park promo.

The UFC could use some prospects. Maybe Drysdale goes on a run or one of the Ultimate Fighter 19 castmates makes some noise. We could really use a better bottom of these rankings.

Inexplicable move of the week: Nik Lentz

Nik Lentz is really excited to be No. 7 in the featherweight rankings.

Maybe Nik Lentz is the seventh best featherweight in the UFC. It’s hard to argue either way. But what happened in the last week that allowed him to hop over both Dennis Siver and Clay Guida in the rankings? Did Siver fail another drug test or something? Did Guida sheer his curly locks. We sure hope not.

Also, while we’re talking about the 145-pounders, Jeremy Stephens moved up a spot to No. 10 over Dennis Bermudez after losing to Cub Swanson. Bermudez has won six in a row. What’s going on here?

Rankings riffs

Mauricio Rua moved up in the rankings without even fighting. He’s that good.

— Somehow Mauricio Rua moved up to No. 8, ahead of Ryan Bader this week for no apparent reason. Bader is coming off an absolute dismantling of Rafael Cavalcante, while "Shogun" has not fought since almost getting his nose punched off by Dan Henderson in March. Weird.

— Some order was restored this week when Brendan Schaub returned to the heavyweight top 15. He was robbed in his fight against Andrei Arlovski and then he got voted out of the rankings, too. Luckily for Schaub, Soa Palelei lost to Jared Rosholt over the weekend.

— Going back to featherweight, Cub Swanson deservedly hopped two places to No. 2 over both Ricardo Lamas and Frankie Edgar. That absolutely makes sense. Charles Oliveira is also in at 145 for the first time, debuting at No. 14. That’s fair after his submission win over Hatsu Hioki in New Zealand.