Rankings Review: Olympic Edition

The Underground

It might be an understatement to say the UFC has some questionable rankings.  You would expect rankings to be questionable as they are subjective; however, in this column, I will point out rankings that I think are glaring mistakes.  I will also analyze significant movement in the rankings that I agree with.

Editorial Commentary by Peter Parsons

With the Olympics taking place right now in Tokyo, I thought it would be fun to look at which countries have the most champions and ranked fighters in the UFC.  Mixed Martial Arts is an international sport as fighting and martial arts cross all cultures.  MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.  Maybe someday we will see it in the Olympics.

Countries with the most UFC Champions

Below are the countries and number of UFC titles with champions listed.

Brazil (3) – Charles Oliveira, Amanda Nunes X 2

USA (2) – Aljamain Sterling, Rose Namajunas

Nigeria (2) – Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya

Kyrgyzstan (1) – Valentina Shevchenko 

Cameroon (1) – Francis Ngannou

Poland (1) – Jan Blachowicz

Australia (1) – Alexander Volkanovski

Mexico (1) – Brandon Moreno

Countries with the most ranked UFC fighters including champions

Below are the countries with the number of ranked UFC fighters they have.  Outside the top two countries in USA and Brazil, the individual fighters are listed.

USA (76)

Brazil (33)

Russia (11) – Petr Yan, Askar Askarov, Alexander Volkov, Islam Makhachev, Yana Kunitskaya, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Magomed Ankalaev, Movsar Evloev, Arman Tsarukyan, Sergei Pavlovich, Muslim Salikhov, 

Mexico (4) – Brandon Moreno, Yair Rodriguez, Irene Aldana, Alexa Grasso

China (4) – Zhang Weili, Yan Xaionan, Li Jingliang, Sumudaerji

England (4) – Leon Edwards, Arnold Allen, Darren Till, Tom Aspinall

Nigeria (3) – Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya, Sodiq Yusuff

Poland (3) – Jan Blachowicz, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Marcin Tybura

Australia (3) – Alexander Volkanovski, Robert Whitaker, Jimmy Crute

New Zealand (3) – Kai Kara France, Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell

Georgia (3) – Giga Chikadze, Merab Dvalishvili, Ilia Topuria

Sweden (3) – Lina Lansberg, Pannie Kianzad, Amir Albazi

Czech Republic (2) – Jiri Prochazka, David Dvorak

Scotland (2) – Joanne Calderwood, Paul Craig

Canada (2) – Misha Cirkunov, Alexis Davis

Kyrgyzstan (1) – Valentina Shevchenko

Cameroon (1) – Francis Ngannou

Netherlands (1) – Germaine De Randamie

France (1) – Cyril Gane

Austria (1) – Aleksandar Rakic

Iran (1) – Beneil Dariush

Italy (1) – Marvin Vettori

South Korea (1) – Chan Sung Jung

Suriname (1) – Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Norway (1) – Jack Hermansson

Switzerland (1) – Volkan Oezdemir

Jamaica (1) – Uriah Hall

Ukraine (1) – Nikita Krylov

Palestine (1) – Belal Muhammad

Ireland (1) – Conor McGregor

Bulgaria (1) – Blagoy Ivanov

Argentina (1) – Santiago Ponzinibbio

Moldova (1) – Serghei Spivac

Ecuador (1) – Marlon Vera

Note, for the Olympics you would see Great Britain and not England, Scottland and Wales.  Great Britain has six ranked UFC fighters – four from England and two from Scotland.

There are some fighters with dual citizenship and just like the Olympics athletes will choose to represent one country.  For example, Israel Adesanya could represent Nigeria or New Zealand and choses to represent Nigeria.

Like the Olympics, it is interesting to see smaller countries doing noticeably well.  Georgia is a country of around four million and has three ranked UFC fighters.  New Zealand is a country of around five million and has three ranked UFC fighters and could have four if we counted Adesanya.

The UFC is the largest MMA promotion in the world and has athletes from around the world; however, it should be noted that it is an American based promotion which may inflate the number of American ranked athletes in proportion to some other countries.

Amanda Nunes out of UFC 265 after positive COVID-19 test

Medal Count

Now let’s look at the medal standings Olympic style.  Below is a chart with a mock medal count based on UFC champions and top ranked contenders.  There are 12 UFC weight divisions.  Each champion represents gold, first ranked fighters – silver and second ranked fighters – bronze.  There is one more gold than silver and bronze because the women’s featherweight division, in which Amanda Nunes is champ, does not have rankings.

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Brazil 3 3 2 8
United States 2 4 6 12
Nigeria 2 0 0 2
Australia 1 1 0 2
Poland 1 0 1 2
Kyrgyzstan 1 0 0 1
Cameroon 1 0 0 1
Mexico 1 0 0 1
Russia 0 1 1 2
China 0 1 0 1
Netherlands 0 1 0 1
Czech Republic 0 0 1 1

I think it’s not a matter of if, but when MMA will become an Olympic sport.  MMA has a real international flare and is growing throughout the world.  It would be interesting to see what countries would get the most MMA medals in the Olympics.

My rankings would look different than any other writer or fan who follows the sport closely.  This is to be expected, as rankings are subjective.  Rankings should be based primarily on results and not perceived potential or popularity.

Some people think rankings do not matter.  Rankings do matter.  They matter when it comes to matchmaking.  They matter when it comes to contract negotiations.

Let’s keep the rankings conversation going.  Do you agree or disagree with the above Ranking Review? Express your thoughts in the comments below.

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