Fight Lines

December 12, 2007

Welterweight Rankings

Filed under: Ranking,Welterweight — fightlines @ 4:47 am

Welterweight FightLines Graph

Splits:
Hughes/St. Pierre
Hughes/Penn

Loops:
Serra => St. Pierre => Parisyan => Serra
Aoki => Kikuchi => Nakao => Aoki
Koscheck => Sanchez => Diaz => Fickett => Koscheck

Tier 1 3 fighters
Tier 2 12 fighters
Tier 3 16 fighters
Tier 4 28 fighters

In plenty of time for UFC 79, here are the Welterweight rankings. I made a minor goof and used 4 years instead of the usual 3, but that shouldn’t affect things too much. Things to note right away. Georges St. Pierre’s loss to Matt Serra is beatlooped out via Karo Parisyan. This surprisingly doesn’t change anything. Serra hasn’t had enough fights/wins to be placed high in the system, and St. Pierre and Parisyan both have a buttload of wins.

The other thing you’ve noticed is that little green guy in a sea of yellow. Carlos Condit has the most wins over guys on this list, which just barely keeps him in Tier 2, but he falls 5 spots off the top 10 list. The culprit is Condit’s loss to journeyman Pat Healy last year. Condit can rectify the situation by beating anyone above him on the graph. I’m not sure who is on the WEC roster that qualifies, though.

Rank Name Beatwins Beatlosses Ambig. Losses Wins Prev.
Rank
Score
1 Jon Fitch 42 0 0 8 - 180
2 Georges St. Pierre 40 0 2 8 - 177.6
3 Josh Koscheck 27 1 1 8 - 174.8
4 Karo Parisyan 35 2 1 7 - 163.4
5 Shinya Aoki 30 0 1 6 - 158.4
6 Matt Hughes 31 0 2 6 - 157
7 Diego Sanchez 37 1 1 6 - 156.2
8 Thiago Alves 32 1 0 5 - 147
9 Akira Kikuchi 24 1 1 5 - 144.2
10 Jake Shields 22 2 0 5 - 141.7

Nothing too shocking, outside of Matt Serra and Carlos Condit being completely off the list (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following along so far). My own top 10 (my subjective opinion combined with the info provided) would look something like this:

1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Jon Fitch
3. Matt Hughes
4. Karo Parisyan
5. Shinya Aoki
6. Josh Koscheck
7. Diego Sanchez
8. Matt Serra
9. Carlos Condit
T. Thiago Alves

December 3, 2007

Updated Middleweight Graph

Filed under: Middleweight,Ranking — fightlines @ 4:08 am

Middleweight Graph Revised

Splits:
Henderson/Misaki

Loops:
Lawler => Trigg => Miller => Lawler
MacDonald => Doerksen => Cote => MacDonald
Weir => Matsui => Stout => Weir
Leben => Cote => Grove => Belcher => Starnes => Leben

Tier 1 2 fighters
Tier 2 8 fighters
Tier 3 18 fighters
Tier 4 26 fighters

I recently found out the Okami/Silva fight from the Cage Rage tournament was at 175, so I decided to remove that from the list. I also decided to trim some of the fat, as I was a little more stringent in the LHW graph. As a result, we see some changes here. Here’s the power ranking:

Rank Name Beatwins Beatlosses Ambig. Losses Wins Prev.
Rank
Score
1 Anderson Silva 32 0 0 7 - 170
2 Paulo Filho 31 0 0 7 - 170
3 Denis Kang 26 3 0 6 - 149.7
4 Robbie Lawler 21 0 1 5 - 147.7
5 Yushin Okami 26 2 0 5 - 142.9
6 Dan Henderson 23 0 1 4 - 137.9
7 Rich Franklin 29 1 0 4 - 136.7
8 Kazuo Misaki 29 2 1 4 - 132.2
9 Matt Lindland 18 0 0 3 - 130
10 Zelg Galesic 3 0 0 3 - 130

First off, what’s changed? Filho and Silva end up in a more dominant 1, 1a rank which I believe is more appropriate. Okami drops down to 5th. Lindland drops to 9th. Henderson moves up to 6th. Lawler moves up to 4th. Kang moves up to 3rd. Misaki and Galesic joins the top 10. Akiyama and Marquardt leave the top 10. Basically, a crapton.

The biggest frustration I’ve had so far is deciding which fighters to omit from the graph and whether or not I’m awarding to much for wins in the final algorithm. This graph is a good example of how I can manipulate the rankings by adding or removing guys in the bottom.

Akiyama is a microcosm of some of the shortcomings I’ve had to deal with. Here’s his record over the past 3 years:

10/28/07 vs. Denis Kang W
12/31/06 vs. Kazushi Sakuraba NC
10/9/06 vs. Melvin Manhoef W
10/9/06 vs. Kestutis Smirnovas W
8/5/06 vs. Taiei Kin W
5/3/06 vs. Katsuhiko Nagata W
3/15/06 vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa W
11/5/05 vs Masakatsu Okuda W
10/12/05 vs. Michael Lerma W
7/6/05 vs. Carl Toomey W
3/26/05 vs. Jerome LeBanner L

I was more strict about keeping guys with only 2 fights against others on the list off. Smirnovas was removed for that reason. Manhoef ended up being removed because a couple of his opponents were removed. Akiyama suffers as a result. I think his proper spot was “more correct” on the 1st go through around 6th.

This is why I enjoy using the tier system rather than a top 10 list. The differences between the top fighters are so narrow that it’s hard to distinguish who should be number 5 and who should be number 6. Regardless, the top 10 list definitely categorizes the middleweight division at the moment. Two guys who are rolling through, and then a tight group below them. I’d love to see what happens if Sonnen beats Henderson this month.

I’m still tinkering with everything and would love to hear some ideas.

November 26, 2007

Light Heavyweight Rankings

Filed under: Light Heavyweight,Ranking — fightlines @ 9:24 pm

LHW Fight Lines

Splits:
W Silva/Arona
Belfort/Couture

Loops:
Henderson =>W Silva => Jackson => Henderson
Griffin => Bonnar => Jardine => Griffin
Jackson => Liddell => Ortiz => Griffin => Rua => Jackson

Tier 1 3 fighters
Tier 2 7 fighters
Tier 3 12 fighters
Tier 4 21 fighters

If you remember my last entry, I had some issues with the amount of data available for the light heavyweights. Because of the acquisition of Pride by the UFC and some of Pride’s matchmaking (most notably Wanderlei Silva’s entry into the Open Weight Grand Prix), there was a skewed amount of data available. To counteract that, I went ahead and looked at the past 4 years, instead of the past 3. Something interesting comes up right away without even looking at the power rankings. Chuck Liddell is in the top tier, even though he is below 3 guys in lower tiers, including 2 guys in Tier 3. The reason for this is that Chuck has 7 wins against guys on the graph. Four of those wins involve Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture. If I were to count those wins at 3/4th of a regular win (giving him credit for three wins instead of the full four), he would still remain in the top tier, but would fall below Quinton Jackson in the power rankings.

In the initial rankings (accounting for only the past 3 years), Chuck ended up 10th. He benefits greatly by adding two wins over Vernon White and Tito Ortiz, and the Ortiz win is even more important as it establishes clear dominance over him (the initial graph had his Ortiz win beatlooped out).

That’s not the only surprise, here’s the power ranking:

Rank Name Beatwins Beatlosses Ambig. Losses Wins Prev.
Rank
Score
1 Mauricio Rua 13 0 1 6 - 156.4
2 Chuck Liddell 16 3 1 7 - 152.5
3 Quinton Jackson 16 0 2 5 - 144.4
4 Rashad Evans 15 0 0 4 - 140
5 Jason Lambert 11 1 0 4 - 131.7
6 Lyoto Machida 11 1 0 3 - 130
7 Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 11 2 0 4 - 124.6
8 Wanderlei Silva 3 0 2 4 - 120
9 Thiago Silva 21 0 0 2 - 120
10 Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou 13 0 0 2 - 120

I was hesitant to post this info before UFC 79, but I didn’t want to just leave it sitting. The reason is that Wanderlei Silva (who, subjectively, I still think is top 3 right now) has A LOT to gain by beating Chuck Liddell. I think that’s the general feeling going into this fight anyway. Chuck, in my opinion doesn’t have much to lose. It should be obvious to anyone that Randy Couture is the exception, not the rule. Randy’s a preparedness freak, in addition to having a really good style to be able to fight well into his 40s (I think someone like Dan Henderson or Matt Lindland has the chance to do something similar). Chuck doesn’t have that luxury. But a loss to a huge star like Wanderlei doesn’t really change the path of his career. I’ve continued to say since the loss to Rampage, that Chuck is going to be best used like Tito is currently being used. High-profile, big-money fights, and a gatekeeper for the up-and-comers.

In terms of the Fight Lines power rankings, a win over Chuck ties Wanderlei with Quinton. He instantly jumps up 8 ranking spots. A loss would bump him down to 16th. So there’s a swing of about 14 spots for Wandy on December 29th. That’s an absolutely HUGE fight. Real world, a loss to Chuck really hampers his career path. Dana has said that he would highly consider giving Silva a title shot if he gets by Chuck (but, fortunately, not vice versa). A loss would put him into a similar position as Mirko Cro Cop was in after his loss to Gabriel Gonzaga. I agree with people who say that this fight doesn’t have the luster that it would have had 1 year ago. However, I would argue that it’s just as important as it was then, and it might be more important for their individual careers at this point.

I’ve been one of the many that have criticized Dana White for proclaiming the winner of Bisping/Evans a “top 5 fighter in the light heavyweight division.” Apparently, Dana has someone doing a Fight Lines style graph for him. Before you discuss Evans, you first should talk about Jason Lambert. With all the talk of the myriad of upsets in the LHW division this year (Griffin/Rua, Jardine/Liddell, and Sokoudjou’s wins over Nogueira and Arona), Lambert’s win over Sobral is just as important as those fights, but has by and large been forgotten about. A loss to Sobral would have kept him out of the top 10, and subsequently pushed Babalu would have put him right on the cusp of the top 10. Instead Lambert sits at number 5 while Renato’s gonna have a hard time rising above the 17th spot outside of the UFC.

Evans and Lambert are in a very precarious position however. While they both have beaten solid competition, they have yet to face anyone considered elite (by the consensus, not the Fight Lines definition). I’d like to see Evans next fight against someone like the loser of Liddell/Silva or the winner of Machida/Sokoudjou. I’d feel a lot more confident about Evans’ spot with a win over someone at that level.

Where’s Dan Henderson/Keith Jardine/Forrest Griffin? Hendo suffers from his loss to Nogueira, who has direct losses to Sokoudjou and Rua. Henderson’s win over Wandy was nullified by his loss to Quinton. Outside of that, Dan has wins over Vitor Belfort, Yuki Kondo, and Kazuhiro Nakamura. Not exactly the top 3 in the division. Subjectively, Henderson’s a lot higher on my list, but his only real claim in the division is a win over Wanderlei.

I’ve always thought Jardine and Forrest (and guys like Matt Serra, etc.) are overranked after upset wins. Yeah, Jardine just beat Chuck Liddell, but he’s also the guy who lost to Stephan Bonnar and Houston Alexander. Yeah, Forrest just won a huge fight against Mauricio Rua, but he’s the guy who lost to Tito Ortiz and Keith Jardine. I really don’t agree with the LHW rankings over at Sherdog. Shogun was ranked number 1 prior to his loss to Griffin, and then somehow drops to 6th? Josh Gross has always defended the rankings by claiming they are based on what a fighter has done, not what he will do. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and in fact, I think it’s a more appropriate way of doing it. But their current rankings make me believe that they’ve forgotten or disregarded the losses Jardine and Griffin have suffered. Because ranking two guys (Liddell and Rua) who ran roughshod over their divisions over the past 3-4 years below two solid, but mediocre fighters simply because they have wins over them is mindboggling to me. To paraphrase a famous football cliche, anybody can be anybody else on any given day. The only thing we can safely say about Jardine and Griffin right now, is that they were the better fighters on September 22nd.

I’m not as content with this ranking as I was with the Middleweights. Adding the fourth year was a huge improvement over the previous attempt, and I think I will probably do something along the lines of using the past four years for LHW+ and the last three for MW and below. I might still have to make some concessions for guys like Takanori Gomi, Mach Sakurai, Shinya Aoki, etc. when I do the light and welterweights. Anyway, adding some subjective opinion to the data, my personal top 10 would probably look something more like:

1. Quinton Jackson
2. Mauricio Rua
3. Wanderlei Silva
4. Chuck Liddell
5. Lyoto Machida
6. Rashad Evans
7. Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou
8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
9. Dan Henderson
T. Thiago Silva/Forrest Griffin

Even those rankings look kind of weird to me.

I’ll probably work on the welterweights next and try to get that out before UFC 79. I should have a revamped LHW graph by the Wednesday after that card as well (I’d probably have it they day after, but I’ll have a friend in town and then NYE partying).

November 25, 2007

Matchmaking (Un)Goodness and the Pride Acquisition Fallout

Filed under: Opinion — fightlines @ 12:05 am

I’ve limited the range of each Fight Lines graph to the past three years (starting at 1/1/05). There’s a couple reasons for this. First, going back any further than 3 years creates a lot of extra work. Consequently, it makes the graphs look even more unwieldy than they already do. The second reason is that fighters evolve, and accounting for fights 5 years ago may not be a good representation of a fighter right now. One of the things I would like to experiment with in the future is going back 5 years and placing weights on fights based on how recently they took place. But that’s neither here nor there.

I bring this up because I’ve been working on the Light Heavyweights. Obviously, the bigger weight classes will have smaller talent pools as you go up the scale. When I tried to put together an initial list of fighters, I had to stretch a bit to get some guys on there. I had to do the same thing when I had to make decisions whether or not to keep fighters with limited fights on the final list. As a result, the first incarnation ended up with this top 10 list:

1. Mauricio Rua
2. Rashad Evans
3. Forrest Griffin
4. Jason Lambert
5. Lyoto Machida
6. Quinton Jackson
7. Tito Ortiz
8. Thiago Silva
9. Ricardo Arona
10. Chuck Liddell

11-18 looks like this: Sokoudjou, Nogueira, Alexander, Jardine, Bonnar, Overeem

So the list isn’t completely atrocious. It isn’t particularly good, though. If you haven’t noticed, Wanderlei Silva doesn’t appear. Silva ended up around 30th. Why? Let’s take a look at his record in the past 3 years:

2/24/07 vs. Dan Henderson L
9/10/06 vs. Mirko Filipovic L
7/1/06 vs. Kazuyuki Fujita W
12/31/05 vs. Ricardo Arona W
8/28/05 vs. Ricardo Arona L
6/26/05 vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura W
4/23/05 vs. Hidehiko Yoshida W

So you have 3 fights out of his weight class (Mirko, Fujita, and Yoshida), a split with Arona, a win over Nakamura, and a loss to Henderson. Even if you add his NYE 2004 fight, you have another loss to heavyweight Mark Hunt. He is unlucky that I don’t include the Halloween 2004 win over Rampage, but that would have been beatlooped out through his loss to Henderson.

It’s hard to fault Pride for this though. Wanderlei was inserted into the 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix because Fedor Emelianenko was unable to compete. But let’s look at another fighter (I’ll just list his Pride fights):

12/31/06 vs. Kiyoshi Tamura L
11/5/06 vs. Mike Plotcheck W
8/26/06 vs. Eric Esch W
4/2/06 vs. Paulo Cesar Silva W
12/31/05 vs. Kazushi Sakuraba L
9/25/05 vs. Murilo Bustamante L
9/25/05 vs. Phil Baroni W
7/17/05 vs. Kimo Leopoldo W
5/22/05 vs. Phil Baroni L
4/3/05 vs. Gilbert Yvel W

Tamura is listed at 195 via Sherdog’s Fight Finder. Plotcheck has 1 other fight in his record. Eric Esch = Butterbean. Cro Cop, Yvel and Kimo all fight at heavyweight. Then you have Baroni, Sakuraba, and Bustamante as the only legit 183/185 pounders. I understand the Japanese crowd has different tastes than the rest of the world, but I think this is atrocious. I don’t think Minowa is an elite fighter at any weight, but he’s no slouch. Why doesn’t he have any fights with Henderson? Or Chonan? Or Misaki? Or Filho (I know they fought in Pancrase)? Or Gono? Etc. etc. etc. I can’t imagine a fight with Butterbean really offers more than a relevant fight with one of the above fighters.

While I have a laundry list worth of problems with the UFC, one of the things they are good at is putting together relevant fights free of the Pride-style freak shows. And with the upcoming exception of Brock Lesnar, they’re good about putting proven fighters on the main card of PPVs. I agree with the general consensus that the Michael Bisping-Rashad Evans main event was a co-main event type fight at best. Regardless, I believe it was still a relevant fight and, in my opinion, more compelling than Evans-Ortiz II or Bisping-Hamill II.

However, Dana White has really mishandled the acquisition of Pride in terms of bringing in talent. One of the things that he consistently said after Lorenzo Fertitta made the purchase was that the UFC would get all the best fighters – all of ‘em. Well, let’s look at all the talent that will have been wasted this year:

Josh Barnett (0 fights)
Takanori Gomi (1 fight)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (1 fight)
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (1 fight)
Fabricio Werdum (1 fight)
Shinya Aoki (2 fights)
Joachim Hansen (2 fights)
Fedor Emelianenko (1 fight, 2 if the NYE show comes together)
Wanderlei Silva (2 fights)
Ricardo Arona (1 fight)
…and many more

That doesn’t even include a guy like Andrei Arlovski, who will probably only fight once this year because the UFC wants him to sign an extension before they fulfill the final fight on his deal. Dana likes to talk about how he takes care of fighters, but this is egregious to everyone involved. Arlovski is 28 and in the prime of his career. You’re stealing valuable time and money from him by keeping him on the shelf. Not to mention treating a guy – who was one of your top heavyweights during a time when everyone saw your division as third rate – without the appreciation he deserves. The fans miss out on seeing a quality guy (in a division that suddenly has become thin) fight. And the UFC loses PPV buys from a guy that has some name recognition.

To bring this back to relating to Fight Lines, I’m not sure what to do. An option would be to use the last 3 years from the time of a fighter’s last fight. That would end up only being a temporary fix, though. I’d like to hear some opinions.

And to really drive home my points, I leave you with the last 3 years of Fedor Emelianenko:

4/14/07 vs. Matt Lindland W
12/31/06 vs. Mark Hunt W
10/21/06 vs. Mark Coleman W
12/31/05 vs. Wagner da Conceicao Martins W
8/25/05 vs. Mirko Filopovic W
4/3/05 vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka W

November 21, 2007

Middleweight Rankings

Filed under: Middleweight,Ranking — fightlines @ 7:34 pm

What is Fight Lines?

Middleweight FightLine LoRes

HiRes Version

Tier 1 3 fighters
Tier 2 12 fighters
Tier 3 19 fighters
Tier 3 41 fighters

Here’s the initial FightLines graph. I chose the middleweight division because the traditional rankings had a pretty clear number 1, in addition to talent from multiple countries and organizations. As you can see, I’ve divvied up the graph to show where each guy falls in the division, while also eliminating the idea that being “higher” on the graph does not necessarily mean anything in relation to guys below you.

Rank Name Beatwins Beatlosses Ambig. Losses Wins Prev.
Rank
Score
1 Anderson Silva 44 0 1 8 - 178.8
2 Yushin Okami 30 0 1 8 - 178.3
3 Paulo Filho 28 0 0 7 - 170
4 Matt Lindland 22 0 0 6 - 160
5 Denis Kang 22 1 1 6 - 153.75
6 Yoshihiro Akiyama 27 0 0 5 - 150
7 Robbie Lawler 23 0 1 5 - 147.9
8 Rich Franklin 30 1 0 5 - 146.8
9 Dan Henderson 26 0 1 4 - 138.1
10 Nathan Marquardt 6 1 0 5 - 135.7

And here is the inaugural power ranking. I think the first thing that will surprise people is Yushin Okami at number 2. Okami benefits greatly from his win over Anderson Silva (remember, we don’t discriminate a win based on method of victory) as it allows his recent loss to Rich Franklin to be beatlooped out. An Okami loss to nearly anyone of note in the UFC middleweight division would drop him quite a few spots. While Okami ends up shaving a beatloss, Rich Franklin maintains his after the recent loss to Anderson Silva.

I’ve fiddled around numerous times with the power ranking algorithm. A bunch of early attempts had Alan Belcher end up at #10. The algorithm I finally ended up using rewarded actual wins more. The fact that Marquardt only has 6 beatwins may seem weird, but you have to factor in that he has 5 wins over guys included in the system and his one loss is to the number 1 guy.

Overall, I’m very happy with this first run. All the fighters appear on the conventional rankings which is a good sign. If I were to submit a formal ranking, I wouldn’t feel like a chump handing this list in, although I think I’d flip flop Filho/Okami and Akiyama/Kang. I think this is a good example of what the Beatpaths system can produce, and I’m looking forward to comments and criticisms.

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