Earning a spot in the UFC rankings is no small feat. It cements you in the top 15 in the world at your weight and sets you up for some big-time fights moving forward. Where fighters are ranked is often a controversial topic and there are a number on the roster today who are deserving of this recognition.
While the promotion attempts to ensure the right fighters have the right number next to their name, there often appears to be some odd decisions. Just this week, Jack Shore was finally granted a number next to his name, which was long overdue in the eyes of many.
Several other fighters seem to deserve a number next to their name but have not been given the nod just yet. Here are five UFC fighters who deserve a place in the rankings:
#5. Umar Nurmagomedov - UFC bantamweight
The UFC bantamweight division may be one of the deepest in the entire promotion, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for some new faces in the rankings. Jack Shore moved into the top 15 this week but there is room for another new entry as Marlon Moraes has remained at no. 14 despite his recent retirement.
Umar Nurmagomedov may have the best case of any of those fighters currently on the outside looking in. While he has only competed in the octagon twice, he's finished both opponents, including UFC veteran Brian Kelleher inside the third round. He's also 14-0 and Khabib Nurmagomedov's cousin.
While the UFC are understandably not rushing this 26-year-old star, with a vacancy in the bantamweight rankings, he seems like the best fit. It will be interesting to see who is ultimately given the spot. Regardless of who gets the nod, expect Nurmagomedov to find a number next to his name before too long.
#4. Alexander Romanov - UFC heavyweight
The UFC heavyweight division has historically lacked depth over the years. While the top of the division is now in great shape with a number of strong contenders, there are some questions to be asked further down the rankings. For example, the fighters ranked No.12, 13 and 14 have all lost three fights in a row.
With that in mind, it does seem a little odd that 15-0 Alexander Romanov remains unranked in the division. He's 4-0 inside the octagon, with none of his fights going the distance. It's therefore tough to argue that the Moldovan fighter does not deserve one of the spots currently occupied by fighters on losing streaks.
Romanov appeared set to try and secure his spot in the rankings when he volunteered to take on formerly ranked Tanner Boser on short notice. However, Boser has now had to pull out of that fight and the Moldovan will now face Chase Sherman instead.
#3. Michel Pereira - UFC welterweight
At one point, you might have been able to argue that Michel Pereira's antics in the octagon were preventing him from making the leap into the rankings. However, he's now won four in a row and has shown the ability to take dangerous opponents seriously and still come out on top.
Pereira has appeared to be one win away from becoming ranked for a while now. Most recently, he was scheduled to face Muslim Salikhov, but instead faced and defeated André Fialho in January. That wasn't enough to see him make the leap, but one more positive result would surely do so.
Pereira is scheduled to face No.14 Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Vieira. A win over a ranked opponent will all but guarantee him his own spot in the rankings the following week. While it will be a tough test, victory would be absolutely huge for the entertaining Brazilian competitor.
#2. Andrei Arlovski - UFC heavyweight
We've already touched upon how multiple top 15 UFC heavyweights are on extended losing streaks. It, therefore, seems shocking that a former champion in the division on a three-fight winning streak does not make the cut. Andrei Arlovski may not have held gold since 2006 but he's currently on a great run of form.
Arlovski has won six of his last eight with the only losses during this run coming against top 10 opposition. He's also beaten previously ranked opposition during this run, including Ben Rothwell and Tanner Boser. He is scheduled to face Jake Collier on April 30.
Arlovski's previous success and current winning streak, combined with the poor form of some of his peers, makes it tough to understand how he is not ranked. If he can extend his winning streak to four later this month, expect the former champion to make a triumphant return to the top 15.
#1. Alex Pereira - UFC middleweight
The MMA world was shocked to hear that Alex Pereira is scheduled to face No.4 ranked middleweight Sean Strickland on July 30. An unranked fighter with just two fights inside the octagon, taking on a top-five opponent is unheard of but the promotion has made an exception for Alex Pereira.
That's not to say Pereira is underserving. He's a decorated kickboxer with multiple wins over current champion Israel Adesanya and has looked great thus far in MMA. The UFC clearly feels they may have a star on their hands and that's why they are fast-tracking him into some big-time fights at 185lbs.
The promotion clearly views the Brazilian as a potential title contender and is ready to fight some of the elite fighters in his division. Fighters viewed like this ought to be ranked, otherwise the entire system becomes confusing. Pereira is already being treated like a ranked fighter and so he ought to be confirmed as one.