Chael Sonnen made headlines again this week by stepping in for an injured Lil Nog to take on former #1 (and currant #7) ranked Light Heavyweight Mauricio Shogun Rua. This will be The Bad Guy’s 11th fight in a row against top 10 talent, and yet he is conspicuously absent from the UFC’s top 10 rankings. How is a man who continually fights the best in the world and has had 3 title shots in 10 fights NOT ranked in the top 10?
“Simple”, you say. “Chael no longer fights at Middleweight, so he should no longer be ranked there.”
Excellent point. But I’ll counter that with Anthony Pettis. Pettis is currently ranked #2 in the UFC Lightweight rankings even though he is scheduled to take on Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo in his next fight. It can be argued that Pettis has yet to fight at FW so he should still be ranked in LW, and while I agree, it is in fact true that Sonnen was removed from the MW rankings just before coaching The Ultimate Fighter, when it became clear he would be fighting for the LHW belt. With Pettis already slotted into the headlining bout at UFC 163, shouldn’t his name be removed form the LW rankings?
“But,” you say, “Chael can’t be ranked at Light Heavyweight because he hasn’t beaten any LHW’s.”
Although Chael owns an overall winning record at LHW, it has been some number of years since he has beaten anyone of note in the weight class. And yet, he at least has a history at LHW unlike Frankie Edgar and the Featherweight division where he is currently ranked #3. Frankie and Chael both sat at the top of their divisions only losing to the champion, twice, and both moved to a new weight class where they immediately challenged for the title only to come up short. Yet Edgar, who only has 1 win in the past 3 years and has never won a fight at FW, is considered a top contender while Sonnen is still in rankings limbo.
With an “anyone, anytime” attitude, Chael has positioned himself to break into the top 10 of the LHW division with a win over Rua at UFC 161. Some think he should already be there.