Renan Barao Isn’t a Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Fighter (Anymore)
UFC 173 is just another reminder that the last 11 months have been nuts.
In that short span of time, four UFC titles have changed hands, with two pound-for-pound all-time greats suffering huge upset losses.
Georges St-Pierre is retired. Anderson Silva is no longer the best fighter in the world. Benson Henderson’s lucky streak has ended. And former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao got manhandled for the first time in nearly a decade. Manhandled.
For added context, Dillashaw was one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history and had never displayed fighting ability like this before.
Again, it’s nuts.
But as much as things change, other things remain the same, with MMA “media” idiocy running wild.
You Stupid, Stupid, Rankings Panelists
If you were some casual Joe taking a glance at the current official UFC rankings, you’d never guess that Barao got clobbered by Dillashaw.
After all, he’s still in the pound-for-pound list, just one spot under the legendary Anderson Silva and one spot above welterweight champion Johny Hendricks.
But that’s only because the UFC rankings panelists have (once again) failed to do their jobs.
Although Dillashaw soundly and emphatically battered Barao in a completely one-sided smashing—ending by TKO, no less—Barao is still being credited as a Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter while Dillashaw inexplicably enters the list at three spots under the guy he just beat less than two days ago.
In a word, it’s disgusting.
In seven words, it’s a miserable crime against common sense.
As usual, the term “pound-for-pound” has been confused for “greatest-of-all-time” or “most-popular fighter,” a trend frighteningly similar to the aftermath of UFC 162 and UFC 168.
Back when 9-0 middleweight underdog Chris Weidman first defeated then-champion Anderson Silva by knockout, he was given zero credit for the win due to the “fluke” nature of the victory. There were excuses everywhere you looked. Silva wasn’t taking the fight seriously. It was an early stoppage. He wanted to lose on purpose.
Yada yada yada.
So, Weidman had to fight Silva again, and this time, a TKO loss due to a broken leg cast even more doubt on the results—but still forced everyone to give Weidman his spot over The Spider.
Dillashaw’s victory is entirely different.
UFC 173: A One-Sided Ass Kicking
What makes Dillashaw’s placement in the UFC rankings so much worse is that he outclassed Barao right from the start.
Dillashaw knocked Barao down in Round 1, landed combinations almost at will, and used sharp angles to avoid damage. Dillashaw practically ran circles around Barao, wore the champion down over four rounds, and finished him in the final minutes. If you’re “the #1 pound-for-pound guy” in the sport (Dana White’s words, not ours), you simply don’t get your ass kicked worse than that.
Dillashaw proved he was better than Barao.
Unlike the Silva/Weidman saga, there’s no mystery, no controversy, and no open questions left.
For now, Dillashaw’s the better man and he should be recognized as such.
A Win is a Win, a Loss is a Loss
However, Dillashaw’s stunning victory doesn’t necessarily make him a pound-for-pound candidate.
If you want to argue otherwise, that’s fine, but there’s three things you should consider before making any counterpoint:
- Dillashaw lost to Raphael Assunção less than a year ago.
- His best win before UFC 173 was against Mike Easton (0-3 in his last three fights).
- Two of Dillashaw’s previous opponents have been cut from the UFC.
Dillashaw’s win over Barao is valuable, but in our own estimation, his MMA record to date isn’t strong enough to rank him above the likes of former champions Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier, Junior Dos Santos, or any of the UFC’s current title holders.
But you can’t ignore Barao’s loss, either.
In the end, there’s only two logical solutions in the pound-for-pound argument: Rank Dillashaw over Barao, or don’t rank either fighter at all.
Doing anything else just doesn’t make any sense.
McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist. His work has appeared in NVision, Bleacher Report, PC World, Macworld, GamePro, 1UP, MMA Mania and The L.A. Times. Follow him at @KenTheGreat1 on Twitter.