Scraptitude End-of-Year Power Rankings

Scraptitude’s state-of-the-art, data-driven top-15 power rankings.

Written by Timothy E. Lewis (@TimothyELewis) — December 09, 2020


Rankings have long constituted debate, largely because their composition is subjective; whoever is in the driver’s seat approximates loosely defined criteria and spits out an assembly of the sport’s supposed best. These rankings struggle for validity because the process for determining who goes where is entirely subjective. That’s why Scraptitude is using quantifiable measures of performance to create a one-of-a-kind ranking system – more consistent and more proficient than any other to date. 


Here is the criteria hierarchy:

  1. All fighters must have at least 10 fights in the UFC stats database. Weighted data is vital for objective decision making, and as MMA’s premier organization, the performance of UFC athletes over the course of 10 fights is the minimum requirement to take a bird’s eye view. This is a chart of the sport’s best, not a list of “who’s hot right now.” LONGEVITY MATTERS.
  2. Fighter Dominance Rating (FDR). FDR is a unique analytic that captures performance in isolation from the win/loss tally. In a high-variance sport, anything can happen at any given moment. The higher the FDR, the more dominant the fighter has been on average throughout their career.
  3. Winning Percentage (Win%).
  4. Accomplishments. Has the fighter achieved championship status or contended for a belt? How does their strength of schedule (competition) compare to their peers?

GLOSSARY:

  • SSD/R: Significant Strike Differential per Round
  • FDR: Fighter Dominance Rating – A measurement of fighter performance isolated from durability and losses.
  • KD%: Knockdown Rate – average number of knockdowns per 100 significant strikes landed
  • WIN%: Wins divided by total fights

15. Francis Ngannou (HEAVYWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 34 
  • FIGHTS: 12 
  • SSD/R: 0.9 
  • FDR: 3.84 
  • KD%: 3.4 
  • WIN%: 83%

Film grinders are likely to disagree with Ngannou being named as a top-15 UFC fighter. He doesn’t have a diverse or technical skill profile, relying on physical gifts and unsurpassed punching power. So I ask you, did Bob Sapp beat down Ernesto Hoost because of his picture-perfect technique? Absolutely not. Heavyweights play by different rules. Being the biggest, scariest, most destructive force has a long history of success at the highest level of combat sports. Ngannou is the George Foreman, the Deontay Wilder, of the UFC heavyweights. I fear for an aging Stipe in the rematch. 


14. Tony Ferguson (LIGHTWEIGHT)

(SEE: Method and Madness Article)

  • AGE: 36 
  • FIGHTS: 17
  • SSD/R: 8.8 
  • FDR: 7.35 
  • KD%: 0.3 
  • WIN%: 88%

Coming off the worst loss of his career, and turning 37 in February, it’s quite possible Ferguson is on the cut list when the next installment of these rankings comes out in 2021. Before then, he has a stiff test against surging Brazilian contender, Charles Oliveira. While the writing may be on the proverbial wall, Ferguson still won 12 out of his last  13, still has a finish rate over 70%, and still merits the respect of the Scraptitude power rankings. UFC 256 kicks off this upcoming Saturday, and Tony will answer the question we are all asking: Does he still have what it takes to be a champion? 


13. Colby Covington (WELTERWEIGHT)

(SEE: Method and Madness Article)

  • AGE: 32
  • FIGHTS: 13
  • SSD/R: 6.3
  • FDR: 5.25
  • KD%: 0.05
  • WIN%: 85%

Covington has molded himself into a magnificent fighter. Hate him or love him, that much is true. The turning point in the career of “The Great American Winning Machine” was the uptick in striking volume, beginning in the Maia fight. Despite having below-average power, Covington has become one of the most effective strikers in the welterweight division, supplemented by his unparalleled 1.54 takedowns per round. Beating Jorge Masvidal in their much-anticipated fight would do two things for Covington: Guarantee him another title shot, and vault him up our rankings. 


12. Conor McGregor (LIGHTWEIGHT) 

  • AGE: 32
  • FIGHTS: 12
  • SSD/R: 5.15
  • FDR: 5.41
  • KD%: 2.3
  • WIN%: 83%

One of the most difficult fighters to place on this list, McGregor makes his power rankings debut. We cannot deny the accomplishments or lethality of the Irishman. However, his defeat at the hands of a durable, but ever-beatable Nate Diaz is a stain on an otherwise tremendous resume. Furthermore, McGregor’s inactivity and lack of credible victories in recent years make the evaluation of his current status difficult. However, he has a chance to solidify his status in January, as “Notorious” rematches perennial contender Dunstin Poirer. 


11. Robert Whittaker (MIDDLEWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 29
  • FIGHTS: 16
  • SSD/R: 5.4
  • FDR: 4.91
  • KD%: 1.2
  • WIN%: 81%

Enjoying a 4-spot jump following his drubbing of Jared Cannonier, Bobby Knuckles is what these power rankings are all about. He’s prodigious, racking up a hall-of-fame caliber resume at just 29-years-old. Whittaker’s story is far from over and he has a chance to end up one of the all-time-great fighters. However, he’s been finished by two of the sport’s premier strikers, which is the facet Whittaker hangs his own hat on. Additionally, Whittaker has been noticeably hurt in each of his last five fights. We’ve seen glimpses of the Aussie’s wrestling, and it would behoove him to use this skill set more. I’d like to see him bolster his .15 takedowns landed per round. 


10. TJ Dillashaw (BANTAMWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 34
  • SSD/R: 11.7
  • FDR: 10.86
  • KD%: 0.9
  • WIN%: 75%

The long-awaited return following TJ Dillashaw’s PED suspension is nearly here. The former champion comes back to a Bantamweight division that has grown by leaps and bounds since his days as the titleholder. Should Dillashaw come back as he left, he will fit right in among bantamweight’s elite and could challenge for the title before year’s end. On paper, Yan vs Dillashaw is one of the sexiest fights possible. That said, “The Snake” has much to prove after getting knocked out by Cejudo in the first round. He will be 35-years-old by the time he steps back into the Octagon and will have to impress if he’s to fulfill his prestige on this list of savages.


9. Jorge Masvidal (WELTERWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 36 
  • FIGHTS: 25
  • SSD/R: 6.00
  • FDR: 5.85
  • KD%: 0.8
  • WIN%: 68%

Some have accused Masvidal of being more flash than substance. That can be attributed to him prioritizing his pockets over all else. When necessary, Masvidal takes his risks, and often to devastating results for his opponents. Beyond his recent finishes of Darren Till and Ben Askren, “Gamebred” has a penchant for blending offense and defense, attacking in every phase while remaining fundamentally responsible. He’s one of the sport’s most well-rounded competitors, technical in all phases with electric athleticism and ironclad durability. A speculated fight with Colby Covington provides Masvidal the opportunity to further validate his ranking. 


8. Stipe Miocic (HEAVYWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 38
  • FIGHTS: 17
  • SSD/R: 5.75
  • FDR: 5.12
  • KD%: 0.7
  • WIN%: 82%

Having Stipe ranked this low may seem sacrilegious. He just won the trilogy against future HOFer, Daniel Cormier, and has the record for most UFC heavyweight title defenses. Unfortunately for the fireman from Ohio, his inactivity and aging body both make room for speculation. His most recent wins are against a 40-year-old, and at 38 himself, Miocic’s best days as an athlete are undoubtedly behind him. Another win against the surging #15-ranked Ngannou, or better yet, toppling Jon Jones, would force us to rate Stipe higher even at this stage of his career.


7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (STRAWWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 33
  • FIGHTS: 14 
  • SSD/R: 16.1
  • FDR: 6.61
  • KD%: 0.01
  • WIN%: 71%

Joanna “Champion” isn’t here because she’s a fearless badass. She is here because she is a former champion, arguably re-won the belt in her last bout with Zhang Weili, and has taken on the best WMMA has to offer since setting foot in the UFC. Also known as “The Boogeywoman”, Joanna has only lost to UFC champions, while running up ungodly strike totals on overwhelmed challengers. Her performances vs Andrade, Zhang, and Shevchenko all demonstrate that she’s among the sport’s most formidable competitors. 


6. Valentina Shevchenko (FLYWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 32
  • FIGHTS: 11
  • SSD/R: 4.75
  • FDR: 4.83
  • KD%: 0.2
  • WIN%: 82%

Perhaps the most brilliant technician on this list, Shevkenko jumps mightily from #13 to #6 following her lopsided victory against Jennifer Maia, as well as our addition of the “accomplishment” criteria. It’s difficult to properly capture the mechanistic poetry of “Bullet’s” fighting style as she thoroughly outclasses opponents. Should she have been birthed with a bigger frame, she may have defeated Nunes – her only UFC losses to date. A dominant performance in a superfight with Zhang Weili is the obvious path to a higher ranking.


5. Aljamain Sterling (BANTAMWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 31
  • FIGHTS: 14
  • SSD/R: 14.4
  • FDR: 7.12
  • KD%: 0.00
  • WIN%: 79%

Didn’t expect to see Sterling here? Well, he absolutely deserves to be. One of the sport’s more underappreciated fighters, we may be looking at the bantamweight Jon Jones blossoming before our very eyes. What Sterling lacks in striking power, he compensates for with his volume and shot selection, well-complemented by a Serra-Longo-certified submission-grappling attack. This is a short list for a reason, and few fighters have logged the caliber of performances over 10 fights that Sterling has. 


4. Kamaru Usman (WELTERWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 33
  • FIGHTS: 12
  • SSD/R: 11.35
  • FDR: 8.57
  • KD%: 0.6
  • WIN%: 100%

The Nigerian Nightmare has been one of the most singularly dominant UFC fighters ever throughout his welterweight run. Characterized by his high output, octagon control, and wrestling background, Usman decides how he wants his fights to unfold and punishes opponents in that preferred domain. The fact that he’s defeated two names on this list solidifies him at #4 in the power rankings. All the pieces are there for Usman to rise even higher, but reports of a battle-worn body could halt that trajectory. He did not inspire against the #9 ranked Jorge Masvidal. 


3. Max Holloway (FEATHERWEIGHT)

(SEE: Method and Madness Article)

  • AGE: 29
  • FIGHTS: 23
  • SSD/R: 9.75
  • FDR: 8.55
  • KD%: 0.4
  • WIN%: 74%

There’s a reason why durability is a trademark of many UFC champions. Max “Blessed” Holloway is among the most durable athletes of all time. Soon we will have a stat for that! Despite dropping recent fights to Alexander Volkanovski (x2) and Dustin Poirier, Holloway has done little to dissuade viewers of his prodigious talent. Be that as it may, a strong performance against the dangerous but limited Calvin Katter would help illustrate why Scraptitude remains so high on the Hawaiian. 


2. Amanda Nunes (BANTAMWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 32
  • FIGHTS: 16
  • SSD/R: 9.85
  • FDR: 8.76
  • KD%: 0.9
  • WIN%: 88%

Two divisions, two belts, and the scalp of every woman who dared challenge her; Amanda Nunes has no equal in WMMA. Her combination of power and versatility are unsurpassed by any name on this list. If Jon should take a loss at heavyweight, expect Nunes to ascend in short order. However, it will be a tall task for her to surpass Jon on merit alone, as she’s eliminated every worthy challenge in the comparatively shallow WMMA talent pool.


1. Jon Jones (HEAVYWEIGHT)

  • AGE: 33
  • FIGHTS: 21
  • SSD/R: 10.4
  • FDR: 10.12
  • KD%: 0.3
  • WIN%: 95%

Bar none, Jon Jones is the standard of excellence in MMA. After years of light heavyweight dominance, “Bones” takes the leap to heavyweight in one of the sport’s most compelling storylines. Having bridged two generations, Jon eclipses all of his contemporaries, and that shows in the numbers. While he slips past the age apex, he simultaneously extends his prime by moving to an older division. This spot is Jones’ to lose.


About Post Author

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: