Author Archives: Richard Mann

The record-setting career of Jay Ellis

8 Dec , 2020,
Richard Mann

Kevin Costner’s character in “Bull Durham,” a career minor league baseball player, refers to the minor-league home-run record as “kind of a dubious honor.” It is hard to imagine an MMA equivalent of that record, but there is clearly one even more infamous. 36-year-old Jay Ellis already holds this record, and his lead in this particular metric extended this past weekend.

On Saturday former Appalachian State All-American wrestler Austin Trotman picked up his first professional win. That victory came at the expense of Ellis. In the process, Trotman handed Ellis his record 94th MMA loss. Per Fight Matrix tracking that is the most losses in the history of the sport and six more than Shannon Ritch who has the second most losses.

Ellis made his MMA debut back in 2005, and he currently holds a 15-94 professional record. While that is a 14% winning percentage, he does have some wins over some names that will be familiar to MMA fans.

In 2007, Ellis brought a 3-7 record into a fight against current UFC competitor Gerald Meerschaert. It was only Meerschaert’s second professional fight, and Ellis’ experience edge paid off. Six years later Meerschaert would get a taste of revenge as he won a rematch and handed Ellis his 54th loss.

Ellis was also the debut opponent for former Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus. Despite having a 9-28 record heading into the fight, Ellis was able to pick up the victory back in 2009. Straus was able to put the pieces back together and won his first of two Bellator titles in 2013.

The last time Ellis tasted victory came back in 2017, and he is currently riding a 21-fight losing streak. At the moment it looks like he will be remembered for this somewhat odd record. Ellis will have a hard time claiming any other record. He is currently ninth on the list of fighters with the most professional MMA bouts, and it seems very unlikely he will catch the current leader as Travis Fulton has fought 322 times.

Bellator 243: Ranking History for Benson Henderson and Michael Chandler

5 Aug , 2020,
Richard Mann
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In the main event of Bellator 243, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson takes on former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler in a rematch of their 2016 bout. Both have slipped slightly in the rankings since their first encounter, but they are both currently ranked inside the top 20.

Despite spending the majority of their careers in different promotions, both fighters have had prolonged success, mostly in the lightweight division. Neither fighter has been ranked lower than 20th since 2011. Henderson’s peak quarterly ranking came on July 1, 2013 at #1 lightweight during his UFC title reign. Chandler’s peak ranking actually came in the same quarter when he was ranked #3 lightweight.

Chandler is reportedly on the last fight of his Bellator contract. If the promotion allows his deal to lapse, he could follow fellow former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez’s path to the UFC. Alvarez left Bellator in 2013 as the #6 lightweight and captured the top spot, as well as the UFC title, in the Octagon.

Ranking the 2020 UFC Rookie Class

1 Jul , 2020,
Richard Mann

The following table shows the peak quarterly ranking of all fighters to make their UFC debut in 2020 as well as the corresponding ranking of their debut opponent. The fighter with the highest peak ranking was former Invicta FC champion Jinh Yu Frey. However, her highest ranking, #2 Women’s Atomweight, came in a division not currently promoted by the UFC. So far this year, 10 fighters have made their promotional debut against a fighter whose peak ranking was in the top 25. In those fights, debuting fighters have gone 3-7. UFC rookies have gone 17-22 overall in their debut fights.

Event Date Fighter Peak Prior to Fight Opponent Opponent Prior Peak W/L Result
UFC 246 1/18/2020 Ode Osbourne #240 Bantamweight Brian Kelleher #11 Bantamweight Loss SUB Guillotine Choke
UFC 246 1/18/2020 Aleksa Camur #231 Light Heavyweight Justin Ledet #49 Heayvweight Win U-DEC
UFC Raleigh 1/25/2020 Jamahal Hill #87 Light Heavyweight Darko Stosic #53 Light Heavyweight Win U-DEC
UFC Raleigh 1/25/2020 Tony Gravely #53 Bantamweight Brett Johns #14 Bantamweight Loss SUB Rear Naked Choke
UFC Raleigh 1/25/2020 Herbert Burns #73 Featherweight Nate Landwehr #43 Featherweight Win KO/TKO Knee
UFC Raleigh 1/25/2020 Nate Landwehr #43 Featherweight Herbert Burns #73 Featherweight Loss KO/TKO Knee
UFC 247 2/8/2020 Khaos Williams #194 Welterweight Alex Morono #38 Welterweight Win KO/TKO Punch
UFC 247 2/8/2020 Youssef Zalal #333 Featherweight Austin Lingo #411 Featherweight Win U-DEC
UFC 247 2/8/2020 Austin Lingo #411 Featherweight Youssef Zalal #333 Featherweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Rio Rancho 2/15/2020 Brok Weaver #272 Welterweight Kazula Vargas #155 Lightweight Win DQ
UFC Rio Rancho 2/15/2020 Daniel Rodriguez #169 Bantamweight Tim Means #24 Welterweight Win SUB Guillotine Choke
UFC Rio Rancho 2/15/2020 Shanna Young #54 Women’s Flyweight Macy Chiasson #4 Women’s Bantamweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Auckland 2/22/2020 Josh Culibao #167 Featherweight Jalin Turner #187 Lightweight Loss KO/TKO Punches
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Norma Dumont Not Ranked Megan Anderson #4 Women’s Featherweight Loss KO/TKO Punch
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Darrick Minner #57 Bantamweight Grant Dawson #44 Featherweight Loss SUB Rear Naked Choke
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Kyler Phillips #126 Bantamweight Gabriel Silva #74 Featherweight Win U-DEC
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Steve Garcia #147 Featherweight Luis Pena #106 Featherweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 TJ Brown #166 Featherweight Jordan Griffin #75 Featherweight Loss SUB Guillotine Choke
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Spike Carlyle #262 Lightweight Aalon Cruz #174 Featherweight Win KO/TKO Punches
UFC Norfolk 2/29/2020 Aalon Cruz #174 Featherweight Spike Carlyle #262 Lightweight Loss KO/TKO Punches
UFC 248 3/7/2020 Jamall Emmers #110 Featherweight Giga Chikadze #99 Featherweight Loss S-DEC
UFC Brasilia 3/14/2020 David Dvorak #41 Flyweight Bruno Silva #67 Flyweight Win U-DEC
UFC Jax 5/13/2020 Philipe Lins #23 Heavyweight Andrei Arlovski #3 Heavyweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Jax 5/13/2020 Ike Villanueva #116 Light Heavyweight Chase Sherman #69 Heavyweight Win KO/TKO Elbow
UFC FL 5/16/2020 Irwin Rivera #132 Bantamweight Giga Chikadze #99 Featherweight Loss U-DEC
UFC FL 5/16/2020 Rodrigo Nascimento #134 Heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes #93 Heavyweight Win SUB Rear Naked Choke
UFC Vegas 5/30/2020 Gabe Green #154 Lightweight Daniel Rodriguez #64 Welterweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Vegas 5/30/2020 Brandon Royval #34 Flyweight Tim Elliott #7 Flyweight Win SUB Arm Triangle
UFC Vegas 2 6/13/2020 Mariya Agapova #23 Women’s Flyweight Hannah Cifers #31 Women’s Strawweight Win SUB Rear Naked Choke
UFC Vegas 2 6/13/2020 Gustavo Lopez #126 Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili #22 Bantamweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Vegas 2 6/13/2020 Zarrukh Adashev Not Ranked Tyson Nam #5 Bantamweight Loss KO/TKO Punch
UFC Vegas 2 6/13/2020 Christian Aguilera #235 Welterweight Anthony Ivy #129 Welterweight Win KO/TKO Punches
UFC Vegas 2 6/13/2020 Anthony Ivy #129 Welterweight Christian Aguilera #235 Welterweight Loss KO/TKO Punches
UFC Vegas 3 6/20/2020 Justin Jaynes #220 Featherweight Frank Camacho #135 Lightweight Win KO/TKO Punches
UFC Vegas 3 6/20/2020 Max Rohskopf #344 Lightweight Austin Hubbard #115 Lightweight Loss KO/TKO
UFC Vegas 4 6/27/2020 Kyle Daukaus #69 Middleweight Brendan Allen #27 Middleweight Loss U-DEC
UFC Vegas 4 6/27/2020 Jason Witt #89 Lightweight Takashi Sato #81 Welterweight Loss KO/TKO Punches
UFC Vegas 4 6/27/2020 Kay Hansen #33 Women’s Strawweight Jinh Yu Frey #2 Women’s Atomweight Win SUB Armbar
UFC Vegas 4 6/27/2020 Jinh Yu Frey #2 Women’s Atomweight Kay Hansen #33 Women’s Strawweight Loss SUB Armbar

Comparing the strength of schedule of Michael “Venom” Page and Anderson Silva through 18 fights

3 Jan , 2020,
Richard Mann
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During the broadcast of Bellator 237, former referee turned commentator “Big” John McCarthy mentioned that Michael Page’s schedule through his career so far has been similar in terms of difficulty to that of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva through the same stretch. Since Page has developed the reputation of a can smasher, this comment raised the ire of many MMA fans on social media. On its face, the comment is absurd. In his first 18 fights, Silva claimed the Shooto middleweight (168-pound) championship and knocked off a former UFC welterweight champion. But is the comparison really that outlandish?

Using Fight Matrix ranking points, it is possible to approximate the level of difficulty both fighters have faced through their first 18 fights. Every year, the website publishes the “Upsets of the Year” award. The most simple calculation is “Most Noteworthy,” which is the difference in ranking points (ranking points of a fighter minus the ranking points of an opponent). The higher the number, the larger the favorite. Through their first 18 fights, Page’s average most noteworthy score is 22.83, while Silva’s 21.61. However, that does not tell the entire story. Page’s average is buttressed by his fight against Douglas Lima. He went in as a heavy underdog against the Bellator champion and got knocked out in the second round. Without that fight, his average most noteworthy score rises to 41.35.

Also, Page’s level of opposition has declined significantly following his only career defeat. He has been a heavy favorite in his last three fights over Richard Keily, Gianni Melillo and Shinzo Anzai. The spike on the following chart is quite evident.

(Click here for the interactive Tableau Public version of this chart)

It would also be unfair to Silva to ignore that fact that his a large portion of his early opposition went on to have solid careers. When he fought Luiz Azeredo, Fabricio Camoes and Roan Carneiro they were a combined 3-2. All three went on to have extensive careers in major promotions such as the UFC and Pride FC. While those fighters blossomed later in their careers, it seems unlikely that will happen for some of Page’s early opponents. His first two opponents, Ben Dishman and Miguel Bernard, are still a combined 0-6 nearly eight years later.

While it does seem like large McCarthy was shilling from the commentary booth, Page’s early career run has not been that facile. However, his team and Bellator have clearly tried to give him a softer touch as of late.

Richard Mann is a regular contributor to @ESPNMMA, @FightMetric, @RotoWireMMA and @InterMat. You can follow him on Twitter at @richardamann.

Fight Matrix Ranking Points for the Rizin Lightweight Tournament

10 Oct , 2019,
Richard Mann

Rizin and Bellator are not only sharing card space at the end of this year, but they are also sharing promotional tactics. This weekend Rizin will kick off an interesting lightweight tournament, which features a mix of new prospects and veterans of the game. The field runs the gambit from #211 Tatsuya Kawajiri to BJJ convert #94 Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza to Bellator regular #12 Patricky Freire.

The following chart looks like the Fight Matrix ranking history of all participants since they were first ranked by the system. An interactive version is available via Tableau Public.

Richard Mann is a regular contributor to @ESPNMMA, @FightMetric, @RotoWireMMA and @InterMat. You can follow him on Twitter at @richardamann.

The Lineal Strawweight title will be on the line at Rizin 18

14 Aug , 2019,
Richard Mann
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Basically all lineal titles and number-one rankings are aligned with the UFC titles these days. However, there are a few key exceptions. One of those exceptions is the lineal strawweight title, which will be on the line at Rizin 18 this weekend.

#1 SW Haruo Ochi enters the event as the top-ranked fighter in the division, which Fight Matrix defines as 121.9 lbs and below. His opponent for the night will be UFC veteran #3 SW Jarred Brooks, who previously made a name for himself on the strawweight scene before moving up to flyweight to fight in the UFC.

Ochi dropped to strawweight in 2015 after competing at higher weight classes. In 2017 he captured the Deep strawweight title with a victory over Kanta Sato. A year later he picked up the biggest win of his career over #11 SW Mitsuhisa Sunabe at Rizin 13. In the process he took over the number-one spot at strawweight and claimed the lineal title. Sunabe had been undefeated since 2011 and was the strawweight King of Pancrase.

Brooks was a nationally ranked high school wrestler who was never really able to make it work on the collegiate level. Instead, he launched an MMA career in 2014. In his eight professional fight, he defeated veteran #23 SW Junji Ito and entered the strawweight rankings at number three. He fought once more in the division, scoring a victory over Jun Nakamura under the Pancrase banner, before moving up to flyweight to sign with the UFC. During his run in the UFC, he went 2-2 with victories over #31 FLW Eric Shelton and #34 FLW Roberto Sanchez. The promotion then released him as part of their ill conceived and ultimately unsuccessful plan to eliminate the flyweight division.

Considering the issues that the flyweight division has had getting over in the U.S., it seems unlikely that the strawweight division will ever really make a ton of headlines. However, the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO all sponsor multiple boxing divisions under 125 pounds, so there is still a chance that the strawweight division could flourish on the international scene.

Richard Mann is a regular contributor to @ESPNMMA, @FightMetric, @RotoWireMMA and @InterMat. You can follow him on Twitter at @richardamann.

Fight Matrix Ranking Points for the Bellator Featherweight Tournament

23 Jul , 2019,
Richard Mann

Last week Bellator announced the participants in what they are calling the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix Tournament. Despite obviously being the number-two MMA promotion, Scott Coker and company were able to put together quite the field. Headlining the tournament is reigning Bellator featherweight and lightweight champion #6 LW Patricio Freire. Also in the bracket are former Bellator champions #12 BW Darrion Caldwell, #38 FW Pat Curran and #128 LW Daniel Straus as well as former WSOF champion #39 FW Georgi Karakhanyan.

The following chart looks like the Fight Matrix ranking history of all participants since they were first ranked by the system. An interactive version is available via Tableau Public.

Other Notes:
Highest Ranking Point Total: Patricio Freire with 553 (7/1/2019)
Highest Ranking: Pat Curran at #2 Featherweight (7/1/2012 to 1/1/2013)
Earliest Rank Date: Daniel Weichel (1/1/2004)
Latest Rank Date: Tywan Claxton (1/1/2019)
Most Wins: Daniel Weichel with 39
Most Losses: Daniel Weichel with 11

Richard Mann is a regular contributor to @ESPNMMA, @FightMetric, @RotoWireMMA and @InterMat. You can follow him on Twitter at @richardamann.

Fight Matrix Ranking Points for ONE Championship Flyweight Tournament

27 Mar , 2019,
Richard Mann

On Sunday former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will fight outside the Octagon for the first time since 2010 as he makes his debut for ONE Championship. The card, dubbed “A New Era” will feature the first round of a flyweight tournament. Johnson is a heavy favorite in the field, and he is the only fighter in the bracket who is currently ranked inside the top 10. It will be interesting to see how ONE progresses as a promotion with a few high level signings and a new U.S. television deal. In the past, high profile fighters, such as Ben Askren, have struggled to maintain their Fight Matrix ranking due to lack of competition. How will it effect Johnson’s legacy? Given the lack of depth of the flyweight and bantamweight divisions outside of the UFC, it will be hard to see how ONE will provide strong opponents for Johnson without co-promoting with another promotion like Bellator or Rizin. Even those two companies had to join forces to make a super fight for champions Kyoji Horiguchi and Darrion Caldwell.

The following chart shows the career ranking points for all competitors in the upcoming ONE Championship flyweight tournament. An interactive version is available via Tableau Public.

Richard Mann is a regular contributor to @espnmma, @FightMetric, @RotoWireMMA and @InterMat. You can follow him on Twitter at @richardamann.

Ranking Points for Copa Combate

8 Nov , 2017,
Richard Mann

On Saturday Combate Americas will host their first “Copa Combate” tournament. The semifinals and finals of the one-night eight-man bantamweight tournament will air live on NBCSN. The following matches are set for the first round:

Michael Erosa vs. #215 FW Marcelo Rojo
Carlos Rivera vs. #365 FW Ricky Palacios
#62 BW John Castaneda vs. Kevin Moreyra
Marc Gomez vs. Andres Ayala

As you can see, Castaneda seems to be a pretty big favorite from a ranking perspective. Plus, he is coming off a victory over Cheyden Leialoha in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. As you can seen in the following chart, he appears to have the most consistent upward career trajectory. Will he be able to keep this up and take the tournament title? The winner is expected to face newly signed UFC veteran #21 BW Erik Perez, who would be a step up in competition for all participants in this tournament.

Rankings Impact of Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2017 Autumn: Aki no Jin

16 Oct , 2017,
Richard Mann

The following chart shows the change in ranking following this past weekend’s Rizin event. Gabriel Oliveira was the biggest winner from the event. He moved up 69 spots in the bantamweight rankings thanks to his victory over veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri. The chart only includes fighters who were previously ranked in the same weight class.