2020 Reset: UFC  Dynasty Rankings

2020 Reset: UFC Dynasty Rankings

This past December, RotoWire DFS columnist Jon Litterine and I took part in a UFC dynasty-style auction draft, with the intention of 2020 being our "season." Jon and I co-owned a team, while fellow MMA columnist and Fight IQ contributor Chris Olson had his own franchise as well. Just a few months into the season, however, the COVID-19 pandemic hit like a Francis Ngannou uppercut, resulting in the hiatus of most major sports. 

Now that the UFC calendar is set to resume in a few weeks, it seems like a good reset point for overall rankings, just in case any super fans out there are thinking of setting up a season-long format for when the fight calendar picks back up. This also opens the door for some debate on the long-term upside of various fighters.

Remember that in any format counting total points, fighting frequently is just as important as overall skill and ability. Effectively, a ranking doesn't necessarily correspond with what my pick would be if two fighters faced off in 2020. In addition to fight frequency, youth and scoring style are also taken into account (we used DraftKings scoring for simplicity). 

In the absence of a season-long MMA hosting site, I'd like to extend a big thanks to Mike Alexander of Fantasy Alarm for coordinating this all via Google Sheets.

Let's get this started. Click on any fighter below to go to their RotoWire profile page, which will show their age, in addition to any recent/future fights.

Tier 1

1. Valentina Shevchenko, Women's Flyweight

Yes, Shevchenko belongs in a tier of her own. She's young enough (32) and has competed twice or more each year since entering the UFC. "Bullet" is also least likely to take a loss, barring a superfight, as she is the most dominant champion on the current UFC roster. Shevchenko is also high-scoring, as she's had either a stoppage or 70+ significant in seven of her last eight bouts. That makes her the perfect add to any "win-now" roster. The recent leg injury doesn't worry me enough to move her down, as the whole fight world is on hiatus. Being sidelined until August isn't all that much different from the rest of the roster. 

Jon Jones could have also been placed in this tier depending on your appetite for risk, but given his latest legal troubles, you'll find him lower down the list. He went for the same price as Shevchenko in our original auction (to yours truly), and while he's getting off with another slap on the wrist, Jones is one more slip-up away from being completely useless in this format.

Tier 2

2. Kamaru Usman, Welterweight
3. Israel Adesanya, Middleweight
4. Weili Zhang, Women's Strawweight
5. Amanda Nunes, Women's Bantamweight/Featherweight

Here we have young champions that are at the top of their game. This set of fighters will enter as betting favorites against any challenger and is injury-free at time of publication. Nunes gets the added bonus of dual-position eligibility as the current champ-champ, and with an estimated return date in June, she's the only member of this tier with a fight loosely scheduled at the time of publication.

Tier 3

6. Khabib Nurmagomedov, Lightweight
7. Max Holloway, Featherweight
8. Jessica Andrade, Women's Strawweight

Khabib tops just about any pound-for-pound rankings list, but falls to this tier because it's unclear in general how long he intends to continue fighting. He also doesn't train or compete while observing Ramadan, which affects his ability to fight as frequency as he could. The rest of this tier has came up short in recent title fights, but Holloway and Andrade are high fantasy scorers that will be favored against 90 percent of their respective weight classes.

Tier 4

9. Edmen Shahbazyan, Middleweight
10. Tatiana Suarez, Women's Straweight
11. Maycee Barber, Women's Flyweight
12. Cory Sandhagen, Bantamweight

Here we get an injection of youth -- fighters who are not champions, but will be at some point in their careers (go ahead, check this statement five years from now). If you're playing the long game, lock in a fighter or two in this tier. Barber could have easily jumped tiers had she not suffered a serious knee injury in her January loss to Roxanne Modafferi. She stays this high because after all, she's still only 21 years old.

Tier 5

13. Justin Gaethje, Lightweight
14. Tony Ferguson, Lightweight
15. Colby Covington, Welterweight
16. Charles Oliveira, Lightweight
17. Alexander Volkanovski, Featherweight
18. Curtis Blaydes, Heavyweight
19. Geoff Neal, Welterweight
20. Petr Yan, Bantamweight

Here we have a mix of stardom and youth. We also get our first heavyweight on the list in the form of Curtis Blaydes. But how can you have a non-champion that lost to Ngannou twice ranked this high? Beyond being four years younger, one reason is fight frequency -- he's fought 2-3 times each year he's been in the UFC. Another is high scoring. Blaydes averages 6.63 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time, and he gets finish bonuses more often than not.

Tier 6

21. Aleksandar Rakic, Light Heavyweight
22. Marlon Moraes, Bantamweight
23. Dustin Poirier, Lightweight
24. Henry Cejudo, Flyweight/Bantamweight
25. Jorge Masvidal, Welterweight
26. Aljamain Sterling, Bantamweight
27. Gilbert Burns, Welterweight
28. Francis Ngannou, Heavyweight
29. Zabit Magomedsharipov, Featherweight
30. Angela Hill, Women's Strawweight

Most fighters in this tier -- particularly Rakic, Sterling and Zabit -- could be just one big win away from a jump to Tier 5. If anything, the bantamweight division hurts itself for being deep, with Sandhagen/Yan/Sterling being some of the most difficult to rank. 

One more note -- surprised to see Hill in the top-30? She won't be a fighting for a belt any time soon, so this ranking has more to do with fight frequency. Hill is down to fight anyone on short notice and throws a high striking volume, so two losses could be just as good as a win in this context (especially if the scorer is liberal with "significant" strikes). She's 35 years old and this won't last forever, but anyone in "win-now" mode should have her on the radar. Hill has the potential to return Tier 6 value at a Tier 10 price.

Tier 7

31. Conor McGregor, Lightweight/Welterweight
32. Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Women's Strawweight
32. Dominick Reyes, Light Heavyweight
33. Leon Edwards, Welterweight
34. Jan Blachowicz, Light Heavyweight
35. Corey Anderson, Light Heavyweight
36. Islam Makhachev, Lightweight
37. Sodiq Yusuff, Featherweight
38. Stipe Miocic, Heavyweight
39. Ciryl Gane, Heavyweight
40. Kelvin Gastelum, Middleweight

Bring it on, McGregor fans. Yes, the king is back. But how many years do we realistically have left? He's set for life after the Mayweather boxing match, after all. Furthermore, let's look at prospective future matchups. He would be a big underdog in a Khabib rematch, and has very realistic chances of losing to both Justin Gaethje and Jorge Masvidal. I'd pick him in a Nate Diaz trilogy fight, but even that isn't a sure thing. If you're really in this for the long haul, let somebody else overpay for the name value.

Tier 8

41. Jon Jones, Light Heavyweight
42. Paulo Costa, Middlweight
43. Nasrat Haqparast, Lightweight
44. Jared Cannonier, Middleweight
45. Jack Hermansson, Middleweight
46. Vicente Luque, Welterweight
47. Nathaniel Wood, Bantamweight
48. Michal Oleksiejczuk, Light Heavyweight
49. Renato Moicano, Featherweight
50. Montel Jackson, Bantamweight  

At last, Bones shows up on this list. Just months ago, he was tied with Shevchenko for the top-priced fighter as a young (32), dominant fighter that was looking to defend his belt as frequently as possible. Quarantine hasn't treated him well, however, and alas, we have another set of serious legal troubles.The UFC tends to ignore this and let the justice system run its course, and in this case, Jones has entered into a plea deal that allows him to avoid jail time. That's all well and good, but he still hasn't necessarily looked himself of late. Things could have easily gone the other way against Anthony Smith (who essentially declined a DQ victory), while Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes both nearly dethroned Jones via decision. His stock has arguably plummeted the most since our original December auction.

Tier 9

51. Dan Hooker, Welterweight
52. Darren Till, Middleweight
53. Yair Rodriguez, Featherweight
54. Sergey Pavlovich, Heavyweight
55. Macy Chiasson, Women's Bantamweight
56. Calvin Kattar, Featherweight
57. Donald Cerrone, Lightweight/Welterweight
58. Chan Sung Jung, Featherweight
59. Brian Ortega, Featherweight
60. Rose Namajunas, Women's Strawweight
61. Movsar Evloev, Bantamweight
62. Magomed Ankalaev, Light Heavyweight
63. Mike Davis, Featherweight
64. Aspen Ladd, Women's Bantamweight
65. Marlon Vera, Bantamweight

Three or four years ago, Cowboy Cerrone would have been in the second tier. Win or lose, he prides himself on being the most active fighter on a roster. Think of it this way -- if Cowboy goes 2-2 in a calendar year and Nunes goes 2-0, who's scoring more fantasy points? The problem now is he's now on a three-fight losing streak (all by TKO), not to mention he turned 37 in March. He'll likely try and build up a nest egg in his final years of fighting, but Cowboy is purely a "win-now" option.

Joining Cowboy in this tier is a group of young fighters in Hooker, Till and Rodriguez that could just be a win or two away from a shot at the belt. For some cost perspective, most of this tier is going for roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of what Shevchenko went for at auction. 

Tier 10

66. Jack Shore, Bantamweight
67. Jair Rozenstruik, Heavyweight
68. Alexandre Pantoja, Flyweight/Bantamweight 
69. Deiveson Figueiredo, Flyweight/Bantamweight
70. Joanne Calderwood, Women's Flyweight
71. Andrea Lee, Women's Flyweight
72. Gillian Robertson, Women's Flyweight
73. Pedro Munhoz, Bantamweight 
74. Julia Avila, Women's Bantamweight
75. Sijara Eubanks, Women's Bantamweight   

This tier is composed of fighters that make up approximately five percent of your overall budget. Remember to be mindful of male flyweights depending on your format. Ours uses a 125/135 flex spot, due to uncertainty surrounding the future of the division. In that type of format, we really only need to bother with the top five or six. The rest can be streamed for as long as they stay on the roster. If your format is more confident in flyweights, the position group gets an upgrade.

Tier 11

76. Johnny Walker, Light Heavyweight
77. Ryan Spann, Light Heavyweight
78. Brianna Van Buren, Women's Strawweight
79. Arman Tsarukyan, Lightweight
80. Anthony Smith, Light Heavyweight
81. Dan Ige, Featherweight
82. Greg Hardy, Heavyweight
83. Beneil Dariush, Lightweight
84. Marvin Vettori, Middleweight
85. Viviane Araujo, Women's Flyweight
86. Santiago Ponzinibbio, Welterweight
87. Jan Blachowicz, Light Heavyweight
88. Alexander Volkov, Heavyweight
89. Claudia Gadelha, Women's Strawweight
90. Karl Roberson, Middleweight
91. Diego Ferreira, Lightweight
92. Mark Madsen, Lightweight
93. Arnold Allen, Featherweight
94. Yorgan de Castro, Heavyweight
95. Thiago Santos, Light Heavyweight
96. Belal Muhammad, Welterweight
97. Ian Heinisch, Middleweight
98. Alexa Grasso, Women's Flyweight
99. Niko Price, Welterweight
100. Felicia Spencer, Women's Featherweight

Johnny Walker still gets the benefit of youth in my book. Alexa Grasso gets the same treatment despite mixed success in the UFC. Dariush and Muhammad are two of my favorites in this tier in terms of skill, but both are on the wrong side of 30. Greg Hardy doesn't have age on his side, but he's been fighting as frequently as possible since joining the UFC. His grace period of crushing cans is likely over, but there's still potential here. 

Tier 12

101. Yoel Romero, Middleweight
102. Ketlen Vieira, Women's Bantamweight
103. Merab Dvalishvili, Bantamweight
104. Shane Burgos, Featherweight
105. Sara McMann, Women's Bantamweight 
106. Misha Cirkunov, Light Heavyweight
107. Jiri Prochazka, Light Heavyweight
108. Devonte Smith, Lightweight
109. Rafael dos Anjos, Welterweight
110. Tyson Pedro, Light Heavyweight
111. Germaine de Randamie, Women's Bantamweight
112. Irene Aldana, Women's Bantamweight
113. Nikita Krylov, Light Heavyweight
114. Walt Harris, Heavyweight
115. Ion Cutelaba, Light Heavyweight

If you believe the birth certificate, Yoel Romero is 42 years old. To make matters worse, the "Soldier of God" also dropped three of his last four fights in the UFC. He wishes to fight a few more years, however, and he's such a big draw that the UFC will let him if he's physically capable. He won't be fighting elite middleweights -- Adesanya, Costa -- without stringing together a few more wins, so it's entirely possible Romero is favored in his next several fights. For example, he was recently tied to a bout with Chris Weidman, which simply put, is scary for Weidman's health. Owners going for a title out of the gates should at least consider him, despite his age.

Tier 13

116. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Welterweight
117. Cezar Ferreira, Welterweight
118. Ricardo Ramos, Bantamweight
119. Derek Brunson, Middleweight
120. Chase Hooper, Featherweight
121. Edson Barboza, Featherweight/Lightweight
122. Jamahal Hill, Light Heavyweight
123. Mirsad Bektic, Featherweight
124. Deron Winn, Middleweight
125. Puna Soriano, Middleweight
126. Michelle Waterson, Women's Strawweight
127. Alonzo Menifield, Light Heavyweight
128. Don Madge, Lightweight
129. Tyron Woodley, Welterweight
130. Sean O'Malley, Bantamweight
131. Junior dos Santos, Heavyweight
132. Hakeem Dawodu, Featherweight
133. Yan Xiaonan, Women's Straweeight
134. Michel Pereira, Welterweight
135. Katlyn Chookagian, Women's Flyweight

As the tiers get bigger, we see a wider range of fighters. This one has prospects such as Sean O'Malley and Chase Hooper that have plenty of raw talent, but are largely unproven. Zaleski dos Santos could be my favorite in this tier, but he's already 33 years old. Pereira arguably has the highest ceiling despite a two-fight losing streak. He was dominating his last fight against Diego Sanchez before getting DQ'd, and his acrobatic antics make him plenty marketable, so that gives him staying power. He's just 26 years old too, so there's plenty of time to put it all together.

Tier 14

136. Molly McCann, Women's Flyweight
137. Rodolfo Vieira, Middleweight
138. Takashi Sato, Welterweight
139. Devin Clark, Light Heavyweight
140. Augusto Sakai, Heavyweight
141. Darren Stewart, Middleweight
142. Stephen Thompson, Welterweight
143. Megan Anderson. Women's Featherweight
144. Ismail Naurdiev, Welterweight
145. Raoni Barcelos, Bantamweight
146. TJ Dillashaw, Bantamweight
147. Carla Esparza, Women's Strawweight
148. Cynthia Calvillo, Women's Flyweight
149. Ovince Saint Preux, Light Heavyweight
150. Yadong Song, Featherweight
151. Joseph Benavidez, Flyweight
152. Blagoy Ivanov, Heavyweight
153. Antonio Carlos Junior, Middleweight
154. Jamall Emmers, Featherweight
155. Khalil Rountree, Light Heavyweight

Thompson has the name recognition and recently proved he still has it with a win over No. 46-ranked Vicente Luque, but it's unclear how many more years he has in him. OSP and Benavidez are in a similar boat (more-so OSP) -- they'll be favored against most fighters ranked lower, but it's unclear how much longer they will be around. Dillashaw is one of the toughest fighters to rank at 34 years old. Has potential for a few more good years, but who knows how he'll fare coming off a PED suspension. Plus, his division is loaded with young talent. Anderson is an intriguing prospect who has more value in formats that require a women's featherweight spot (ours has a 135/145 flex).

After that, we essentially get to "replacement-level" fighters. Most of these fighters are currently on a roster in our 10-team league, but they carry price tags $300 or less (out of a possible $20k), and would be some of the first fighters dropped should the need to stream a particular fight arise. I'll try my best to rank these guys, but this list will be more interchangeable than any previous tiers. I'll also include some fighters at the bottom that are scheduled for fights, but would be dropped if they take a loss.

Tier 15

Bryce Mitchell, Featherweight
Makhmud Muradov, Middleweight
Poliana Botelho, Women's Strawweight
Marina Rodriguez, Women's Strawweight
Marc Diakiese, Lightweight
Mackenzie Dern, Women's Strawweight (Flyweight?)
Said Nurmagomedov, Flyweight
Kevin Holland, Middleweight
Li Jingliang, Welterweight
Andre Fili, Featherweight
Jessica Eye, Women's Flyweight
Rob Font, Bantamweight
Loma Lookboonmee, Women's Strawweight
Daniel Cormier, Heavyweight
Jose Aldo, Bantamweight/Featherweight
Dalcha Lungiambula, Light Heavyweight
Raulian Paiva, Flyweight
Damir Ismagulov, Lightweight
Raquel Pennington, Women's Bantamweight
Sergey Spivak, Heavyweight
Ricky Simon, Bantamweight 
Nicco Montano, Women's Flyweight
Bevon Lewis, Middleweight
Justin Tafa, Heavyweight
Julianna Pena, Women's Flyweight
Jussier Formiga, Flyweight/Bantamweight
Rafael Fiziev, Lightweight
Brett Johns, Bantamweight
Darko Stosic, Light Heavyweight
Ricardo Lamas, Featherweight
Lyman Good, Welterweight
Justine Kish, Women's Strawweight
Frank Camacho, Welterweight
Kevin Aguilar, Featherweight
Sean Brady, Welterweight
Dominick Cruz, Bantamweight
Omari Akhmedov, Middleweight
Livinha Souza, Women's Strawweight
Anthony Pettis, Lightweight/Welterweight
Marcin Tybura, Heavyweight
Drew Dober, Lightweight
Rustam Khabilov, Lightweight
Amanda Ribas, Women's Strawweight
Ray Borg, Bantamweight
Mike Perry, Welterweight
Alistair Overeem, Heavyweight
Jimmie Rivera, Bantamweight
Robbie Lawler, Welterweight
Jose Alberto Quinonez, Bantamweight
Andre Muniz, Middleweight
Antonina Shevchenko, Women's Flyweight
Jim Miller, Lightweight
Jake Matthews, Welterweight
Nina Ansaroff, Women's Strawweight
Dmitriy Sosnovskiy, Heavyweight
Nate Landwehr, Featherweight
Grant Dawson, Featherweight
Bea Malecki, Women's Bantamweight
Marion Reneau, Women's Bantamweight
Tecia Torres, Women's Strawweight
Raphael Pessoa, Heavyweight
Cody Stamann, Bantamweight
Brandon Moreno, Flyweight/Bantamweight
Demian Maia, Welterweight
Roxanne Modafferi, Women's Flyweight
Leonardo Santos, Lightweight
Brendan Allen, Middleweight
Matt Brown, Welterweight
Ryan Hall, Featherweight
Alex Perez, Flyweight/Bantamweight
Enrique Barzola, Flyweight/Bantamweight
Mike Grundy, Featherweight
Anthony Johnson, Light Heavyweight (Heavyweight?)
Andre Ewell, Bantamweight
Bartosz Fabinski, Welterweight
Mayra Bueno Silva, Women's Flyweight
Yancy Medeiros, Welterweight
Song Kenan, Welterweight
Jalin Turner, Lightweight
Volkan Oezdemir, Light Heavyweight
Gabriel Silva, Bantamweight
Alex Munoz, Lightweight
Batgerel Danaa, Featherweight
Umar Nurmagomedov, Bantamweight
Francisco Trinaldo, Lightweight
Sam Alvey, Light Heavyweight
Charles Rosa, Feathweight
Fabricio Werdum, Heavyweight
Aleksei Oleinik, Heavyweight
Glover Teixeira, Light Heavyweight

Alright, now let me have it. Who did I miss or overlook? As always, connect with me via Twitter if you're curious about the format, rankings or any of the other MMA tools offered on RotoWire.

Meanwhile, we've all got Fight Island to look forward to (press play at your own risk). 

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Jake Letarski
RotoWire Editor for College Basketball and MMA. Frequent podcaster, plus radio and video guest. Follow Jake on Twitter at @RotoJake.
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