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Eight fights into his UFC career, James Vick is wondering just what it takes to get into the top 10 of the UFC’s official rankings.

Vick doesn’t show up in the UFC’s top 15 (which is really the top 16 when you factor in lightweight champion Conor McGregor). He’s an honorable mention selection in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, which makes him essentially top 18.

On Saturday, Vick (11-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) takes on Joseph Duffy (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Vick’s fight with Duffy is a critical one for his hope to crack those rankings. It’s the featured prelim on FS1.

“They don’t want to give us up-and-comers a chance,” Vick recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “They want guys like me and Joe Duffy – and we each could beat half the guys in the top 15 – they want us to fight each other so they don’t have to fight us. That’s what annoys me. They can say, ‘You had your chance, and you blew it.’

“You’re right: I did blow it. But I also have one of the best records in the whole UFC – 7-1. If I win this fight, I’m 8-1 in the UFC. How many other guys are 8-1 in the UFC and aren’t ranked in the top 15?”

Vick started his career 9-0, including 5-0 in the UFC. But then he ran into Beneil Dariush at UFC 199 in June 2016 and suffered a first-round knockout. That’s the chance he was talking about, and with a win over Dariush, he almost certainly would see his name in the rankings now.

After the Dariush setback, he has rebounded masterfully with a submission of Abel Trujillo at UFC Fight Night 104 in February in his home state of Texas, and another Texas win with a TKO of Marco Polo Reyes at UFC 211 in Dallas in May.

But a win over someone like Duffy would be monumental for him, it would seem. Still, he can’t quite figure out why he’s 7-1 in the UFC’s lightweight division and unranked, and others crack the list, lose a few fights – and still are there.

“It’s like once these guys get in the top 10, they’re grandfathered in where they can lose two or three fights in a row and still be ranked in the (expletive) top 10,” Vick said. “I’m cool with Michael Johnson. That’s my boy and all. But the dude’s lost four or five fights and he’s still ranked in the top 10. It doesn’t make sense how you can lose that many fights and still be ranked.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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