Should the UFC Implement an In-House Rankings System?
For years now the ranking and judging system for Mixed Martial Arts as plagued the sport with inconsistencies and poor calls. While the judging system is controlled by the state athletic commission, and thus outside the realm of the UFC’s control, an in-house ranking system may be a useful tool for the organization’s future inside the legitimate sporting landscape.
There is a certain problematic situation that will arise with any system created by the UFC if they decide to create their own ranking system, that being the inevitable backlash of fans and organizations that lay outside of the UFC. However, as long as the UFC can stipulate that their rankings are for the organization itself and not the world rankings, they should avoid any problems involving supposed favoritism. Furthermore, the UFC is heralded as the worlds elite MMA organization, and thus its top five are quite often the undisputed top-ranked fighters in the world.
With the purchase of Strikeforce by the Zuffa, there is little reason to exclude fighters such as Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, and Ronaldo Souza from the rankings as well.
Likely the only area of conflict regarding rankings would be in the fledgling Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions, which still contain fighters from outside of the Zuffa Banner. Again, with the UFC denoting the rankings as a Zuffa-Umbrella ranking system and not a world ranking system, any cries of foul would be immediately ignored. This would clear the way for a legitimate and desirable ranking landscape.
The next task for Zuffa and the UFC would be deciding how to rank their fighters. A power ranking-like system is full of follies and is often how current ranks are “calculated.” This system of ranking often includes what is know as “MMAth.” One fighter is considered better than another based on a his victory of the opponent. Yet, if a third fighter defeats the previously victorious fighter, he is also considered “better than” the second fighter. This system is likely the most notable problem in any MMA ranking system.
Websites such as Fightmatrix.com have created systems of objective ranking which help remove the arbitrary “A > B, C > A, therefor C > B” fallacy with an intensive algorithm to calculate value of fights while also taking into account the time period of the fight. The systems also takes into account an opponent’s previous records and rankings to determine the value of wins and losses. Most importantly, fighters who are inactive for long periods of time will fall in the rankings until they prove themselves again with a win. These factors would prove to be most valuable in a ranking system.
Zuffa and the UFC would do well to look at such third-party rankings to help them create a proper ranking system to appease skeptics and ease worries of fans of “padding rankings.”
With proper foresight and an objective system of value judgment, the UFC could have the worlds first truly legitimate rankings system in place for the worlds fastest growing sport.