(I’m sure it looks great on the wall next to Fedor’s prized "Wizard of Oz" commemorative plates.)
As you would have noticed if you weren’t so busy watching videos of midgets fighting on the internet, “MMA Live” has begun incorporating rankings from WAMMA recently. This has the guys from Bloody Elbow in a twist because they just partnered with USA Today to feature their “meta-rankings,” and because they generally hate WAMMA.
I’m one of WAMMA’s rankings pollsters, so I can understand some frustration and confusion with some of WAMMA’s moves. Naming Shinya Aoki champion, for instance? I love the Man in Tights as much as anyone, but he’s not the world’s best lightweight and everbody knows it.
WAMMA seems intent on giving out fairly meaningless titles to the best fighters not in the UFC, and that’s kind of dumb but it’s also not really hurting anybody. And just because WAMMA’s executives make some stupid decisions and appear in hilarious photos from time to time, it’s not any reason to invalidate the actual rankings, which the executives have nothing to do with.
For one, these rankings – whether WAMMA’s or anyone else’s – don’t affect much in the MMA world. They have no power to compel any organization to make certain fights. Rankings are subjective opinions that may or may not be complete bullshit. But they’re fun, so we keep doing it.
If you want to decide how valid you think the rankings are, just look at the WAMMA rankings committee. Aside from jokers like me, they’ve got guys like Michael David Smith from AOL Fanhouse, Steve Cofield from Yahoo!, Franklin McNeil from ESPN, and Denny Burkholder from CBS Sports, just to name a few. These are people who know the sport. And we have absolutely no contact with any WAMMA executives, and receive no feedback at all on our rankings. We just write them down, send them in, and that’s it.
Now look at who Bloody Elbow polls to arrive at their meta-rankings. For starters, there’s WAMMA. Odd that they would include them, since their rankings are so flawed, but whatever. There’s also totally kick-ass sites like Cage Potato, as well as SI, Sherdog, MMA Weekly, Five Ounces of Pain – the usual suspects.
Then you’ve got sites like MMA4Real and MMA ELO, which even I’ve never heard of before now. That’s not to say their rankings are any more useless and subjective than anyone else’s. In fact, they’re probably just about as useless and subjective as anyone else’s. So why, exactly, are these meta-rankings any more valuable than WAMMA’s?
It doesn’t matter to me who WAMMA decides to give Velcro belts or championship rings to. That’s a decision made by their executives, and for the most part it seems as if MMA fans don’t really care one way or another about it. But you can’t argue that the guys responsible for coming up with the actual rankings are biased or clueless (except for Ariel Helwani, who is usually out of his mind on PCP when he comes up with his rankings. Please Ariel, help us help you).
It seems as if some people are taking themselves a little too seriously on this issue. Any website’s rankings are essentially a fun, but ultimately meaningless game. They’re a conversation topic. And that’s fine, as long as you don’t talk yourself into believing that your rankings are the only ones that matter.