(Darren Uyenoyama was released by the UFC after going 0-2 last year. At the time of this writing, three different UFC ranking panelists still have him listed as a top 10 flyweight. Read on for more disturbing facts! / Photo via Getty)
By Cody Severtson
“These panelists may have a direct effect on how much fighters get paid.”
I kept telling myself that as I filtered through each UFC panelist’s ranking data, shaking my head in total disbelief.
For quite some time, MMA media, fighters and fans alike campaigned for better fighter pay. With the UFC announcing a six-year sponsorship deal with Reebok this past Tuesday (totaling an estimated $70 million), we were told that every penny would go into the fighters’ pockets. After all, the UFC’s primary reason for making this deal was to add a layer of professionalism to their organization, one which would make them in a way, similar to other major sports organizations.
So say goodbye to the fight banners, the sponsor-covered shorts, and the walkout shirts! For the next six years, it’s Reebok only, baby! Any sponsors that the fighters and their managers have already secured will be banned from being visible inside the Octagon. Depending on the loyalty of sponsors, we could end up seeing a lot more of this. Conversely, if the UFC does overhaul the ranking system and a fair pay structure is implemented, sponsor loyalty won’t be an issue. A new ranking system should provide an unbiased/accurate/educated selection of each division’s top 15 — a system that will award the UFC’s athletes with the fair and adequate sponsorship money they deserve.
As of right now, a fighter’s sponsorship cut will be tied directly to where they sit in the UFC rankings. That’s right… the same rankings done by the always reliable UFC-approved voting panelists. According to DFW, the current panelist voting system will soon be updated; White aims to narrow down the current field of panelists to a select few “legitimate, credible and ethical guys” in order to gain better results. Unfortunately for White, every “legitimate, credible, and ethical guy” in MMA media has already recognized the blatant conflict of interest this system presents and has refused to participate in the ranking system.
With that said, I have put together a list of the 10 worst panelists currently contributing to the UFC’s divisional rankings. Let’s get started.
10. Bruno Massami (GazetaEsportiva.net) – Sergio Pettis came into the UFC with a lot of hype, he was undefeated, the former RFA flyweight champion, and Anthony Pettis’s younger brother. Sergio won his bantamweight debut against short notice opponent and former #9 flyweight Will Campuzano. However, he followed his debut with a submission loss to the unranked Alex Caceres, before bouncing back with a forgettable decision victory over unranked Yaotzin Meza. Massami, like many panelists, may have personal favorites in the UFC, but rankings must be unbiased, objective, and logical. None of those criteria apply when Massami placed Sergio as the #10 bantamweight.
9. Steve Juon (Wrestling Observer) – From my analysis the bantamweight division appeared to give most panelists problems. The division itself had 101 records of questionable rankings. The closest division to having as many problems was middleweight with 28 recorded rankings issues. Now when I analyzed my data it wasn’t just a matter of pointing out who had Tim Kennedy at #7 when I think he should be #8. No, I noted every instance of downright BAD ranking. Steve Juon apparently missed the last few years of the bantamweight division as this is how he has the top names in the division seeded…