(“In my unbiased opinion as an MMA journalist, Chael Sonnen is the #1-ranked fighter at *all* weight classes. In addition, he has the biggest arm and does the most harm.” Photo via Fuel TV.)
For the first time ever, the UFC will publish fighter ranking lists in each of their weight divisions. The new rankings will be generated by FightMetric, in collaboration with a wide range of media members. Here’s the scoop, via a press release on UFC.com:
FightMetric®, the official statistics provider of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), will continue to enhance fans experience by providing UFC Fighter Rankings. UFC Fighter Rankings by FightMetric will poll opinions from sports media worldwide and will be recognized by the UFC and integrated into its broadcast and featured on UFC.com. Voting will be open to media immediately after each live event with results made available to UFC.com within 24 hours.
“We are thrilled to have UFC recognize our fighter rankings and to have them hosted on UFC.com, as well as incorporated into event broadcasts. FightMetric has worked closely with the UFC for several years as an industry-leader in MMA statistics. Sports fans are accustomed to seeing performance data and rankings on their favorite baseball, football and soccer players, and now we can engage UFC fans on a similar level,” said FightMetric creator Rami Genauer.
“UFC Fighter Rankings are a great tool for new and existing fans alike to learn and better keep up with the fast pace of the UFC,” said UFC President Dana White. “We always look for opportunities to engage fans and media, allowing them to connect and voice their opinions, and this just one more way of doing that.”
Media members will vote for top fighters, currently active in the UFC, by weight class and pound-for-pound. A fighter can only appear in one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champions of each division are set in the first and second positions respectively and are not eligible for voting by media. However, champions can be voted on for the pound-for-pound rankings. Media voting is by invitation only and interested media members can apply at UFC.com/Rankings.
The UFC’s creation of public rankings is a smart move for two reasons: 1) The rankings will add another mark of legitimacy to a sport that is still battling for public acceptance, and 2) As Dana White mentioned in the release, they’ll help fans — and not just causal fans — keep up with the growing rosters and weight divisions under the promotion’s control. You’d have to be a die-hard fan to know which bantamweights are outside the top-five at any given moment, for example. These rankings will help keep fans clued in, especially when they’re trying to figure out who’s worth watching during the next UFC on FOX Sports 2 card.
So will these rankings have any effect on future UFC matchups, and which fighters get title shots? Not exactly. “Regardless of the rankings, I’ll put together the fights the people want to see,” White reportedly said yesterday, according to Ariel Helwani. So think of them as more of a promotional, informational tool provided by 90 journalists who are on relatively good terms with the UFC, rather than a literal, unbiased look at the pecking order in each division.
We’ll let you know when our application is rejected : (