The UFC has finally produced a ranking system; it is now available on their website.
Great news, right? No more wavering on rankings and contender status so fans can witness the legitimate contenders vie for the title. Dana will now no longer be wantonly confusing the title picture. Fighters' rankings will now move in a logical and cohesive manner open to the public.
Not so fast.
Actually, the rankings are media-generated. Selected members of the media vote on the rankings. This makes it doubtful that this publication will serve any real purpose; rather, the concession will be relegated to playing a cosmetic role.
It is very unlikely that the alpha president would relinquish authority to determine future title shots and No. 1 contender status to the media for whom Dana has little regard. Regardless of the fact that most likely these "official" rankings will never be valid, the first rankings make no sense.
For example, in the overall Pound-For-Pound ranking, there are several anomalies. Frankie Edgar is very affable and endearing but he lost three in a row, so how can he be a top 10 p4p-er? The list has him slated in the No. 9 slot.The same system has him at No. 5 overall in the featherweight division.
Therefore, he is the fifth best 145-pounder in the world but the ninth greatest fighter in the world.
GSP is in the third spot, behind Silva and Jones, on the overall pound-for-pound list. "The Spider" at No. 1 makes sense. Jon Jones ahead of GSP is slightly perplexing. Yes, Jones is an incredible athlete and has shown sublime skills with massive wins over legends.
However, he has not proven consistent success over a lengthy time period as the welterweight star has.
Jon Jones did not begin his MMA career until 2008. In 2006, GSP became the UFC welterweight champ. Every fight that GSP has had since Jones' career began has held championship implications. It is hard to understand how he would have passed GSP when the Canadian has barely lost a round since Jones' career began.
Where did GSP slip to allow Jones to overtake him?
Urijah Faber is a legend; he has done a great deal for the sport. After losing five of his last 10, how is he ranked as the No. 3 contender at 135? This is probably because voters are basing the rankings on popularity and not facts.
Chael is fighting for the title and is not ranked in the top ten as neither a middleweight nor as a light heavyweight. Yet, he recently (July, 2012) fought for the middleweight title and is fighting for the light heavyweight title in April. How would that make any sense? In order to be eligible for the ranking system, the fighter needs to be active, which Sonnen obviously is.
To be fair, Chael may have only been eligible to be selected as a light heavyweight as that is the division his next bout will be in. It would make sense that he would not be ranked there and this would be a reflection of the UFC's capricious choice to award him the title shot and not a fault of the ranking system.
The No. 3 contender in the 125-pound division is Ian McCall. Ian did not win in 2012 and has yet to win in 2013. He is 0-2-1 in his past three fights and has zero wins in the sport's flagship promotion.
Surprisingly, he is behind only Benavidez and Dodson for a title shot. Assuming Benavidez gets the next shot in the summer, and considering that Dodson just lost to Johnson, McCall would subsequently be next in line or the first to replace Benavidez in case of an injury.
That is not too bad for a fighter who would have gone two years without a win and without ever having won a single fight in the UFC. Again, a disclaimer as the votes may have been entered prior to his most recent loss and the placing of him as the No. 3 contender would have only been based on his lack of wins in 2012.
As impressive as Gilbert Melandez is, it is worth asking how he could be considered the No. 1 contender in the uber-deep lightweight division without ever having won a fight in the UFC. Gilbert has not faced top-ranked opposition. While he is a welcomed addition to the promotion, he has not proven himself against the world's best. There is no doubt that he could one day be champion, but he has never defeated nor fought an elite fighter in his career.
While one could ad nauseum complain about this new ranking system, it is the first edition. Like anything in life, things need time to develop and improve. However, one should not be too optimistic that this is simply an "officialized" version of any other fan's subjective opinion on the abstract ladder of fighters' skills.
On a positive note, there is now an "official" ranking system. If it will actually serve a purpose greater than engendering trite debate among keyboard warriors remains to be seen.
Hopefully, it will be the medium that will bring much needed clarity to the title contention landscape.