In the UFC, It's Time for Change: Rankings a Solution?

Nick VCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2008

I keep hearing complaints on this site about divisional integrity. Comments have been made of super-fights and other money-making ventures hurting the growth of weight classes.

This got me thinking that there had to be a solution to hold the weight classes together, build new contenders, and still allow us to put on great exciting fights.  

Professional sports such as the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL have long seasons and ultimately playoffs, so that it can provide the best teams to face off. College sports such as basketball, soccer, and baseball have ranking systems and polls to determine the best and place them into their postseasons.

College football has the BCS, which has its flaws, but it is better than a couple of guys sitting around coming up with who they think are the best.  

So, I ask why this system is okay when it comes to combat sports. Now, I know what I am about to suggest will bring around other problems and debates, but having a structured system in place is better than not having one at all.

I believe the UFC would be better served if they ranked their fighters. Here is how I purpose it works.


Fighters and media poll

Who better to rank their opposition and piers than the fighters themselves? They know who is tough and talented perhaps better than anyone else. This may cause camp loyalties in certain areas, but many fighters that are friends or training partners don’t fight at the same weight.

Also, we deal with this in collegiate sports from coaches biased towards their conference, but it all seems to work out in the end.

Just the fighters might lead to some problems though so you have several media groups that cover MMA closely vote as well. With all these votes we should get a pretty good system as to where everyone stands.

This would stop confusion when Dana always says someone is about to break into his mythical “top five” or “top 10”.


Poll Rules

-Each weight class would have rankings of the top 15-25 fighters.

-Fighters may only be ranked in one weight class only. This will hopefully prevent fighters from division hopping (B.J. Penn).

-Champs will be ranked as well. This way, if someone comes out ranked in front of a champion, they are automatically scheduled for champs next fight.

-A fighter must be coming off a win in order to be the No. 1 contender. (GSP could get instant rematch with Serra.)

-Fighters will have to receive a certain amount of points before being labeled a top contender. In the case of the lightweight division, there wasn’t a true top contender until recently.

-If more than one fighter has enough points to be No. 1 contender, then it will be up to the matchmakers.

-If you don’t fight within a year, you will lose ranking from the poll until next fight.

-Fighters must have at least two fights in the UFC in the last two years in the weight class to be considered for the poll. Meaning, if a fighter like Randy Couture retires, he may not just return and fight for the Heavyweight title.

Although, in his case, he could have returned had a fight and then used previous fights to contend for the LHW belt.

-A champion needs to defend his belt a minimum three fights before a super fight is an option. Unless he has successfully defended it twice, and there is no clear No. 1 contender after six months from previous defense.

This would provide a No. 1 contender in divisions and strengthen divisional integrity with title fights occurring more often. Also, it would give lower level fighters a chance to prove themselves and rise in the rankings.

Of course, Joe Silva can still keep his job by putting together these entertaining matches. He just would be left out for the most part on deciding title fights.


I believe that this will generate a lot more interest from average fans that are not sure when to be interested outside of the main event. Now they would know the favorite in the fight and where they stand in their division.

It is obviously a very raw concept that would need to be well thought out. I just thought I would test the waters and see how everyone else felt about it. So let me know. Also, other rule suggestions or ways to go about solving this problem are welcome. Only my first article, so please cut me some slack.