Logic behind Mixed Martial Arts rankingsPosted on December 24, 2010, 06:12 PM by overhand right
Rankings. They're addictive and endlessly debatable, or are they? One of the great features of Low Kick is the option to submit your rankings for the respective weight classes and of course, the revered and glorified "pound for pound" list.
The question I have been asking myself for weeks now is what gives a fighter the right to be in the top 10? Should it be based on skill alone, the physical abilities that fighter appears to exhibit against his opponents? if so then the likes of Alistair Overeem, Hector Lombard and Gegard Mousasi would all be deserving of a spot in the top five of their division.
Over the past year or two, an overwhelming amount of hate and abuse has been aimed at the president of the UFC, Dana White, and his opinions on the great Fedor Emelianenko's standing in the heavyweight rankings. White claims (possibly for the good of his company or maybe it is his own view) that Fedor has not fought top competition since 2005 when he beat another heavyweight great, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Not only that Fedor didn't fight competitive opposition, but he hasn't fought regularly either. In the past four years, Fedor has fought a mere six times. Still the greatest of all time, but what about right now?
I have come to the conclusion that although Dana's opinion is controversial and maybe even spiteful, I wholeheartedly agree with him. When it comes to rankings there can be no definitive answer if they are based on opinion. It seems the most popular or hyped fighters tend to grace the top of people's rankings. This is all well in good for the vast majority of practice to a point. But in theory, that would be to say that there is nothing stopping me from ranking my favorite fighter, Frank Mir, at number one in the heavyweight division, a spot he does not deserve based on recent losses. Taking a more hypothetical example, someone could have ranked James Toney in the top ten heavyweights as well prior to his fight with Couture.
In reality, anyone who has followed MMA and most sports for long enough will be aware that anything can happen. I could rank Jon Jones as the number one light heavyweight in the world based entirely on my opinion that he could beat anyone in his division. But this does not diminish the possibilities of Jones losing to Bader in the new year and if he does he would probably drop out of many people's lists completely.
So we must rank by the facts, for those are the only things that are undeniable and absolute. Put simply, it's MMA math. The UFC has the deepest talent pool so therefore winning a UFC championship must be worth more in ranking value than winning a Strike Force belt. Quality of opponents is another major factor. I've noticed Alistair Overeem comes in at number four in the heavyweight rankings and ten in the pound for pound. This is ridiculous if you look at it logically. While Alistair Overeem does deserve to be in the top ten, he is merely on a win streak against cans or UFC rejects, with his last and most credible win coming in May against Brett Rogers, a questionable top 10 opponent who had already lost to Fedor.
Another inconsistency in the rankings can be found if you look at number two on the heavyweight rankings: Fedor Emelianenko. Surely having lost to Werdum he should be behind him? It seems that people have instead gone with the usual excuse, "dude, it's Fedor! he'd kill Werdum in a rematch". That's a fine theory, but does that mean that Fedor deserves to be ahead of Werdum? Surely not, i think people are falling into the all too easy trap of ranking their favorite fighters above those that have earned the spot, like Cain Velasquez, who defeated the guy who became number one after Fedor's loss: Brock Lesnar.
So I would recommend you to reassess your mindset before ranking these modern day gladiators and really ask yourself who deserves to be called pound for pound or the best at their weight. Don't just put your favorite fighter up there or the guy you think would KO the entire UFC roster if he ever got signed to it. Rank the guys who've fought the best regularly and deserve their spot, for the good of the sport.
Picture: Esther Lin