Good vs Bad of MMA Ranking System

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In our present society, we put a lot of status on rankings. This holds true from such ideas as “David Lettermans Top 10,” to “Whos the top 10 NBA players of all-time, to capital district newspapers annual rankings of restaurants, shopping malls and tv stations. In the most recent of years, MMA websites have joined this fold. On sites like MMAjunkie, Sherdog, fightmatrix.com and even Tapology they rank their top fighters in weight classes and pound for pound rankings. Tapology has even went further and decided to rank amateur mma in regions and states.
In my latest article, I will write how MMA rankings can be good and how sometimes it is the worse idea to have. For this article, I have decided to look at two different websites so you can play along. These sites are Tapology.com and Fightmatrix.com. Each of these sites have some good things going for them and some bad. For discussion purposes, I will look at the Lightweight (155lbs) top 10 on both sites and I will also talk about the amateur mma side of tapology.com.
First thing is first, let us break down the Lightweight top 10 list of both sites. For Tapology, their rankings are as follows… 1. Rafael Dos Anjos…. 2.. Anthony Pettis.. 3 Donald Cerrone.. 4. Gilbert Melendez…5.. Khabib.. Nurmagomedov..6 … Michael Johnson.. 7.. Eddie Alvarez.. 8.. Edson Barboza.. 9..John Thomson..10..Bobby Green. For Fightmatrix.com….1.. Rafael Dos Anjos. ..2.. Donald Cerrone..3.. Anthoy Pettis..4.. Ben Henderon.. 5.. Will Brooks..6.. Khabib Nurmagomedov…7.. Gilbert Melendez..8.. Michael Johnson.. 9.. Al Iaquinta.. 10.. Tony Ferguson.
Looking at the Tapology rankings, I am think two ideas, that these ranking are very UFC centric and that the rankings are generally name driven. I know what some of you are going to say, when people think MMA generally in this country they think UFC, so shouldn’t the rankings hold true? That does hold true if you are a UFC website and want to push UFC fighters, but if you are a site that has fight results from across the globe, I am expecting a little more from you.
Another thing that goes hand in hand with the UFC centric ranking of tapology is the missing of current Bellator Lightweight Champ Will Brooks, who is ranked #13 on tapology. As I stated before Brooks is the Bellator Lightweight Champion, should that add some rankings for him? Plus, In the past 3 years he is sporting a record of 11-1, meanwhile a josh Thomson , who is ranked #9 in tapology, is sporting a 3-4 record in his past 7 fights and also a 2 fight losing streak.
To add to the wondering of the tapology rankings, look at WSOF Lightweight champ Justin Gaethje, who is ranked 23rd there and 14th on the fightmatrix site. I know what people will say, “whats WSOF?,” and “who has he beat?” First thing first Gaethje is the WSOF Lightweight champion. Second, he is 14-0 with 11 of those wins coming by TKO. He has wins over hard-nosed Nick Newell and Luis Palomino, ex-heroes lightweight champ Gesias Cavalcante as well as UFC vets, Drew Fickett, Brian Cobb, Dan Lauzon, and Melvin Guillard. Doesn’t this deserve a better then 23rd ranking?
Now I know what you are going to say next about the Fightmatrix rankings..Doesn’t

the inclusion of Ben Henderson make a flawed ranking? I have to agree it flows things for a loop, but even though Henderson’s most recent fight was at welterweight, all his other fights have been in the Lightweight division and his loses at Lightweight were two the 3 people who are ranked higher than him. If I had to pick a minus for the Fightmatrix would be just the vast number of fighters being ranked. While the top 20 people could see no faults, who could watch enough fights to rank from 30-200. I am just thinking out loud, but I am imagining when doing those ranking someone is generally just clumping fighters together.
Now the easy part is talked about that is the Pro MMA ranking part and now comes the “headache” version I like to call the amateur mma version part. I have to admit, since working with amateur mma promotions, teams, and fighters I am always looking at these rankings. I applaud the Tapology for what they are doing in trying the rank fighters. They have tackled the amateur mma results archiving problem. While I wish for fights are recorded, they are at least doing as much as they can.
My fault with Tapology is how the ranking system is used. If you were to look at some of the ranking we have fighters between 3-4 fighters making the top ten, then if you were to look on the female side we even have fighters between 1 and 2 fights making ranking there. The Sampling size for their ranking has to be bigger. Make your cutoff point to be ranking 5 fights. How do we know how good a fighter is after 2-3 fights? Lets take for instance the Batting Average ranking in Major League Baseball. Even Ballplayers don’t generally make their ranking unless they have 120+ plate appearances. By making their sampling size so big they can get a better picture on who exactly in theory is a good hitter at that present time.
Amatuer MMA ranking can also be bad for a fighter because it also gives a fighter a false sense of security. How many times do you see on facebook or talking someone say on ranking #10 or #44 on Tapology? Tapology even says when they make their ranking they use an Algorythm. This generally means we just put fighters names and numbers and it spits out their ranking. This is the way sometimes you see it done in College Football. Lets give the computer numbers and spit rankings. I could give you 2 fighters, one is 5-0 and won all his fights easily, but maybe against easy competition, while the second fighter is 4-1 and looked bad in his first fight but came on strong his next 4 beating quality fighters and some ranked higher than him. By a computer program, in theory I am thinking #1 would be ranked higher.
The way in theory that I wish would happen is that you dissect the state in areas and certain people are held to rank fighters in their area. This people that fighters will be actually looked at by trained eyes and truly the question can be answered…We have a fighter who is 5-1 here, is he better than someone who is 7-2? Which fighters fight have looked better? Have they improved from fight 1 to where they are now? What was the quality of opponents that they have fought in each fight?
Like I said before, I applaud the MMA sites for what they are doing with rankings. It is great conversation points (like I have done here.) In the amateur sense, I like what they are starting to do and I wish it to grow leaps and bounds. By looking at what we have working and tweaking and making it better.

About Steven Wietecha

Steve is well know in the Upstate are when it comes to MMA. You probably have seen him working a local amateur MMA card, or as fan. Either way Steve love the sport and promotes amateur MMA everywhere he goes.

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