What Exactly Goes Into A Ranking System?

The rankings on this blog span 13 weight-classes including 8 men’s and 5 women’s divisions. It also hosts a pound-for-pound listing for both genders. I am sure there are quality fighters that I am not aware of, especially at the lighter weights and in the women’s divisions. I do not have the resources that many of the top MMA websites do so I can only rank fighters that I follow. These rankings are not based on who I think would defeat who but who I believe deserves the rank based on what they’ve done in the cage or ring.

These rankings also go a little deeper than others you may find elsewhere. In my almost ten years of doing this I have realized that fans many times like to understand the bigger picture. My goal is to keep fans informed without overwhelming them with information. Generally these lists will consist of the top 10 ranked fighters in a particular division as well as a bottom 10 contenders list. This will make a total of 20 ranked fighters, not the typical 10 you may be used to. From time to time I may extend the listing for a post or two if there is reason for it, such as a lot of movement in the weight-class or prospects I feel should be recognized. This also keeps the author honest and unlikely to rank out of emotion. Many times I’ve noticed fighters jumping all over the place in other compilations without any explanation. I hope this approach will keep my readers from feeling lost.

Continue reading for a more detailed explanation of how the system works.

Moving up in the ranks depends on a few things, record, win streak, competition level, finishing rate and performance within a fight. A strong performance in a losing effort may keep a competitor from dropping further down the ladder but an athlete cannot gain rank with a loss, no matter how great a performance. Fighters will not gain ranks based on their championship status, contender status, organization, name value or hype. The status of the previous titleholder is what usually pushes most fighters to the #1 spot. Depending on the depth of a division if a competitor is not ranked in the top 20 of a weight class it will be hard for him/her to move into the top 10 with only one big win, it may be enough for him/her to crack the top 20 but that is dependent on the factors sighted in this article.

Fighters do not automatically take over the spot of the fighter they just defeated or jump ahead of them in the rankings. Holding a win over a top fighter may keep him/her from jumping you soon after but depending on the success of the fighter and competition they have faced since that point it may be possible for them to jump ahead of you later on.

Just because an athlete competes in a major organization does not mean that he/she has faced a higher level of competition than someone outside of the UFC and other top promotions. Many of the fighters ranked in the men’s FW, BW, FLW as well as the Women’s 115, 125 and 145 pound categories are not competing under the UFC banner. The continued growth of the sport globally and the unexpected emergence of free agency makes it even more possible for competitors in other promotions to make claim to a much higher placement in all weight categories. Name value does not always equate to a quality win.

Combatants that have not competed in two years will be removed from their spot in the Rankings. I understand that major injuries happen, this is why our rankings give athletes that extra year to recover and come back at full health instead of using the standard one year format. Fighters should gain ranks because they have earned it, not by default. Missing weight in back-to-back fights will get you removed from that listing.

Retired athletes and those that announce a move to another weight class will no longer be ranked in their previous category, as the major organizations usually force fighters to focus on one division at a time. The women’s weight classes are different. Since many of the top female fighters compete outside of major promotions they are eligible for spots in more than one listing. It is more common for female athletes to jump between divisions. This may change with high profile organizations now promoting women’s bouts.

Pound-For-Pound rankings are mythical but very fun to do. A loss in a division may not give the individual that defeated a ranked fighter automatic entry into the PFP rankings.

That’s pretty much it. The reasons I started doing these rankings around 10 years back is because I felt that many high profile websites rank based on name value and the big name of a promotion, not really who deserves it the most. I understand that my system is not perfect but I do believe that it is fairly accurate. I welcome any suggestions on how to improve the system.

I hope you all enjoy these rankings because that’s really why I do them, for the fans and fighters that work so hard to achieve their goals in this great sport.

Author: Kristopher Crawley

I am a blind martial artist who has covered the sport of mixed martial arts for around 10 years with a focus on the women's scene and global circuit. I have made several appearances on SiriusXM Radio and hosted an Internet radio show as Mac called FightNation Radio. I have had the pleasure of interviewing such fighters as former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and many other big names within the industry.

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