Of all the things we argue about as ridiculously interested MMA fans, perhaps no single issue gets the same amount of ink devoted to it than the rankings of fighters across promotional boundaries. I contribute a ballot to the USA Today/SB Nation Consensus MMA Rankings (for a weird, unexplainable reason that has yet to cripple the very foundation of the rankings themselves), as does HKL's fearless leader, Matthew "I'll Have Another" Roth. The open nature and frequent updates of the "meta-rankings" has solidified my belief that rankings should be - and, historically, have always been - reflective, not predictive. I feel this isn't fully understood by the entire panel.
As an example, let's look at Auburn's college football team. Possessed of a Heisman trophy winning quarterback and a wonderful defense that I hope to see my Broncos pick clean in the draft, Auburn ended the season on its final play, edging over the explosive Oregon Ducks by a last second field goal. In doing so, the Tigers accomplished a feat no other NCAA Division 1 team ever had, ascending to the #1 spot in the final polls after being ranked a mediocre (for Auburn) #22 coming into the season. Oregon had been ranked #1 going into the game, with Auburn at #2 (and, of course, the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs at #3 - more on this later).
Auburn's run to its first undisputed national championship (after being shafted in a similar manner to TCU after its undefeated 2004 campaign) did not mean that they were improperly ranked going into the season. The rankers did not miss something when they retained Alabama, coming off of another monster recruiting class, as the #1 team in the land. They didn't misjudge Auburn's potential and hype the 21 other teams above them. Sure, there were mistakes - preseason rankings are almost never close to the final result. But they're not supposed to be. They are supposed to be a reflection of what has happened, not a projection of what might.
Injured UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez made some comments on MMAJunkie Radio that have been used as ammunition by those that criticize either the very notion of rankings or how they currently rank the splintered heavyweight division. Cain's words are their own, but whether you interpret them as legitimate musings, professional courtesy or a yearning for a different MMA landscape depends largely on you.
After the jump, Cain's quotes from the show, a little more bitching about the BCS and a defense of how the Consensus Rankings work.