Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
The UFC changed up how they handle their media days with this event, choosing to skip a straight press conference with the fighters and instead having each guy talk to the media individually. As usual, the media was most interested in what UFC president Dana White had to say and he announced a project that's, frankly, pretty surprising - an official UFC rankings system. He said they're going to pair with FightMetric to create a rankings panel comprised of ninety sports media members. MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani relayed the info with a series of tweets:
Dana: they are starting UFC rankings. Their own official rankings. Wow.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 31, 2013
Dana: 90 media members will vote on the rankings. The Monday after this event polls will go out and it will begin.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 31, 2013
Dana: buuuut regardless of the rankings, I'll put together the fights the people want to see.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 31, 2013
UFC thinks it would be easier for casual fans to follow the sport with rankings.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 31, 2013
The UFC also posted a news item on their site confirming the project:
Las Vegas, NV – FightMetric®, the official statistics provider of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), will continue to enhance fans experience by providing UFC Fighter Rankings. UFC Fighter Rankings by FightMetric will poll opinions from sports media worldwide and will be recognized by the UFC and integrated into its broadcast and featured on UFC.com. Voting will be open to media immediately after each live event with results made available to UFC.com within 24 hours.
Media members will vote for top fighters, currently active in the UFC, by weight class and pound-for-pound. A fighter can only appear in one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champions of each division are set in the first and second positions respectively and are not eligible for voting by media.
White has stated in the past that he was against having official rankings, but apparently that has changed. The last tweet from Ariel about casual fans makes a lot of sense in that regard, and is probably the main reason why they're trying this out. It should lead to some interesting debate between fans and media alike.