For the last year the UFC's ranking process has been something of an organic entity, expanding and changing as new writers are included. There have been a few hitches in the system. Notable fighters have been swiftly removed off the normal update schedule after their release and a brief spell as the "UFC Fan Rankings" saw at least a couple of writers cash in their chips. All told , however (and even if I've been less than impressed with the results), the UFC's official rankings have been very much a success, in that they provide an important looking background structure for big fights and events. Now it appears that a few more changes are in the works for year two of the rankings project as the UFC has announced a trio of updates via e-mail to its rankers:
1. Starting with UFC 168, the rankings will expand to a top 15 in every weight class. With the UFC adding more fighters across the board, there are more opportunities to recognize the best fighters in each division. If you have some time between now and Saturday, please give some thought to the fighters you will add in the 11-15 slots for each weigh class. You will be able to add them after UFC 168 concludes on Saturday night.
2. The UFC will run upwards of 40 shows next year and we will continue to produce a new set of rankings after every show, unless they run on the same day or consecutive days (Friday and Saturday, for instance). However, there is the possibility that some of the smaller shows will not produce results that affect the rankings at all. Beginning in the new year, the email that you receive to let you know that rankings are open will contain a link that allows you to submit unchanged rankings across the board with a single click if you do not have any changes to make.
3. During 2013, we enforced the UFC's policy that panelists be removed if they did not submit rankings for three consecutive shows. In 2014, the policy will change with removal after missing two consecutive shows, unless there are extenuating circumstances. We will also be more vigilant about removing panelists who skip more than a few cycles, even if they are not consecutive. Panelists are expected to submit rankings after every UFC show and we hope the single click email above will make it easier to submit rankings when nothing changes.
Hopefully the more rigorous schedule and tighter rules for missing cards will eliminate some of the riff-raff that has plagued the project so far... although there are probably a few diligent anarchists who will continue to skew the tables in unpredictable ways. I worry that the one-click system will also make it easier for rankers to get lazy and leave their rankings un-updated even after fights with ranking implications, but it remains to be seen how that will actually play out. What do you think? Are these changes for the better, or is the UFC just adding another layer of difficulty to an already messy system?