On Thursday, the announcement that the UFC would be supporting an official ranking system resounded through the media. But a closer look at the system shows that all will return to "business as usual."
Following the UFC 156 media event on Thursday, UFC president Dana White announced that his company would be sponsoring an official rankings system. The rankings will be determined by a panel of 90 media members selected by the UFC and Fight Metric. It's been confirmed by Jeremy Botter of Bleacher Report that all voting ballots will be made public.
Since the announcement, the MMA media has been crazy speculating on the potential impact of what will become the "official" rankings. Bloody Elbow's own Brent Brookhouse brought up some very interesting questions for media members to consider before they take part.
However, very few have looked at how this will really effect the UFC as a promotion going forward. That's probably because, in all likelihood, it will have an imperceptible effect.
The first problem is that people assume the UFC didn't have a ranking system in place prior to this announcement. They did. That's why the vast majority of match ups make sense when compared to the Meta Rankings. With the exception of Chad Mendes, we rarely see the UFC book matches that don't make sense regarding the divisional standings. That's because Joe Silva and Sean Shelby know where fighters stand as well as hardcore fans.
An interesting complaint I've seen brought up was that the ranking system would prevent ridiculous matches like Light Heavyweight champ Jon Jones vs. failed Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen. That is simply self-blinding logic. In a perfect world, maybe that would happen. but UFC president Dana White justified the fight by an unofficial fan vote and promised that the rankings would preclude "fights the fans want to see."
The other argument I've seen presented is that this will present some accountability when the UFC matches a #6 (random select) vs a champion (#1). But that situation is more than easy to excuse. First, scheduling is always something to consider. A #1 or $3 contender may have just fought or been recently defeated by the champ. If neither of those excuses apply, White can always fall back on his already prepared "this is what fans want to see" excuse as is the case with Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre.
For the most part these new rankings are an additional talking point for commentator like Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg. They'll be brought up during the fighter introduction and maybe discussed during fights. But they won't impact how the UFC does business