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USAT/SBN January 2011 MMA Consensus Rankings

The first USA TODAY/Sports Blog Nation MMA Consensus Rankings for 2011 are now live. Be sure and pick up a hard copy of USA TODAY to see them in print.

Based on the premise that all MMA rankings are subjective but that it’s still useful and informative to know who the MMA community as a whole ranks as the best fighters in MMA, we collect and average the rankings of the top MMA sources to produce our consensus rankings. We compile the top MMA rankings from each of our sources and award 25 points for a first place ranking, 16 for a 10th place ranking, 1 for a 25th place ranking. A formula is used to "normalize" the data so all fighters are awarded points from those lists that do not include a full 25 fighters. This formula ensures that each ranking site awards the same number of total points regardless of how many fighters they choose to rank. Each fighter’s total is divided by the number of possible points to determine their standing in the Consensus Rankings.

More details on our methodology in the full entry.

NOTE:  We have modified our method of gathering our rankings because the strict scheduling requirements of USA TODAY clash with the more irregular schedules of many of the MMA rankings sites. That was causing us to use a different set of sources almost every month. That combined with the small number of sites doing top 25 rankings was causing the Consensus rankings to have a lower "signal to noise" ratio than we would like -- that is if fighters are going to be moving up or down I would like it to be because there has been a change in the consensus opinion, not a change in our sources. Therefore we have cut back our sources to just those sites that we can depend on to update every month. We have also contacted many of the rankers that only publish top 10 lists and asked them to provide top 25 lists. As always we listen to your suggestions and are always working to improve the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings.

We have further modified our formula to better account for fighters who drift between multiple weight classes.  We are now moving to what JCS of Fight Matrix has described as assumed rankings in an attempt to rank fighters who move between weight classes. This has been the biggest problem with the consensus rankings and we believe this new methodology will rectify that. 

Let's take Anderson Silva for instance. 87% (13 of 15) of our panelists have him at Light Heavyweight and 100% (15 of 15) at Middleweight.  On the 13 ballots that ranked Silva at 205, we took the average (21.2).  We then reduced that number by half the percentage of Light Heavyweight ballots that he was not included on. Say he's not on 30% of them, then we do a 15% penalty on the average that we found in the previous step.    That number is then used instead of the usual "normalization number" to provide points from those not ranking the fighter in the weight class in question. This avoids fighters being excessively penalized by confusion about which weight class they belong.

Check out the USA TODAY/Sports Blog Nation MMA Consensus Rankings to see who's rising and who's falling.

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