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Getting to the Bottom of UFC P4P Rankings

(Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Most Valuable Player, The Heisman Trophy award…there’s a system and/or award for almost every sport to determine the organization’s #1 athlete. Across the spectrum of weight classes and competitors, the UFC P4P rankings (pound-for-pound) are utilized to determine the promotion’s top athletes. Who sets the standard when it comes to top competitors? What was can the UFC P4P rankings be improved?

UFC P4P rankings

According to the UFC, fighters are ranked accordingly by media representatives:

“Rankings were generated by a voting panel made up of media members. The media members were asked to vote for who they feel are the top fighters in the UFC by weight-class and pound-for-pound. A fighter is only eligible to be voted on if they are in active status in the UFC. A fighter can appear in more than one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champion are considered to be in the top positions of their respective divisions and therefore are not eligible for voting by weight-class. However, the champions can be voted on for the pound-for-pound rankings. Rankings will be updated approximately 36 hours after each event.”

Media Voting

On one hand, media representatives who closely follow the individual progress of MMA athletes have a qualified opinion for fighter rankings. Media analysts who professionally cover the progress of the UFC’s athletes could reasonably make a well-informed roster judgement. Taking into account each individual fighter’s wins, losses, and overall performance, a collective professional vote can be an accurate reflection of the fight roster.

Ranking Purpose
(UFC Matchmaker Joe Silva, photo via bleacherreport.com)
(UFC Matchmaker Joe Silva, photo via bleacherreport.com)

Even if you could crunch all of the data to determine the promotion’s fighter rankings, it seems unclear what purpose the voting system serves. UFC P4P rankings don’t determine matchups, matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby do. When fighters are paired with rankings that are not close together, it brings into question whether the ranking system is reliable for determining matchups.

Are pound-for-pound rankings good for MMA promotions? Do you think that the UFC should adopt a point-based ranking system for matchmaking?

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Kurt Tellez
Kurt Tellez is a Southern California-based writer and musician. He first developed a passion for writing and literature in high school that carried through to the completion of a B.A. in English from Cal State Fullerton in 2013. Inspired by Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, Alan Moore and Hunter S. Thompson, he has pursued a career in writing through contributions to online magazine publications, blogging, and social media management. His musical studies began at thirteen, and has since played in garage bands, concert bands and jazz bands everywhere from Honolulu to The Matthew Street Beatles Festival in Liverpool. Kurt has followed MMA since becoming an avid listener of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Inspired by Eddie Bravo's appearances on the show, he became a member of Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu in 2014.