So by now you may or may not heard that our buds at Bloody Elbow have taken a step up in the world: they now provide the MMA rankings for USA Today. Since rankings are now a big deal for the site, they’ve come out swinging against WAMMA’s ranking system, which is used by both HDNet (ooooh) and ESPN’s MMA Live:
What needs to be realized is that WAMMA’s goal is to change the fundamental structure of our sport and what they do with these rankings is a large part of that mission. They are a sanctioning body looking to make money from sanctioned title fights based off of their own rankings. While they can honestly say that the ranking body is make up of external and respected sources it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what they do with the rankings. On the March 19 edition of ESPN.com’s MMA Live Pat Miletich said that they want to become what the AP Poll is for college football which is a sickening misrepresentation of what they are doing.
I’m not going to disagree that WAMMA’s ranking schism is little more than a front for trying to get their stupid sanctioning body scheme up and going. And perhaps I’m not recognizing the danger WAMMA represents when it comes to muddying up the champion waters. But I simply can’t take an organization that gives out velcro-strap belts (or no belt at all, in Shinya Aoki’s case) seriously. So I can’t join up with Bloody Elbow in their anger.
If you strip away the preposterous idea that WAMMA will somehow succeed at creating a inter-promotional belt recognized by all to be the one true belt, there’s not much left to get pissy about. Bloody Elbow’s rankings are meta-rankings that take into account what all the other sites are saying. WAMMA’s is a similar system where they collect the rankings of a bunch of well-respected MMA journalists.
Truth be told, when you line the two systems up, I think WAMMA’s might actually come out on top. It has a wider range of legitimate participants, while the Bloody Elbow meta-rankings are bogged down with a number of websites I’ve never heard of. While MMARocks.pl and MMA4Real.net might have some very legitimate top 10 lists, guys like John McCarthy and Pat Miletich just might have an edge on them. I dunno. That’s my thought at least.
In the end though, rankings are fucking dumb and shouldn’t be used as anything other than for reference or to piss off people you disagree with. We’ve never done rankings and have turned down all the invites to start giving them on account of them being bullshit. Just look at Matt Serra’s amusing inclusion as a top 5, 3, and even #1 welterweight after he beat Georges St Pierre. That’s the kind of stupid shit you see because of rankings. We talk about a lot of useless shit around here, but rankings aren’t about to become one of them any time soon.