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For a long time, UFC had no ranking system in place. Now, that it finally does, its ranking system is not so easy to understand. So, in this guide, we will explain in detail how do UFC rankings work.
UFC rankings work in a way that media members rank who they feel are the top fighters in each weight class (except the champion), and also a combined pound-for-pound ranking group for the promotion’s champions and other top fighters.
History of the UFC ranking system
The UFC rankings, which were introduced in February 2013, are generated by a voting panel made up of media members.
The media members are 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.
How are UFC rankings determined?
Even thou we now have UFC rankings, people, fighters, and many media outlets are not really satisfied with its system.
The official UFC rankings are voted on by select members of the MMA media. Their votes are averaged and the rankings are determined on a weekly basis. These kinds of rankings are notorious for being biased, inconsistent, and often very bad.
Too many times, challengers are determined by fighters who make the most money for the organization or the ones that have the most impressive win streaks. If a champion and other high ranking fighter have match-up history, that other fighter is sometimes moved up to challenger position.
Unfortunately, we have seen many times in history, that challengers become fighters that bring the most money for the organization. Sometimes they are more popular and better outside the ring, then inside, but people love them, and they will pay more to watch them, thus the organization is forcing them in a better position than they really deserve.
Lucky for us MMA lovers, those popular fighters are not popular without reason, they are usually good fighters. So even thou they sometimes progressing in the ranks faster then they should because of their popularity, they usually give us a good fight for the money.
In short, the rankings are a helpful system to help fans keep track of who’s in the mix, but they’re ultimately subsidiary to the potential profitability of select UFC matchmaking. Luckily, if a fighter continues winning against high-level competition, they gain popularity and become more marketable. So the fighters with the most skill still end up getting the most opportunities. At least that’s how it mostly works.
Here is the official statement on how are UFC rankings determined (you can find it here).
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.
What are the UFC divisions:
There are eight UFC weight divisions in the current ranking system for male fighters and four divisions for female fighters.
There is also a UFC champion for each category and they have to fight to defend that title once they hold it.
The Strawweight is women’s only division, and women also fight in the Bantamweight division as well as more recently Flyweight and Featherweight. Men do not fight in the Strawweight division but compete in all other eight categories.
UFC divisions are:
- Light Heavyweight
We also have a whole article on UFC divisions that you can read more about.
Who exactly are the members that vote in UFC rankings
Unfortunately, UFC isn’t particularly specified about who are the members that vote in UFC rankings. That as well is leading to people being angry with the organization about its fighters rankings.
MyMMANews, one of the voters in UFC rankings in the time of the writing, has an article about this particular topic.
They listed some journalists that, in that time, voted for UFC rankings, and also asked other MMA journalists to find out why they are not on the list.
In short, the answer they got was because those journalists worked for companies that didn’t want them to participate in the UFC ranking system. Those companies don’t like how UFC uses the rankings, to build fights, create pay structures, and other financial reasons.
Other journalists didn’t participate in the UFC ranking system due to the lack of transparency while ranking fighters.
Media Outlets That Vote in UFC Rankings
UFC has an official list of media outlets who’s journalists are voting in UFC rankings and we are bringing you them here, with a few words about every one of them (we had to remove few because they don’t seem to be active anymore).
Media Outlets That Vote in UFC Rankings:
- KHON Honolulu – KHON-TV, virtual channel 2 (VHF digital channel 8), is a dual Fox/CW-affiliated television station licensed to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate KHII-TV (channel 9). The two stations share studios at the Hawaiki Tower on Piikoi and Waimanu Streets in downtown Honolulu (between the Kaka’ako and Ala Moana districts); KHON’s main transmitter is also located downtown at the Century Center condominium/business complex (near Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, just northwest of the Hawaii Convention Center).
- MMA Oddsbreaker – The top mixed martial arts (MMA) Oddsmaker in the world, Nick Kalikas, provides a home for the latest betting odds and information on all things combat sports.
- CFMU 93.3 – CFMU-FM is a Canadian radio station, broadcasting at 93.3 FM in Hamilton, Ontario. It is a campus/community radio station owned and operated by the McMaster Students Union at McMaster University.
- FightNews – Fightnews.com®, has a mission to bring you the most current boxing news available. They strive to keep their news, rankings, schedules and results pages as accurate and up-to-date as possible. There is also a vibrant online community discussing everything boxing.
- Fight Network – Fight Network is a Canadian English language Category B specialty channel owned by Anthem Sports & Entertainment. The network broadcasts programming related to combat sports, including mixed martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, and professional wrestling.
- Gazeta Esportiva
- Cherokee Scout – The Cherokee Scout is a weekly newspaper in Murphy, North Carolina, and Cherokee County. It is one of the largest newspapers in far-west North Carolina. The newspaper won numerous awards from the North Carolina Press Association including news photography in 2016 as well as sports and religion reporting in 2016. The paper won second place in the “Best Niche Publication” category that year as well. In 2019, photographer Ben Katz won Hugh Morton Photographer of the Year in the Community Newspaper Division.
- MMA Weekly – MMAWeekly.com is a world leader in mixed martial arts news – including the UFC, Bellator, Invicta FC, One Championship, et al. – providing the latest news, interviews, videos, and more from around the globe.
- KIOZ 105.3 – KIOZ (105.3 FM, “Rock 105-3”) is a commercial radio station licensed to San Diego, California. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. and broadcasts an active rock music format. KIOZ’s studios are located in San Diego’s Serra Mesa neighborhood on the northeast side, and the transmitter is located in La Jolla.
- Wrestling Observer – The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) is a newsletter that covers professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Founded in print in 1982 by Dave Meltzer, the Wrestling Observer website merged with Bryan Alvarez’s Figure Four Weekly website in 2008. Issues are offered in print and digital. The newsletter is often considered the first “dirt sheet”, which is a wrestling publication which covers the art from a real-life perspective.
- Top Turtle Podcast – Gumby and Dave bring the world of MMA to your living room, car, or (God forbid) your bathroom! Come for their betting segment “3 Fights, 1 Parlay and 1 Dog” and stay for all of the comings and goings of MMA news, previews, and exclusive interviews.
- My MMA News – They cover everything from MMA, BJJ, Wrestling, Boxing, Kickboxing, and Judo. Also, they offer news, opinions, videos, radio shows, photos, and more.
- MMA Fight Radio – MMA Fight Coverage Arizona’s original expert source for MMA Presented by Nationwide Warranties
- BoxeoMundial – BoxeoMundial, Mecca of Boxing, is a page to inform you of the latest in Boxing, and AMM in English and Spanish. They have news sections, reports, exclusive interviews, photos, videos, discussion forums, and other related things.
- Kimura.se – Kimura.se is Sweden’s largest and leading site related to MMA and martial arts. Since 2009, Kimura.se has grown at a furious pace and its mission has always been to widen the interest in MMA so that it eventually becomes a people’s sport. By daily covering the world’s fastest-growing sport with good articles, interesting reports, and high-quality productions, they believe that their goal is best achieved.
- MMA Soldier
- MMA NYTT – MMANytt was founded back in 2009 in Sweden, and quickly became the biggest MMA news outlet in Sweden. Today, almost 10 years later they have grown internationally, with live coverage from Las Vegas, UK, and Sweden. Their team consists of the best journalist and editors.
- Blood & Sweat
- Inside Fighting Radio – Inside Fighting Radio hits the airwaves like a fist to your face every Saturday morning in South Florida at 9am ET on Sports Radio 1230 The Zone! Host and fight insider Scott “The Cube” Lewis, along with his co-hosts “Coach” George Adamia, Kenneth “The Paparazzi” Henratty and UFC veteran Steve “The Creepy Weasel” Montgomery bring you the latest news, interviews, and analysis from around the combat sports world. Covering mixed martial arts from the UFC, Bellator, Titan, Underground Cage Fighting Championships, and more, as well as Muay Thai kickboxing, Boxing, and Jiu-Jitsu.