Showdown Joe: UFC Rankings Gimmick Doesn't Work

It’s been somewhat of a chaotic in the MMA Bubble this week, with a dearth of discussion surrounding rankings and how the UFC should be marketing fighters and making matchups.

All week on the Fightful MMA Podcast, there has been discussion about the UFC rankings, rumored bookings and do any of their titles truly mean anything.

I believe it was Frank Trigg who said it best when he stated the current rankings are basically a gimmick. They are not being used for one of their true purposes: match fighters up according to their placements on the various divisional lists. They are nice graphic to look at online and during weigh-ins or televised broadcasts. But basically, we don’t always get the matchups MMA truly deserves.

Case and point is Yoel Romero, who is the rightful challenger to Michael Bisping’s Middleweight Title. Instead, we are getting the money fight more fans will tune in to see than what the sport actually should have. Likely in July, we will get Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre.

As an MMA purist and somewhat of a combat sports traditionalist, part of me wants to see Bisping vs. Romero instead of Michael vs. Georges but as an entrepreneur myself, I understand why the UFC is booking the ladder instead of the former. I’ve said numerous times before and I’ll say it again: the UFC is not MMA; they are a business. And when running a business, it’s all about generating the maximum amount of revenue vs. expenses spent.

This is the reality of a sport that is run by entities and not governed by a democratic whole. I do not see any fault in how the UFC chooses to run their business. It’s their business and we are all consumers on the outside. Nothing less and nothing more.

Whether we all agree or disagree with each and everyone one of their moves means nothing to them, unless their profits are affected. And those vaults will continue to be filled from the revenue generated from money fights much more than bouts based on the ranking system “gimmick”.

So the art of creating money fights is a systematic equation that is built long before the bouts ever take place. And it’s not just the UFC who has a say. Believe it or not, the fighters and the fans have a say as well.

How many of you remember the UFC before Conor McGregor? Chael Sonnen? Brock Lesnar? Georges St-Pierre? Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz?

There have always been eras before each every one of these athletes ascended from making their octagon debuts to superstars in the sport. Each one of them, and many others, find a way to pass the hardcore fan base and penetrate the mainstream populus. And when they do, we get money fights instead of bouts according to rankings.

This is all a culmination of the MMA and mainstream media, as well as hardcore and mainstream fans. Once a fighter or matchup makes it outside of our bubbles, the UFC has likely already set the wheels in motion with fight offers, generated marketing materials, etc, etc. Believe me: they are steps ahead of us most of the time based on their analytics, paying close attention to what is resonating outside of their offices and priming up the money making machine.

They know the numbers. And so do we. But they aren’t complaining like a small majority in the MMA bubble. And like Trigg also said on this week’s podcast, if any one of us, you and I were in the same position as the UFC is, you would do the exact same thing, no matter how much money you have already made. Once you make that bread, and can see how potentially easy it is to make more of that bread, you stick with what works.

Ask any bar owner out there as well, which bout they would like to see broadcast in their establishment? Remember, they also want a packed Saturday night crowd with people buying up food and booze while the fights are going off. They won’t get that with many ranked fights, but they sure as heck will, with money fights.

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