UFC and Fightmetric team up to compile UFC rankings

February 1, 2013

The UFC and Fightmetric have teamed together to offer UFC fighter rankings.  The rankings will include selected MMA media members voting on the rankings.

Via UFC press release:

“We are thrilled to have UFC recognize our fighter rankings and to have them hosted on UFC.com, as well as incorporated into event broadcasts. FightMetric has worked closely with the UFC for several years as an industry-leader in MMA statistics. Sports fans are accustomed to seeing performance data and rankings on their favorite baseball, football and soccer players, and now we can engage UFC fans on a similar level,” said FightMetric creator Rami Genauer.

“UFC Fighter Rankings are a great tool for new and existing fans alike to learn and better keep up with the fast pace of the UFC,” said UFC President Dana White. “We always look for opportunities to engage fans and media, allowing them to connect and voice their opinions, and this just one more way of doing that.”

Media members will vote for top fighters, currently active in the UFC, by weight class and pound-for-pound. A fighter can only appear in one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champions of each division are set in the first and second positions respectively and are not eligible for voting by media. However, champions can be voted on for the pound-for-pound rankings. Media voting is by invitation only and interested media members can apply at UFC.com/Rankings.

Payout Perspective:

Congratulations to Rami Genauer at Fightmetric on the new endeavor.  To learn more about him and his company, we interviewed him back in September 2010.  The fighter rankings creates a closed universe for the UFC as the rankings would include only UFC fighters.  Allowing media members a vote gives the rankings an appearance of impartiality.  Obviously, not all media members will be chosen to vote. In fact, 90 were invited and it appears that others can apply.  This process has been a bone of contention among MMA media.  Everyone loves lists so the rankings may be good for that.  At least, with Fightmetric, we will have some statistical information to go upon.  But, what does this really do for the fights that are made when we know its up to the Zuffa trust?

Fedor, Lesnar in Business Week's Top 100

January 28, 2010

The annual BusinessWeek Power 100: Most Powerful Athletes was published this week and caught the interest of the MMA industry by naming Fedor Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar to the list, in addition to boxers Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shane Mosley.

Athlete Rankings of note:

72. Manny Pacquiao
82. Fedor Emelianenko
91. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
93. Shane Mosley
96. Brock Lesnar

BusinessWeek provides the following insight into its methodology:

The Power 100 rankings are based on a blended mix of athletes’ “on-field” and “off-field” performance to determine which athletes are having the greatest overall impact in the world of sports. On-field scoring is determined by statistically ranking each athlete’s sports performance within his or her peer group over a two-year period. For each sport, key performance metrics include such measures as points scored, money earned, laps lead, and batting average, to name a few. This ranking is then adjusted by the overall popularity of the sport itself, based on an index of fan avidity and TV viewership. The off-field scoring is developed from hundreds of surveys on athletes and how the general public perceives them. The data was compiled by E-Poll Market Research, a leading provider of custom research services and products for entertainment and media companies, using their E-Score® Celebrity database. Athlete rankings are based on such attributes as awareness, appeal, trustworthiness, and influence. In addition, the amount of endorsement dollars each athlete earns rounds out the off-field ranking.

Payout Perspective:

The methodology is there to provide some semblance of objectivity to the rankings, but there are too many head-scratchers on the list for it to have any true meaning.

To be fair, it’s very difficult to produce a rankings list of this sort, because it really becomes a question of how to weight on and off-field accomplishments. There’s also more than likely a political element involved when considering what sports and athletes to include on the list.

I think the larger takeaway here is simply that MMA fighters were considered on the list – irrespective of their positioning. It demonstrates just how far the sport has come in the last ten years.

MMAPayout.com's 2009 Power Rankings

December 30, 2009

Welcome to MMAPayout.com’s 2009 Power Rankings!

This year’s edition features a slightly new format that considers the gross pay-per-view and gate revenue generated by each fighter in both main and co-main events. The revenue generated by an event will be split 70-30 between the main and co-main events for any given show. The switch was made to include co-main events because the appeal of many PPV shows is no longer singularly driven by the main event; fights like UFC 97, UFC 100, UFC 101, UFC 107, etc. all featured strong co-main events.

Fighter PPV* Gate Total Events
BJ Penn $73,080,000 $6,538,000 $79,618,000 3
Frank Mir $58,770,000 $4,039,943 $62,809,943 2
Brock Lesnar $50,400,000 $3,589,943 $53,989,943 1
Georges St-Pierre $46,800,000 $4,541,547 $51,341,547 2
Lyoto Machida $35,752,500 $3,619,310 $39,371,810 2
Rich Franklin $34,335,000 $3,500,000 $37,835,000 3
Anderson Silva $32,625,000 $4,495,000 $37,120,000 2
Kenny Florian $28,350,000 $2,485,000 $30,835,000 1
Mauricio Shogun $24,525,000 $2,809,165 $27,334,165 2
Forrest Griffin $23,962,500 $3,167,275 $27,129,775 2
Rashad Evans $20,002,500 $2,280,145 $22,282,645 1


*Note that the rankings consider gross revenue – the UFC receives about half of the actual PPV revenue generated by any given event.

Observe the change in position of MMA of the UFC’s fighters from the 2008 rankings:

Fighter PPV* Gate Total Events
Brock Lesnar $55,687,500 $5,753,096 $61,440,596 3
Forrest Griffin $50,085,000 $4,773,419 $54,858,419 2
Rashad Evans $48,195,000 $4,247,908 $52,442,908 2
Georges St-Pierre $36,382,500 $5,146,400 $41,528,900 2
Frank Mir $33,075,000 $2,747,055 $35,822,055 2
BJ Penn $22,050,000 $3,487,400 $25,537,400 2
Antonio Nogueira $22,275,000 $1,771,899 $24,046,899 2
Anderson Silva $19,687,500 $3,535,000 $23,222,500 2
Joe Stevenson $19,237,500 $2,319,703 $21,557,203 2
Patrick Cote $16,740,000 $3,000,219 $19,740,219 2
Rich Franklin $13,635,000 $2,310,000 $15,945,000 2


The results are obviously influenced by the host of factors that impede a fighter from entering the cage regularly, but in combining the results over the last two years we get to see which fighters are consistently involved in the highest grossing events. (Note: fighters that had less than 3 headlining fights were omitted for obvious reasons.)

  2008 – 2009  
Fighter Total Events
Brock Lesnar $112,782,143 4
BJ Penn $105,155,400 5
Frank Mir $98,631,998 4
Georges St-Pierre $92,870,447 4
Forrest Griffin $81,988,194 4
Rashad Evans $74,725,553 3
Anderson Silva $60,342,500 4
Rich Franklin $53,780,000 5


 Predicting 2010

St-Pierre and Mir will likely become the early favorites to lead 2010 in generated gross revenue, but BJ Penn and Lyoto Machida may not be far behind with big fights rumored for each of them in April and May, respectively.

Anderson Silva’s talent should ensure that he continues to develop as a credible draw. Although it’s too bad he was unable to jump back into the cage soon after his destruction of Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 – that momentum and another stellar performance would have put him over the top.

The wild cards here are Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Rich Franklin. Griffin lost a lot more than the fight when he was crumpled by Anderson Silva – his drawing ability saw a dramatic decrease at UFC 106. Evans simply hasn’t competed a great deal, but he could revive much of his drawing ability should he defeat Thiago Silva at UFC 108 and set up the long awaited match between he and Rampage Jackson sometime in May or June. Franklin, isn’t a contender at either the 185 or 205 weight classes, but still retains the name value from his reign as middleweight champion to be an effective secondary draw on occasion.

Possible New Entrants?

Shane Carwin – The heavyweight could easily make next year’s rankings if he is able to defeat Frank Mir in their rumored interim heavyweight title bout this Spring. It would assure him another headlining date – possibly against Brock Lesnar.

Jon Jones – The talented newcomer is set to headline his first show – albeit a cable show on Versus – in March, but could easily land in a main or co-main event role by Summer 2010.  He’s too dynamic not to feature, and the UFC has big plans for this kid.

Kenny Florian – Likely the second best lightweight in the UFC, he’s a virtual guarantee – barring injuries – to be a main or co-main on the UFC PPV in Boston next August. Expect him to fight three times in 2010, and perhaps even challenge for the title once more.

Honorable mentions: Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, Cain Velasquez, Rampage Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt, and Dan Hardy.

Rashad Evans and the Business of MMA

October 9, 2009

5thround.com reported that Rashad Evans turned down a fight with Randy Couture in order to pursue a matchup with Thiago Silva:

“That was a matchup that I didn’t think was good for me,” Evans recently told MMAFanHouse. “He’s 46 years old and coming off back-to-back losses as a heavyweight, and I feel like beating him wouldn’t move me up the rankings as a light heavyweight. Plus, I would have had to take that fight on short notice, in England, and it felt like I’m being punished because Rampage took a movie.

Payout Perspective:

Rashad Evans is one of the best 205 lbs. fighters in the world but in passing on Randy he betrays a deep misunderstanding of what moves MMA business.

Seriously, if you’re offered a fight with Randy Couture, it’s a no-brainer.  I don’t care if he has five losses in a row: it’s RANDY COUTURE!  You take the fight.

I don’t even know how to respond to the idea that a win over Thiago Silva would be a greater benefit to one’s career than a win over the Natural.

The only rational basis for Evans to have turned down the Couture fight is if Evans — for whatever reason — believed he wouldn’t be ready for Randy in December.

If Evans’s thought process is genuinely along the lines of “a win over Randy means less than a win over Thiago,” well, then, Rashad’s been receiving terrible career counsel (or perhaps has tweaked his nipples one too many times).

A win over Randy Couture might very well have directly led to another title shot;  a win over Thiago Silva, on the other hand, is probably insufficient to take Evans there by itself.

Rashad’s loss has become Brandon Vera’s gain.

WAMMA's September Rankings

September 3, 2009

The World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts – WAMMA – has re-emerged from MMA’s graveyard in recent weeks to make a series of announcements related to new business partnerships and staff restructuring. Then the organizaiton took another step forward on Monday in announcing their latest series of MMA rankings.

Below is an abridged copy of their release:


(August 31, 2009) –- The World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) today released the August rankings for its Men’s Division, the first set of rankings released under newly appointed Rankings Committee Chairman Andrew Falzon.

“We are very fortunate to have such an extensive panel of rankers,” said Falzon. “This broad contingent of contributors has established the WAMMA rankings as the most comprehensive rankings in the sport of MMA.”

WAMMA’s combined panel of rankers represent a wide spectrum of the MMA media, CBSSportsline.com, ESPN’s MMA Live!, Fox News Fight Game with Mike Straka, FoxSports.com, MMA Fanhouse, Sirius Fight Club Radio, Sports Illustrated, The Calgary Sun Newspaper and The Fight Network.

The rankings are available online at: www.GoWAMMA.com/rankings

Payout Perspective:

It’s still way too early to tell whether WAMMA will be a success this time around. The organization has taken some positive steps in the past few weeks, but many questions remain as to how they will use their new partnership with Brand Asset Digital; or what kind of world body they plan to be without the cooperation of the world’s largest MMA promotion, the UFC.

The idea of fighter rankings is a quite interesting one. They don’t necessarily add value from a sporting perspective in the sense that they’re rarely influential – especially within a sport that’s far from fully developed and mature (although I suppose that this is WAMMA’s ultimate goal). However, they do act as a lightning rod for debate amongst MMA enthusiasts, which helps to draw interest and attention for the sport through publicity and media discussion.

The problem that I have with rankings is well summarized in the following criteria item for WAMMA’s rankings, something pretty common amongst all rankings:

2. Quality of wins

What caliber of opponent has fighter’s wins come against? Greater credit should go to a fighter who has a win over a fighter widely viewed as top ten. A certain degree should be considered for an opponent viewed as top 15 and adjusted accordingly for top 20, top 25, etc.

What fashion is a fighter recording his wins? Is he dominant against his opponents? Is he able to finish his opponents? A fighter that can finish fights in a dominant fashion on a consistent basis should be viewed as one that is separating himself from others.

What if these “widely viewed” opponents are also frauds?

It sort of creates a self-perpetuating cycle of deception whereby fighters can build their ranking through a record mirage of cans and victories over opponents that are similarly over-hyped.

Subjectivity doesn’t just exist in the way panelists evaluate fighter skill, but also the way they evaluate degree of competition in the context of the promoting organization. Some people consider MMA’s top competition to only consist of those fighters in the UFC; while others are perhaps more generous with fighters that fight out of the UFC than they normally would be if said fighter were in the UFC.

Scott Smith and Robbie Lawler are pretty good examples of fighters that were run out of the UFC, yet they’ve also been given a ton of respect from the MMA community simply from their headlining matches in EliteXC.

There’s also the argument that the sport of MMA itself doesn’t mesh well with rankings; rather, rankings are simply just another antiquated carry over from the sport of boxing. Why? MMA is unique in the sense that anything can happen at any moment; and, especially when you get to the top 5-10 guys in most divisions, anyone can beat anybody. Is the guy at #4 really better than the guy at #5? Does it even matter?

Moreover, the rate of ascension and decline in a fighter’s ability is staggering. In just over a year, Chuck Liddell went from being the toast of the UFC to a forced retirement. A win over Chuck Liddell today doesn’t really mean anything – certainly not as much as it would have two years ago. It also begs the question, was Chuck ever as good as most proclaimed? If so was his ranking as #1 in the LHW division more accurately a reflection of his association with the UFC and not his true status within the worldwide division?

Rankings attempt to apply a static, consistent, and all-encompassing formula to a very short-term, fluid, and “what have you done for me lately?” type of sport.

Matchmakers are more concerned with who a fighter has beaten in the last year, how convincing were those victories, and in what context were those victories significant within the division. It doesn’t matter what a fighter’s record is or who he beat three years ago.

And, to me, this raises another interesting question in regards to WAMMA: can they base their organization on an antiquated system, will they shift the focus away from their rankings, or will they find a new formula that better fits the sport of MMA?

Since MMAPayout.com has been encouraging discussion and commentary lately,  I expect this to fuel further debate.