With the uncertainty of the Fox deal looming and the very real possibility the UFC may need to start from scratch with a different TV network, could such a change bring an end to the much-maligned UFC rankings and the seemingly arbitrary system it propagates?
When the UFC announced the Fox deal in 2011, there was a feeling of validation. The UFC had made it, or at least the company was well on its way. In many cases, this was correct. It created a mutually beneficial relationship between these two powerhouse companies.
With any meaningful relationship, there is a give and take, or an ebb and flow. One requirement of the deal was that Fox wanted a set of rankings. You know, just like college football on Saturday afternoon. These network suits had the opportunity to put their greasy fingerprints on a sport they can’t even begin to understand.
Former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva saw the writing on the wall. He was against a rankings system. He thought, among other things, that rankings would open “Pandora’s Box.” This sounds exactly like what we are experiencing in today’s MMA world.
Fighters have gotten to the point where they’re reluctant to take a fight with a guy ranked even so little as one or two spots below them. Even worse, some fighters just flat out refuse to fight certain guys. Back in the day, guys didn’t refuse fights. It just wasn’t a thing. It is, however, very much a thing now. The rankings are the deciding factor for most fighters when it comes to picking and choosing their fights.
So, if the UFC and Fox do part ways, will the ranking system become the main casualty from this failed marriage?
There is a strong possibility the rankings could go the way of the T-Rex if Fox is out of the equation. After all, the UFC begrudgingly developed the ranking system to make the corporate suits at big Fox happy. Given the opportunity, UFC President Dana White would love nothing more than to get rid of the entire failed experiment and pretend it never existed in the first place.
Of course, all this is mere speculation. However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If things don’t start heating up in the TV negotiations soon, the failed rankings could be Fox’s last mark on the sport of MMA.