Monday, March 1, 2021

Dana White Addresses Whether Rankings Matter In UFC Matchmaking

Dana White stands firm that the rankings do matter in the UFC, but admits it isn’t the only factor in the matchmaking process.

There have long been debates about the significance of the UFC rankings. Do they matter? If so, why are number-one contenders sometimes skipped over in favor of more popular fighters? The topic even came up during a 2017 congressional hearing about the Ali Act, with a congressman questioning UFC executive Marc Ratner about the UFC’s ranking system and matchmaking process.

MMA Fighting's 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year: Khamzat Chimaev - MMA  Fighting
Khamzat Chimaev, Zuffa LLC

UFC welterweight Khamzat Chimaev has been a recent example of how the UFC’s matchmaking process does not always coincide with the rankings, as Chimaev is currently ranked #15 in the division and yet he has been paired to face #3-ranked Leon Edwards. While fielding questions during a recent Q&A session, Dana White addressed the topic of how the UFC rankings factor into matchmaking.

“Obviously the rankings are very important,” White said. “We always try to stay with the rankings, and it’s always awesome when you have the champion vs. the No. 1, or No. 1 vs. No. 2. But you’ve seen many times when there’s a fight people want to see, we’ll make it.”

The UFC rankings certainly have an effect on matchmaking in general. Evidence of this can be found in the reasoning many fighters have for accepting/rejecting fights based on if the risk matches the reward based on rankings. However, there seems to be more attention drawn to the big fights that do not jibe with the rankings. When these fights are made, Dana White claims that it is because of data that proves it’s a fight that the public has a high interest in seeing, such as a fight like Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards.

“We know every number and every little detail that goes into making a fight like that,” White said. “All the kids that came off the Contender Series, I know how many people watched their fights on the Contender Series, and it keeps updating because it stays in the system.”

How much do you think the UFC rankings matter in the promotion’s matchmaking process?