Ever since Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) decided to unveil an official rankings system, fight fans around the globe have been more than critical of it.
Members of the mixed martial arts (MMA) media were given the responsibility of ranking the top 15 fighters in each weight class following every UFC event. And while the system hasn't been perfect (just look at these comments), the people levied with the task did their best and for the most part, the system served its purpose.
But that's all about to change.
UFC President Dana White revealed he is looking into handpicking a small, select group to take charge of the ranking process in order to improve it. And it's all due to the new deal the MMA promotion landed with Reebok.
From his conversation with MMA Fighting:
"I'm looking for a smaller group of people to be involved in the rankings. I want guys, legitimate guys who are very credible and ethical, we are going to work on that. Listen, I'm all about fair. I want what is fair for everybody. When you look at the deal, and getting the fighter the money and getting involved in this; a fighter can go out and fight this Saturday and have a set of sponsors, he will then go out two months later and have a completely different set of sponsors. We've seen that happen many times. With Reebok, every time they step in there, they are getting paid, just like they would from a sponsor. And they get 20 percent on the back end, anything that sells with their name on it, they are getting 20 percent of it. Now they are invested in something. It's almost like their own little business that they have. There is going to be individuality and different looks of things that fighters can put their own tweak on things. Is this thing going to be perfect right out of the gate? No. It's new and its's a work in progress but it's definitely a step in the right direction."
So, what exactly does this have to do with the Reebok?
Well, according to White, the promotion "will not make a dime" off the deal, as all of the money will be given to the fighters (explanation here). That's the top 15 fighters in each weight class, to be exact. Naturally, the champion will get the bulk of the cash, followed by No. 1, No. 2, and continuing on down the road.
Sure, fighters not in the top 15 will still get a slice of the pie, but it won't be as big as those who are ranked.
Once fighter uniforms (sneak peek) are issued next year, a fighter will no longer be able to walk down to the Octagon with any sponsor other than Reebok. Oh, and those sponsor-filled banners draped over the cage? Yeah, they're gone, too, says White.
It's important to note that a fighter can still keep their sponsors, they just won't be visible on fight night or fight week. But, as White assured his roster -- especially the up-and-comers -- the money they will receive off the Reebok deal will be more than they ever got off any sponsorship.
That means the money is guaranteed and they no longer have to go out and chase sponsorships, or in Matt Wiman's case, deal with "sleazy people."
Suddenly, being ranked No. 1 takes on a whole new meaning.