The UFC’s matchmaking process is a closely guarded secret, but promotion president Dana White revealed that the official rankings are far from the deciding factor when putting fights together on the sport’s biggest stage.
The UFC rankings have been the subject of controversy at many points since they were introduced. Most notably, it was revealed in 2019 that many of the media members that vote on the UFC rankings do not even regularly cover the sport.
Every week the promotion updates its “official” rankings, which according to UFC President Dana White, are “very important” in the matchmaking process. So how does that explain the recently-postponed booking between No. 3-ranked Leon Edwards and No. 15-ranked Khamzat Chimaev.
Dana White talks about UFC rankings
Speaking to Laura Sanko during an online chat with ESPN+ subscribers Tuesday, White explained that, while rankings are considered, fan interest and engagement are also essential to making fights.
“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.”
White went on to discuss how the company keeps a close eye on statistics and the numbers that each fighter pulls in, which helps decide the types of fights fans want to see. The 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.”
The UFC rankings were introduced in 2013. The rankings are updated in the days after each UFC fight card, and generally feature some notable changes each time they’re updated. You can see the latest UFC rankings right here.
Purchase the UFC merch here.
To bet on an MMA event click here.