Elite XC did a lot of things wrong. The list of failures has been chronicled so many times that even interviews with wannabes like $kala seem pointless and unwanted now. However, the now deceased promotion did do one thing right. They stepped forward and promoted women’s MMA like no other show had ever done before. Of course, Gina Carano, “the face of women’s MMA,” had a lot to do with it as well.

Now, the World Alliance of MMA, or WAMMA for short, is trying to take the next step for women’s MMA and put out rankings. For their inaugural rankings, the committee listed a top ten for 145 lbs, 135 lbs, and 125 lbs, which they call featherweight, super bantamweight, and bantamweight respectively.

At featherweight there is a tie for the number one spot between Gina Carano and her future nemesis Cristiane Santos. The tie sets up a clear contest for the WAMMA strap and pony show, but it also illustrates an inherent flaw in these rankings.

Voting rule number 2 states, “A fighter gets ranked in most recent weight class only, unless he holds a title, in which case he is ranked in both his championship class, as well as the one he is competing in.” Let’s ignore the gender specific language for a second and look at the effect of this rule. If the committee were to follow this rule neither Carano nor Santos should be ranked at featherweight since their previous fights took place in the Gary Shaw division of 140 lbs. In fact all of Carano’s fights in Elite XC have come at the class.

This weight issue also highlights another issue with ranking women’s MMA. Due to the limited number of females competing in the sport, many fighters jump around in weight. Tara LaRosa, who is widely considered the top female fighter, received votes for each of WAMMA’s weight classes. The 16-1 fighter is ranked first at super bantamweight, but she is in the “others receiving votes” category for the other two weight classes.

With all the fighters jumping around in weight it is difficult to come up with constructive or cohesive rankings, which is why many of the major media outlets have stayed away from ranking women’s MMA. Until weight classes are normalized these rankings will be nothing more than unnecessary confusion for the pollsters and fans.

Here is another example that will make your head spin. In her next fight, Cristiane Santos will fight Hitomi Akano who is ranked seventh at 135 lbs, but the fight will take place at 145 lbs. In addition to this numbers headache, Akano has spent the bulk of her career competing in the Japanese promotion Jewels, formerly known as SmackGirl, which promotes 106 lb, 115 lb, 128 lb, and open weight classes. Which begs the question, how did she end up seventh at 135 lbs?

Moving away from weight class concerns, if WAMMA wants their rankings to be taken seriously they need to refrain from having fighters on their rankings committee. Six of the nineteen pollsters are actually female fighters and five of them are ranked in the WAMMA rankings. Since titles are being awarded, neutrality is a must. On the men’s side there are no fighters on the rankings committee and that is the way it should be. Could you imagine Tito Ortiz’s light heavyweight top ten?

The growth of Women’s MMA has been great for the sport and it would be great if women’s rankings were as ubiquitous as men’s. However, the female version of the sport has not reached that level yet. It does not mean women are not real fighters or do not deserve the attention. On the contrary, it means that there needs to be more attention paid to these fighters, so that in the future, useful rankings can be made. Until that happens, fans who crave women’s top ten lists will have to deal with the headaches that will come with WAMMA.

By:  Richard Mann

One thought on “WAMMA’s first shot at female rankings raise eyebrows”
  1. I do not find it cause to “raise eyebrows” or become concerned at the WAMMA’s attempt to raise interest in female MMA by providing female rankings. The popularity of the sport has indicated that females are becoming fans as well, and the demand for following female MMA is growing as well. Just as the the popularity of basketball progressed, they introduced the WNBA. It may not be as popular as the men’s league, but giving females the opportunity to excel in the sport is a good decision.

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