The MMA company (promotion? committee? club? girl scout troup? NAMBLA subsidiary?) recently released its first ever set of women’s rankings in order to show some love to the ladies who have been ignored up until now. WAMMA was supposedly against ranking women until Roxanne Modafferi reportedly wouldn’t get up from her seat in the front of the bus, even though she was supposed to sit in the back. I’m pretty sure she was the one who did that. Either way, WAMMA has since said, “Fuck it. We’ll make a goddamn list.”
The intention seems well placed. Women’s MMA is a microcosm for the sport as a whole; mixed martial arts has had to fight adversity for years just to get noticed and it is now exploding. But it took the confidence and help of diffierent people and organizations to bring MMA to where it is today — Spike TV, Bud Light, Jared Shaw*, and Lorenzo Fertitta all come to mind. WAMMA is looking to help out women’s MMA in some small way by recognizing the ladies on its super-duper and totally official monthly rankings.
Despite these good intentions, Sherdog’s Jordan Breen and Canon Jacques over at Bloody Elbow both kindly rip WAMMA several new assholes, albeit unintentionally. Comments from both guys after the jump, as well as more nonsense and tomfoolery from yours truly.
Here’s a snippet of Breen’s take on women’s rankings at the current juncture:
It’s my personal opinion that given the landscape of women’s MMA right now, it isn’t necessarily prudent to produce rankings. Beyond the pronounced fracturing of the talent pool and the fact it undermines the ability for top women to fight each other, there are severe logistical problems, the chiefest of which is weight divisions.
On top of arguably the biggest market for women’s MMA often employing garbled weight classes, there’s presently a disproportionate amount of women’s bouts in MMA that take place at catch-weights, as many women have yet to find their most suitable weight class, or because of the other most pressing issue: depth.
Here’s Jacques chiming in, silly name and all:
Certainly, at some point female mixed martial artists deserve to be ranked like their male counterparts. …This is not any sort of indictment of female MMA; it’s merely the reality of the situation.
Two conditions need to be met before any type of quality rankings can be produced. First, the pool of female talent must deepen. …Secondly, there must be much more adherence to a set of weight classes across promotions. …Weight does matter, especially when one is attempting to identify the top fighters at a given size.
If the product is merely a popularity contest or guesswork is too big a part of the process, the results are basically worthless. It goes back to development. Female MMA isn’t at a point where rankings can be made meaningful, in my opinion.
Both guys make solid points and you can see the problems just by looking at WAMMA’s rankings. Multiple women appear on all three sets of rankings, albeit in the “also receiving votes” section. For example, Tara LaRosa is on all three lists. Erin Toughill is ranked #6 at featherweight but has only had three fights in the past four years. Gina Carano was wearing a Catholic School girl outfit in my brain a few minutes ago. Wait, what?
While the problems with unstable weight divisions and talent pool depth are well articulated by Breen and Jacques, I don’t see how not ranking the ladies is a solution. The solution is to either cut the rankings down to a “top 5″ in each weight class or to formulate a pound-for-pound list.
If the female talent pool isn’t as deep as its male counterpart, it follows that the distinction of being a top 10 female featherweight doesn’t mean as much as being a top 10 male welterweight. Make the list a top 5 list and solve that problem. If the weight classes are an issue, rankings are subjective anyway so it’s not that big of a jump to do it pound-for-pound style instead. Realistically, fans and fighters alike are just looking for some subjective, arbitrary ranking so a pound-for-pound list would fill that void. Put Tara, Gina, Roxy, and Rosi all on the same list and the only people who will complain are some nitpicky MMA bloggers. Everyone knows those MMA bloggers are just whiny little fags with nothing better to do with themselves, anyway.
As a closing note, did I just type a long winded editorial on WAMMA’s rankings? Fuck. My. Life.
*J/K LOL IBS ROFL A/S/L AIDS