Fifteen votes will determine the new rankings for Bellator MMA in every weight category.
The organization officially released its fighter rankings panel on Thursday via press release, which will allow for 15 MMA media members to select the top-10 fighters in each Bellator division: heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight, women's featherweight and women's flyweight. Beyond selecting fighters from seven men’s categories and two for women, the voters will be picking pound-for-pound fighters for both men and women. Bellator will be using a third-party firm called Combat Registry to count the votes and prepare the lists, which will come from votes following every Bellator event. Sherdog.com was asked to join the panel, but opted not to participate in the process.
Twenty percent of the panel will be constituted of MMA Junkie staff members, with George Garcia, Nolan King and John Morgan participating. MMA Weekly will have the second-largest individual pull of any one outlet, with both Jeff Cain and Ken Pishna representing. CBS Sports, the broadcast partner of Bellator, will also include on voting member, with Brian Campbell receiving a vote. FanSided will have a say on the process, with Amy Kaplan voting. The remaining media companies allowing their staff to participate include Claro Sports, KHON Hawaii, The MMA Report, South China Morning Post, Newsday, TASS Russia, Fightful MMA and Cageside Press.
The inaugural rankings list will drop shortly before Bellator 255 on April 2. Champions of their respective divisions will automatically sit stop the list in their weight category, or in the case of Patricio Freire, categories. Fighters will be eligible to be ranked after their first Bellator match. Inactivity will disqualify a fighter from the rankings list after 15 months without competing. In the event of a fighter retiring, the competitor will still be eligible to be ranked for two months after their retirement, and then Bellator will make the determination on if the retired fighter can remain.
Should a fighter be suspended for non-medical reasons for at least six months, they will not be allowed to be ranked. Bellator will assume control over whether a fighter should be ranked in a specific weight category, and tournaments will not remove a fighter from the rankings in their other weight group – for example, Ryan Bader could be ranked at light heavyweight while also staying the champion at heavyweight. The 15-month inactivity provision applies to fighters that change weight classes, as long as a fighter has fought in that other division at least once.
As it stands, Bellator reserves the right to determine the final list of eligible fighters that can be ranked. This potential restriction as to how many fighters will be provided in each selection process is yet unclear, even though Bellator stated that a fighter should be eligible for rankings as long as they have competed at least once in the Bellator cage. In comparison, the Ultimate Fighting Championship does not allow for its official rankings panel to vote on every fighter in any given weight class, and instead limits voters to a specific number of possible selections.
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