In my opinion, it would be nice to see the UFC use the rankings as an official tool to make fights. It could make cards a lot more interesting for both hardcore and casual fans. I'm sure a lot people would disagree with me, but it could help legitimize the sport as well/
It would have to start with an expended ranking list (top 25? depending on the division). Let's say #19 and #16 fight each other, one of them could enter the top 15 and make a nice climb. I think that these direct implications would make a fight seem more important than a fight between two unranked fighters. Apart from enjoying the fights, you also see directly what these guys are battling for.
Apart from an extended ranking, they could also make rules regarding matchmaking. Again, not sure what this would look like, but some rules could be
- Only guys within the top 3 are eligible to fight for the title.
- Top 15 fighters can only fight people that are less than 5 spots away from them in the ranking. Outside of the top 15, it should be around 7 spots.
- Fighters outside of the top 15 can move up/down max 7 spots in the ranking. Inside the top 15 it should be around 5 spots max.
- Newcomers (Alvarez for instance) should be ranked
- Newcomers (unranked) can fight any fighter outside the top 15
- Champions should defend their belt every 6 months, barring injury. In case of an injury/not enough prep time, this can be extended to 9 months max before there can be a fight for an interim belt, depending on the table for return. Interim champion becomes champion after two defenses.
I'm not sure how the ranking/voting itself should work - Whether it should be controlled by magazines/news sources, or in large by the UFC.