WAMMA, BAMMA, NO THANK YOU MA’AMA
A couple of weeks back, I received (second hand, mind you) a release from an organization called WAMMA (World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts) trumpeting their new ratings for the month of August. This crew, which is headed up by s former FBI agent, is, I suppose, is trying to establish itself as accepted authority of sorts on ratings and titles, along the lines of what Ring Magazine has been trying to re-establish for itself (with mixed results - but that’s a LONG story) in the world of boxing.
On balance, I think the WAMMA ratings are a nice thing. They should actually be kind of a harmless thing. They give another perspective on who the best fighters in each weight division are, especially since the UFC does not issue official rankings. But I’m not sure you want to get carried away with all this. Remember, it’s just one perspective among many, many perspectives. You also have ratings made available by Sherdog and other mixed martial arts publications, and could probably get dozens and dozens of ratings lists from people if you just asked them for it.
I just hope WAMMA doesn’t get crazy and start thinking it is going to install itself as “official” ratings for the entire sport, by attempting to find an impressionable ear somewhere in the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to push this through as another of those “innovative” ideas, or worse yet, as part of a legislative mandate through some federal bill. After all, there are many ABC members who DO impressions; they are sometimes very good at imitating real, live public servants.
As ridiculous as this concept may sound to you, there have been half-hearted attempts to do it in boxing. And there is a certain precedent as well, because even though many boxing people (including most regulators themselves) don’t seem to be aware of it, sanctioning bodies like the WBA and WBC started out as nothing more than associations between boxing commissions.
But as this point, an official national ranking of mixed martial arts fighters would REALLY be going too far. Can you imagine - the United States government rating fighters?
Next thing you know, somebody will be looking to the government to subsidize losing pay-per-view ventures or rescue failing promoters, the way that they are bailing out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
This all sounds pretty trite, and was meant that way, until I found out that WAMMA made a presentation at the latest ABC meeting that was held in Montreal. I can’t think of any reason they may have been there other than to get their foot in the door as a way of eventually garnering some sort of recognition by the ABC. You can not forget that the ABC has for years granted an exclusive “record keeping” license to one company in boxing, and is doing that with another group for MMA. It may not seem inconceivable to some that if they are controlling that kind of thing they would do the same for ratings that would be “recognized” by every jurisdiction.
The standard has been set for giving such license to a private business, as has been done with Fight Fax, the record-keepers in boxing, and that company has felt a certain amount of entitlement toward such exclusivity ever since, with opportunistic regulators like Greg Sirb of Pennsylvania running interference for them along the way. The reasons for that became clearer over time, especially when it was revealed that in John McCain’s bill to take over federal oversight of boxing there was the provision for a big chunk of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the keeping of fighters records and medical records. Gee, why not ratings? Remember, WAMMA has positioned itself as a commercial business.
Yes, a commercial business. And that’s what starts to worry me, within this particular context, as you’ll find out in Part Two of this mini-series.