Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 282
UFC 282, the promotion's final pay-per-view of 2022, went down on Saturday night in Las Vegas, which means it's time for another update to Bleacher Report's pound-for-pound rankings.
The card was topped by a light heavyweight clash between Jan Blachowicz—who has appeared on our men's list in the past—and Magomed Ankalaev, with the division's title on the line. Unfortunately, their fight ended with a split draw, which stripped it of any pound-for-pound relevancy.
To make matters worse, there were no other fighters in the entire lineup who are anywhere near the pound-for-pound conversation; certainly not unranked lightweights Paddy Pimblett and Jared Gordon, who met in the co-main event.
All that is to say not much has changed since we last updated these rankings, but given that this will be the final update of the year, this is a good opportunity to take stock of where we're at.
Keep scrolling to see how the table is set heading into 2023.
Men Nos. 10-6
10. Deiveson Figueiredo
9. Aljamain Sterling
8. Alex Pereira
7. Charles Oliveira
6. Leon Edwards
We'll be treated to a fight with serious pound-for-pound relevance right out of the gate in 2023 when flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo defends his belt against longtime rival Brandon Moreno. The two will meet in the main event of UFC 283 on January 21 in Brazil. No matter what happens in that fight, we're likely to see some movement on the back half of this list.
Bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling is also expected to fight early next year, apparently in March. At present, it's looking like his opponent will be Henry Cejudo, who retired near the top of most pound-for-pound lists in 2020. If that's the case, expect some movement in the rankings no matter the outcome of the fight.
Welterweight champ Leon Edwards is also targeting a March return, specifically at UFC 286 on his home turf in London. That bout could potentially be against former champion Kamaru Usman, who is still ranked in our top five. Regardless of whom he fights, there will be serious ramifications for our rankings.
Middleweight champ Alex Pereira is fresh off a win over Israel Adesanya and doesn't have a fight booked. Nor does former lightweight champ Charles Oliveira, who has not fought since he lost his title to Islam Makhachev in October.
Men: Nos. 5-1
5. Islam Makhachev
4. Francis Ngannou
3. Israel Adesanya
2. Kamaru Usman
1. Alexander Volkanovski
There's not a ton to report on this half of our men's pound-for-pound list.
In fact, only two of the five men listed above currently have fights booked...and they're fighting each other.
At UFC 284, set for February 11 in Perth, Australia, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will move up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev in a bid for a second belt.
Obviously, their fight will have mammoth implications for our list.
Beyond that, heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is still locked in a contract dispute with the UFC, and Israel Adesanya is still recovering from a middleweight title loss to Alex Pereira.
As we noted earlier, Kamaru Usman looks like the front-runner to challenge Leon Edwards for the welterweight belt at UFC 286 in March, but that's not a certainty yet.
Women: Nos. 10-6
10. Manon Fiorot
9. Ketlen Vieira
8. Amanda Lemos
7. Julianna Peña
6. Jéssica Andrade
Only two fighters in the back half of our women's list have fights booked: bantamweight contender Ketlen Vieira and former strawweight champ Jéssica Andrade.
Vieira is set to fight Raquel Pennington at a Fight Night card on January 14. Andrade will meet Lauren Murphy at flyweight at UFC 283, set for January 21 in the former's native Brazil. Neither Vieira nor Andrade is likely to gain any ground in these rankings with a win, but if either loses, things could definitely shuffle around a bit.
Manon Fiorot doesn't currently have a fight booked, but she was recently touted as the next woman in line for the flyweight belt by the champion herself, Valentina Shevchenko.
Amanda Lemos is also unbooked, but she just knocked out Marina Rodriguez last month, so that's not surprising. It's not clear when she'll fight again, but she might be next in line for a crack at strawweight champion Zhang Weili.
As for former bantamweight champion Julianna Peña: She hasn't fought since July, when she surrendered the title to Amanda Nunes—the same woman she beat to debut on this list last December.
Women: Nos. 5-1
5. Carla Esparza
4. Zhang Weili
3. Rose Namajunas
2. Amanda Nunes
1. Valentina Shevchenko
Nobody at the top of our women's list currently has a fight booked, which is definitely a bummer.
Former strawweight champ Carla Esparza hasn't fought since she was submitted by Zhang Weili last month, and neither woman has given much indication of when they'll be back in action. However, Zhang did recently call out our No. 1 fighter, flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko.
Rose Namajunas hasn't fought since she lost the belt with a forgettable split decision against Esparza in May.
Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes has been out of action since she reclaimed the title against Julianna Peña in July. It is also not evident when she will fight again, and given that retirement has seemingly been just around the corner for her for awhile, it will be interesting to see what she does next.
Shevchenko, as we mentioned, is also unbooked but recently targeted the aforementioned Manon Fiorot as her next title challenger.
One way or another, hopefully the UFC gets some of these women on the calendar in the first quarter of the new year.