Making Sense of the Updated Athlete Rankings After UFC 244
UFC 244 also featured the successful middleweight debut of former welterweight title challenger Darren Till, who defeated top-five contender Kelvin Gastelum by split decision in the co-main event. Other highlights included big victories from fighters like Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson, Derrick Lewis, Kevin Lee, Corey Anderson and Katlyn Chookagian.
The official UFC rankings have been updated in the wake of this card, and as expected, there have been some big changes.
Did Masvidal's BMF title win actually mean anything for his station in the rankings? Where did Darren Till land at middleweight? Which fighters made the biggest climbs?
Let's take a closer look to unpack all of this and more.
Note: The men's flyweight, men's bantamweight, women's bantamweight and strawweight divisions did not experience any changes in the new UFC rankings. Weight classes are organized based on the significance of the changes to the rankings.
No. 1 Pound-for-Pound: Jon Jones
1. Jon Jones
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
3. Henry Cejudo
4. Stipe Miocic
5. Amanda Nunes
6. Daniel Cormier
7. Max Holloway
8. Israel Adesanya
9. Kamaru Usman
10. Tony Ferguson
11. Valentina Shevchenko
12. Conor McGregor
13. Dustin Poirier
14. Robert Whittaker
15. Tyron Woodley
The UFC's pound-for-pound rankings have not changed in the wake of UFC 244, but it's always interesting to review this most prestigious list and see who's positioned where.
Jon Jones still holds the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound pantheon, while his fellow champs Khabib Nurmagomedov, Henry Cejudo, Stipe Miocic and Amanda Nunes round out the top five.
Nobody on the pound-for-pound list was in action at UFC 244.
Champion: Kamaru Usman
1. Tyron Woodley
2. Colby Covington
3. Jorge Masvidal
4. Leon Edwards
5. Rafael Dos Anjos
6. Demian Maia
7. Santiago Ponzinibbio (up one spot)
8. Stephen Thompson (up one spot)
9. Nate Diaz (down two spots)
10. Anthony Pettis (up one spot)
11. Robbie Lawler (up one spot)
12. Ben Askren (up one spot)
13. Vicente Luque (up one spot)
14. Gilbert Burns (up one spot)
15. Geoff Neal (not previously ranked)
UFC 244's Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz BMF title fight had some bearing on the UFC welterweight rankings, but not in the way you might expect.
Masvidal did not move up the list on the strength of his win over Diaz, staying put at No. 3. Diaz did take a tumble, however, settling two spots down at No. 9.
Elsewhere in the UFC rankings, Stephen Thompson rose one spot thanks to his UFC 244 main-card defeat of Vicente Luque. He's now ranked eighth and could conceivably be matched up with Santiago Ponzinibbio, Rafael dos Anjos or Demian Maia next.
The biggest change to the welterweight rankings, however, can be attributed to Till's move to middleweight. His exit from the division, and its rankings, allowed a long list of his former rivals to climb one spot. It's also made room for the formerly unranked Geoff Neal to shoulder his way into the No. 15 spot.
Champion: Israel Adesanya
1. Robert Whittaker
2. Paulo Costa
3. Yoel Romero
4. Jared Cannonier (up 1 spot)
5. Darren Till (not previously ranked)
6. Jack Hermansson
7. Kelvin Gastelum (down 3 spots)
8. Ronaldo Souza (down 1 spot)
9. Derek Brunson (down 1 spot)
10. Edmen Shahbazyan (up 3 spots)
11. Ian Heinisch (down 2 spots)
12. Uriah Hall (down 2 spots)
13. Brad Tavares (down 2 spots)
14. Antonio Carlos Junior (down 2 spots)
15. Omari Akhmedov (down 1 spots)
Darren Till got the win he sought in his middleweight debut, defeating Kelvin Gastelum by split decision in the UFC 244 co-main event. But how valuable was this competitive triumph over the former interim title challenger?
Pretty darn valuable.
There will be no slog through the treacherous outer-reaches of the UFC middleweight rankings for the Brit. He's now ranked No. 5 in the middleweight division, and can look ahead to more huge fights, perhaps with the likes of Robert Whittaker or Jared Cannonier. Gastelum, meanwhile, has plummeted three spots to No. 7 and will have some work to do in order to re-enter the top five.
Till was not the only middleweight to climb after UFC 244. The 21-year-old Edmen Shahbazyan also moved up, settling three spots north of his previous station, at No. 10, all thanks to his first-round drubbing of Brad Tavares.
These big moves from Till and Shahbazyan caused a number of other top middleweights to fall, many of them two spots apiece.
Champion: Jon Jones
1. Daniel Cormier
2. Thiago Santos
3. Anthony Smith
4. Dominick Reyes
5. Corey Anderson (up 2 spots)
6. Jan Blachowicz (down 1 spot)
7. Alexander Gustafsson (down 1 spot)
8. Volkan Oezdemir
9. Glover Teixeira
10. Aleksandar Rakic
11. Johnny Walker
12. Ilir Latifi
13. Misha Cirkunov
14. Mauricio Rua
15. Nikita Krylov
Corey Anderson picked up arguably the biggest win of his career on the UFC 244 main card, smashing the highly hyped Johnny Walker inside the first round. He's been rewarded accordingly.
He's up two spots in the latest UFC rankings and can now call himself a top-five light heavyweight, and perhaps a future opponent for champ Jon Jones. His move up forced European stars Jan Blachowicz and Alexander Gustafsson down a spot each.
Outside of these changes, the UFC light heavyweight rankings are unchanged—but not without mysteries.
While former light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier remains one of the greatest fighters in the division's history, he's spent the last year competing as a heavyweight and has no plans to return to light heavyweight before he retires. If Till was cut from the welterweight rankings after moving to middleweight, why hasn't the heavyweight Cormier been removed at light heavyweight?
It's not a big deal, just the latest indication that the UFC rankings are fraught with inconsistency and seemingly governed by whim and fancy.
Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov
1. Tony Ferguson
2. Dustin Poirier
3. Conor McGregor
4. Justin Gaethje
5. Donald Cerrone
6. Paul Felder
7. Dan Hooker
8. Kevin Lee (up 2 spots)
9. Al Iaquinta (down 1 spot)
10. Edson Barboza (down 1 spot)
11. Anthony Pettis (up 1 spot)
12. Gregor Gillespie (down 1 spot)
13. Charles Oliveira
14. Alexander Hernandez
15. Islam Makhachev
The UFC lightweight rankings are looking quite different in the wake of UFC 244, and that's thanks primarily to Kevin Lee, who returned to the division to snuff the formerly unbeaten Gregor Gillespie on the main card.
With this win over Gillespie, Lee moved up two spots, settling at No. 8. In doing so, he surpassed Al Iaquinta, a man he lost a lopsided decision to less than a year ago, which frankly doesn't make any sense.
In defeat, Gillespie landed at No. 12, but he's probably more concerned with recovering from the brutal knockout he sustained in New York City than his place in the rankings.
Champion: Stipe Miocic
1. Daniel Cormier
2. Francis Ngannou
3. Curtis Blaydes
4. Junior Dos Santos
5. Derrick Lewis
6. Alistair Overeem
7. Alexander Volkov
8. Shamil Abdurakhimov (up 1 spot)
9. Walt Harris (up 1 spot)
10. Blagoy Ivanov (down 2 spots)
11. Aleksei Oleinik
12. Augusto Sakai (down 1 spot)
13. Sergei Pavlovich
14. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (not previously ranked)
15. Maurice Greene (down 1 spot)
UFC 244 featured two important heavyweight fights. One of them saw undefeated prospect Jairzinho Rozenstruik level the veteran Andrei Arlovski in fewer than 30 seconds. The other saw former title challenger Derrick Lewis rebound from two-straight losses with a hard-fought decision win over Blagoy Ivanov.
Rozenstruik's win over Arlovski was enough to earn him a spot in the rankings—and a short-notice fight with Alistair Overeem. He now sits at No. 14, while Arlovski has joined the masses of unranked heavyweights.
Lewis did not move up the heavyweight rankings for defeating Ivanov. Ivanov, however, tumbled down two spots, allowing Walt Harris and Shamil Abdurakhimov to climb one spot apiece.
Champion: Max Holloway
1. Alexander Volkanovski
2. Brian Ortega
3. Jose Aldo
4. Frankie Edgar
5. Zabit Magomedsharipov
6. Yair Rodriguez
7. Chan Sung Jung
8. Renato Moicano
10. Josh Emmett
11. Calvin Kattar
12. Shane Burgos
13. Mirsad Bektic
14. Arnold Allen (up 1 spot)
15. Ryan Hall (down 1 spot)
The only changes to the UFC featherweight rankings are unrelated to UFC 244. Arnold Allen and Ryan Hall have made a seemingly arbitrary switcheroo on the division's outermost precipice. That's it. Max Holloway is still the champion, Alexander Volkanovski is still the top contender. With Holloway and Volkanovski set to fight at UFC 245 in mid December, and Brian Ortega set to battle "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung in Busan, South Korea, a week later, however, the division could look very different by year's end.
Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
1. Katlyn Chookagian
2. Jessica Eye
3. Joanne Calderwood
4. Liz Carmouche
5. Jennifer Maia
6. Viviane Araujo
7. Andrea Lee
8. Lauren Murphy (up 1 spot)
9. Roxanne Modafferi (down 1 spot)
10. Maycee Barber
11. Alexis Davis
12. Montana De La Rosa
13. Antonina Shevchenko
14. Mara Romero Borella
15. Paige VanZant
There is not a lot of change to report in terms of the UFC women's flyweight rankings.
UFC 244 did feature an important women's flyweight fight as Katlyn Chookagian defeated Jennifer Maia by decision on the undercard, but Chookagian was already ranked No. 1 and can't climb any higher without unseating the champion, Valentina Shevchenko.
Having defeated Maia and reasserted herself as the division's top contender, Chookagian is likely to get that opportunity in 2020.
The only change to the UFC women's flyweight rankings are unrelated to UFC 244 and more or less indecipherable. Lauren Murphy, who has not fought since August, has moved up one spot, displacing Roxanne Modafferi, who has not fought since July.