UFC Rankings: Conor McGregor Drops in Latest Update
The official UFC rankings have been updated in the fallout of Saturday's UFC on ESPN+ 22 card in Sao Paulo, Brazil. While this card caused a few noteworthy changes to the rankings, the biggest rankings shake-up is totally unrelated to the action in Brazil: Former two-division champion Conor McGregor has taken a significant and mysterious tumble down the UFC's prestigious pound-for-pound list.
Between McGregor's surprising fall and the changes caused by the UFC on ESPN+ 22 card—most notably in the middleweight, light heavyweight, and women's strawweight divisions—we have plenty to unpack with respect to these new UFC rankings.
Let's take a closer look at the new rankings and try to make sense of it all.
Note: The strawweight, men's flyweight, men's bantamweight, women's bantamweight, men's featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and heavyweight divisions did not experience any changes. 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. Tony Ferguson
10. Kamaru Usman
11. Valentina Shevchenko
12. Dustin Poirier
13. Robert Whittaker (^1)
14. Conor McGregor (∨2)
15. Tyron Woodley
There were no members of the UFC's pound-for-pound top 15 in action at UFC on ESPN+ 22—no surprise for a Fight Night card.
That being said, this illustrious list has changed in the fallout of the event, and in a way that can not be easily deciphered.
Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker climbed one spot to No. 13, despite the fact that he was knocked out by No. 8 fighter Israel Adesanya in his last fight.
More notably, former two-division champ Conor McGregor tumbled down two spots, settling at No. 14—just two spots away from a total exit from the list and, in the eyes of MMA's more merciless fans, obscurity.
McGregor's drop is a bit of a head-scratcher.
While it's true that he hasn't fought in over a year—which is often cause for complete removal from the rankings, rather than a demotion—he has been linked to a widely anticipated comeback fight on January 18, most likely against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.
At this point, we know that the UFC rankings are seriously lacking in terms of integrity. We've seen countless fighters make inexplicable climbs ahead of big fights, and most of the time, it's pretty obvious that the UFC is hoping to promote that fighter.
Given that pattern, and given that McGregor will soon be returning to the cage, it's very surprising to see him make this seemingly arbitrary fall. If anything, you'd think the promotion would be pushing its shadowy rankings panel to move McGregor up the list, not down it.
But hey, the UFC rankings rarely ever make sense. At least that much is consistent.
Champion: Israel Adesanya
1. Robert Whittaker
2. Paulo Costa
3. Yoel Romero
4. Jared Cannonier
5. Darren Till
6. Jack Hermansson
7. Kelvin Gastelum
8. Derek Brunson (^1)
9. Edmen Shahbazyan (^1)
10. Ian Heinisch (^1)
11. Uriah Hall (^1)
12. Brad Tavares (^1)
13. Antonio Carlos Junior (^1)
14. Omari Akhmedov (^1)
15. Anderson Silva (not previously ranked)
No division's rankings underwent more changes after UFC on ESPN+ 22 than middleweight. A whopping eight fighters moved up the middleweight list after the card, including Sao Paulo's own Anderson Silva, who re-entered at No. 15.
Amazingly, none of those climbing fighters—not even the hometown hero Silva—competed in Sao Paulo.
So how did this happen? What sorcery is at work here?
It's all thanks to Jacare who, after a long career at middleweight, made his light heavyweight debut in the UFC Sao Paulo main event.
Lately, the UFC has had a policy of bouncing fighters from a division's rankings the moment they leave said division. Just as Darren Till was evicted from the welterweight rankings days after his middleweight debut, Jacare was cut from the middleweight rankings after his first fight at light heavyweight.
At a glance, this policy makes plenty of sense. Unfortunately, it's followed loosely at best. Daniel Cormier has spent his last three fights in the heavyweight division, and will seemingly never return to light heavyweight, yet he's still ranked in his former division.
Clearly, there are no hard-and-fast ranking rules being followed here.
Champion: Jon Jones
1. Thiago Santos (^1)
2. Daniel Cormier (∨1)
3. Anthony Smith
4. Dominick Reyes
5. Corey Anderson
6. Jan Blachowicz
7. Alexander Gustafsson
8. Volkan Oezdemir
9. Glover Teixeira
10. Aleksandar Rakic
11. Johnny Walker
12. Ilir Latifi
13. Misha Cirkunov
14. Nikita Krylov (^1)
15. Ronaldo Souza (not previously ranked)
Jacare may have been ejected from the middleweight rankings, but he can now call himself a ranked light heavyweight. Despite coming up short in his debut in the division in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 22, he's now its 15th-ranked fighter, which means he can look forward to more big fights at 205 pounds.
His entrance into the rankings, of course, means somebody else had to exit.
That somebody is former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Evidently, his battling Paul Craig to a draw in the UFC on ESPN+ 22 co-main event was not enough to convince voters that he is one of the 15 best light heavyweights on the company's roster.
Outside of these changes, which are a clear result of the action in Sao Paulo, there are a few unrelated changes to discuss.
At the upper end of the division, Brazil's Thiago Santos climbed one spot, settling right behind the champ Jon Jones at No. 1. The former champ Cormier, who is now firmly embedded in the heavyweight division, dropped a spot, making an impact at No. 2.
It's hard to say why this happened. Santos hasn't fought since he lost to Jones in July, and as we've covered, Cormier doesn't even fight at light heavyweight anymore.
Champion: Valentina Shevchenko
1. Katlyn Chookagian
2. Jessica Eye
3. Joanne Calderwood
4. Liz Carmouche
5. Jennifer Maia
6. Viviane Araujo
7. Lauren Murphy (^1)
8. Roxanne Modafferi (^1)
9. Andrea Lee (∨2)
10. Maycee Barber
11. Alexis Davis
12. Montana De La Rosa
13. Antonina Shevchenko
14. Mara Romero Borella
15. Paige VanZant
Musical chairs. That's the best way of describing what's happened to the middle of the women's flyweight rankings. Andrea "KGB" Lee dropped two spots to No. 9, making room for Roxanne Modafferi and Lauren Murphy to climb a spot apiece, landing at No. 8 and No. 7, respectively.
None of these women have fought recently, so this shake-up is difficult to decode—so much so that Murphy took to Twitter to share her frustration:
"Can anyone explain to me who makes the UFC rankings? Why can they change w/o the fighters doing anything? For example, when me vs KGB was booked LAST WEEK, she was 7, I was 8, Roxy 9. Today, I'm 7, Roxy 8, KGB 9. no major fights in the div have happened. Not a huge deal but wtf "
We're with you, Lauren. We're with you.
It was recently reported by MMAjunkie.com that the women's flyweight champion Shevchenko will defend her title against Katlyn Chookagian on February 8. So, while the latest rankings don't make a ton of sense, it's possible we'll see some more meaningful changes early next year.