Stock Up, Stock Down: Making Sense of the Rankings After UFC 245

Tom TaylorContributor IDecember 17, 2019

Stock Up, Stock Down: Making Sense of the Rankings After UFC 245

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Last Saturday's UFC 245 was the final UFC pay-per-view of the decade, and with three title fights and a host of meaningful matchups on the lineup, it was suitably stacked.

    In the main event, we watched as UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman weathered some early adversity to successfully defend his title with a fifth-round TKO of his archnemesis, Colby Covington. Earlier in the evening, we saw Alexander Volkanovski swipe the UFC featherweight belt from the waist of longtime champion Max Holloway and Amanda Nunes defend her bantamweight title with an impressive decision win over Germaine de Randamie.

    Elsewhere on the card, Marlon Moraes picked up a controversial decision win over brand-new bantamweight Jose Aldo, Petr Yan turned the lights on Urijah Faber, and Irene Aldana announced herself as a bona fide bantamweight contender with a knockout win over Ketlen Vieira.

    Given all of the high-stakes action that was shoehorned onto this 13-fight card, it should come as no surprise that the UFC rankings are looking quite different in its wake.

    Without further ado, let's take a look at the new UFC rankings and see what's changed since UFC 245 blew the roof off T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


    Note: The heavyweight, light heavyweight, strawweight and women's flyweight 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.


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    No. 1 pound-for-pound: Jon Jones

    2. Khabib Nurmagomedov

    3. Henry Cejudo

    4. Stipe Miocic

    5. Amanda Nunes

    6. Daniel Cormier

    7. Israel Adesanya (up one spot)

    8. Kamaru Usman (up two spots)

    9. Alexander Volkanovski (not previously ranked)

    10. Tony Ferguson (down one spot)

    11. Valentina Shevchenko

    12. Max Holloway (down five spots)

    13. Robert Whittaker

    14. Conor McGregor

    15. Dustin Poirier (down three spots)

    With three title fights on the poster, it should come as no surprise that UFC 245 caused some big changes to the promotion's esteemed pound-for-pound list. 

    Most notably, new featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski debuted among the pound-for-pound top 15, settling in at No. 9. In doing so, he pushed former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley off the list altogether.

    Volkanovski's vanquished foe Holloway tumbled down five spots to No. 12, though it's possible he could regain his footing in 2020, as a rematch with the new champ is already being discussed.

    By defeating Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman climbed up a noteworthy two spots on the pound-for-pound board, setting up shop at No. 8 right behind his fellow Nigerian, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. From here, Usman will likely be matched up with superstar Jorge Masvidal, which could provide him with the fuel to make another big jump up the pound-for-pound rankings. 

    Amanda Nunes, interestingly, did not move up the pound-for-pound rankings after her decision win over Germaine de Randamie and instead stayed put at No. 5. Evidently, the panelists did not find her performance impressive enough to warrant her leapfrogging heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, who's still sitting pretty at No 4.


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    Champion: Alexander Volkanovski

    1. Max Holloway (down one spot)

    2. Brian Ortega

    3. Zabit Magomedsharipov (up one spot)

    4. Frankie Edgar (up one spot)

    5. Yair Rodriguez (up one spot)

    6. Chan Sung Jung (up one spot)

    7. Renato Moicano (up one spot)

    8. Jose Aldo (down five spots)

    9. Jeremy Stephens

    10. Josh Emmett

    11. Calvin Kattar

    12. Shane Burgos

    13. Mirsad Bektic

    14. Ryan Hall (up one spot)

    15. Arnold Allen (down one spot)

    Alexander Volkanovski has usurped the featherweight throne, sending the division's former ruler, Max Holloway, down to the No. 1 contender spot. Surprisingly, the most notable changes to the new featherweight rankings stem from the action in another division entirely.

    In the second bout of the UFC 245 main card, former featherweight champ Jose Aldo debuted in the bantamweight division, dropping a controversial decision to Marlon Moraes. For some reason, Aldo's bantamweight loss caused him to plummet five spots down the featherweight rankings, which in turn allowed five other featherweight contenders to move up a spot apiece.

    This is the latest example of the inconsistency that plagues the UFC rankings. When Darren Till moved from welterweight to middleweight in November, he was promptly cut from the welterweight rankings. Aldo, though, is now ranked in his new division and his old one.

    Why do the rules that pushed Till out of the welterweight rankings not apply to Aldo's spot at featherweight? Why did a bantamweight fight affect Aldo's featherweight standing at all? The only possible answer to these questions is that the UFC rankings are governed by whim and not much else.

    Oh, before we move on to the next division, it's worth noting that Arnold Allen and Ryan Hall made a seemingly arbitrary switch on the outermost precipice of the top 15. Neither man has fought in some time, so it's not clear why this happened.

Men's Bantamweight

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Champion: Henry Cejudo

    1. Marlon Moraes

    2. Aljamain Sterling

    3. Petr Yan (up one spot)

    4. Cory Sandhagen (down one spot)

    5. Raphael Assuncao

    6. Pedro Munhoz

    7. Jimmie Rivera

    8. Cody Garbrandt

    9. Jose Aldo (not previously ranked)

    10. Rob Font (down one spot)

    11. Cody Stamann (down one spot)

    12. John Dodson (down one spot)

    13. Song Yadong (down one spot)

    14. Casey Kenney (up one spot)

    15. Marlon Vera (down one spot)

    The men's bantamweight title was not on the line at UFC 245, but with two high-stakes bantamweight bouts on the main card, the event had some serious influence on the division's rankings.

    As we covered on the last slide, Jose Aldo's bantamweight loss to Marlon Moraes caused him to tumble down the featherweight rankings, but it also earned him a spot in the bantamweight rankings. He debuted at No. 9, shoving contenders like Cody Stamann and John Dodson out of his way.

    Elsewhere on the bantamweight list, Urijah Faber foil Petr Yan made a one-spot climb to No. 3, displacing Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen is probably not happy about that, especially considering he was recently robbed of a high-profile bantamweight fight with Frankie Edgar. It's been a tough couple of weeks for him.

    Yan's opponent, Faber, was booted from the rankings in defeat. Ouch.

Women's Bantamweight

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    Champion: Amanda Nunes

    1. Germaine De Randamie

    2. Aspen Ladd (up one spot)

    3. Holly Holm

    4. Julianna Pena (up one spot)

    5. Irene Aldana (up five spots)

    5. Raquel Pennington (up one spot)

    7. Ketlen Vieira (down five spots)

    8. Yana Kunitskaya (down one spot)

    9. Marion Reneau (down one spot)

    10. Sara McMann (down one spot)

    11. Lina Lansberg

    12. Macy Chiasson

    13. Bethe Correia

    14. Nicco Montano

    15. Sijara Eubanks 

    Amanda Nunes authored another impressive bantamweight title defense at UFC 245, this time at the expense of former featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie. This title fight had no influence on the rankings—de Randamie is still the No. 1 contender in defeat—but another fight on the UFC 245 bill sure did.

    On the undercard, Mexico's Irene Aldana scored a massive, first-round knockout win over Brazil's Ketlen Vieira, who was regarded as one of the top contenders in the division. In victory, Aldana made a well-deserved five-spot climb up the bantamweight rankings and is now tied at No. 5 with former title challenger Raquel Pennington. In victory, Aldana not only asserted herself as a top-five bantamweight contender but also impressed the heck out of UFC boss Dana White, so she can probably look forward to a big-name opponent next time out.

    Her opponent Vieira, meanwhile, took a parachute-worthy fall, dropping five spots to No. 7.

    Elsewhere in the bantamweight rankings, Sara McMann, Marion Reneau and Yana Kunitskaya all dropped one spot each, while Julianna Pena and Aspen Ladd both made seemingly arbitrary one-spot climbs.


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    John Locher/Associated Press

    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

    8. Stephen Thompson

    9. Nate Diaz

    10. Anthony Pettis

    11. Robbie Lawler

    12. Geoff Neal (up two spots)

    13. Gilbert Burns (down one spot)

    14. Vicente Luque (down one spot)

    15. Neil Magny

    The changes to the UFC welterweight rankings are pretty minimal.

    Kamaru Usman is still the champ. His latest victim, Colby Covington, is still the No. 2 contender.

    That being said, UFC 245 did force one noteworthy change. Geoff Neal, who removed Mike Perry's batteries on the undercard, climbed up two spots for his handiwork, settling at No. 12. In doing so, he forced both Gilbert Burns and Vicente Luque down a spot.

    While UFC 245 didn't do much to alter the welterweight rankings, the division could see some shake-ups in the coming months, as Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone meet in a 170-pound matchup in January, and Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards and Tyron Woodley are all about ready to get back into the cage.


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    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

    9. Edmen Shahbazyan

    10. Uriah Hall (up one spot)

    11. Brad Tavares (up one spot)

    12. Ian Heinisch (down two spots)

    13. Omari Akhmedov (up one spot)

    14. Antonio Carlos Junior (down one spot)

    15. Anderson Silva

    UFC 245 featured two ranked middleweights, Omari Akhmedov and Ian Heinisch, who met on the event's undercard. After the card, both fighters find themselves in new positions in the rankings.

    Akhmedov, who won the fight by decision, rose one spot to No. 13, pushing Antonio Carlos Junior down one notch. Surprisingly, he's still ranked behind his vanquished adversary Heinisch, who tumbled two spots to No. 12 and made room for Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares to climb a spot apiece.

    While the middleweight rankings haven't changed much in the wake of UFC 245, they will in the first quarter of 2020. The champ Israel Adesanya is seemingly interested in defending his title against the No. 3 Yoel Romero in the coming months, and Darren Till, Robert Whittaker, Jack Hermansson and Jared Cannonier are all chomping at the bit to fight again. 

Men's Flyweight

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    Champion: Henry Cejudo

    1. Joseph Benavidez

    2. Jussier Formiga

    3. Deiveson Figueiredo

    4. Alexandre Pantoja

    5. Brandon Moreno

    6. Rogerio Bontorin (up one spot)

    7. Tim Elliott (up one spot)

    8. Kai Kara France (down two spots)

    9. Matt Schnell

    10. Jordan Espinosa

    11. Alex Perez

    12. Askar Askarov

    13. Ryan Benoit

    14. Mark De La Rosa

    15. Raulian Paiva

    The UFC 245 undercard featured a clash between ranked men's flyweights Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara France. Moreno won this fight by decision but did not improve his station in the flyweight rankings in the process. He's still ranked No. 5.

    Kara France, meanwhile, took a two-spot spill in defeat. He's now ranked No. 8 in the division. Kara France's slight fall was beneficial to Rogerio Bontorin and Tim Elliott, who both climbed a spot as a result.

    While UFC 245 proved there's still some high-level talent in the men's flyweight division, the division remains unbelievably thin. The presence of a fighter like Ryan Benoit, who has not fought since 2017, in the top 15 is all the proof you need.


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    Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov

    1. Tony Ferguson

    2. Dustin Poirier

    3. Conor McGregor

    3. Justin Gaethje (up one spot)

    5. Donald Cerrone

    6. Paul Felder

    7. Dan Hooker

    8. Kevin Lee

    9. Al Iaquinta

    10. Edson Barboza

    11. Anthony Pettis

    12. Gregor Gillespie

    13. Charles Oliveira

    14. Alexander Hernandez

    15. Islam Makhachev

    The new lightweight rankings feature one interesting change, but it's seemingly unrelated to the UFC 245 card. Justin Gaethje, who has not fought since a September defeat of Donald Cerrone, climbed one spot, tying Conor McGregor at No. 3.

    Why? Maybe the UFC is trying to keep him happy since it seemingly can't find him an opponent.

    With Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson scheduled to fight on April 18, and McGregor scheduled to fight Cerrone on January 18, Gaethje has been left without a suitable dance partner, much to his chagrin. Given the circumstances, he'll either have to accept a fight with a lower-ranked opponent—something no fighter wants to do—or wait around for Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson and McGregor vs. Cowboy to unfold.

    It's a tough situation for Gaethje, but at least he's moving up the rankings, even if he's not fighting.