Stock Up, Stock Down: Making Sense of the Rankings After UFC 246

Tom TaylorContributor IJanuary 21, 2020

Stock Up, Stock Down: Making Sense of the Rankings After UFC 246

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    UFC 246 is now in the rear-view mirror, but we’ll be feeling the aftershocks of this blockbuster card for weeks to come.  

    The biggest story to emerge from the card is, of course, the successful return of former two-division champion Conor McGregor, who unleashed a 40-second beatdown of Donald Cerrone in the welterweight main event. 

    Yet that’s not all UFC 246 had to offer. Outside of the main event, the card featured big wins from high-level talent like Holly Holm, Diego Ferreira, Roxanne Modafferi, Sodiq Yusuff and Askar Askarov.

    Given the amount of ranked talent crammed onto the UFC 246 bill, it should come as no surprise that the official UFC rankings are looking a little different than they were beforehand.

    Who moved up? Who moved down? All that and more in the slides to come.

    Note: The men's bantamweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight 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.

Pound-for-Pound

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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

    8. Kamaru Usman

    9. Alexander Volkanovski

    10. Tony Ferguson

    11. Conor McGregor (up two spots)

    12. Valentina Shevchenko (down one spot)

    13. Max Holloway (down one spot)

    14. Dustin Poirier (up one spot)

    15. Tyron Woodley (down one spot)

    Late last year, Conor McGregor was clinging to his spot in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings by his fingernails. After defeating Cerrone at UFC 246, however, the Irishman is once again climbing up this most hallowed list.  

    In the newest UFC rankings, McGregor is sitting two sports north of his previous position at No. 11. This move caused Valentina Shevchenko and Max Holloway to fall one spot each, while Dustin Poirier and Tyron Woodley made an inexplicable switcheroo on the division’s outermost edge.  

    Given that Jon Jones, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Henry Cejudo, Israel Adesanya, Tony Ferguson, Valentina Shevchenko and Tyron Woodley are all set to compete before the summer, this list is almost certainly going to undergo some big changes very soon. For the moment, however, McGregor can take pride in being right on the cusp of the top-10. 

Welterweight

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    Champion: Kamaru Usman

    1. Tyron Woodley

    2. Colby Covington

    3. Jorge Masvidal

    4. Leon Edwards

    5. Rafael Dos Anjos

    6. Demian Maia

    7. Stephen Thompson

    8. Nate Diaz

    9. Robbie Lawler (up one spot)

    10. Geoff Neal (up one spot)

    11. Anthony Pettis (down two spots)

    12. Gilbert Burns (up one spot)

    13. Vicente Luque (down one spot)

    14. Conor McGregor (not previously ranked)

    15. Neil Magny (down one spot)

    You might not agree with it, but you had to know it was coming.

    After his welterweight win over Cerrone, who spent the entirety of 2019 at lightweight, McGregor is now a ranked welterweight. The Irish star debuted in the division at No. 14, settling in between Neil Magny and Vicente Luque, both of whom dropped a spot.

    In similar fashion, Pettis’ lightweight loss to Ferreira caused him to tumble two spots in the welterweight rankings. He’s now sitting at No. 11, which made room for Geoff Neal and former champ Robbie Lawler to climb a spot apiece.

    While the welterweight rankings are looking a little chaotic right now, expect some clarity to arrive in the first half of 2020. Jorge Masvidal should be back in the cage soon, whether it’s against McGregor or the champion Usman. Tyron Woodley and Leon Edwards will fight in London on March 21, shortly after Gilbert Burns and Demian Maia fight on March 14.

Lightweight

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    Champion: Khabib Nurmagomedov

    1. Tony Ferguson

    2. Dustin Poirier

    3. Conor McGregor (up one spot)

    4. Justin Gaethje (down one spot)

    5. Donald Cerrone

    6. Paul Felder

    7. Dan Hooker

    8. Kevin Lee

    9. Al Iaquinta

    10. Edson Barboza

    11. Diego Ferreira (not previously ranked)

    12. Gregor Gillespie

    13. Charles Oliveira

    14. Islam Makhachev (up one spot)

    15. Alexander Hernandez (down one spot)

    McGregor and Cerrone have both had their best results at lightweight, but as we’ve covered, their UFC 246 was contested at welterweight. Despite the fact that it didn’t occur in the lightweight division, this welterweight fight caused a notable change to the lightweight rankings. In victory, McGregor climbed one spot, stealing the No. 3 spot from Justin Gaethje.

    Given the way the lightweight fights are influencing the welterweight rankings, and vice versa, it might be time for the UFC to consider opening a 165-pound division between the two weight classes. While Dana White has always been against the idea, countless fighters have called for it. 

    Outside this McGregor-related movement, the biggest change to the lightweight rankings concerns Diego Ferreira, who submitted the former champ Anthony Pettis on the UFC 246 main card. This win, which is easily the biggest of his career, earned him the No. 11 spot at lightweight.

    Lastly, Islam Makhachev and Alex Hernandez switched spots on the precipice of the rankings, settling at No. 14 and 15 respectively, but it’s not clear why. 

    With plenty of lightweight action on the calendar for early 2020—most notably a title fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson—expect these rankings to continue to transform over the coming months.

Women’s Flyweight

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    Champion: Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Katlyn Chookagian

    2. Jessica Eye

    3. Joanne Calderwood

    4. Jennifer Maia

    5. Roxanne Modafferi (up two spots)

    6. Viviane Araujo (down one spot)

    7. Lauren Murphy (down one spot)

    8. Andrea Lee

    9. Maycee Barber

    10. Alexis Davis

    11. Montana De La Rosa

    12. Antonina Shevchenko

    13. Mara Romero Borella

    14. Ji Yeon Kim (up one spot)

    15. Paige VanZant (down one spot)

    Roxanne Modafferi was supposed to be an easy meal for Maycee Barber. Far and away the biggest underdog on the UFC card, she might as well have been wheeled out to the cage on a serving cart with an apple in her mouth. 

    What was supposed to be Barber’s coming out party, though, wound up being a lopsided beatdown in the favor of the 16-year MMA veteran.

    This upset win pushed Modafferi up two spots in the crowded women’s flyweight rankings, displacing Viviane Araujo and Lauren Murphy.

    Beyond that, the only change to the flyweight list occurred at its very edge, where Ji Yeon Kim snuck past the long-absent Paige VanZant to claim the No. 14 spot.

    With the division’s champion Valentina Shevchenko scheduled to defend her belt against Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 247 on February 8, however, it’s possible we’ll see more big changes to this division's rankings soon.

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. Askar Askarov (up six spots)

    7. Rogerio Bontorin (down one spot)

    8. Kai Kara-France

    9. Matt Schnell

    10. Tim Elliott (down three spots)

    11. Jordan Espinosa (down one spot)

    12. Alex Perez (down one spot)

    13. Mark De La Rosa

    14. Raulian Paiva

    UFC 246 caused some huge changes to the men’s flyweight rankings, thanks entirely to Askar Askarov’s impressive—if slightly controversial—undercard defeat of former title challenger Tim Elliott. In victory, Askarov rocketed six spots up the list, forcing a number of other flyweight hopefuls, including Elliott, to fall.

    Other than that, the only other thing to unpack in terms of the flyweight rankings is the name atop the division: Henry Cejudo.

    As anyone who follows the sport knows, Cejudo has been stripped of the flyweight belt—he says he "relinquished" it, but let’s get real—leaving Benavidez and Figueiredo to fight for the vacant belt at on February 29. Why is he still listed as the champion when two other men are about to fight for the division’s belt? Beats me, but these rankings have never made a ton of sense.

Women's Bantamweight

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    Champion: Amanda Nunes

    1. Germaine de Randamie

    2. Holly Holm (up one spot)

    3. Aspen Ladd (down one spot)

    4. Julianna Pena

    5. Irene Aldana (up one spot)

    6. Raquel Pennington (down one spot)

    7. Ketlen Vieira

    8. Yana Kunitskaya

    9. Marion Reneau

    10. Sara McMann

    11. Lina Lansberg

    12. Macy Chiasson

    13. Bethe Correia

    14. Nicco Montano

    15. Sijara Eubanks 

    Holly Holm’s UFC 246 win over Raquel Pennington wasn’t exactly a thriller, but it was enough to move her up one spot in the UFC women’s bantamweight rankings. The former champion, who is now 2-0 over Pennington, can call herself the UFC’s No. 2 female bantamweight. 

    Pennington, on the other hand, tumbled down one spot, settling at No. 6, behind surging contender Irene Aldana. Other than that, not much has changed in this Amanda Nunes-ruled weight class.

Men’s Featherweight

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    Champion: Alexander Volkanovski

    1. Max Holloway

    2. Brian Ortega

    3. Zabit Magomedsharipov

    4. Chan Sung Jung

    5. Yair Rodriguez

    6. Frankie Edgar

    7. Renato Moicano

    8. Jeremy Stephens

    9. Josh Emmett (up one spot)

    9. Jose Aldo

    11. Calvin Kattar

    12. Shane Burgos

    13. Ryan Hall (up one spot)

    14. Sodiq Yusuff (not previously ranked)

    14. Mirsad Bektic (down one spot)

    The men’s featherweight rankings are looking a little different after UFC 246, but not much.

    The most notable change is Sodiq Yusuff’s arrival to the top-15, the catalyst for which was his undercard defeat of Andre Fili. He’s now tied at No. 14 with Mirsad Bektic.

    Other than that, the only other changes to the featherweight rankings seem arbitrary. Josh Emmett, who has not fought since he walloped Bektic in July, climbed a spot. He’s now tied with the former champ Jose Aldo, who no longer competes in the division, at No. 9. 

    Ryan Hall, who has also not competed since July, made a confusing one-spot climb as well.

Strawweight

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    Champion: Weili Zhang

    1. Jessica Andrade

    2. Rose Namajunas

    3. Tatiana Suarez

    4. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    5. Nina Ansaroff

    6. Claudia Gadelha

    7. Carla Esparza

    8. Michelle Waterson

    9. Marina Rodriguez

    10. Cynthia Calvillo

    11. Felice Herrig (up one spot)

    12. Tecia Torres (up one spot)

    13. Alexa Grasso (down two spots)

    14. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

    15. Amanda Ribas

    There’s only one change to the UFC strawweight rankings after UFC 246, and it’s pretty easy to decipher.

    Alexa Grasso was supposed to fight Claudia Gadelha on the UFC 246 main card, but their fight was canceled when Grasso missed weight for the contest. Evidently, the ranking panelists didn’t appreciate this scale fail and punished Grasso accordingly.

    She dropped two spots to No. 13, clearing a path for Felice Herrig and Tecia Torres to climb a spot apiece.