B/R's Top-10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 251

Tom TaylorContributor IJuly 15, 2020

B/R's Top-10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 251

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    The official UFC rankings are a farce. That sounds harsh, but it's the truth. 

    The entire system seems to be predicated on the whim and fancies of the voting panelists, many of whom don't even appear to closely follow mixed martial arts. There is no consistency in terms of what happens when a ranked fighter changes weight classes. There is legitimate evidence that suggests the UFC nudges its ranking panelists in the directions it deems most suitable. The list of issues with the UFC rankings goes on and on and on.

    We here at Bleacher Report are tired of it and have decided to take a stand by creating our own UFC pound-for-pound lists: one list for men and another for women. 

    We will update our new pound-for-pound rankings after each UFC pay-per-view, and with a little luck, bring some order to the chaotic world of mixed martial arts. Then again, we might also just become a lightning rod for some of the backlash that's typically directed at the official UFC rankings. Time will tell.

    Without further ado, here are the brand-spankin' new B/R Pound-for-Pound UFC Rankings.

Men: No. 10-6

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    Michael Zarrilli/Associated Press

    10. Max Holloway

    9. Justin Gaethje

    8. Dustin Poirier

    7. Alexander Volkanovski

    6. Israel Adesanya

    The bottom half of the men's pound-for-pound top 10 was tricky to assemble, but this is what we came up with.

    Our No. 10 spot is filled by the former featherweight champion Max Holloway. Holloway is riding back-to-back decision losses to the division's reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski and nearly wasn't included on this hallowed list as a result. Yet he managed to sneak in on the strength of his recent wins over Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega, and the fact that he gave Volkanovski competitive fights both times out. 

    UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje gets our No. 9 spot because he just beat the tar out of Tony Ferguson, who would have been well-positioned on this list had he not been defeated. Gaethje is expected to challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed title later this year, and if he wins that fight, expect him to rocket into our top five.

    We gave our No. 8 spot to Dustin Poirier, who has proved himself as one of the best lightweights in the world. Sure, he lost to Nurmagomedov recently, but there's really no shame in that, and his recent wins over other pound-for-pound stars like Holloway and Gaethje make him a shoo-in for our top 10.  

    At No. 7, we have UFC featherweight champion Volkanovski. Skeptics will no doubt point out that Volkanovski just won an extremely controversial decision against Holloway. We counter that point by emphasizing the word won. Whether you agree with the verdict or not, the judges gave Volkanovski the win. Wins mean something here at B/R. They have to. If we start ignoring the actual outcomes of fights, it's a matter of time before these rankings turn into a circus!  

    In the No. 6 spot, we have UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who nearly found himself in our top five but didn't quite make it because of his lack of longevity at the top of his division. If he can pick up another title defense or two, he'll move up.

Men: No. 5-1

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    5. Daniel Cormier

    4. Stipe Miocic

    3. Kamaru Usman

    2. Khabib Nurmagomedov

    1. Jon Jones 

    Now we're getting to the real killers. The cream of the crop.

    We gave our No. 5 spot to former heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. While Cormier was defeated in his last fight, that loss came against a heavyweight great in Stipe Miocic. It was also preceded by a fairly recent win over Miocic. Throw in Cormier's success across multiple weight classes, which we consider quite valuable in terms of pound-for-pound standings, and his place in our top five is irrefutable. 

    At No. 4, we have the aforementioned Miocic, who is widely regarded as the best heavyweight in UFC history. We nearly gave him a higher spot on this list but settled on fourth place because he's only fought twice in the last two years, and both of those fights were against Cormier. Here at B/R, we like fighters who stay busy. Particularly fighters who stay busy against many different opponents. 

    That brings us to our No. 3 spot, which is occupied by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Not only has Usman beaten three top-five welterweights in the last year (Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley), but he also holds victories over other top-10 staples in Rafael dos Anjos, Demian Maia and Leon Edwards. Usman struggles to get the respect he deserves, but not here at B/R. We recognize "The Nigerian Nightmare" for the world-class talent he is.

    Our No. 2 and No. 1 spots go to Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones. We don't expect a lot of argument on these choices. The two men, the lightweight and light heavyweight champions, respectively, are easily the most dominant champions in MMA at present. Really, they're two of the most dominant fighters ever. If you encounter a pound-for-pound list that doesn't rank these two as the top dogs, question its validity.   

    You'll notice that, unlike the UFC's pound-for-pound top 10, ours doesn't include Conor McGregor. At B/R, we wholly believe that McGregor remains one of the best fighters in the world. Unfortunately, he hasn't done much to prove it of late. The man has won just one mixed martial arts bout since 2016, and that was against an aging Donald Cerrone. That lack of activity against top talent kept him off our list.

Women: No. 10-6

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    10. Holly Holm

    9. Katlyn Chookagian

    8. Tatiana Suarez

    7. Germaine de Randamie

    6. Jessica Andrade 

    We gave our No. 10 spot to former bantamweight champion Holly Holm, but we confess that Holm nearly didn't make it on to this list. The former champion has been inconsistent over the last few years, but she made it on thanks to her past accolades, and the fact that nobody else really deserves the spot more.

    Our No. 9 spot goes to Katlyn Chookagian. Chookagian was recently dominated by women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, but she rebounded about as well as one could: by beating the brakes off Valentina's sister Antonina Shevchenko. Like Holm, her position in our top 10 doesn't feel particularly secure, but for now, she's safe. 

    Tatiana Suarez has struggled to stay active, and is fairly inexperienced, but she has looked nearly unbeatable since joining the UFC and has defeated some of the best women in her weight class in Nina Ansaroff, Carla Esparza, and Alexa Grasso. While Holm and Chookagian are teetering on the outer edges of our women's pound-for-pound list, we expect Suarez to continue climbing up the list. For now, she gets our No. 8 spot.

    We gave our No. 7 spot to former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. De Randamie has gone an impressive 6-2 since joining the UFC roster, and her only two losses came against the consensus GOAT of women's MMA, Amanda Nunes. She might not be the most popular fighter on the UFC roster, but her talent is irrefutable. 

    At No. 6, we have the former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who has shown that she can thump the heck out of pretty much anybody outside of Rose Namajunas, Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk—all of whom are still to come on this list.  

Women: No. 5-1

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    4. Rose Namajunas

    3. Weili Zhang

    2. Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Amanda Nunes

    We gave our No. 5 spot to Jedrzejczyk, who is easily the most accomplished strawweight in UFC history and certainly one of the best female fighters ever. Sure, she's experienced losses to Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko and Namajunas recently, but those women comprise three out of our top five. There's no shame in that.

    At No. 4, we have another former champ and a two-time Jedrzejczyk foil in Namajunas. Namajunas recently rebounded from an infamous slam-induced knockout to Andrade with a split-decision triumph in their UFC 251 rematch. From here, it looks like she could get the next crack at the reigning champion Zhang. If she wins that, she could take another huge step up this list.

    Speaking of Zhang, she is our No. 3 fighter. The UFC has her ranked at No. 2, which is understandable based on her recent victories over Jedrzejczyk and Andrade, but we feel she needs a few more wins over top-flight foes to displace our No. 2 fighter.

    That fighter, of course, is Shevchenko, the women's flyweight champion. Shevchenko looks increasingly like an unbeatable fighter each time she steps in the cage, having left a trail of victims including Chookagian, Liz Carmouche, Jessica Eye and Jedrzejczyk in her wake. She's lost twice since joining the UFC, but both of those losses were close decisions against Nunes in the bantamweight division, where she's at a significant size disadvantage.

    You had to know who the star of our women's pound-for-pound list would be. Nunes holds the UFC featherweight and bantamweight titles in a vice grip and has defeated every other woman to hold titles in either division. For those with short memories, that includes De Randamie, Holm, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. Throw in her two wins over Shevchenko and her status as MMA's pound-for-pound queen is absolutely irrefutable.