Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 253

Tom TaylorContributor ISeptember 30, 2020

Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 253

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    Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

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

    The entire system seems to be predicated on the whims 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 or retires. There is legitimate evidence that suggests the UFC nudges its panelists in the directions it deems most suitable. The list of issues 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.

    Without further ado, here are the B/R Pound-for-Pound UFC Rankings after last Saturday’s action-packed UFC 253 card on "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi

Men: No. 10-6

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    10. Petr Yan

    9. Max Holloway

    8. Justin Gaethje

    7. Dustin Poirier

    6. Alexander Volkanovski

    We did not change the bottom half of our men's pound-for-pound rankings after UFC 253, but that was not an easy decision to make.

    In the UFC 253 co-main event, Poland's Jan Blachowicz captured the vacant UFC light heavyweight title with a second-round knockout of Dominick Reyes. The victory stands out as the biggest of Blachowicz's lengthy career, but the question we wrestled with was whether or not it was enough to earn him a spot in our pound-for-pound top 10. More accurately, was his win over Reyes meaningful enough to boot UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan from our No. 10 spot?

    Our verdict? Not quite.

    In 2020, Blachowicz's win over Dominick Reyes, who had only been beaten by pound-for-pound stalwart Jon Jones previously, is probably more valuable than the best wins of Yan's Octagon career: finishes of aging legends in Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber. However, Yan has a leg up on Blachowicz in one key area: he's never lost in the Octagon. The new light heavyweight champ, meanwhile, was knocked out by Thiago Santos in 2019. Despite rattling off four wins since, that loss is still pretty fresh, so for now he's on the outside of our top 10 looking in, and Yan remains safe at No. 10. 

    Beyond that, the bottom end of our men's pound-for-pound top 10 is rounded out by former featherweight champion Max Holloway, interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, longtime lightweight contender Dustin Poirier (the last man to beat Gaethje) and reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

    Now let's move on to our men's pound-for-pound top five.

Men: No. 5-1

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    5. Stipe Miocic

    4. Israel Adesanya

    3. Kamaru Usman

    2. Khabib Nurmagomedov

    1. Jon Jones

    UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, the newest entrant into our illustrious men's pound-for-pound top five, was back in action in the UFC 253 main event, defending his title against unbeaten Brazilian knockout artist Paulo Costa. 

    Ahead of the fight, Costa was widely hailed as the champion's toughest adversary to date. Contrary to that perception, Adesanya was the picture of dominance in the fight, dropping and stopping his challenger in Round 2. 

    In the same way that we had to ask ourselves if Blachowicz's UFC 253 win was enough to displace Petr Yan on the previous slide, we had to ask ourselves if Adesanya's UFC 253 triumph was valuable enough to move him ahead of UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in our top five.

    We decided it was.

    While Miocic now holds two victories over Daniel Cormier, who was a staple of pound-for-pound lists everywhere until he retired in August, he hasn't fought anybody other than Cormier since January 2018, when he defeated Francis Ngannou. That's not his fault, but Adesanya has simply been more active against a far wider range of top-10 foes, most notably Costa, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker. He also gets extra points for being undefeated. 

    While Adesanya's UFC 253 win was enough to push him past Miocic, we're keeping him behind his fellow Nigerian, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, for the time being. The pair have both defended their titles twice and have faced roughly the same scale of opposition, but Usman has been the picture of dominance, while Adesanya scraped by Yoel Romero in an undeniable stinker earlier this year. For that reason, he's still one spot behind the welterweight champ. 

    Beyond Miocic, Adesanya and Usman, our men's pound-for-pound top five is rounded out by undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who recently vacated his belt to move up to heavyweight.

    Jones gets our top spot because he's been beating top-level opponents since before Nurmagomedov even made his UFC debut, and he's still doing so today—even if his last two victories were more competitive than we're used to. If Nurmagomedov beats Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24, however, he might just scoot past Jones into the No. 1 spot.

    With that covered, let's turn our attention to the best women in the UFC.

Women: No. 10-6

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    10. Holly Holm

    9. Katlyn Chookagian

    8. Tatiana Suarez

    7. Germaine de Randamie

    6. Jessica Andrade

    The outside of our women's pound-for-pound list is unchanged, but it could get a major facelift in the coming weeks.

    Our No. 10 spot is still held by former UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm, but her inconsistency over the last few years has her place in jeopardy. If she loses her upcoming fight against Irene Aldana, which headlines Saturday's card on Fight Island, she's a goner.

    Our No. 9 spot is still occupied by Katlyn Chookagian, who recently rebounded from a loss to UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko with a decisive win over the champ's sister, Antonina. She's set to take on Brazil's Jessica Andrade, who you'll encounter further up this list, on October 17. If she wins, expect her to rocket up multiple spots. 

    Our No. 8 spot still belongs to Tatiana Suarez, who has not fought since June of 2019. Oftentimes, fighters will be bounced from the official UFC rankings after a year of inactivity—though that is not a hard-and-fast rule. While we admit it's getting harder to justify the long-absent Suarez's position in our pound-for-pound top 10, we're not dropping her yet. We're pretty confident she'd stomp the vast majority of her strawweight peers—even after a long layoffand she holds valuable wins over ranked foes in Alexa Grasso, Carla Esparza and Nina Ansaroff.

    In our No. 7 spot, we have former UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, who recently reaffirmed her reputation as one of the toughest women in the UFC by knocking out Aspen Ladd and giving our pound-for-pound queen Amanda Nunes a very tough test in a bantamweight title fight. If she performs well in her fight with Julianna Pena, which also goes down this Saturday, she could make another upward move on this list. 

    The No. 6 fighter remains former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who looked good in a recent split-decision loss to Rose Namajunas. While she hasn't moved since our last rankings update, that could change if she defeats Chookagian on October 17. Not only is Chookagian a solid foe, but this fight will also mark Andrade's first in the UFC flyweight division, and we're big on fighters who have success across multiple weight classes.

    Now for the top five.

Women: No. 5-1

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    Rose Namajunas, left, and Poland's Joanna Jedrzejczyk, right, react after a women's strawweight title bout at UFC 223 Saturday, April 7, 2018, in New York. Namajunas won the fight. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    4. Rose Namajunas 

    3. Weili Zhang

    2. Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Amanda Nunes 

    Our women's pound-for-pound top five is also unchanged since our last rankings update, and unfortunately we don't anticipate many changes over the coming weeks. 

    Our No. 5 spot is still held by Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is easily the most accomplished strawweight in UFC history and certainly one of the best female fighters ever. Jedrzejczyk has had some tough setbacks of late, stumbling against Weili Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko and Rose Namajunas in the last few years, but those women comprise three of our top five. In other words, they're the kind of fighters one can't be shamed for losing to. Jedrzejczyk has recently been chomping at the bit for a rematch with Zhang, but she doesn't currently have a fight booked and is therefore without an opportunity to improve her position on this list.

    At No. 4 is the two-time Jedrzejczyk foil and former strawweight champ 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, but the bout is still not official. If she gets the opportunity and reclaims the title, expect her to take a noteworthy step up this list.

    The aforementioned Zhang is our No. 3-ranked 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, who is starting to look as unbeatable as male pound-for-pound stalwarts like Kamaru Usman, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones.

    That fighter, of course, is the flyweight champion Shevchenko. Since capturing the vacant title with a decision win over Jedrzejczyk, Shevchenko has decimated her first three challengers in Chookagian, Liz Carmouche and Jessica Eye. She's lost twice since joining the UFC, but both of those defeats were close decisions against Amanda Nunes in the bantamweight division, where she's at a significant size disadvantage. She's also got some nice bantamweight wins to her name, including triumphs over Holm and Julianna Pena. 

    Shevchenko is slated to defend her flyweight strap against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in late November, but all a win will do for her is reaffirm her No. 2 spot on this list, as it's going to take absolute mountain-moving to displace our No. 1 fighter: Amanda Nunes.

    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.

    She's scheduled to defend her featherweight title against Megan Anderson at UFC 255. While she's expected to blow through that challenge, a loss would be disastrous for her place atop this list.