Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 254

Tom TaylorContributor IOctober 27, 2020

Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 254

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    Pavel Golovkin/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 new B/R Pound-for-Pound UFC Rankings after Saturday's unforgettable UFC 254 card on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    With UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defending his title against Justin Gaethje in the main event and immediately retiring afterward, there have been some big changes.

Men: No. 10-6

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    Jon Gambrell/Associated Press

    10. Deiveson Figueiredo

    9. Petr Yan 

    8. Max Holloway

    7. Justin Gaethje

    6. Dustin Poirier


    The back end of our men's pound-for-pound rankings look quite different than it did in our last update, and that's all thanks to a big change to our top five. 

    We'll cover all that in the next slide, but first things first: Our No. 10 spot is now held by UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, who makes his debut in our rankings.

    We considered giving the No. 10 spot to new UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz but opted for the flyweight champ because he's only lost once in a 20-fight pro career, whereas the Pole has experienced a number of losses in the Octagon alone.  

    At No. 9, we have UFC bantamweight champ Petr Yan. He made his debut in these rankings in our last update, and if he's victorious in his UFC 256 title defense against Aljamain Sterling, he could well take another big step toward the top five. 

    Our No 8. spot is held by former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. While there's no question he is one of the best fighters in the world, he's now riding back-to-back losses to featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and has not won a fight since he beat Frankie Edgar over a year ago. If he doesn't pick up a win soon, he risks taking a tumble down this list.

    At No. 7, we have Justin Gaethje, who was defeated by UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 254 main event. Ordinarily, a fighter riding a loss would not move up our list, but the 31-year-old has done so because of the aforementioned shuffle in our top five and because we feel he should be ranked ahead of Holloway based on his recent accomplishments.

    At No. 6, finally, we have the UFC's No. 2-ranked lightweight contender Dustin Poirier, who is riding a big win over Dan Hooker and holds a fairly recent triumph over Gaethje.

    Poirier is widely expected to fight Conor McGregor in January, and with Nurmagomedov retired, many fans believe this fight could be contested with the division's vacant title on the line.

    If that's how things do shake out, and the 31-year-old manages to capture the belt, don't be surprised if he rockets into our top five.  

Men: No. 5-1

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    5. Alexander Volkanovski

    4. Stipe Miocic

    3. Israel Adesanya

    2. Kamaru Usman

    1. Jon Jones


    As we noted in the previous slide, there's been a big change to the top of our men's pound-for-pound rankings—and it concerns Nurmagomedov.

    No, we didn't move him into the No. 1 spot, as you might have expected. Instead, we've taken him off the list altogether.

    Nurmagomedov has never looked better than he did when he submitted Gaethje—a man widely regarded as his toughest test to date—in the main event of UFC 254. However, the champion retired post-fight, and here at B/R, we have a hard and fast rule that retired fighters are not eligible for our rankings.

    When Daniel Cormier retired after his UFC 252 loss to Stipe Miocic, he was immediately ejected from our pound-for-pound list.

    While we recognize Nurmagomedov is one of the best fighters ever and concede we would have given him our No. 1 spot had he not retired immediately after his fight with Gaethje, he is still subject to the rules of these rankings—the same rules that forced Cormier's exit.

    If we don't apply the same rules to all fighters, the B/R rankings are no better than the UFC rankings.

    So Nurmagomedov is out.

    With the undefeated lightweight star ineligible for our pound-for-pound rankings, former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is safe in the No. 1 spot.

    UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic all move up a spot apiece, and UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who previously held our No. 6 spot, finally moves into the top five. 

    Again, we recognize that booting Nurmagomedov from the top five after such a jaw-dropping win will not be a popular choice, but consistency is crucial to the integrity of these rankings.

    You retire, you're out.  

Women: No. 10-6

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    10. Katlyn Chookagian

    9. Holly Holm

    8. Tatiana Suarez

    7. Germaine de Randamie 

    6. Jessica Andrade


    Just like our men's pound-for-pound rankings, there has been a big change to our women's list. 

    The change concerns our No. 10 and 9 spots. We've pushed former UFC bantamweight Holly Holm, who previously held our No. 10 spot, up to ninth. She gets a boost on the strength of her lopsided decision win over top bantamweight contender Irene Aldana earlier this month.

    Holm's move up forces Katlyn Chookagian down to No. 10. This switch also makes sense as the Blonde Fighter recently succumbed to a first round-knockout loss courtesy of former strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade.

    Our No. 8 spot is still held by Tatiana Suarez, but her prolonged stretch of inactivity since June 2019 is making it harder to justify her position on this list.

    If the 29-year-old doesn't fight again soon, we'll be forced to remove her altogether. For the moment, though, she's keeping her spot because there's simply no denying she's one of the best in the world.

    At No. 7, we have former UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, who is riding a big win over Julianna Pena. That victory was almost enough to push her into our No. 6 spot. Unfortunately for her, our No. 6 fighter Andrade recently reaffirmed her position with the knockout of Chookagian.

Women: No. 5-1

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    4. Rose Namajunas

    3. Weili Zhang

    2. Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Amanda Nunes


    The top five of our women's pound-for-pound rankings has not changed since our last update—but it almost did.

    Our No. 5 spot is still the property of former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who reaffirmed her status as one of the best female fighters ever earlier this year, when she came up short in an ultra-competitive title fight with the division's reigning champion, Weili Zhang, on March 7.

    However, the 33-year-old has not fought since, and while she insists she's not retiring, she does not intend to fight until at least 2021. Her inactivity, when coupled with the recent success of our No. 6 fighter Jessica Andrade, nearly caused them to trade spots, but we held off.

    Jedrzejczyk still holds a pretty decisive victory over Andrade and is far and away the most accomplished fighter in her division. For those reasons, her spot in the top five is safe—for now.

    Our No. 4 spot still belongs to two-time Jedrzejczyk foil Rose Namajunas, who is riding an impressive decision win over Andrade. She is expected to get the next crack at UFC strawweight champion Zhang, and she will move up this list with a win there.

    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 victories over top-flight foes to displace our No. 2 fighter, who is starting to look as unbeatable as male pound-for-pound stalwarts Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman and Jon Jones. 

    That fighter, of course, is the flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

    Since capturing the vacant title with a decision win over Jedrzejczyk, the 32-year-old has decimated her first three challengers in Chookagian, Liz Carmouche and Jessica Eye. She's lost twice since joining the UFC, but both 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 belt against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 on November 21, but all a win will do for her is reaffirm her No. 2 spot on this list, as it's going to take mountain-moving to displace our No. 1 fighter: Nunes. 

    The Brazilian, 32, the UFC featherweight and bantamweight titles in a vice-like 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 irrefutable.

    Nunes is 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.


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