Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 255
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 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 under-the-radar UFC 255 card out of the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Men: No. 10-6
10. Petr Yan
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
8. Max Holloway
7. Justin Gaethje
6. Dustin Poirier
There’s only been one change to the bottom half of our men’s pound-for-pound rankings, but it’s a significant one.
We’ve moved UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo from the No. 10 spot down to No. 9, thereby forcing UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan to the outer edge of the list. We were compelled to do this after watching Figueiredo choke out Alex Perez in the UFC 255 main event—in less time than it takes to warm up a plate of leftovers.
With this win, Figueiredo improved to 20-1 overall, with a ridiculous 17 of those victories coming by way of stoppage. Throw in the fact that all of his recent wins have come against top-flight opposition, while Yan is riding wins over the ghosts of Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber and has no fight on the horizon, and this switcheroo just made sense.
Our No 8. spot is still 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. We confess that his spot on our list was starting to feel a little iffy, but he’ll have the chance to affirm his position when he takes on Calvin Kattar on January 16.
At No. 7, we have Justin Gaethje, who was defeated by UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 254 main event last month. If Gaethje intends to stay on our list, he’ll need to pick up a win in his next fight, but as of yet, there’s still no word on when that will be.
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 now officially slated to take on Conor McGregor on January 23. Given that McGregor remains one of the best fighters in the sport—and that he’s just a hair away from a spot on this list himself—a win could send Poirier flying into the top-5.
Men: No. 5-1
5. Alexander Volkanovski
4. Stipe Miocic
3. Israel Adesanya
2. Kamaru Usman
1. Jon Jones
We’ll start by covering something that anyone who didn’t read our last rankings update likely missed: because Khabib Nurmagomedov retired after he defeated Justin Gaethje, he’s no longer eligible for our rankings. If he officially withdraws his retirement announcement or signs a contract to fight, he’ll regain his position, but as long as he’s retired, he’s out. This is a hard and fast rule here a B/R, and the same one that caused Daniel Cormier’s exit in August.
With that covered, let's move on.
With Nurmagomedov ineligible for our pound-for-pound rankings, former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is still safely in our No. 1 spot, and he could reaffirm that position in a big way if he starts collecting wins at heavyweight. We like fighters who achieve success in multiple weight classes.
Our No. 2-5 spots are also unchanged since our last update, and are held by UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic and UFC featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski respectively. Of these champions, only Usman has a fight scheduled, but the others are likely to be back in action soon, so we could see some big changes to this hallowed list in the near future.
Women: No. 10-6
10. Katlyn Chookagian
9. Holly Holm
8. Tatiana Suarez
7. Germaine de Randamie
6. Jessica Andrade
The bottom end of our women’s pound-for-pound rankings have not changed after UFC 255.
Despite defeating Cynthia Calvillo on the UFC 255 main card, Katlyn Chookagian remains in our No. 10 spot. While her win over Calvillo—an upset, according to the odds—was impressive, it was an undeniable stinker, and flatly not enough to move her past former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who is still clinging to the No. 9 spot after a comprehensive decision defeat of Irene Aldana in October.
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, former UFC bantamweight champ Jessica Andrade, recently cemented her position with a devastating first-round drubbing of the aforementioned Chookagian. She also gets bonus points for performing well in multiple weight classes.
Women: No. 5-1
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
4. Rose Namajunas
3. Weili Zhang
1. Amanda Nunes
Our women’s top-5 is unchanged since our last update, but there are a couple of things we want to note.
We’ll start with our No. 5 fighter: former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Jedrzejczyk, who has not fought since she lost a split division to reigning strawweight champ Weili Zhang in March, nearly lost her spot in our top-5 to Andrade—a woman she holds a win over—on the basis of her prolonged inactivity. In the end, however, we decided to hold off on this switch. Allow us to explain.
While Jedrzejczyk has made it very clear that she’s not retired, the Polish star has also emphasized that she won't be taking another fight until she’s able to resume training at American Top Team in South Florida—not an easy thing to do thanks to the travel restrictions associated with the pandemic. That gave us the impression that it could be a long time before Jedrzejczyk makes it back to the Octagon, but just when we were about to eighty-six her from the top-5, she touched down on US soil and got back to training ATT. It’s far from an official fight announcement, but it’s a step toward that end, so for now, she remains at No. 5.
Now, onto No. 4.
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 in that fight.
That brings us to another point we want to emphasize: the positions of Zhang and UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Zhang has long held our No. 3 spot, while Shevchenko has had similar staying power at No. 2. That remains true after Shevchenko defended her title with a unanimous decision defeat of Jennifer Maia in the UFC 255 co-main event.
While we’ve long had Shevchenko at No. 2 and 3 respectively, however, the UFC has had them in opposition positions. We think that’s insane. Why is Zhang, a woman who has defended her title just once, ranked ahead of Shevchenko, who has defended her title four times and has achieved huge wins in multiple weight classes? It’s an affront on logic, and another clear indication that our rankings are better than the UFC’s. We just wanted to point that out.
Now that we’ve patted ourselves on the back for that, we’ll move on to our No. 1 spot, which is still held by Amanda Nunes.
The Brazilian, 32, holds 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 decision wins over the aforementioned Shevchenko, and her status as MMA's pound-for-pound queen is irrefutable.
While her planned UFC 256 featherweight title defense against Megan Anderson has unfortunately been nixed, she remains truly unimpeachable atop this list.