Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 257
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.
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 wild UFC 257 card out of the Etihad Arena on "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi—the promotion's first pay-per-view offering of the new year.
Men: No. 10-6
10. Petr Yan
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
8. Justin Gaethje
7. Max Holloway
6. Dustin Poirier
There has only been one big change to the bottom half of our men's pound-for-pound rankings, and it stems from the recent UFC Fight Island 7 card, rather than UFC 257.
UFC Fight Island 7, which went down January 16, was topped by a featherweight fight between the division's former champion Max Holloway, and one of its most exciting contenders, Calvin Kattar. Holloway produced one of the most dominant performances of his career, landing north of 400 strikes en route to a clear-cut unanimous-decision win. That feat was so impressive that we've decided to bump him up two spots from No. 9 to No. 7. There's just no refuting that he's a world-class talent.
Other than that adjustment, our No. 10-6 spots are unchanged.
Some readers will undoubtedly take issue with the fact that Dustin Poirier has not moved up on our list after stopping Conor McGregor in the UFC 257 main event—which is a bit funny considering many commenters argued he should be lower on the list before that win. Yet while we agree Poirier has never looked better than he did in his win over McGregor, it just doesn't feel right to displace any of the world champions in our Top 5 to make room for him. If he wins the title by defeating another top contender in his next fight, which seems like a strong possibility, we'll definitely reconsider.
Now, onto the top half of our men's pound-for-pound rankings…
Men: No. 5-1
5. Alexander Volkanovski
4. Stipe Miocic
3. Israel Adesanya
2. Kamaru Usman
1. Jon Jones
We'll start by once again addressing something that anyone who didn't read our post-UFC 254 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 at B/R, and the same one that caused Daniel Cormier's exit from our list in August.
With that said, there's nothing new to report in terms of changes to our men's pound-for-pound Top 5. UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is still sitting at No. 5, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is still perched at No. 4, middleweight king Israel Adesanya is still our No. 3 fighter and our No. 2 and 1 spots are still occupied by welterweight champ Kamaru Usman and former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
While our Top 5 has looked the same for quite some time, that could change in a big way over the next few months, as Volkanovski, Miocic, Adesanya and Usman all have fights scheduled before April.
Usman is slated to defend his title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 on February 13. Adesanya will move up to light heavyweight to challenge divisional king Jan Blachowicz for a second title at UFC 259 on March 6. Finally, at UFC 260 on March 27, Miocic and Volkanovski are set to defend their titles against Francis Ngannou and Brian Ortega, respectively.
Depending on the outcomes of those fights, we could see some huge changes to our men's pound-for-pound rankings in the very near future. We also know Jon Jones is planning a move up to heavyweight, which could cause some major shake-ups on this list.
Now, for the best women in the sport.
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 has not changed after UFC 257.
Katlyn Chookagian remains in our No. 10 spot. While her recent win over Cynthia Calvillo was commendable, it was an undeniable snoozer and was simply not enough to move her past former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who is still clinging to our No. 9 spot after a lopsided decision defeat of Irene Aldana in October.
Our No. 8 spot is still held by Tatiana Suarez. The fact that she hasn't fought since June 2019 is making it increasingly difficult to justify her position on this list, but she recently told MMA Junkie that she hopes to fight again this summer, so we've decided to keep her where she is for now. If that summer comeback doesn't materialize, she's out.
At No. 7, we have former UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. De Randamie is riding a submission win over Julianna Pena, who is closing in on a pound-for-pound spot herself after submitting Sara McMann at UFC 257. That victory over Pena was almost enough to push De Randamie into our No. 6 spot. Unfortunately for her, our No. 6 fighter, former UFC strawweight champ Jessica Andrade, recently cemented her position with a devastating first-round drubbing of the aforementioned Chookagian at flyweight. She also gets bonus points for performing well in multiple weight classes, having fought and won in all three of the UFC's women's divisions.
Women: No. 5-1
5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
4. Rose Namajunas
3. Weili Zhang
2. Valentina Shevchenko
1. Amanda Nunes
Our women's Top 5 is unchanged since our last update, but there are a couple of things we want to reiterate.
We'll start with our No. 5 fighter: former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who has not fought since she lost a split division to reigning strawweight champ, Weili Zhang, in March. She nearly lost her spot in our Top 5 to Andrade—a woman she holds a win over—on the basis of her recent inactivity. However, we decided to continue holding off on this switch for one reason. 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 of the COVID-19 era. 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 86 her from the Top 5, she touched down on U.S. soil and got back to training at ATT. It's far from an official fight announcement, but it's a step toward that end and secures her status at No. 5 for now.
Our No. 4 spot is still the property of two-time Jedrzejczyk foil Rose Namajunas, who is riding an impressive decision win over our No. 6 fighter, Andrade. She is expected to get the next crack at UFC strawweight champion Zhang, and she will absolutely move up this list with a win in that fight.
Zhang, on that note, is our No. 3 fighter. While she has not fought since March, when she narrowly escaped the Octagon with her title after a war with Jedrzejczyk, that's not really her fault. The pandemic has seemingly made it very difficult for her to leave her native China, and it looks increasingly likely that her long-rumored title defense against Namajunas will happen quite soon. For the moment, her inactivity is no cause for concern with respect to her position on this list.
Our No. 2 spot is still held by UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. While the official UFC rankings had Shevchenko ranked behind Zhang for many months, we've always viewed her as the more accomplished and more proven fighter. After her lopsided decision win over Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in November, the UFC finally followed our lead and moved her ahead of Zhang, and we're glad to see it. Sometimes, logic prevails.
With our No. 2 fighter covered, let's move on to the No. 1 spot, which to nobody's surprise is 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 UFC 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.
Nunes is currently slated to defend her featherweight title against Megan Anderson at UFC 259 on March 6. While this fight is widely considered a squash match, it doesn't matter. She has already cemented herself as the greatest female fighter in MMA history.