Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 266

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor ISeptember 28, 2021

Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 266

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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 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 problems goes 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.

    With UFC 266 going down in front of a full house in Las Vegas, Nevada last Saturday, that means it's time for another update.

    The card featured three of our pound-for-pound stars: featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, and flyweight contender Jessica Andrade.

    How did their UFC 266 fights affect our rankings? Keep scrolling to see.

Men: Nos. 10-6

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    10. Brandon Moreno 

    9. Jan Blachowicz

    8. Francis Ngannou

    7. Max Holloway

    6. Dustin Poirier

    The bottom half of our men's pound-for-pound list didn't change after UFC 266, because none of those on it competed on the card. That being said, this could transform quite a bit over the next few months. 

    UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, our No. 9 fighter, is slated to defend his title against Glover Teixeira at UFC 267 on October 30. Featherweight contender Max Holloway, our No. 7, is slated to take on Yair Rodriguez on November 13. Brandon Moreno, the flyweight champion and No. 10 on our list, will defend his title against Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 268 on December 11. No. 6 Dustin Poirier, is expected to challenge lightweight champion Charles Oliveira on the same card.

    Every one of those fights could have a huge impact on our ratings. 

Men: Nos. 5-1

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    5. Stipe Miocic

    4. Alexander Volkanovski

    3. Israel Adesanya

    2. Kamaru Usman

    1. Jon Jones

    After Alexander Volkanovski defeated Brian Ortega in the UFC 266 main event, we almost moved him up to our No. 3 spot. In the end, though, we decided to keep him at No. 4, partly because he's only fought once in the last year and a half and partly because his two recent wins over Max Holloway were very contentious, and partly because moving him up would mean moving middleweight champion Israel Adesanya down. Volkanovski is almost there. Almost. But for the moment, he hasn't done quite enough to displace the middleweight champ.

    While we're here, we'll reiterate that former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, our No. 1-ranked fighter, is at risk of losing his spot if he doesn't fight again soon.

    Unfortunately, given his current contract dispute with the UFC and his recent legal troubles, it seems unlikely he'll be back in the Octagon anytime soon, so his exit may be inevitable. Time will tell.

Women: Nos. 10-6

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    10. Carla Esparza

    9. Katlyn Chookagian

    8. Holly Holm

    7. Germaine de Randamie

    6. Jessica Andrade

    If Jessica Andrade didn't have a decisive decision loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk on her record, her UFC 266 knockout win over Cynthia Calvillo would have moved her from the bottom half of our women's list and into the top five.

    Unfortunately for the Brazilian, the memories of her being decisively beaten by Jedrzejczyk are still too clear in our minds—even if the fight was back in 2017—for that to happen. So, for the moment, she's staying put, and the bottom half of our women's pound-for-pound rankings is unchanged.

Women: Nos. 5-1

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    4. Weili Zhang 

    3. Rose Namajunas 

    2. Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Amanda Nunes

    We mentioned Joanna Jedrzejczyk on our last slide. The former strawweight queen—possibly the best fighter in the division's history—is still clinging to our No. 5 spot.

    However, she hasn't fought since losing a razor-close decision to Weili Zhang in March 2020. If she doesn't have a fight booked by March 2022, she'll be escorted off the premises.

    Beyond Jedrzejczyk, our No. 3 and 4 spots are still occupied by former strawweight champion Weili Zhang and reigning champion Rose Namajunas. The pair are slated to run it back at UFC 268 on November 6, and their rematch could cause some big changes to this list.

    Our No. 2 spot is still the domain of flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who authored an effortless-looking win over Lauren Murphy in the UFC 266 co-main event. That win was impressive but still not enough to move the 33-year-old ahead of our No. 1, Amanda Nunes.

    The Brazilian holds a pair of impressive—albeit controversial—wins over Shevchenko. Moreover, she rules over the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, and she has beaten every other woman to hold the title in either weight class.

    Unfortunately for Shevchenko, Nunes is currently unimpeachable. That being said, a trilogy fight between them could shake things up.


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