Stock Up, Stock Down: B/R UFC Rankings After UFC 270
UFC 270, the promotion's first pay-per-view of the year, went down Saturday in Anaheim, California. That means it's time for an update to B/R's pound-for-pound UFC rankings.
The event was topped by a heavyweight title fight between champion Francis Ngannou, who has been on our pound-for-pound list for almost a year, and former training partner Ciryl Gane.
Despite having trouble with Gane's movement in the first two rounds, Ngannou turned the tables in Rounds 3, 4 and 5, stifling his challenger with a wrestling onslaught that most people had no idea he was capable of. That effort earned him a unanimous-decision win and kept the title around his waist.
UFC 270 was co-headlined by a flyweight title fight between champ Brandon Moreno and challenger Deiveson Figueiredo, the division's former king. It was the pair's third fight after a 2020 draw and a 2021 submission win for Moreno. This time around, Figueiredo finally came out on top, winning via hard-fought unanimous decision to reclaim the title.
Beyond those two championship bouts, there were no fighters on the UFC 270 bill who are in the pound-for-pound discussion. However, the card still managed to send a shock wave through our rankings.
Men: Nos. 10-6
10. Deiveson Figueiredo (previously unranked)
9. Petr Yan (up one spot)
8. Dustin Poirier (down one spot)
7. Charles Oliveira (down one spot)
6. Stipe Miocic (down two spots)
As mentioned, UFC 270 caused some pretty significant changes to our rankings.
The first shift can be attributed to the evening's co-main event, which saw Deiveson Figueiredo reclaim the flyweight title from Brandon Moreno. The latter was ranked No. 9 heading into the fight. In defeat, he dropped off our list. His exit made room for interim bantamweight champion Petr Yan to slide into No. 9 and Figueiredo to move into No. 10.
The rest of the shuffling on our men's pound-for-pound list can be attributed to heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who defeated Ciryl Gane in the UFC 270 main event. Gane had never been beaten before and looked like he had all the skills to confound Ngannou in the cage, but the champion, regarded as the scariest knockout artist in MMA, gave the world a new look by wrestling his way to a decision.
Ngannou's extremely well-rounded performance, which is clear evidence of his growth, catapulted him from our No. 8 spot into the top five.
But before we get deeper into that, Ngannou's move caused former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, reigning lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and former interim lightweight champ Dustin Poirier to fall.
Men: Nos. 5-1
5. Francis Ngannou (up three spots)
4. Max Holloway
3. Alexander Volkanovski
2. Israel Adesanya
1. Kamaru Usman
As we covered in the previous slide, Ngannou's impressive win over Gane—and the technical evolution it implied—pushed him into the top half of our list. He's now sitting at No. 5. His climb also caused former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic to tumble to No. 6.
Miocic is tied 1-1 with Ngannou in a two-fight series, first beating the hulking current titleholder in 2018 before succumbing to his crushing knockout power in March of last year. He's still on this list because he holds a win over Ngannou and because he's the most accomplished heavyweight champion in UFC history. Yet the former champ hasn't fought since he lost to Ngannou and doesn't seem to have any plans to get back into the Octagon.
If he doesn't take a fight soon, he risks tumbling further down this list—maybe even off it altogether.
Women: Nos. 10-6
10. Carla Esparza
9. Holly Holm (down one spot)
8. Katlyn Chookagian (up one spot)
7. Germaine de Randamie
6. Jessica Andrade
There's only been one change to the bottom half of our women's pound-for-pound rankings, and it has nothing to do with UFC 270.
Instead, it concerns former flyweight title challenger Katlyn Chookagian's January 15 decision win over the division's No. 4-ranked contender Jennifer Maia. That win was impressive enough to move her up to No. 8 on our list, displacing former bantamweight queen Holly Holm, who hasn't fought since October 2020.
But here's the thing: Chookagian's UFC contract expired after her win over Maia. There is no guarantee she will be re-signed by the promotion. If she's not, she will be cut from this list because it's limited to UFC fighters. Having said that, she remains in the rankings until we know for sure whether she's staying or going.
Women: Nos. 5-1
5. Weili Zhang
4. Julianna Pena
3. Amanda Nunes
2. Rose Namajunas
1. Valentina Shevchenko
None of the fighters in our women's top five have been in action since UFC 269 in December, when Julianna Pena shocked the world by submitting Amanda Nunes, who had held the No. 1 spot on this list since its inception.
So, there's nothing new to report. It could stay that way for some time, too, as none of women listed above have fights booked at the time of publishing.
Hopefully some of them are able to get back to it in the first quarter of the year.