Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 273May 10, 2022
Stock Up, Stock Down: Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 273
UFC 274 went down in front of a raucous crowd in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday night. That means it's time for another update to B/R's pound-for-pound UFC rankings.
The card was headlined by a lightweight showdown between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. Oliveira arrived as the lightweight champion, but after missing weight, was stripped of the title and deemed ineligible to reclaim it with a win. That means that, despite choking Gaethje unconscious in one of the best rounds of the year so far, he is technically only a lightweight contender. But let’s call it like it is: he's still the champ—and definitely one of the sport’s top fighters, pound-for-pound.
UFC 274 was co-headlined by a strawweight title fight between champion Rose Namajunas and challenger Carla Esparza, both of whom are staples of our women's pound-for-pound rankings. In a minor upset, Esparza defeated Namajunas by split decision to begin her second reign as strawweight champion. It wasn’t a great fight, but what can you do?
Beyond the two title fights atop the bill, UFC 274 did not feature any other fighters currently in the pound-for-pound conversation. But don’t worry, Oliveira and Esparza’s wins caused some big changes to our rankings.
Keep scrolling to see where everyone stands after the event.
Men: Nos. 10-6
10. Aljamain Sterling
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
8. Dustin Poirier
7. Stipe Miocic
6. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira missed weight for his UFC 274 fight with Justin Gaethje, but it was only by half a pound, and there is some reason to believe it was because of a faulty scale, so we're not going to dock him any points. He looked incredible in his fight with Gaethje, weathering some early adversity to score a first-round submission win.
The performance reaffirmed that Oliveira is not only the best lightweight today, but he's also one of the world's best fighters regardless of weight class. It was enough to push him one spot up our list, past heavyweight great Stipe Miocic, into No. 6.
Beyond Oliveira's forward move, the back half of our men's pound-for-pound rankings are unchanged. However, we will note that the aforementioned Miocic, who has not fought since a March 2021 knockout loss to Francis Ngannou, is at risk of losing his spot on this list if he doesn't fight again soon.
Men: Nos. 5-1
5. Francis Ngannou
4. Max Holloway
3. Israel Adesanya
2. Alexander Volkanovski
1. Kamaru Usman
The top half of our men's pound-for-pound list is unchanged after UFC 274, but it could get quite a facelift this summer.
At UFC 276 in July, our third-ranked fighter, middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, will defend his title against Jarred Cannonier. Our No. 2 fighter, featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski, will also defend his title against fourth-ranked Max Holloway on the same card.
Both of those fights could have massive implications for this list. So, too, could welterweight champion Kamaru Usman's next fight, which is expected to pit him against England's Leon Edwards.
Women: Nos. 10-6
10. Marina Rodriguez
9. Holly Holm
8. Germaine de Randamie
7. Jessica Andrade
6. Carla Esparza
Carla Esparza's strawweight title-winning defeat of Rose Namajunas at UFC 274 has thrown quite a wrench into our women's rankings.
In victory, she has rocketed three spots up our list, from No. 9 to No. 6, surpassing former bantamweight champion Holly Holm, former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, and former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade.
However, she is still behind Namajunas. Some readers may object to that, but allow us to explain.
It's a similar situation to Julianna Pena’s 2021 knockout win over former pound-for-pound queen Amanda Nunes. Pena may have been better than Nunes on the night and may well be the better fighter outright, but at this stage, she has still accomplished far less than her vanquished foe. Therefore, still didn't outrank her on our pound-for-pound list.
The same goes for Esparza. Yes, she beat Namajunas, but she has still done less to warrant pound-for-pound consideration than the former champ, who has beaten pound-for-pound staples like Zhang Weili, Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Women: Nos. 5-1
5. Zhang Weili
4. Rose Namajunas
3. Julianna Pena
2. Amanda Nunes
1. Valentina Shevchenko
While Rose Namajunas is still ranked ahead of her two-time foil Carla Esparza on our women's pound-for-pound list, she did take quite a tumble after her latest loss to "The Cookie Monster." She entered the cage at No. 2, but she now sits at No. 4 behind bantamweight champ Julianna Pena, featherweight champ Amanda Nunes, and flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko.
And we could see more changes to our women's rankings soon.
Zhang Weili will collide with Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a rematch of one of the best fights of all time on the main card of UFC 275 in Singapore next month. Zhang, a former strawweight champ, is ranked No. 5, while Jedrzejczyk, also a former champ, was a fixture of our list until she was recently removed for inactivity. A win for either woman—Jedrzejczyk, in particular—could send a shockwave through our rankings.