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UFC Pound-for-Pound Fighter Rankings: Alexander Volkanovski vaults to No. 1, Israel Adesanya back in top three

If one needs a commercial for how things are progressing at New Zealand’s popular City Kickboxing gym, our teammates Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya put together one from the show last Saturday at UFC 276 in Las Vegas.

Volkanovsky left the T-Mobile Arena in shock While hitting Max Holloway in five rounds from one side in a triple shift. The win was enough to lift the Australian native to the top of the pound-for-pound ratings, in large part due to how intimidating his offensive production was during a steady development.

Previously known as more of a fighter, Volkanovsky took the fight straight to Holloway the entire time and was unbeaten inside the Octagon more than 12 matches.

Meanwhile, Adesanya defended his 185-pound title for the fifth time overall after a relatively easy win over Jared Kannoner. Perhaps the crowd didn’t appreciate the lack of violence given how much Adesanya disciplined the ruthless Kanuner and turned it into a more artistic matter.

But until someone is willing to stand in the pocket and absorb Adesania’s counter-hit at the middleweight, it’s hard to see anyone take their title.

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Using criteria that takes into account everything from achievements to current form, let’s take a closer look at the best fighters within the Octagon.

For updated CBS Sports divisional rankings, click here.

Men’s ratings against the British pound

1. Aleksandr Volkanovsky – Featherweight Champion (24-1)

Previous Ranking: No. 2

On Jose Aldo’s 145-pound record from seven title defenses, Volkanovsky came one step closer to putting the Goats at featherweight with his fourth. This wasn’t just a title defense, as Volkanovsky continued his development at 33 by leaving Max Holloway in a bloody mess in a triple bout. The champ sparked a move to lightweight to challenge Charles Oliveira for the title.

2. Kamaru Usman – Lightweight Champion (20-1)

Previous Ranking: No. 1

Speaking of the Fighter of the Year campaign in 2021, Usman is close to becoming an all-time great player. Unbeaten in 15 UFC matches and won 19 consecutive matches overall. The 35-year-old will face Leon Edwards in the rematch in August.

3. Israel Adesanya – Middleweight Champion (23-1)

Previous Ranking: No. 4

Although he was needlessly booed during and after his UFC 276 title defense against Jared Cannonier, “The Last Stylebender” left the octagon without a scratch in another technical and dominant victory. Comparisons with Anderson Silva remain unfair. Adesanya is a fighter of his own, a great fighter at that, and he stays in the conversation for the best in the world.

4. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight (33-8)

Previous Ranking: No. 3

Although his 155-pound title is currently vacant after losing weight prior to UFC 274, no one is arguing who is the best active lightweight in the world. Oliveira extended his winning streak to 11 with the introduction of Justin Gaethje in the first round. His fighting style welcomes a lot of risks, but Oliveira is so passionate that no one has been able to push him.

5. Francis Ngannou – Heavyweight Champion (16-3)

Previous Ranking: No. 5

Despite sustaining a serious knee injury during training camp amid a very public contract fight with the UFC brass, Ngannou racked up a consolidated victory against his former teammate, and undefeated interim champ, Ciryl Gane. A long recovery is expected as Ngannou’s future in the UFC remains in question.

6. Aljamin Sterling – welterweight champion (21-3).

Previous Ranking: No. 7

Despite all the criticism of Sterling for how he handled his disqualification win over Peter Jan in their first encounter, “Aljo” was an entirely different fighter in the rematch 13 months later. Sterling’s victory in the split decision at UFC 273 extended his winning streak to seven overall and should create a number of financially attractive title defenses.

7. Jerry Proshazka – Light Heavyweight Champion (29-3-1)

Previous Ranking: No. 8

It’s time to give the unpredictable Prochazka his full due after extending his winning streak to 13 in a dramatic and brutal fifth-round delivery by Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. Prochazka is 23-1-1 since 2013, in retaliation for his only knockout defeat. He also showed his elite chin and gas tank to pack his power in ending the fight.

8. Davison Figueiredo – Flyweight Champion (21-2-1)

Previous ranking: 9

How impressed was Figueiredo that Brandon Moreno won in their triple fight? At the age of 34, Figueiredo not only bounced back from a loss after an extra hiatus to reclaim his 125-pound title, but he showed the kind of poise and patience he lacked under new coaches Henri Segudo and Eric Albarracín. An annoying injury will keep him out this summer.

9. Peter Jan – Bantamwete (16-3)

Previous Ranking: No. 10

It’s hard to go wrong with Jan trying to go head-to-head against Sterling in the much-anticipated rematch. Yan called for an immediate three-way match after losing the contested decision, but he will likely need to return to the top of the sport’s deepest division.

10. Max Holloway – Featherweight (23-7)

Previous Ranking: No. 6

Holloway’s elite stock took a serious hit due to the one-sided nature of its triple loss to Alexander Volkanovsky at UFC 276. At just 30, there is still plenty of time for “Blessed” to bounce back in a big way as it considers a possible return to as much as 155 pounds. .

drop out: no one

just missed: Robert Whitaker, Dustin Poirier, TJ Dillashaw, Colby Covington, Stipe Musick

Women’s ratings against the British pound

1. Valentina Shevchenko – Flyweight Champion (23-3)

Previous Ranking: No. 1

Shevchenko’s dominance at 125 pounds was severely challenged in a win over Tila Santos at UFC 275. Although Shevchenko posted her seventh consecutive title defense, she looked human amid Santos’ wrestling success and had to rally to preserve her title.

2. Amanda Nunes – Featherweight (20-4)

Previous Ranking: No. 3

GOAT’s inner blast against Julianna Pena at UFC 269 was the most exciting moment of 2021 and possibly the biggest upset in MMA history. Although she is still armed with the £145 title, Nunes must first fix what he lost in July’s rematch against Pena.

3. Rose Namajunas – Straw Weight (11-5)

Previous Ranking: No. 2

A baffling strategy of defensive rotation led Namajunas to concede her 115-pound title to inaugural champion Carla Esparza in a rematch in May. Namajunas was hardly touched by the loss of her unanimous decision. However, the miscalculation was significant.

4. Zhang Weili – Straw Weight (22-3)

Previous Ranking: NR

The former champ seemed to be completely reborn after back-to-back defeats to the Namajunas when she sent Joanna Jedrzejczyk into retirement via a vicious knockout in a UFC 275 rematch. She developed her hometown of her stunning style and added offensive wrestling to increase her overall risk.

5. Carla Esparza – Strawweight Champion (19-6)

Previous Ranking: No. 4

Esparza simply took what was handled and made the most of it by outsmarting Namajunas in a disappointing rematch for the strawweight title at UFC 274. Although the win wouldn’t do her much good, it would go a long way in adding to and expanding her resume. The two-time champion has now managed to extend her winning streak to six while adding a second win over Namajunas.

drop out: no one

just missed: Giuliana Pena, Jessica Andrade, Marina Rodriguez, Holly Holm, Talia Santos


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