Men’s UFC Pound-for-pound rankings: Continued inactivity drops Jon Jones another spot in our top-10

UFC pound-for-pound rankings
Dec 29, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) before his fight with Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) during UFC 232 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC pound-for-pound rankings define the very best fighters in the promotion — and the world. It’s a list built around fighters who consistently prove they have technique and physical gifts second to none, and resumes deserving of admiration. It’s also a list that is heavily debated and as subjective a topic as there is in the MMA community.

With that said, here are the official men’s UFC pound-for-pound rankings.

Men’s UFC pound-for-pound rankings

10. Petr Yan (16-2)

Although he may not be the official bantamweight champion, his performance in winning division gold for the second time at UFC 267 proved Petr Yan is an elite talent in the UFC. In a show of his outstanding fight IQ, he was able to solve the puzzle that is Cory Sandhagen and actually score with a bunch of power shots on an elusive and dangerous target. He will next face current champion, Aljamain Sterling, in a rivalry fight the entire MMA world wants to see.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

9. Max Holloway (22-6)

To some, Max Holloway is the uncrowned UFC featherweight king after two razor-thin losses to the second-ranked man on our list, Alexander Volkanovski. Those impressive performances, along with an absolute drubbing of Calvin Kattar in January, and there is no doubt he is a pound-for-pound talent. In November, he will get to prove that once again when he faces top-five 145-pounder Yair Rodriguez. A fight that likely stamps the next challenger to the champ.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

8. Brandon Moreno (19-5)

UFC pound-for-pound rankings
Jun 12, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Brandon Moreno is declared the winner by submission against Deiveson Figueiredo during UFC 263 at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Moreno is one of the best stories in UFC history. Following a solid run in the promotion, he was jettisoned from the UFC when the division seemed on the brink of being eliminated. He worked his way back, climbed the flyweight ladder, and became the champion. Like Miocic, he is not a physical freak, but his ability to overcome his limits with skill, fight IQ, and heart makes him a beloved figure. He will get to once again prove his pound-for-pound merit in a trilogy fight with another elite flyweight in Deiveson Figueiredo in January.

  • Next fight: vs. Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 270

7. Francis Ngannou (16-3)

When you are the UFC heavyweight champion, you are viewed as the baddest man on the planet. Francis Ngannou looks the part and has proven deserving of the moniker with an absolutely destructive run in the promotion. He has smashed his way to the top and defeated a division legend to become heavyweight king. If he can beat a highly-skilled giant in Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, he will jump a couple of spots on this list.

  • Next fight: vs. Ciryl Gane at UFC 270

6. Charles Oliveira (31-8)

Charles Oliveira had big-time potential when he came to the organization in 2010. However, the Brazilian needed to have his ups and downs to force his evolution into one of the most dangerous talents in the lightweight division. He capped off a nine-fight win streak with a definitive victory over Michael Chandler in the biggest fight of his career at UFC 262. If he can beat Dustin Poirier in December, “Do Bronx” jumps into the top five the next day.

  • Next fight: vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 269

5. Jon Jones (26-1)

Up until 2020, Jon Jones would be at the very top of any pound-for-pound rankings list. His place as arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time is hard to dispute. However, after more than a year and a half away from the sport bulking up to eventually compete for gold in the heavyweight division, he has fallen on the list due to inactivity. Now, with his recent arrest on charges of domestic violence, and being expelled from his long-time training home of Jackson-Wink MMA, who knows when we will see “Bones” compete in the Octagon next.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

4. Dustin Poirier (28-6)

Dustin Poirier is the only fighter on this list ranked higher than the champion in his own division. That is the kind of reputation the former interim titleholder has put together in scoring definitive wins over Conor McGregor [twice], Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, and Dan Hooker. He’s one of the few superstar talents left in the sport built in the mold of a Georges St-Pierre. Where his talk comes in the Octagon, not so much outside of it. In December, he will get a second chance at being the lineal lightweight champion and add another massive achievement to a stellar career.

  • Next fight: Charles Oliveira at UFC 269

3. Israel Adesanya (21-1)

Despite a loss to Blachowicz, Israel Adesanya’s tapestry of MMA work makes his place in the top three of this list an easy decision. He’s lost just once in 22 fights, and it took an excellent performance against a much larger opponent, in a new division, to barely beat him over five rounds. His hit list at middleweight is a who’s-who of the division’s top-10. He is expected to next face former 185-pound champ Robert Whittaker in a monumental rematch of the best two middleweights of the last five years.

  • Next fight: vs. Robert Whittaker UFC 271

2. Alexander Volkanovski (23-1)

UFC pound-for-pound rankings
Sep 26, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; UFC featherweight champion mixed martial artist Alexander Volkanovski at Allegiant Stadium.The Raiders defeated the Dolphins 31-28 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 145-pound king Alexander Volkanovski has won 20 straight fights, beat the greatest featherweights of all time in Max Holloway [twice] and Jose Aldo, and hasn’t tasted defeat in eight years. What else do you need to do to land a spot in the top two of the pound-for-pound rankings? The Aussie can do it all and has shown an elite-level fight IQ that truly makes him a special talent in the sport. He will likely face the winner of the November matchup between Holloway and Yair Rodriguez next. However, a super fight with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo hovers in the background as another option.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

1. Kamaru Usman (19-1)

For a long time, many doubted the greatness of Kamaru Usman. But winning 18 straight and having four impressive welterweight title defenses against world-class talent in Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, and Gilbert Burns proved “The Nigerian Nightmare” is the best thing going in MMA today. His gas tank is endless, his wrestling can control fights and now he has evolved from a high-output striker to a thumping power puncher. There is little Usman can’t do in the Octagon and that is why UFC boss Dana White said he is getting into the GOAT conversation after another title defense at UFC 268.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking
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