Two titles changing hands at UFC 281 shakes up MMA pound-for-pound rankings

Sports

Last weekend’s UFC 281 in New York saw two championships change hands. No surprise that it has led to a shakeup in the latest ESPN pound-for-pound MMA rankings.

Israel Adesanya, who dropped his middleweight title in a fifth-round knockout loss to Alex Pereira, previously was No. 2 in our men’s top 10. He fell a couple of spots, with half of our panelists moving him out of their top five. And half of our panel also gave Pereira top-10 votes — after only his eighth pro MMA fight.

In the women’s rankings, Zhang Weili‘s second-round submission of Carla Esparza earned her a second reign as strawweight champ — and elevated her in our top 10, boosting her above a legend of the sport, Cris Cyborg. Esparza remains in the women’s rankings, just a bit lower.

And with flyweight Marina Rodriguez dropping out of the rankings following a knockout loss earlier this month, bantamweight Ketlen Vieira found her way into the top 10.

For the ESPN divisional MMA rankings, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Nov. 16.


Men’s pound-for-pound rankings

1. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 25-1
Last: W (UD) Max Holloway, July 2, 2022
Next: Feb. 11 vs. Islam Makhachev


2. Islam Makhachev

UFC lightweight champion
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 23-1
Last: W (Sub2) Charles Oliveira, Oct. 22, 2022
Next:Feb. 11 vs. Alexander Volkanovski


3. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 20-2
Last: L (KO5) Leon Edwards, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


T-4. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight
Previous ranking: 2
Record: 23-2
Last: L (TKO5) Alex Pereira, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


T-4. Francis Ngannou

UFC heavyweight champion
Previous ranking: 5
Record: 17-3
Last: W (UD) Ciryl Gane, Jan. 22
Next: TBD


6. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight
Record: 33-9, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub2) Islam Makhachev, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


7. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 20-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO5) Kamaru Usman, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


8. Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (TKO2) TJ Dillashaw, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Jiri Prochazka

UFC light heavyweight champion
Record: 29-3-1
Last: W (Sub5) Glover Teixeira, June 11
Next: Dec. 10 vs. Glover Teixeira


10. Robert Whittaker

UFC middleweight
Record: 24-6
Last: W (UD) Marvin Vettori, Sept. 3, 2022
Next: Feb. 12 vs. Paulo Costa


Other fighters receiving votes: Deiveson Figueiredo, Alex Pereira, Dustin Poirier, Ciryl Gane and Brandon Moreno.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Alexander Volkanovski; 2. Islam Makhachev; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Kamaru Usman; 5. Robert Whittaker; 6. Charles Oliveira; 7. Aljamain Sterling; 8. Francis Ngannou; 9. Deiveson Figueiredo; 10. Brandon Moreno.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Usman; 4. Oliveira; 5. Ngannou; 6. Adesanya; 7. Sterling; 8. Edwards; 9. Alex Pereira; 10. Ciryl Gane.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Usman; 4. Ngannou; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Jiri Prochazka; 9. Sterling; 10. Pereira.

Megan Anderson: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Adesanya; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Ngannou; 7. Edwards; 8. Prochazka; 9. Whittaker; 10. Figueiredo.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Ngannou; 4. Adesanya; 5. Usman; 6. Oliveira; 7. Dustin Poirier; 8. Figueiredo; 9. Sterling; 10. Prochazka.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Ngannou; 3. Makhachev; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Pereira; 9. Prochazka; 10. Sterling.


1. Amanda Nunes

UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion
Record: 22-5
Last: W (UD) Julianna Peña, July 30
Next: TBD


2. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (SD) Taila Santos, June 11
Next: TBD


3. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight champion
Previous ranking: Tied for 4
Record: 23-3
Last: W (Sub2) Carla Esparza, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 26-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) Arlene Blencowe, April 23
Next: TBD


5. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight
Previous ranking: Tied for 4
Record: 11-5
Last: L (UD) Amanda Nunes, July 30
Next: TBD


6. Rose Namajunas

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: 7
Record: 11-5
Last: L (SD) Carla Esparza, May 7
Next: TBD


7. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: 6
Record: 19-7
Last: L (Sub2) Zhang Weili, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Kayla Harrison

PFL lightweight champion
Record: 15-0
Last: W (Sub1) Martina Jindrova, Aug. 20
Next: Nov. 25 vs. Larissa Pacheco


9. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Record: 23-9
Last: W (Sub1) Amanda Lemos, April 23
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Lauren Murphy


10. Ketlen Vieira

UFC bantamweight
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 13-2
Last: W (SD) Holly Holm, May 21, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Manon Fiorot, Amanda Lemos and Holly Holm.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Amanda Nunes; 2. Valentina Shevchenko; 3. Zhang Weili; 4. Cris Cyborg; 5. Rose Namajunas; 6. Julianna Peña; 7. Kayla Harrison; 8. Jessica Andrade; 9. Carla Esparza; 10. Manon Fiorot.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Cyborg; 4. Zhang; 5. Peña; 6. Harrison; 7. Namajunas; 8. Esparza; 9. Andrade; 10. Amanda Lemos.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Harrison; 5. Cyborg; 6. Peña; 7. Esparza; 8. Namajunas; 9. Andrade; 10. Holly Holm.

Megan Anderson: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Namajunas; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Ketlen Vieira; 9. Harrison; 10. Peña.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Peña; 5. Cyborg; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Namajunas; 9. Harrison; 10. Lemos.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Andrade; 6. Peña; 7. Esparza; 8. Namajunas; 9. Harrison; 10. Fiorot.

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