MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Should Alex Volkanovski drop to No. 2 after loss to Islam Makhachev?

The first 1 vs 2 fight in the UFC weight class is over and lightweight champion Islam Makhachev retained his title by a narrow margin with a unanimous decision victory over featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski on February 11 in Perth, Australia. , in the main event of UFC 284.

Three questions emerged from this struggle:

I scored Makhachev 48-47, but I have no problem with the card 48-47 in favor of Volkanovski. It was one of those hand-to-hand fights where most of the rounds didn’t have a decisive advantage. The most decisive round was the fifth, when Volkanovski dropped Makhachev and badly damaged him.

So, as for question 1, yes, Makhachev deserved to win. It was a very close fight, and there are no gifts in such a fight.

But that makes question 2 even more interesting. Volkanovski moved up in weight to challenge Makhachev, and he has a legitimate argument that he deserved to win the fight. So, despite the fact that the decision was made by Makhachev, does Volkanovski deserve to lose his place in the rankings?

This is a legitimate dispute, but I support Makhachev a little. Let’s take a hypothesis: Let’s say that flyweight champion Brandon Moreno gets a fight against welterweight champion Leon Edwards. Edwards wins by a close decision, but Moreno had many good moments in the fight. Given the relative size of the two, it would make sense that Moreno, even though he lost a decision and didn’t win the title, would have overtaken Edwards in the pound for pound rankings because he was so much smaller and almost made it.

Does Volkanovski deserve such attention? Well, I thought about it, of course, but I felt like they were close enough that the physical benefits weren’t as important a factor as they could be. Volkanovski was shorter, but, for example, he had an outstretched arm an inch longer.

Given that, I chose Makhachev as No. 1, but I think Volkanovski did enough to deserve a rematch.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: (LR) Contenders Islam Makhachev of Russia and Alexander Volkanovski of Australia face off ahead of their UFC Lightweight Championship bout during UFC 284 at the RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
1st and 2nd best fighters in the world, regardless of weight category. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

But will it make any difference with the upcoming return of Jon Jones? The former light heavyweight champion has been the best fighter in the world for a long time, between breaks.

On March 4 in Las Vegas, he will face Cyril Gein for the vacant heavyweight title. This will be Jones’ first fight since February 8, 2020, when he defeated Dominick Reyes in Houston in a light heavyweight title defense at UFC 247.

Win or lose to Gein, Jones will return to the top 10 on his return. I’m using the one-year inactivity mark to remove fighters from the rankings, which is why former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is out. Ngannou has not fought since January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California when he defeated Gein at UFC 270.

He remains a free agent and does not have an MMA fight scheduled, so he was expelled.

Jones will return next month and enter, but if he beats Gein in spectacular fashion, does he deserve to be No. 1? Well, probably, but it’s hard to say until we see the fight. It’s probably good that Makhachev was not used to being number one in the rankings at this point. Between Volkanovski and Jones, he has many contenders for this seat.

Rating of men’s MMA regardless of the weight category on February 14.

  1. Islam Makhachev (24-1), UFC lightweight champion. Previous rating: 3

  2. Alexander Volkanovskiy (25-2), UFC featherweight champion. Previous rating: 1

  3. Kamaru Usman (20-2), former UFC welterweight champion. Previous rating: 2

  4. Leon Edwards (20-3), UFC welterweight champion. Previous rating: 4

  5. Khamzat Chimaev (12-0), UFC welterweight/middleweight title contender. Previous rating: 5

  6. Charles Oliveira (33-9), former UFC lightweight champion. Previous rating: 6

  7. Israel Adesanya (23-2), former UFC middleweight champion. Previous rating: 8

  8. Jiri Prochazka (29-3), former UFC light heavyweight champion. Previous rating: 9

  9. Brandon Moreno (21-6-2), UFC flyweight champion. Previous rating: 10

  10. Jamahal Hill (14-1), UFC light heavyweight champion. Previous Rating: NR

Rating of women’s MMA regardless of the weight category on February 14.

  1. Amanda Nunes (22-5), UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion. Previous rating: 1

  2. Valentina Shevchenko (23-3), UFC flyweight champion. Previous rating: 2

  3. Julianne Peña (12-5), former UFC bantamweight champion. Previous rating: 3

  4. Zhang Weili (23-3), UFC Flyweight Champion. Previous rating: 4

  5. Cris Cyborg (26-2), Bellator featherweight champion. Previous rating: 4

  6. Rose Namajunas (11-5), UFC flyweight title contender. Previous rating: 6

  7. Jessica Andrade (23-9), UFC flyweight champion contender. Previous rating: 7

  8. Manon Fiorot (10-1), contender for the UFC flyweight title. Previous rating: 8

  9. Erin Blanchfield (10-1), UFC flyweight title contender. Previous rating: 9

  10. Tayla Santos (19-2), contender for the UFC flyweight title. Previous rating: 10

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Brazil's Alex Pereira reacts after TKO victory over Nigeria's Israel Adesanya for the UFC Middleweight Championship during UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2022 at New York.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Alex Pereira stopped Israel Adesanya with a fifth-round knockout to become the new middleweight champion on Saturday at UFC 281. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


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