UFC Pound-for-Pound Fighter Rankings: Alexander Volkanovski holds onto No. 1 spot despite loss

Whether you look at MMA weight class rankings as a subjective waste of time or as the only true currency in attributing greatness, the aftermath of Saturday’s UFC 284 superfight between lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and reigning featherweight king Alexander The Volkanovskis made a hell of a lot of noise. debate.

Technically, Makhachev (24-1) made the first defense of his 155-pound title – and did so in Volkanovski’s hometown of Perth, Australia – in an exciting and highly skilled fight that ended in a controversial unanimous decision. But it’s hard not to argue that Volkanovski (24-2) won the night by beating his larger opponent in the final round to truly showcase his greatness.

The fight was a technical masterpiece fought at breathtaking pace as both managed to neutralize their opponent’s power by picking up their individual games when it mattered the most. Volkanovski did this by avoiding lengthy back stretches against such a dominant wrestler, while Makhachev delivered incredible precision strikes to make up for his opponent’s magic.

So how is it possible that Volkanovski can lose a fight on all three scorecards and still hold the top spot in the P4P rankings of UFC fighters?

First, the result of this fight was not a robbery at all. In fact, Judge Derek Cleary’s quick score of 49-46 in favor of Makhachev, which has been maligned by many, may actually be more realistic than the 48-47 presented by most of Volkanovski’s supporters online. Again, based on an interpretation of the actual evaluation criteria, perhaps not.

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Either way, Volkanovski took a much bigger risk by snapping his 12-fight UFC winning streak in pursuit of a second world title against a bigger opponent. He also proved with his performance that at the moment he is still the best fighter in the world overall, who would probably overtake Makhachev if they both competed full-time in the same weight class.

The mere loss of a top ranked P4P fighter automatically prevents him from taking his place in the rankings, which is exactly what happened to the likes of Leon Edwards, Alex Pereira and Julianna Peña in high-profile title-level losses. last two years. Often, fighters have to prove a second (or even third) time that they really deserve such a high P4P rating and that this is not just a deviation.

The only thing that previously held Makhachev back from his own long winning streak, which extended to 12 wins at UFC 284 (leaving him four short of Anderson Silva’s record), was the lack of elite opponents throughout his entire run. Back-to-back title wins over Charles Oliveira and now Volkanovski have seen him make the jump to P4P in two fights, which is pretty much unheard of.

It is very likely that if Makhachev defends his title again, especially in the dominant way he is widely known at 155 pounds, he will be able to pass Volkanovski for first place. Former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who returns in March after a three-year hiatus to fight for the UFC heavyweight title, could also just as well unseat them all with a big win.

Done right, P4P ratings should be the argument for who is the best fighter at the moment, regardless of weight. Ideally, the best way to resolve any dispute is to face off in a duel between two fighters, which rarely happens due to weight discrepancies. Even though a superfight was set up in this case, Volkanovski’s actual performance as the little man just can’t be overlooked.

Volkanovski is the best MMA fighter in the world today. He is undefeated in 12 UFC fights at his preferred weight of 145 pounds and is well on his way to becoming the greatest fighter of all time. However, this rating can change, especially in sports where there are so many ways to lose and you are only as good as your last fight.

It just so happens that in his last fight, Volkanovski was incredible no matter how you scored him. He had an answer to everything Makhachev had to offer and was the fresher fighter who did the most damage any fighter could do to his opponent in the final round.

Sometimes you can lose a battle and still win the war.

Using criteria that take into account everything from achievement to current form, let’s take a closer look at the best fighters in the octagon.

For the updated CBS Sports divisional rankings: Click here.

Ranking of men in the weight category

1. Alexander Volkanovskiy – featherweight champion (24-2)

Previous ranking: No. 1

The amazing magician proved his wrestling is world class in a close loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Volkanovski retained his crown as the best in the sportbut things will only get more complicated from now on as the new interim featherweight champion is likely to be Yair Rodriguez.

2. Islam Makhachev — lightweight champion (24-1)

Previous rating: 3

Losing a win over reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and the ensuing score dispute in the fight showed just how incredible Makhachev has grown as a striker. His exceptional accuracy and poise made it impossible for Volkanovski to get past him, even though his favorite fight was crushed.

3. Kamaru Usman – Welterweight (20-2)

Previous ranking: No. 2

Usman was on his way to a sixth title defense and a draw with Anderson Silva for consecutive UFC victories until a miraculous 5th-round knockout of Leon Edwards to the head rocked the world at UFC 278. The trilogy is set for March 18 in London. where the 35-year-old Usman, who landed the first takedown of his career in the first round against Edwards, will have a chance at redemption.

4. Israel Adesanya – Middleweight Champion (23-2)

Previous ranking: No. 4

Despite leading on all three cards in his UFC 281 title defense against longtime kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, Adesanya lost in the fifth round due to his first middleweight loss in the octagon. An immediate rematch has been set for April 8, despite Pereira already having three victories over Adesanya in two martial arts.

5. Aljamain Sterling – Bantamweight Champion (22-3)

Previous ranking: No. 5

After one fight after being silenced by his critics by outmaneuvering Petr Yan in a rematch for the title, Sterling’s second title defense was largely inconclusive. While history always shows Sterling winning a second-round TKO over T.J. Dillashaw, the former champion entered the fight with a severely injured shoulder that escalated within seconds.

6. Alex Pereira – Middleweight Champion (7-1)

Previous rating: 6

At 35, having made a late transition from kickboxing to MMA, it was hard to imagine just how good a Brazilian slugger could be. But in just four fights in his UFC career, Poathon lived up to his “hands of stone” moniker by knocking out middleweight king Israel Adesanya in the 5th round to claim the 185-pound crown in November. The rematch is scheduled for UFC 287.

7. Jiri Prochazka – Light Heavyweight Champion (29-3-1)

Previous ranking: No. 7

The unpredictable Prochazka has earned the full respect of critics by extending his winning streak to 13 in a dramatic and vicious fifth-round submission by Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. But Prochazka, who has gone 23-1-1 since 2013, has suffered the injury that took him out. from the rematch and led to him losing the belt. A return in late 2023 could be on the cards depending on the length of his recovery.

8. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight (33-9)

Previous rating: 8

Was the one-sided loss of the Brazilian finishing car title to Islam Makhkachev the result of an unfortunate stylistic match, or did Oliveira’s reckless and dramatic manner finally catch up with him? Either way, the 33-year-old will have to regroup after a remarkable 11 win streak that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

9. Leon Edwards – Welterweight Champion (20-3, 1 NC)

Previous rating: 9

The real story of “Rocky” played out in front of MMA fans when the often overlooked Edwards rallied to stop Kamaru Usman in dramatic fashion at UFC 278. Edwards extended his unbeaten streak to 11 fights since losing to Usman in 2015 and is now gearing up for a trilogy of fights in London against Usman at UFC 286 in March.

10. Brandon Moreno – Flyweight Champion (20-3, 1 NC)

Previous rating: 10

The Killer Kid seems to have found some closure in his four-fight streak with Deveison Figueiredo after Moreno dominated the Brazilian slugger in Rio de Janeiro and regained the 125-pound title. TKO in the third round of UFC…


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