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UFC Pound-for-Pound Fighter Rankings: Islam Makhachev rockets into the top five with dominant title win

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A new era has dawned in lightweight, at least that’s how it feels after Islam Makhachev defeated Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi via second-round submission against the most feared finisher in UFC history.

Makhachev has long displayed the qualities that usually find someone in the top ten rankings based on weight. However, all he lacked throughout his 11-fight winning streak were top-tier names that left no doubt.

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If you’re wondering, there’s no more doubt. Generally.

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Makhachev, 31, helped fulfill the prophecy of his late coach Abdul Nurmagomadov, who once declared that one day his own son Khabib would relinquish his title and that Makhachev would be next in line to continue the Dagestani tradition of 155kg dominance.

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Things may have gone a little awry when Oliveira took the title vacated by Nurmagomedov in one of the most absurd streaks of dramatic wins against top-tier talent, but Makhachev kept his end of the bargain once the fight finally materialized. With Nurmagomedov now serving as lead coach, Makhachev is making good on his promise to be Khabib 2.0, albeit with his own unique recipe.

While both Nurmagomedov and Makhachev dominate the ground, Makhachev is much more comfortable on his feet, which he demonstrated by dropping Oliveira with a counter right hook in the 2nd round to set up a submission hold. Makhachev also seems to be more focused on deftly finding submissions than Nurmagomedov, who used his quick wrestling to land a much more targeted attack in the ground and pound.

However, both fighters equally dominate their picks, in the midst of which Makhachev seems to be acting. Makhachev also has the potential to make an even bigger jump in the P4P rankings after challenging featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a proposed 155-pound title shot, who will also be in contention for the top spot in the rankings.

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 (24-1)

Previous ranking: No. 1

As for Jose Aldo, Volkanovski has taken another step towards GOAT featherweight status by leaving former champion Max Holloway in a bloody mess to complete their trilogy. Having defended the title four times, Volkanovski has made the division his own, and in 2023 he will attempt to make history by moving up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev.

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

Previous ranking: No. 2

Although he was unnecessarily booed during his UFC 276 title defense against Jared Cannonier, The Last Style Bender left the octagon unscathed after another dominant victory. Adesanya’s next defense is expected to be tough when former kickboxing contender Alex Pereira faces him on November 12 in New York.

3. Kamaru Usman – Welterweight (20-2)

Previous ranking: No. 4

Usman looked good and 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. A move for the 35-year-old who held the first takedown in his career in the first round.

4. Islam Makhachev — lightweight champion (23-1)

Previous Rating: NR

In the first UFC fight between fighters who each had 10 or more win streaks, Makhachev made his 11th win his most memorable by dominating Charles Oliveira to start a new reign at 155 pounds. Critics can no longer dispute its level of competition. The more Makhachev steps out of the big shadow cast by his head coach Khabib Nurmagomedov, the more the world will see how great Makhachev is.

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

Previous ranking: No. 5

Despite suffering a serious knee injury during training camp amid a very public contract battle with UFC management, Ngannou pulled off a undefeated interim champion Cyril Gein in January. Ngannou’s future in the UFC will remain in doubt until he signs a new contract, but a fight with Jon Jones in the spring of 2023 could help sweeten a potential deal.

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

Previous ranking: No. 6

One fight after he shut up his critics by outmaneuvering Petr Yan in a title rematch, Sterling’s second title defense produced inconclusive results.. 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.

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

Previous ranking: No. 7

It’s time to pay tribute to the unpredictable Prochaska after he extended his winning streak to 13 with a dramatic and vicious fifth-round submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. Since 2013, Prochaska has gone 23-1-1, avenging his only knockout loss. He also showed off an elite chin and will need to show it again in the rematch with Teixeira scheduled for December 10th.

8. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight (33-9)

Previous rating: 3

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 be forced to regroup after a remarkable 11 win streak that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

9. Deiveson Figueiredo – Flyweight Champion (21-2-1)

Previous rating: 8

How impressive was Figueiredo’s victory over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy? At 34 years old, Figueiredo not only recovered from an early defeat and regained the 125-pound title, but also showed poise and patience under the guidance of new coaches Henry Cejudo and Eric Albarracin, which he lacked. This is followed by the fourth fight with Moreno, who had just won the interim crown.

10. 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 in dramatic fashion to stop Kamaru Usman at UFC 278. Edwards extended his unbeaten streak to 11 fights after losing to Usman in 2015 and was able to be in line to return home to the UK for an instant fight trilogy.

dropped out: Petr Yan

Just missed: Brandon Moreno, Robert Whittaker, Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez

Women’s ranking pound by pound

1. Amanda Nunez – Bi-Division Champion (21-4)

Previous ranking: No. 2

Nunes convincingly outplayed the stubborn Julianne Peña at UFC 277 to regain her 135-pound title and remind everyone of her GOAT style. The win was also big considering Nunes opened her own gym and changed her style after leaving American Top Team.

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

Previous ranking: No. 1

The combination of Nunes’ comeback victory and Shevchenko’s struggle in a controversial decision against Tayla Santos knocked the 125-pound champion out of first place. However, she may get a chance to leave no doubt forever if the UFC moves forward and holds a trilogy against Nunes at bantamweight.

3. Rose Namajunas – minimum weight (11-5)

Previous ranking: No. 3

A baffling defensive circle strategy saw Namajunas lose her 115lb title to first champion Carla Esparza in their May rematch. Namajunas was almost unaffected by the unanimous decision loss. However, the miscalculation was huge.

4. Zhang Weili – minimum weight (22-3)

Previous ranking: No. 4

The former champion looked completely reborn after consecutive losses to Namajunas when she sent Joanna Jedrzejczyk into retirement with a brutal knockout in their rematch at UFC 275. The Chinese native will have a fresh bout for the belt at UFC 281 in New York.

5. Carla Esparza – strawweight champion (19-6)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Esparza simply took what fell to her and made the most of it by ousting Namajunas in their disappointing strawweight title rematch at UFC 274. Her resume as a two-time champion extended her win streak to six. The next November match is against former champion Zhang Weili.

dropped out: Nobody

just missedCast: Jessica Andrade, Marina Rodriguez, Julianna Peña, Holly Holm, Thalia Santos


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