UFC Pound-for-Pound Fighter Rankings: Jon Jones returns to top three with win, Valentina Shevchenko tumbles

Love him or hate him, Jon Jones made a triumphant return at UFC 285 in March to cement his status as the greatest fighter in MMA history by becoming a two-division champion.

Does this mean that Jones automatically regained his status as the best fighter in the world, regardless of weight category, after a three-year break? Not so fast.

Jones, 35, should be well placed to do so after easily dispatching Cyril Gein for the UFC heavyweight title, who was recently vacated by Francis Ngannou after he and the promotion failed to agree on a new deal. But for now, Jones’ 124-second elimination of Gein leaves a lot of unresolved questions as to how dominant he can still be in the new division with nearly 50 pounds added to his body.

That’s not to say that Jones’ return was anything more than spectacular. Given the dismissal, no doubt. It’s just that Jones’ strength as a wrestler matched so perfectly with Gein’s blatant weakness on the ground that a dominant submission win was somewhat disappointing.

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Jones called out former heavyweight king Stipe Miocic after the fight, which should provide more insight into exactly where the Bones are, as well as future title defenses against the likes of Curtis Blaydes, Sergei Pavlovich or Tom Aspinall if Jones continues to win. . and defend your crown.

The only thing Jones has really proven is how much of a gamer he still is. Despite layoffs, controversy and constant questions about his personal nature, Jones remains as unflappable in the octagon as ever.

When it comes to greatness, that’s the definition, so few question whether Jones deserves to be the sport’s sole goat. But to separate himself from contemporary champions like Alexander Volkanovskiy and Islam Makhachev, he needs to stay active and successful.

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. Jon Jones – Heavyweight Champion (27-1, 1 NC)

Previous Rating: NR

Having put on nearly 50 pounds of weight since his long-awaited move up to heavyweight, Jones got rid of any fears of cage rust after a three-year absence with a quick win over Cyril Gein at UFC 285 to become a two-weight champion. At 35, Jones’ return was a perfect match for a promotion with the departure of Francis Ngannou.

4. Kamaru Usman – Welterweight (20-2)

Previous ranking: No. 3

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight (33-9)

Previous rating: 8

Was the Brazilian finishing car’s one-sided loss to Islam Makhkachev the result of bad stylistic choices, 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.

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 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.

Dropped: Brandon Moreno
Just missed: Moreno, Robert Whittaker, Jamahal Hill, Dustin Poirier, Cyril Gein, Yair Rodriguez

Women’s ranking pound by pound

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

Previous ranking: No. 1

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. Bantamweight title defense against Irene Aldana is rumored to be at UFC 285.

2. 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. An inevitable trilogy is brewing with new champion Zhang Weili, whom Namajunas has beaten twice.

3. Zhang Weili – minimum weight (23-3)

Previous ranking: No. 4

The first Chinese-born UFC champion regained the 115-pound crown by dominating Carla Esparza at UFC 281 by second-round submission. The victory showed Zhang’s continued improvement in her grappling game, but she would not gain recognition as the sport’s top minimum weight until she could avenge Namajunas for a couple of losses.

4. Alexa Grasso – Flyweight Champion (16-3)

Previous Rating: NR

Former strawweight title contender shocked the world by becoming first flyweight to defeat Valentina Shevchenko got very upset at UFC 285. At the same time, Grasso became the first champion of Mexican origin in UFC history. Undefeated in five fights at 125 pounds, Grasso managed to turn the division on its head.


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