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MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Where does Islam Makhachev land after dominant title win?



Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting pound-for-pound rankings, where every month esteemed panel sort through the noise to answer one question: Who are the best overall male and female MMA fighters in the world?

How did the past six weeks affect the global pound-for-pound landscape? Let’s take a look.


Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

It’s Islam Makhachev’s world right now — the rest of us are just living in it.

Remember two months ago when Leon Edwards toppled one of the pound-for-pound kings and rocketed all the way from unranked into a top-5 spot? Makhachev apparently saw and thought “yeah, that looks fun.” Dagestan’s second son shook up the game all over again with a scintillating title win at UFC 280 that launched him straight into the No. 3 ranking formerly held by Charles Oliveira. By fulfilling Father’s Plan and cementing his long-awaited destiny as the heir apparent to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev proved what his team has been telling us all along — he’s one of the best fighters in the whole damn world.

So what’s next?

Well, a shot at the No. 1 pound-for-pound ranking, apparently. Following their in-cage tête-à-tête at UFC 280, Makhachev is already expected to travel to enemy territory to defend his lightweight belt against Alexander Volkanovski in a massive showdown on Feb. 12 in Perth, Australia. With a win, it’s very possible Makhachev could climb from unranked to the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport in a span of just two fights. Who would’ve thought?

Looking ahead to November, all eyes will turn back to No. 2 ranked Israel Adesanya, who puts his middleweight title on the line again in a much-anticipated grudge match against Alex Pereira on Nov. 12 at UFC 280. Adesanya has already lost twice to Pereira in kickboxing — will Pereira make it 3-0 and dethrone “The Last Stylebender” once more?

MMA Fighting

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): Islam Makhechev def. No. 3 Charles Oliveira, No. 7 Aljamain Sterling def. T.J. Dillashaw, No. 11 Patricio Pitbull def. Adam Borics, Sean O’Malley def. No. 17T Petr Yan

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 2 Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira (UFC 281, Nov. 12), No. 14 Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler (UFC 281, Nov. 12)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Colby Covington (4), Jan Blachowicz (3), Islam Makhachev (2), Ciryl Gane (2), Johnny Eblen (2), Alexandre Pantoja (2), A.J. McKee (2), Raufeon Stots (1), Gegard Mousasi (1), Jose Aldo (1), Reinier de Ridder (1)


UFC 280: Chookagian v Fiorot
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

It isn’t often that we see an unranked fighter make such a big splash in the women’s pound-for-pound rankings, but Manon Fiorot delivered in the most important fight of her young career.

The surging French flyweight debuts at the No. 13 spot in this month’s rankings, tied with bantamweight veteran Ketlen Vieira and ahead of contenders Marina Rodriguez, Lauren Murphy, and the woman she defeated at UFC 280, Katlyn Chookagian. It’s been an impressive rise for Fiorot, who made her pro debut just four years ago with a controversial split decision loss to current Bellator standout Leah McCourt before rattling off five straight victories on the international scene.

Fiorot’s punching power immediately caught the eye, and in her last fight before signing with the UFC in 2020, she needed less than a round to finish Gabriela Campo and become the UAE Warriors 125-pound champion. It was obvious that Fiorot was title contender material, the question was how long would it be until she was knocking on Valentina Shevcheko’s door? Now at 5-0 in the UFC, depending who you ask, she’s either one win away (Alexa Grasso says hello) or already next in line if “Bullet” is ready to fire again anytime soon.

Even the phenom that is Kayla Harrison took time to inch her way up these rankings, but if Fiorot can knock off another flyweight with a number by their name in her next fight, she could continue her rapid climb up the charts.

MMA Fighting

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 3 Cris Cyborg def. Simone da Silva (boxing match), Manon Fiorot def. No. 13 Katlyn Chookagian, No. 17 Seika Izawa def. Anastasiya Svetkivska, Yan Xiaonan def. No. 19T Mackenzie Dern

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 4 Carla Esparza vs. No. 8 Zhang Weili (UFC 281, Nov. 12), No. 15 Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Lemos (UFC Vegas 64, Nov. 5)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Larissa Pacheco (4), Seo Hee Ham (3), Julia Budd (2), Irene Aldana (2), Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (1), Raquel Pennington (1), Xiong Jingnan (2), Alexa Grasso (1), Michelle Waterson (1), Angela Lee (1)

Lastly, a refresher on some ground rules:

  • The eight-person voting panel consists of MMA Fighting staffers Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin and Jed Meshew.
  • Updates to the rankings will be completed following every UFC pay-per-view. Fighters will be removed from the rankings if they do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout. (Stipe Miocic sends his regards.)
  • Should a fighter announce their retirement, our panel will decide whether that fighter should immediately be removed from the rankings or maintain their position until further notice (let’s put it this way: we’d have taken Khabib Nurmagomedov out of our rankings a lot quicker than the UFC did).

As a reminder, the notion of pound-for-pound supremacy is always going to inherently be subjective. When you’re debating whether someone like Robert Whittaker should be ranked above someone like Max Holloway, there is no true right answer. In other words: It’s not serious business, folks.

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