Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting pound-for-pound rankings, where every month our esteemed panel of experts sort through the noise to answer one question: Who are the best overall male and female mixed martial arts fighters in the world?
Another month of chaos is behind us and a busy November sits ahead, headlined of course by Saturday’s star-studded UFC 268 pay-per-view. So let us look back at how the October rankings cycle affected the global pound-for-pound landscape in MMA.
First, a refresher on some ground rules before we dive in.
- Our 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.
- Fighters will be removed from the rankings if they do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout.
- Updates to the rankings will be completed at the start of every month.
- 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).
- Holding a promotion’s title does not guarantee that fighter will be viewed as the best in their promotion.
- Regarding all the above rules, any possible exceptions will be discussed internally and noted in the article.
As a reminder, the notion of pound-for-pound supremacy is always going to inherently be subjective. When you’re debating whether someone like Stipe Miocic should be ranked below someone like Max Holloway, there is no true right answer. So while our MMA Fighting Global Rankings serve an actual functional purpose, the following pound-for-pound lists are just here for a good time. In other words: It’s not serious business, folks.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.
It’s Glover Teixiera’s world. The rest of us are just living in it.
Without question, no result had a more dramatic effect on November’s men’s pound-for-pound list than Teixeira’s stunningly one-sided win over Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267. Blachowicz rode into the contest with a No. 6 pound-for-pound ranking — and was even was slotted as high as No. 2 by at least one panelist — yet the unranked Teixeira defied the odds all over again by completing his storybook run at age 42 with the single-best performance of his 20-year MMA career.
As the new UFC light heavyweight champion, Teixeira now debuts on our list at the No. 10 spot. Blachowicz, meanwhile, tumbles all the way down to No. 17.
The other major move of October comes from Petr Yan, who finally surpasses his rival Aljamain Sterling and vaults into a No. 13 ranking on the heels of a dominant win over Cory Sandhagen to capture the UFC interim bantamweight title at UFC 267. With Yan and Sterling suddenly seated alongside one another at our No. 13 and No. 14 spots respectively, the stage is set for their long-awaited rematch to unify the UFC bantamweight titles in 2022.
As for November’s upcoming slate, all eyes will soon turn toward the man our rankings panel unanimously agrees is the best male fighter in the world: Kamaru Usman. The reigning UFC welterweight champion is slated to rematch Colby Covington this Saturday at UFC 268. Could we have a new No. 1 male fighter in this space next month? Or will Usman assert his dominance over his controversial rival once more?
November bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington (UFC 268, Nov. 6), No. 6 Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 42, Nov. 13), No. 15 Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler (UFC 268, Nov. 6)
Fighters also receiving votes: Adriano Moraes, Colby Covington, Rob Font, Ciryl Gane, Ryan Bader, Deiveson Figueiredo, Gilbert Burns, Jose Aldo, Sergio Pettis, Yaroslav Amosov, T.J. Dillashaw, Corey Anderson
Kayla Harrison’s assault up the women’s pound-for-pound ranks continues.
It’s been a busy 2021 for the two-time Olympic champion, who polished off another four wins in six months with her second PFL tournament crown in October and her second $1 million check. After debuting in our pound-for-pound top 10 just a few months ago, Harrison now climbs her way into the No. 8 spot — and it is there that she’ll sit as she embarks on one of the more intriguing MMA free agencies we’ve seen in recent memory.
In many ways, the fate of these rankings could be decided by which direction Harrison chooses for her next move. If she opts to sign with the UFC, our No. 1-ranked fighter — and Harrison’s ATT teammate — Amanda Nunes would instantly await as a marquee matchup. The same applies for Bellator, which holds the keys to a big-time bout pitting Harrison against the No. 4-ranked Cris Cyborg.
Then again, Harrison’s PFL gig is as close to a guaranteed seven-figure paycheck as exists for fighters in this sport. That may make it hard for her to ultimately walk away.
Elsewhere, Marina Rodriguez’s five-round UFC win over the previously No. 15-ranked Mackenzie Dern prompted the biggest move of the month on the women’s side, with Rodriguez claiming this month’s No. 14 ranking and Dern falling into a tie for No. 17.
Now the spotlight once again turns to Saturday’s UFC 268 pay-per-view, as right before Usman and Covington go to battle, No. 3-ranked Rose Namajunas is set to collide with No. 5-ranked Zhang Weili in a title rematch that could have major ramifications for this list.
November bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 3 Rose Namajunas vs. No. 5 Zhang Weili (UFC 268, Nov. 6), No. 4 Cris Cyborg vs. Sinead Kavanagh (Bellator 271, Nov. 12), No. 20 Miesha Tate vs. Ketlen Vieira (UFC Vegas 43, Nov. 20)