clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Global MMA Rankings, September Update: Joanna Jedrzejczyk makes her exit, Ciryl Gane enters elite company

Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, where our esteemed panel of experts team up to sort out the movers and shakers of the ever-shifting MMA landscape.

Ladies and gentlemen, a monster month is ahead of us.

With 21 ranked fighters scheduled to compete over the next few weeks — including a whopping 13 at UFC 266 alone — September is slated to be the most impactful month yet in the brief history of this space. Considering all that’s at stake, the lists you read today could look completely different the next time you see them. But before we look ahead, let’s first reflect back at the month that was.

So how did August’s results affect the MMA Fighting Global Rankings?

A quick refresher on some ground rules:

  • 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.
  • Fighters will be ranked in the weight class that their promotion regularly lists them at. That means ONE Championship fighters, who compete at a weight class one division above their counterparts in most other organizations (i.e. flyweights fight at 135 pounds, lightweights compete at 170 pounds, etc.) will be placed alongside fighters in the same listed division. In other words, use your common sense: Demetrious Johnson is a flyweight, people.
  • 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).
  • Fighters who regularly compete or hold titles in multiple weight classes are eligible to be ranked in multiple lists.
  • 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.

In case you missed it, last month’s divisional rankings can be seen here.

And with that, let’s dive in.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.


UFC 265: Lewis v Gane Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Heavyweight

It may not look like much on paper, but Ciryl Gane made the most significant jump up the rankings in August.

Entering the month tied with Curtis Blaydes for fourth in our rankings, Gane dominated Derrick Lewis en route to a third-round finish that earned him an interim UFC title. The ease with which Gane ran through Lewis — not to mention the other notable scalps the Frenchman collected in the 7-0 start to his UFC career — has not only made him a trendy favorite to beat Francis Ngannou in a unification bout, it has also placed him in the top tier of the heavyweight division alongside Ngannou and two-time champion Stipe Miocic.

In fact, one panelist went as far as to rank Gane second only to Ngannou (all other second-place votes went to Miocic). Regardless of his exact spot in the top 3, to be placed in the upper echelon with two of MMA’s most dominant heavyweights is yet another stunning accomplishment for a fighter who began his pro career in 2018.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 4 Ciryl Gane def. No. 3 Derrick Lewis (UFC 265, Aug. 7)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 5 Curtis Blaydes vs. No. 7 Jairzinho Rozenstruik (UFC 266, Sept. 25), No. 11 Chris Daukaus vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC 266, Sept. 25), No. 13 Tom Aspinall vs. Serghei Spivac (UFC Fight Night, Sept. 4)

Fighters also receiving votes: Fabricio Werdum, Blagoy Ivanov, Cheick Kongo, Tim Johnson, Philip De Fries, Alexander Romanov, Serghei Spivac, Walt Harris


Light Heavyweight

There was no movement to speak of at light heavyweight — and that will remain the case until next month when Glover Teixiera gets a long-awaited second crack at a UFC championship, which is currently held by Jan Blachowicz.

Blachowicz landed himself a big money fight against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya for his first title defense, but will a more seasoned 205er like Teixeira prove to be an even greater challenge? Fair or not, Blachowicz is still looking to build his own legacy in a division that has yet to emerge from the long shadow of Jon Jones. Should Blachowicz defeat Teixeira in definitive fashion, he has a fresh line of challengers ahead, which bodes well for fans eager to move on from the “Bones” era.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): None.

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 10 Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann (UFC Fight Night, Sept. 18), No. 11 Phil Davis vs. Yoel Romero (Bellator 266, Sept. 18)

Fighters also receiving votes: Nikita Krylov, Johnny Walker


Middleweight

Gegard Mousasi and Jared Cannonier held serve in their respective headlining bouts with little difficulty, which means the most notable movement at middleweight may have been a major name dropping out of the rankings due to inactivity.

With multiple-time title challenger Yoel Romero passing the 18-month mark without a fight, he was officially removed from the MMA Fighting Global Rankings. The good news for “Soldier of God?” He has a high-profile bout with former Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis coming up in two weeks and a win gets Romero right back into the top-15 of another division.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 4 Gegard Mousasi def. John Salter (Bellator 264, Aug. 13), No. 7 Jared Cannonier def. No. 12 Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Vegas 34, Aug. 21)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 5 Derek Brunson vs. No. 10 Darren Till (UFC Fight Night, Sept. 4)

Fighters also receiving votes: John Salter, Brendan Allen, Brad Tavares, Mamed Khalidov, Nassourdine Imavov


Welterweight

With a convincing win over Rory MacDonald, Ray Cooper III continues to show that the upper echelon of the welterweight division isn’t out of his — *ahem* — league.

That’s right, we have PFL representation in the top-15 this month as Cooper III enters at lucky No. 13. Cooper III has been one of the best kept secrets at 170 pounds for the past few years as he’s gone 10-2-1 since joining the PFL in 2018, winning a league championship in his second year, and becoming a legitimate homegrown star. It’s no longer a question of whether Cooper III deserves to be ranked, now we have to ask if he deserves to be ranked higher.

Similar consideration could be given to Vicente Luque, “The Silent Assassin,” who has won 10 of his past 11 fights in the stacked UFC welterweight division while reeling off highlight after highlight. His latest victim was Michael Chiesa, who was previously unbeaten as a welterweight, and that victory has propelled Luque into the No. 6 spot (tied with undefeated Bellator champion Yaroslav Amosov).

Were he the more verbose type, Luque might already have earned a title opportunity, but as it stands he’s made an undeniable case that he’s worthy of a big-name opponent next and possibly a top-5 spot himself. Could a Nate Diaz fight be looming?

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 9 Vicente Luque def. No. 7 Michael Chiesa (UFC 265, Aug. 7), Ray Cooper III def. No. 13 Rory MacDonald (PFL 7, Aug. 13), Daniel Rodriguez def. No. 15 (at lightweight) Kevin Lee (UFC Vegas 35, Aug. 28)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: None.

Fighters also receiving votes: Rory MacDonald, Sean Brady, Jason Jackson, Daniel Rodriguez, Magomed Magomedkerimov


Lightweight

Though we didn’t see any major changes in the typically busy lightweight division, longtime contender Kevin Lee has officially been removed from consideration for our 155-pound ranks as it appears that he could be moving up in weight permanently. That statement could be made with more confidence had Lee managed to defeat Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 35, but after suffering his fourth loss in his past five appearances, it appears that Lee is due for some much-needed soul searching.

As for the top of the division, it remains stagnant as UFC champion Charles Oliveira tries to find someone, anyone, to challenge him for his recently won title, with MMA Fighting’s No. 1-ranked Dustin Poirier not exactly begging for the opportunity.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): None (see welterweight).

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 9 Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast (UFC 266, Sept. 25)

Fighters also receiving votes: Damir Ismagulov, Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, Mateusz Gamrot, Christian Lee, Mark O. Madsen, Raush Manfio,


UFC Fight Night: Barboza v Chikadze Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Featherweight

Welcome to the featherweight top 10, Giga Chikadze!

The fast-rising Georgian contender emphatically announced himself as a future title contender with a third-round TKO of Edson Barboza, one of MMA’s most-feared strikers. Chikadze entered his first UFC main event with a 6-0 record for the promotion — and those pegging him as the next big thing were likely grinning proudly as he earned his third-straight knockout and followed that up with a callout of Max Holloway.

Should Chikadze get his wish and knock Holloway out of the picture, there will be no denying that he should be next to face the winner of the upcoming UFC 266 main event between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 12 Giga Chikadze def. No. 9 Edson Barboza (UFC Vegas 35, Aug. 28)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Alexander Volkanovski vs. No. 4 Brian Ortega (UFC 266, Sept. 25)

Fighters also receiving votes: Magomedrasul Khasbulaev, Mads Burnell, Shane Burgos, Adam Borics, Chris Wade


Bantamweight

Jose Aldo may not have actually moved up in position month, but a vintage performance against Pedro Munhoz has assured his fans that he’s still a threat to anyone at 135 pounds.

The two-time featherweight champion’s bantamweight run got off to a rocky start after he lost a contentious split decision to Marlon Moraes then fell in the fifth round to Petr Yan in a vacant UFC championship bout. However, he’s since rebounded with two straight wins against Munhoz and another longtime contender, Marlon Vera. While many would love to see Aldo in a dream match against Dominick Cruz, he’s proven that he’s not far removed from the top-5 of the division.

In other important news, the rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan has officially been set for UFC 267 on Oct. 30, so we may finally have our tie for the No. 1 spot broken without controversy. Fingers crossed.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 6 Jose Aldo def. No. 7 Pedro Munhoz (UFC 265, Aug. 7)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 7 Marlon Moraes vs. No. 9 Merab Dvalishvili (UFC 266, Sept. 25)

Fighters also receiving votes: Jimmie Rivera, Kai Asakura, Raphael Assuncao, Raufeon Stots, Raoni Barcelos, Marlon Vera, Patchy Mix


Flyweight

Alexandre Pantoja defeated Brandon Royval to move up a spot in our rankings and set up a third fight with a man he’s already beaten twice, UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.

A case could be made for Moreno to face Askar Askarov instead, given that Askarov holds a recent win over Pantoja, but given that Askarov missed weight for his most recent fight and the history between Moreno and Pantoja, one has to think that Pantoja has a good chance to be Moreno’s first title defense.

Former RIZIN champion Manel Kape finally earned his first UFC win and he did so in spectacular fashion, drilling Ode Osbourne with a flying knee in the first round. However, Kape missed weight by three pounds for the fight, which may have dampened some of the enthusiasm surrounding his performance.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 7 Alexandre Pantoja def. No. 9 Brandon Royval (UFC Vegas 34, Aug. 21), No. 13 Manel Kape def. Ode Osbourne (UFC 265, Aug. 7)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: None.

Fighters also receiving votes: Tim Elliott, Rogerio Bontorin, Danny Kingad, Ali Bagautinov, Jeff Molina, Murad Zeinulabidov


Women’s Bantamweight

As has become commonplace with Amanda Nunes holding serve over two divisions, there was little to speak of when it comes to happenings at 135 pounds. Nunes still reigns supreme, despite one rogue panelist among our ranks continuing to take umbrage with her lack of recent defenses in this division.

That will soon be a moot point as Nunes’ title defense against Julianna Pena, originally scheduled for UFC 265 in August, will now take place at UFC 269 in December. It’s a long wait and anything could happen in the next three months, but for now let’s hope that any controversy about Nunes being best bantamweight is put to rest before the year is up.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): None.

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 7 Raquel Pennington vs. No. 13 Pannie Kianzad (UFC Fight Night, Sept. 18)

Fighters also receiving votes: Lina Lansberg, Bethe Correia


Women’s Flyweight

Yes, Valentina Shevchenko is still champion. And no, that likely won’t change anytime soon. But she has a worthy challenger coming up this month at UFC 266 and the division could see plenty of moving and shaking at that event.

Shevchenko takes on Lauren Murphy to close out the month, and while few are giving Murphy a chance to dethrone “Bullet,” she’s as tough as they come and at the very least Shevchenko gets another opponent that will allow her to show off her elite problem-solving skills.

No. 2-ranked Jessica Andrade will also be in action as she fights No. 9 Cynthia Calvillo, and pioneer Roxanne Modafferi looks to hold onto her No. 15 spot when she faces 17-1 Taila Santos.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): None.

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Valentina Shevchenko vs. No. 4 Lauren Murphy (UFC 266, Sept. 25), No. 2 Jessica Andrade vs. No. 9 Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 266, Sept. 25), No. 15 Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos (UFC 266, Sept. 25)

Fighters also receiving votes: Andrea Lee, Vanessa Porto, Taila Santos, Miranda Maverick, Maycee Barber, Denise Kielholtz


UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Strawweight

Farewell for now, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Believe it or not, it has been 18 months since Jedrzejczyk’s epic encounter with Zhang Weili. There have been plenty of calls for the two to rematch or for “Joanna Champion” to be brought in as a test for an up-and-comer like Mackenzie Dern or Marina Rodriguez. Dern and Rodriguez have instead been matched up with one another for an October date, but there hasn’t even been a hint of a comeback fight for the former strawweight queen.

With Zhang now set to rematch champion Rose Namajunas in November, it becomes even more unclear as to when we might see Jedrzejczyk step into the octagon again.

August results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 10 Tecia Torres def. No. 11 Angela Hill (UFC 265, Aug. 7)

September bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 15 Xiong Jingnan vs. Michelle Nicolini (ONE Championship: Empower, Sept. 3)

Fighters also receiving votes: Jessica Penne, Kanako Murata, Emily Ducote

News

Morning Report: Conor McGregor tells Nate Diaz “your boxing is p*ss compare to Nick’s,” Nate responds

News

Lauren Murphy releases statement on UFC 266 loss to Valentina Shevchenko

News

Israel Adesanya plans move to United States to resume career after promise to ‘never’ fight in New Zealand again