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?
Between the drama surrounding UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and the latest classic from two of the best flyweights in the world, the first month of 2022 certainly set the tone for what should be a very, very interesting year.
But how did January affect the global MMA pound-for-pound landscape? Let’s take a look.
Don’t forget to check out the newest episode of the MMA Fighting Rankings Show, where our rankings panel fielded your most burning questions and much more.
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.
In case you missed it, last month’s MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings can be seen here.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.
Deiveson Figueiredo has retaken his place among the MMA elite.
It may have taken three tries, but Figueiredo finally scored the win he’d been looking for with his electric decision over Brandon Moreno at UFC 270. Now once again the UFC flyweight champion, Figueiredo vaulted up to No. 13 on our pound-for-pound list, while Moreno dropped from No. 12 to the No. 18 spot. With the series tied 1-1-1 apiece after three meetings, is a fourth consecutive fight in the cards? It’d be a historically unprecedented booking, but it’s hard to argue the series feels conclusive as things currently stand.
What is conclusive is the fact that Francis Ngannou’s position in the top three is secure for the foreseeable future after the heavyweight king’s title defense over Ciryl Gane. In a surprising turn of events, Ngannou’s wrestling carried the day over Gane rather than his vaunted punching power, ultimately dropping Gane from No. 19 to out of the pound-for-pound rankings entirely. With Ngannou’s future up in the air due to knee surgery and his ongoing battle against the UFC, it’s possible we may not see “The Predator” again in 2022.
Looking ahead, February is setting up to be a big month for the middleweights, as all three of the top 185-pounders in our list are scheduled to return in the coming weeks, with No. 2 Israel Adesanya rematching No. 8 Robert Whittaker at UFC 271 and No. 20 Gegard Mousasi defending his title against Austin Vanderford at Bellator 275.
January results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 3 Francis Ngannou def. No. 19T Ciryl Gane, Deiveson Figueiredo def. No. 12 Brandon Moreno
January bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 2 Israel Adesanya vs. No. 8 Robert Whittaker (UFC 271, Feb. 12), No. 20 Gegard Mousasi vs. Austin Vanderford (Bellator 275, Feb. 25)
Fighters also receiving votes: Adriano Moraes, Vadim Nemkov, Colby Covington, Jose Aldo, Ryan Bader, Ciryl Gane, Sergio Pettis, Corey Anderson, Gilbert Burns, T.J. Dillashaw
January was an uneventful month for the best of the best in women’s MMA — and February doesn’t look as if it’ll be much different.
Our lone ranked fighter who helped kick off 2022 was No. 13 ranked Katlyn Chookagian, the perennial UFC flyweight contender who handily defeated Jennifer Maia in a rematch at UFC Vegas 46. Despite being one of the best 125-pound fighters in the world, Chookagian is currently a free agent after the UFC opted not to sign her to a new contract ahead of the bout. At age 33, could the one-time UFC title challenger soon be making a move over to a new home such as Bellator? She’d instantly be quite a challenge for the woman ranked one spot ahead of her at No. 12 on our list: Bellator flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez.
As it stands, February appears to be another quiet month on the women’s pound-for-pound front, but things should heat up after that as the 2022 schedule picks up steam.
January results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 13 Katlyn Chookagian def. Jennifer Maia
February bouts featuring ranked fighters: None
Fighters also receiving votes: Julia Budd, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Raquel Pennington, Xiong Jing Nan, Larissa Pacheco, Ketlen Vieira, Taila Santos, Michelle Waterson, Yan Xiaonan, Leslie Smith, Alesha Zappitella