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MMA Rankings, August 2022: Is Brandon Moreno the No. 1 flyweight in the world?

UFC 277: Moreno v France
Brandon Moreno
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The more things change in MMA, the more they stay the same.

Amanda Nunes and Brandon Moreno added new belts to their collections at UFC 277, with Nunes reclaiming the bantamweight title and Moreno becoming the interim flyweight champion to set up a fourth fight with undisputed champion Deiveson Figueiredo. We know that Nunes is once again the woman to beat at 135 pounds, but where Moreno stands in his division is less clear.

Do his finishes of Kai Kara-France and Figueiredo put him back on top? Or does Figueiredo winning their most recent fight make “Figgy Smalls” the clear-cut No. 1 flyweight? What about ONE stars Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson, who run it back in August? And where does Alexandre Pantoja fit into all this?

This month’s ranking cycle covers the past three weeks of events, and there was no shortage of significant movement with Yair Rodriguez picking up a key win over Brian Ortega, Magomed Ankalaev continuing his march to a world title shot, heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich being ranked for the first time, and more. Check out the latest update to the MMA Fighting Global Rankings below.

Don’t forget to listen to the newest episode of the MMA Fighting Rankings Show, where the panel debated the biggest moves of July, whether Nunes should once again be ranked at the top of the women’s pound-for-pound list, which rankings newcomers are the real deal, what fighter should be the most aggrieved over being denied a title shot, and much more.

  • 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 are 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).
  • Holding a promotion’s title does not guarantee that fighter will be viewed as the best in their promotion. Additionally, fighters who regularly compete or hold titles in multiple weight classes are eligible to be ranked in multiple lists.

And with that, let’s dive in.

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

MMA: JUL 30 UFC 277
Sergei Pavlovich
Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Question the stoppage all you want, but there’s no denying that Sergei Pavlovich has earned his rankings debut.

Mostly due to inactivity, Pavlovich was in danger of being lost in the shuffle as the likes of Tom Aspinall, Chris Daukaus, and Tai Tuivasa carved out a place for themselves in a division historically dominated by veterans. But now, with back-to-back first-round finishes of ranked opponents Derrick Lewis and Shamil Abdurakhimov this year and his peers experiencing some misfortune, Pavlovich has charged to the front of the line of young heavyweight contenders.

One of those peers is Aspinall, who suffered a brutal injury just seconds into his fight with Curtis Blaydes at UFC London. A win over Blaydes would likely have propelled Aspinall to a title shot (interim or otherwise), but the talented Englishman now shifts his focus to getting healthy and hopefully returning to action in 2023.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 5 Curtis Blaydes def. No. 7 Tom Aspinall, Sergei Pavlovich def. No. 6 Derrick Lewis

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 11 Alexandr Romanov vs. No. 13 Marcin Tybura (UFC 278, Aug. 20), No. 14 Valentin Moldavsky vs. Steve Mowry (Bellator 284, Aug. 12)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Phil De Fries (3), Alistair Overeem (2), Arjan Bhullar (1), Junior dos Santos (1), Linton Vassell (1)

UFC 277: Ankalaev v Smith
Magomed Ankalaev
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Light Heavyweight

Speaking of injuries affecting the title picture, one may have overshadowed Magomed Ankalaev’s latest attempt to make a championship statement.

Ankalaev entered UFC 277 on an eight-fight win streak, and he made it nine with a win over one-time title challenger Anthony Smith. Unfortunately, Smith suffered a leg injury during the fight — and while Ankalaev’s offense likely caused it, one still gets the feeling that the somewhat anticlimactic end won’t have UFC matchmakers jumping to book Ankalaev against Jiri Prochazka.

Keep in mind, Prochazka and Glover Teixeira have the option of running back their Fight of the Year frontrunner, or Prochazka could set up a fight with former champion Jan Blachowicz with the goal of selling out a stadium in Europe. Both could be more appealing to the UFC than inserting a fresh challenger into the mix.

Sorry, Mr. Ankalaev, but you may have to run that win streak up to double digits before a title fight comes your way.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 7 Magomed Ankalaev def. No. 8 Anthony Smith, No. 15 Volkan Oezdemir def. No. 12 Paul Craig

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 12 Thiago Santos vs. No. 14 Jamahal Hill (UFC Vegas 59, Aug. 6)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Antonio Carlos Junior (5), Dustin Jacoby (3), Nikita Krylov (3), Yoel Romero (2), Tomasz Narkun (1)


Chris Curtis’ Cinderella run to a top-15 ranking hit a major snag.

In recent months, “The Action Man” has been on the cusp of having a number next to his name, and a win over Jack Hermansson at UFC London would’ve sealed the deal for the amicable veteran. Instead, Curtis lost an uneventful decision to Hermansson, struggling through a frustrating performance that was capped off by Curtis shedding his warm-and-fuzzy persona and getting into a verbal clash with Hermansson afterward. (The two buried the hatched that same evening.)

That doesn’t mean we should count Curtis out, as this loss could signal a return 170 pounds, a division in which he had great success long before stepping into the octagon. And we should definitely stop counting out Hermansson, a middleweight stalwart who won’t give up his spot in the rankings without a fight.

Outside of the UFC, ONE Championship star Reinier de Ridder continued his reign of terror, improving to 16-0 with a spectacular inverted triangle choke submission of Vitaly Bigdash. “The Dutch Knight” holds ONE titles in two divisions and could make some serious movement up the middleweight and pound-for-pound ladder if the wins keep adding up.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 12 Jack Hermansson def. Chris Curtis, No. 13 Reinier de Ridder def. Vitaly Bigdash

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 10 Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold (UFC 278, Aug. 20)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Anatoly Tokov (2), Kelvin Gastelum (2), Darren Till (2), Uriah Hall (1), Chris Weidman (1)


As exciting as it’s been recently to talk about the new blood at welterweight, let’s not forget that it’s Kamaru Usman who still rules the roost.

The No. 1 welterweight in the world makes his first appearance of 2022 and sixth straight defense of his UFC title when he fights Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC 278 on Aug. 20. Usman holds a win over Edwards from back in December 2015 — and neither man has taken a loss since. It might lack the spark of Usman’s rivalries with Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, but Edwards’ title shot is long overdue and could mark the last bout of the greatest hits chapter of Usman’s career before he pursues other opportunities outside of the division (and outside of the UFC) or gears up to take on the challenge of the next wave of 170ers.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Kamaru Usman vs. No. 4 Leon Edwards (UFC 278, Aug. 20), No. 9 Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal (UFC Vegas 59, Aug. 6)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Jason Jackson (4), Michael Page (3), Neil Magny (2), Jake Matthews (2), Jorge Masvidal (1), Geoff Neal (1), Michel Pereira (1)


Bellator’s bantamweights have established themselves as some of the best in the business — and now the lightweight division is putting itself on the map as well.

Tofiq Musayev made a spectacular debut for the promotion last month, obliterating Sidney Outlaw in just 27 seconds. The Azerbaijani standout had been stacking highlight-reel finishes in RIZIN for the past few years, and he lived up to the hype at Bellator 283. Keep in mind, Musayev holds a recent decision win over current Bellator champion Patricky Pitbull, so you have to think he’s not far off from a title shot.

And if Pitbull avenges his loss to Musayev, he may soon have to deal with Alexander Shabliy (3-0 in Bellator with a second-round knockout of former champion Brent Primus in his most recent fight) or the undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov (not to be confused with the UFC’s Umar Nurmagomedov, who sports an identical 15-0 pro record).

Looking to the nearer future, fans will need to wait another month to see serious movement at the top of the lightweight division as Charles Oliveira, Islam Makhachev, Beneil Dariush, and Mateusz Gamrot don’t compete until UFC 280 in October, and others like Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Michael Chandler continue to await news of their next bookings.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: N/A

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Tofiq Musayev (3), Olivier Aubin-Mercier (2), Alexander Shabliy (2), Dan Hooker (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1)

UFC Fight Night: Ortega v Rodriguez
Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC


Yair Rodriguez has finally turned featherweight’s “Big 3” into a “Big 4.” Kind of.

Ever since Alexander Volkanovski took the featherweight title from Max Holloway in December 2019, the two have held onto the top spots in the division and were subsequently joined by Brian Ortega. The trio had beaten pretty much every notable name at 145 pounds.

Rodriguez has long been on the verge of standing alongside them, but inactivity prevented him from realizing his potential. A matchup with Ortega was meant to give him another chance — and while he walked out of the UFC Long Island with a win over “T-City,” the unclear nature of the stoppage (Ortega suffered a shoulder injury that may or may not have been directly caused by a Rodriguez submission attempt) left the result unsatisfying.

Regardless, Rodriguez takes Ortega’s spot in our list and is now the third-highest ranked UFC fighter behind only Volkanovski and Holloway. How much higher he goes depends on whether Volkanovski and the UFC welcome Rodriguez as his next challenger or if Volkanovski is given the opportunity to move up to lightweight for an immediate title shot.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 6 Yair Rodriguez def. No. 4 (tied) Brian Ortega

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: N/A

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Aaron Pico (3), Edson Barboza (3), Adam Borics (2), Shane Burgos (1), Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (1)


We’ve seen a sea change in several divisions lately, and bantamweight might be next.

A lot of that will depend on how Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz fare in their upcoming August contests, with Aldo taking on the rampaging Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 and Cruz facing Marlon Vera in the main event of UFC San Diego. Both veterans are riding win streaks, and Aldo could actually end up fighting for a UFC title once more if he stops Dvalishvili’s seven-fight win streak.

On the other hand, should both fighters lose, it could be a sign that the previous generation of lighter-weight stars are truly on the way out. Aldo and Cruz are still rightfully at the center of any all-time great discussions, but they’ve thrived in two of MMA’s deepest divisions for almost 15 years, dating back to the glory days of World Extreme Cagefighting. Eventually something’s got to give.

Win or lose, we’ll always have the blue cage.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 5 Jose Aldo vs. No. 6 Merab Dvalishvili (UFC 278, Aug. 20), No. 7 Marlon Vera vs. No. 11 Dominick Cruz (Aug. 13, UFC San Diego)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Pedro Munhoz (2), Danny Sabatello (2), Adrian Yanez (2), Umar Nurmagomedov (2), Juan Archuleta (1), Frankie Edgar (1)


Brandon Moreno has a UFC title around his waist once again. But does that make him the best flyweight in the world?

Two of our esteemed panelists restored “The Assassin Baby” to his lofty ranking after he scored an impressive win over the streaking Kai Kara-France in UFC 277’s interim championship bout. The undisputed title still belongs to Deiveson Figueiredo, but with Moreno having sandwiched a submission win over his rival between a draw and a decision loss, there is a case to be made that he’s at least the 1B to Figueiredo’s 1A. Moreno and Figueiredo appear to be on course for a fourth clash, which one hopes will decide who is the best in the world at 125 pounds once and for all.

Then again, there’s also Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson, who are set to rematch Aug. 26 at ONE Championship’s debut on Amazon Prime Video. Moraes also received a pair of first-place votes — votes which could be claimed by Johnson if the legend can avenge an April 2021 loss to the current ONE titleholder. Regardless, don’t expect the debate over flyweight supremacy to die down any time soon.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 2 Brandon Moreno def. No. 4 (tied) Kai Kara-France, No. 7 Alexandre Pantoja def. No. 8 Alex Perez

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 3 Adriano Moraes vs. No. 4 Demetrious Johnson (ONE Championship 161, Aug. 26)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Jeff Molina (5), Ali Bagautinov (4), Matt Schnell (4), Rogerio Bontorin (3), Amir Albazi (1), Danny Kingad (1)

UFC 277: Pena v Nunes 2
Amanda Nunes
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Women’s Bantamweight

Meet the new queen of 135, same as the old queen.

With one dominant performance, Amanda Nunes not only avenged a shocking loss to Julianna Peña, she also might have erased any need for a third meeting between the two. For 25 minutes, Nunes battered a resilient Peña, looking to all the world like the fearsome “Lioness” who’d won 12 straight fights before Peña upset her this past December. Counting her work at featherweight, Nunes has now won 10 UFC championship bouts.

What’s next for Nunes is anyone’s guess. She’s expressed a preference for her next fight to be at 145 pounds, but also showed interest in a third fight against UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. The latter makes sense if only because there isn’t exactly a lineup of fresh contenders knocking on the door at bantamweight.

Either way, a sense of normalcy has returned to the land — and until Nunes actually does decide to hang up the gloves, we may not see the kind of chaos again that we saw eight months ago.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 2 Amanda Nunes def. No. 1 Julianna Peña, No. 6 (WFLW) Lauren Murphy def. No. 10 Miesha Tate (flyweight bout)

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 15 (tied) Stephanie Egger vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (UFC Vegas 59, Aug. 6)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Lina Lansberg (1), Julija Stoliarenko (1), Dariya Zheleznyakova (1)

Women’s Flyweight

Lauren Murphy made sure we won’t be seeing Valentina Shevchenko vs. Miesha Tate anytime soon.

Before fighting Murphy at UFC Long Island, Tate was confident that she had the formula to dethrone the reigning flyweight champion. All she had to do was win her first fight at 125 pounds and a title shot was likely hers, given her popularity and past accomplishments. None of that meant anything to Murphy.

The one-time title challenger held onto her spot with a gritty performance, not allowing Tate to get any offense going as she outworked Tate for three rounds. Considering that Murphy’s only loss in her past seven fights was to Shevchenko, it’s not a stretch to say that all the talk of her essentially being a tune-up fight gave her some added motivation to shut Tate down.

Murphy won’t rematch Shevchenko next. If Shevchenko is going to fight any past opponent again it’s more likely going to be Taila Santos or Amanda Nunes. One thing is for sure though, Murphy is definitely “a bad motherf*****.”

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 6 Lauren Murphy def. No. 10 (BW) Miesha Tate

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 9 Alexa Grasso vs. No. 11 Viviane Araujo (Aug. 13, UFC San Diego)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Tracy Cortez (2), Molly McCann (2), Joanne Wood (2), Veta Arteaga (1), Cynthia Calvillo (1), Justine Kish (1), Amanda Ribas (1), Karina Rodriguez (1)


The Amanda Lemos hype train is back on track.

Lemos’ furious charge to a UFC title shot hit a couple of snags as she took a step up in competition, first with a narrow a split decision over Angela Hill and then with a flat-out bulldozing at the hands of two-division monster Jessica Andrade. A recalibration was needed — and Michelle Waterson proved to be just the right opponent for Lemos at this stage of her career.

In the co-main event of UFC Long Island, Lemos forced Waterson to tap with a second-round guillotine choke, becoming the first fighter to finish “The Karate Hottie” in over five years. Now, Lemos is right back in the thick of the title hunt — and she is already scheduled to fight top-5 ranked Marina Rodriguez at UFC 280 in October.

Don’t be surprised if Lemos or Rodriguez turn a win into a title shot in their next outing.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 11 Amanda Lemos def. No. 10 Michelle Waterson

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 12 Nina Nunes vs. Cynthia Calvillo (Aug. 13, UFC San Diego) (flyweight bout)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Emily Ducote (7), Lupita Godinez (2), Kanako Murata (1)

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