Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting pound-for-pound rankings, where every month our esteemed panel sort through the noise to answer one question: Who are the best overall male and female MMA fighters in the world?
How have the past few weeks affected the global pound-for-pound landscape? Let’s take a look.
The Kamaru Usman era is officially over.
Leon Edwards made sure of that. The UFC welterweight champion cemented his reign — and his No. 3 pound-for-pound spot — with his second of back-to-back upsets over Usman at UFC 286. The 170-pound division now runs through Birmingham, England. But with potential matchups against Colby Covington, Belal Muhammad, and other top welterweight contenders looming, how long will Edwards sit atop the throne?
Regardless, one thing is clear — the Usman chapter of the new champ’s career is over. After plummeting down to No. 9 in our latest update, is the end near for Usman? Or at age 35, will the former pound-for-pound king be able to mount a second act?
Looking ahead, the pound-for-pound conversation now shifts to another fallen member of the Three Kings era, as No. 8 Israel Adesanya seeks to reclaim his UFC middleweight championship in a rematch — or tetralogy? — against No. 7 Alex Pereira. Adesanya is already 0-3 against Pereira dating back to the pair’s kickboxing days, but just one of those battles came in MMA. If Adesanya rediscovers his mojo on April 8 in the main event of UFC 287, no one should be surprised if a rubber match follows.
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 3 Leon Edwards def. No. 5 Kamaru Usman (UFC 286, March 18)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 7 Alex Pereira vs. No. 8 Israel Adesanya (April 8, UFC 287)
Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Vadim Nemkov (4), Johnny Eblen (3), Jamahal Hill (3), Jan Blachowicz (2), Petr Yan (2), Magomed Ankalaev (1), Colby Covington (1), Beneil Dariush (1), Alexandre Pantoja (1), Shavkat Rakhmonov (1), Raufeon Stots (1)
It may have been a slow stretch for the women’s pound-for-pound ranks, but that changes over the next three weeks, as fighters trending in opposite directions ready for their returns.
First up is former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who at age 41, seeks to right her ship this Saturday at UFC San Antonio following a split decision loss to Ketlen Vieira in her only bout since 2020. Holm inked a new six-fight deal ahead of her co-headlining bout against Yana Santos, but is the end of the road fast approaching? Another loss and the No. 17 ranked pound-for-pound fighter may find herself out of the rankings entirely.
The same concerns aren’t shared by Larissa Pacheco, however. At age 28, the reigning PFL women’s lightweight champion returns to cage April 7 for the first time since her million-dollar win over Kayla Harrison, which propelled Pacheco into her No. 16 pound-for-pound spot. Is another million-dollar payday in store for the champ this upcoming PFL season? Her journey starts with a tough battle against former Bellator featherweight queen Julia Budd.
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 16 Larissa Pacheco vs. Julia Budd (PFL 2, April 7), No. 17 Holly Holm vs. Yana Santos (UFC San Antonio, March 25)
Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Katlyn Chookagian (4), Marina Rodriguez (4), Lauren Murphy (3), Ketlen Vieira (3), Yan Xiaonan (2), Irene Aldana (2), Seo Hee Ham (1), Juliana Velasquez (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.
- 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.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.