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MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Israel Adesanya regains top 5 spot with championship redemption

MMA: APR 08 UFC 287
Israel Adesanya
Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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?

Israel Adesanya vanquished his nemesis at UFC 287, finally earning an elusive win over longtime rival Alex Pereira. Did Adesanya’s rematch triumph bring a measure of order to the global pound-for-pound rankings? Let’s take a look.


UFC 287: Pereira v Adesanya 2
Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

With arguably the most important win of his career, Israel Adesanya has restored some order to the men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

2023 saw a number of historical UFC championship fight upsets that essentially turned the already highly subjective P4P list into an exercise in futility. What was to be done with Alex Pereira after he upset Adesanya last November after previously besting his rival in a pair of kickboxing matches? Our panel saw fit to place him in the top 10, but it never felt quite right to elevate a fighter with just eight MMA bouts under his belt to such a lofty position.

Adesanya won their rematch in emphatic fashion this past Saturday, correcting his own course in a sense as he avenged the lone loss of his MMA career at 185 pounds. Though he hasn’t reclaimed the top-3 spot that he held for so long, “The Last Stylebender” comfortably lands back in the No. 5 position, behind only Islam Makhachev, Alexander Volkanovski, Jon Jones, and Leon Edwards.

A trilogy bout with Pereira may loom, assuming “Poatan” sticks around at middleweight, so there’s still a chance that Pereira can shake the tree once more.

The next few weeks see plenty of potential pound-for-pound excitement, with Aljamain Sterling defending his bantamweight title against the returning Henry Cejudo, former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira looking to spoil Beneil Dariush’s title hopes, Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes clashing for a third time, and Max Holloway clinging onto his spot in the rankings as he faces Arnold Allen this Saturday.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 8 Israel Adesanya def. No. 7 Alex Pereira

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 7 Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo (UFC 288, May 6), No. 10 Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush (UFC 288, May 6), No. 11 Demetrious Johnson vs. Adriano Moraes (ONE Fight Night 10, May 5), No. 14 (tied) Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen (April 15, UFC Kansas City)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Johnny Eblen (5), Deiveson Figueiredo (3), Jamahal Hill (3), Beneil Dariush (2), Magomed Ankalaev (1), Jan Blachowicz (1), Gilbert Burns (1), Colby Covington (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1), Alexandre Pantoja (1), Shavkat Rakhmonov (1), Raufeon Stots (1)


Larissa Pacheco
Cooper Neill, PFL

It’s time to put some respect on Larissa Pacheco’s name.

The 2022 PFL lightweight champion has kicked off her 2023 campaign in style, now competing back at featherweight where she scored a convincing decision win over former Bellator champion Julia Budd this past Friday. That’s seven straight wins now for Pacheco, including her tournament win over Kayla Harrison last November, and the 28-year-old finally seems like she’s fulfilling much of the promise that was seen in her when she first popped up in the UFC nine years ago.

Add in that Pacheco has finished the majority of her PFL bouts (decision wins over Budd and Harrison followed a stretch of five-straight first-round finishes for Pacheco) and it’s not difficult to imagine another impressive championship run placing her firmly in the top 10 of the women’s pound-for-pound rankings. As it stands, she jumps five spots over a number of notable names to land at No. 11.

Looking ahead, No. 1 Amanda Nunes has her next assignment — though “next” feels like the wrong word to use here — as it was announced this past weekend that the two-division champion will defend her bantamweight title once more against No. 10 Julianna Peña at UFC 289, the promotion’s return to The Great White North on June 10.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 16 Larissa Pacheco def. Julia Budd, No. 17 Holly Holm def. Yana Santos

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 8 Jessica Andrade vs. Yan Xiaonan (UFC 288, May 6), No. 12 Liz Carmouche vs. DeAnna Bennett (Bellator 294, April 21)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Katlyn Chookagian (5), Lauren Murphy (3), Marina Rodriguez (3), Ketlen Vieira (3), Irene Aldana (1), Seo Hee Ham (1), Juliana Velasquez (1), Yan Xiaonan (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.


Does Alex Pereira still belong in the top 10 of the Pound-for-Pound list?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
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  • 69%
    (45 votes)
65 votes total Vote Now

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