In the ever-shifting MMA landscape, ranking the world’s greatest fighters might seem like a fool’s errand, but that’s exactly we’ve set out to do with the MMA Fighting Global Rankings. Here, our esteemed panel sorts out the movers and shakers from every division to provide you with the most definitive list of the best fighters on the planet.
Let’s take a look at the biggest rankings storylines from this past cycle (July 10 - Aug. 20).
Francis Ngannou will be back
We’re well aware that many had questioned why Francis Ngannou was still hanging around on our list of top heavyweights, much less at No. 1, given that he has sat out the majority of the past couple of years due to his ongoing battle at the negotiating table with the UFC. Even those who were happy to see him land a landmark deal with the PFL wondered what this meant for when he’ll fight again — Ngannou isn’t expected to compete in MMA until sometime next year — and the level of competition of his future opponents.
Well, ask no more, because the former UFC heavyweight king is past the 18-month inactivity mark for automatic removal from our ballots, and until we see him step into the SmartCage in 2024, it will remain that way. For now, Ngannou has bigger fish to fry as he scored the big-money Tyson Fury boxing bout that most of his peers would kill for.
We look forward to seeing how the heavyweight landscape changes in his absence (oh, hi new No. 1 Jon Jones) and what spot he’ll find himself in when gets back to mixing the martial arts.
Khamzat Chimaev, openweight champion?
Khamzat Chimaev has to be one of the best welterweights in the world, right?
Yet he hasn’t successfully made weight for the division in over a year.
That’s OK, because you can always rank him at middleweight, right?
His best win at middleweight is Gerald Meerschaert.
What I’m getting at here is that we all know that the undefeated Chimaev is one of the best fighters in the world and has a good chance of taking out pretty much anyone at 170 or 185 pounds — he’s holding onto a spot in our Pound-for-Pound rankings for a reason — it’s just that it’s so difficult to take him seriously as a contender when he competes so sporadically and seems to have little regard for picking a weight class and sticking with it.
Fear not, Khamzat fans, should he get past Paulo Costa at UFC 294 as expected, you’ll see him snatch a cherry spot in the middleweight rankings. Until then, everyone’s favorite wrecking machine remains in limbo.
Mayra Bueno Silva, No. 1 women’s bantamweight*
Well, this is awkward.
The MMA Fighting Global Rankings panel was just about jumping for joy when Mayra Bueno Silva submitted Holly Holm, as it meant new blood at the top and that we could reasonably send No. 1 votes to a women’s bantamweight who has actually won a meaningful fight in the past year.
Then, Bueno Silva announced that she failed a drug test.
Best-case scenario, she’s telling the truth and this is all an unfortunate mix-up related to prescription medication that the Brazilian has been taking to address her ADHD; worst-case scenario, she gets suspended, her win over Holm is changed to a no contest, and the 135-pound division reverts to the morass that that it has been for much of its recent existence. Or until the UFC books Julianna Peña vs. Raquel Pennington for the vacant title.
Is it too late for Amanda Nunes to call off that retirement?
Of course, we didn’t forget about the fighter who is arguably the biggest storyline of this rankings cycle, the new UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley.
If you want a full breakdown on the seismic changes caused by Mr. O’Malley’s moment, then make sure to read, watch, and listen to our related stories here:
Check out the complete August rankings update below.
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 3 Ciryl Gane vs. No. 10 Serghei Spivac (UFC Paris, Sept. 2), No. 7 Tai Tuivasa vs. No. 8 Alexander Volkov (UFC 293, Sept. 9), No. 9 Ryan Bader vs. No. 13 Linton Vassell (Bellator 300, Oct. 7)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 3 Magomed Anklaev vs. No. 9 Johnny Walker (UFC 294, Oct. 21), No. 12 Anthony Smith vs. No. 13 Ryan Spann (UFC Singapore, Aug. 26), No. 15 Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov (UFC Paris, Sept. 2)
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 3 Alex Pereira def. No. 5 LHW Jan Blachowicz
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Israel Adesanya vs. No. 9 Sean Strickland (UFC 293, Sept. 9), No. 5 Johnny Eblen vs. No. 14 Fabian Edwards (Bellator 299, Sept. 23), No. 8 Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev (UFC 294, Oct. 21), No. 15 Nassourdine Imavov vs. Ikram Aliskerov (UFC 294, Oct. 21)
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 12 Vicente Luque def. Rafael dos Anjos, No. 13 Jack Della Maddalena def. Bassil Hafez, Andrey Koreshkov def. No. 14 Lorenz Larkin, No. 15 Logan Storley def. Brennan Ward
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 13 Jack Della Maddalena vs. No. 15 (tied) Kevin Holland (Noche UFC, Sept. 16)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Islam Makhachev vs. No. 2 Charles Oliveira (UFC 294, Oct. 21), No. 6 Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Brent Primus (Bellator 300, Oct. 7), No. 7 Rafael Fiziev vs. No. 8 Mateusz Gamrot (UFC Vegas 79, Sept. 23)
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): Chihiro Suzuki def. No. 5 Patricio Pitbull (154-pound catchweight bout)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 2 Max Holloway vs. No. 11 (tied) “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (UFC Singapore, Aug. 26), No. 11 (tied) Giga Chikadze vs. Alex Caceres (UFC Singapore, Aug. 26), No. 13 Bryce Mitchell vs. No. 15 Dan Ige (UFC Vegas 79, Sept. 23)
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 3 Sean O’Malley def. No. 1 Aljamain Sterling, No. 4 Cory Sandhagen def. No. 10 Rob Font, No. 9 Marlon Vera def. Pedro Munhoz, No. 15 Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Shinryu ends in no contest (inaugural Bellator FLW title bout)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: N/A
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 15 Joselyne Edwards def. Nora Cornolle (UFC Paris, Sept. 2)
Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Alexa Grasso vs. No. 2 Valentina Shevchenko (Noche UFC, Sept. 16), No. 3 Erin Blanchfield vs. No. 4 Taila Santos (UFC Singapore, Aug. 26), No. 5 Manon Fiorot vs. No. 5 SW Rose Namajunas (UFC Paris, Sept. 2), No. 6 Liz Carmouche vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (Bellator 300, Oct. 7), No. 10 Jennifer Maia vs. No. 14 Viviane Araujo (UFC Vegas 81, Oct. 14)
Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 5 Rose Namajunas vs. No. 5 WFLW Manon Fiorot (flyweight bout) (UFC Paris, Sept. 2), No. 10 Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez (UFC Vegas 79, Sept. 23), No. 15 (tied) Xiong Jing Nan vs. Nat Jaroonsak (special rules striking match) (ONE Fight Night 14, Sept. 29)
A refresher on the 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 are typically completed following each month’s UFC pay-per-view.
- 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.
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.