UFC pound-for-pound fighter rankings: Charles Oliveira cracks top three with win over Justin Gaethje


Last weekend, a UFC 274 card from Phoenix produced a pair of interesting changes at the top of the men’s and women’s pound-for-pound lists.

A surprising passivity Rose Namajunas relinquished her women’s strawweight title to Carla Esparza in their rematch of the inaugural division title fight in 2014. Meanwhile, in the main event, red lightweight Charles Oliveira continued his incredible finishing streak by submitting Justin Gaethje in the first round despite having lost his title the day before on the scales.

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Using a yardstick that considers everything from accomplishments to current form, let’s take a closer look at the best fighters in the Octagon.

For the updated divisional rankings from CBS Sports, Click here.

Male Pound for Pound Ranking

1. Kamaru Usman – Welterweight Champion (20-1)

Previous ranking: N°1

Fresh off a Fighter of the Year campaign in 2021, Usman is poised to become an all-time great. He is undefeated in 15 UFC fights and has won 19 consecutive fights overall. Usman turns 35 in May and is set to face Leon Edwards in a summer rematch.

2. Alexander Volkanovski — Featherweight Champion (24-1)

Previous ranking: n°2

The 145-pound wizard continues to claim top P4P following the dismantling of late replacement Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273. Undefeated in 11 trips to the Octagon, Volkanovski is on course to create a historically relevant career resume. Next up is a trilogy fight against Max Holloway on July 2.

3. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight Champion (33-8, 1 NC)

Previous ranking: n°5

Although his 155-pound title is currently vacant after losing weight ahead of UFC 274, no one disputes who the best active lightweight in the world is. Oliveira extended his winning streak to 11 with a first-round submission from Justin Gaethje. His fighting style welcomes a lot of danger, but Oliveira is so composed that no one was able to make him pay.

4. Israel Adesanya – Middleweight Champion (22-1)

Previous ranking: n°3

Although the result was debated by some observers, Adesanya convinced the three judges in cage that he had done enough to edge Robert Whittaker in their UFC 271 rematch. The win sets up a title defense interesting against hard-hitting Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 in July.

5. Francis Ngannou — Heavyweight Champion (16-3)

Previous ranking: N°4

Despite sustaining a serious knee injury in training camp amid a very public contract battle with UFC brass, Ngannou eviscerated a unification win over former teammate and undefeated interim champ Ciryl Gane. . A long recovery is expected as Ngannou’s future in the UFC remains uncertain.

6. Max Holloway – Featherweight (23-6)

Previous ranking: n°6

The former champ showcased everything that makes him great in a thrilling five-round win over Yair Rodriguez in November. After retiring to injury earlier this year, Holloway will finally get his third shot against Volkanovski in their July 2 trilogy bout.

7. Aljamain Sterling – Bantamweight Champion (21-3)

Previous ranking: n°8

Despite all the criticism directed at Sterling over how he handled his disqualification win over Petr Yan in their first encounter, ‘Aljo’ was a completely different fighter in the rematch 13 months later. Sterling’s split decision win at UFC 273 extended his winning streak to seven overall and should create a number of financially rewarding title defenses.

8. Deiveson Figueiredo – Flyweight Champion (21-2-1)

Previous ranking: n°9

How impressive was Figueiredo’s win over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy fight? At 34, Figueiredo not only bounced back from a stoppage loss to regain his 125-pound title, he showed the kind of poise and patience under new coaches Henry Cejudo and Eric Albarracin that he lacked. A nagging injury will sideline him this summer.

9. Petr Yan – bantamweight (16-3)

Previous ranking: n°10

It’s hard to fault Yan’s efforts coming up short against Sterling in their long-awaited rematch. Yan called for an instant trilogy fight after his disputed decision loss, but he’ll likely have to return to the top of the sport’s deepest division.

10. Glover Teixeira – Light Heavyweight Champion (33-7)

Previous ranking: NR

Teixeira’s six-fight winning streak is no accident and certainly not after he submitted Jan Blachowicz last fall to become the second oldest champion in UFC history at 42 years old. Texieira should have his hands full in June against the dangerous and unpredictable Jiri Prochazka.

Abandoned: Justin Gaethje

just missed: Robert Whittaker, Dustin Poirier, TJ Dillashaw, Colby Covington, Stipe Miocic

Pound-for-pound women’s ranking

1. Valentina Shevchenko – Flyweight Champion (22-3)

Previous ranking: N°1

A move up to his natural weight of 125 pounds allowed Shevchenko to embark on a race of dominance rarely seen at this level at the top of the sport. Her TKO of Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 made it six defenses of her flyweight title. Next up is another new face at 125 pounds in Talia Santos in June.

2. Amanda Nunes – Featherweight Champion (20-4)

Previous ranking: n°3

GOAT’s implosion against Julianna Pena at UFC 269 was the most stunning moment of 2021 and possibly the biggest upset in MMA history. Although still armed with the 145-pound title, the news of Nunes leaving American Top Team to start her own side leaves many questions.

3. Rose Namajunas – Strawweight (11-5)

Previous ranking: n°2

A confusing strategy of defensive circles led to Namajunas relinquishing her 115-pound title to inaugural champion Carla Esparza in their May rematch. Namajunas was barely touched in her unanimous decision loss. However, the miscalculation was huge.

4. Carla Esparza – Strawweight Champion (19-6)

Previous ranking: N°4

Esparza simply took what was handed out to him and made the most of it as he edged out Namajunas in their disappointing strawweight title rematch at UFC 274. Although the win didn’t do him a ton critically , this will go a long way to add to her resume as the two-time champion extended her winning streak to six while adding a second victory over Namajunas.

5. Julianna Pena – Bantamweight Champion (11-4)

Previous ranking: n°5

This is what the power of the human spirit looks like. Pena gave the performance of her life by disarming Amanda Nunes and submitting her to capture the 135-pound crown. Pena has never looked better before and will have to defeat the GOAT a second time after filming ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ before she can truly begin her reign.

Abandoned: Nothing

just missed: Jessica Andrade, Weili Zhang, Marina Rodriguez, Germaine de Randamie, Holly Holm

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