UFC rankings: The Independent’s pound-for-pound list of fighters


The UFC is home to some of the best mixed martial artists on the planet, so it’s no surprise that fans often debate how elite fighters compare to one another.

Along with its weekly-updated rankings for each weight class, the UFC has its own pound-for-pound rankings, containing 15 names – like every roster for every division.

Right here, The Independent has built its own top 10, pound-for-pound ranking for UFC male fighters, which will be updated monthly.

While there’s no exact science to putting together lists like this, a number of factors were considered in coming up with the rankings, including each fighter’s overall record, recent record , its level of activity and the caliber of the opposition.

Before diving into the top 10, here are a few honorable mentions:

Brandon Moreno (19-5-2, flyweight)

The Mexican has drawn twice in his last seven outings but was in any case undefeated in three and a half years until he relinquished the flyweight title to Deiveson Figueiredo in January which saw him pass from #10 on this list. In his previous fight, Moreno won the belt with a stunning submission from the insanely dangerous Brazilian in June, after outplaying the Brazilian for the better part of two rounds. The pair’s trilogy fight earlier this year was almost as close as their initial draw in December 2020.

Aljamain Sterling (21-3, bantamweight champion)

The Jamaican-American was mocked by some fans after winning the bantamweight title by disqualification in 2020, when Petr Yan landed an illegal knee that prevented Sterling from continuing. While Yan won the interim belt, Sterling recovered from neck surgery and had to wait over a year for his rematch with the Russian. With many predicting Sterling would suffer the loss he looked set to suffer when he first met Yan – and others were hoping – the 32-year-old silenced some doubters and angered some. others by winning a close decision against his rival this April. The result made it seven straight wins for the grappling specialist (including the DQ victory over Yan) and sees Sterling enter our honorable mentions.

Colby Covington (17-3, welterweight)

The former interim welterweight titleholder is surely the second-best 170-pounder on the planet, behind only Kamaru Usman, who has retained his belt against Covington twice in the past two years. Covington responded to the latest of those losses by naming friend-turned-rival Jorge Masvidal in March.

Glover Teixeira (33-7, light heavyweight champion)

Defeat Jan Blachowicz in October to become the second oldest UFC champion of all time. The 42-year-old is on a six-fight winning streak at light heavyweight, although his record was spotty before that and Blachowicz is arguably the only elite name the Brazilian has beaten in his current run.

Top 10

ten. Max Holloway (23-6, featherweight)

Max Holloway, former UFC featherweight champion

(Getty Pictures)

The former featherweight champion has lost three of his last six fights, although one of those losses has come at lightweight and the other was a controversial point loss. Despite what recent results suggest, the Hawaiian appears to be at his peak, shining even in defeat and producing compelling performances in victory. Moved into our top 10 at Moreno’s expense, following the Mexican’s loss to Figueiredo at UFC 270, and is set for a trilogy fight with Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title.

9. Dustin Poirier (28-7, 1 no contest; lightweight)

Conor McGregor twice in 2021

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Dustin Poirier beat Conor McGregor twice in 2021

(Getty Pictures)

The American has only suffered two losses in the last five years – against the greatest lightweight of all time in Khabib Nurmagomedov and the greatest lightweight in the world right now in Charles Oliveira. Holds seven wins against five different former world champions of the sport.

8. Stipe Miocic (20-4, heavyweight)

Stipe Miocic holds the record for most successful UFC heavyweight title defenses

(Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The consensus heavyweight GOAT, the part-time firefighter holds the record for the most successful title defenses in the division — the toughest weight class to put on a sustained run. Ceded the belt to Francis Ngannou and the knockout power of the French-Cameroonian in March, but before that he had back-to-back wins over one of the all-time greats in Daniel Cormier.

7. petr yan (16-3, bantamweight) -1

Petr Yan is considered by many fans to be the true UFC bantamweight champion

(Zuffa LLC)

He went exactly five years unbeaten until he was disqualified while defending the bantamweight title against Sterling in the spring of 2021, in a fight he looked set to win. The Russian responded by claiming interim gold by edging out Cory Sandhagen in a Fight of the Year. Was seen by many fans as the true champion at 135lbs, despite his naïve foul against Sterling, and some still hold that view despite his loss to the Jamaican-American in their unification bout in April. The rematch was a hotly contested affair which Sterling won by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47), although some fans felt the Russian had done enough to edge him out.

6. Robert Whittaker (23-6, middleweight) +1

Robert Whittaker has one of the most impressive resumes in MMA

(Zuffa LLC)

The Aussie had only been defeated once in the past seven years until his last outing. Both of those losses came against the phenomenal Israel Adesanya, with Whittaker losing the middleweight belt to his rival by TKO in 2019 before dropping a questionable decision at the ‘Last Stylebender’ in February. Between those fights, the “Reaper” has earned three straight victories against elite competition, and his previous run for the belt saw him successfully navigate a row of lethal opponents that is almost incomprehensible.

5. Francis Ngannou (16-3, heavyweight champion)

Francis Ngannou (right) carries an infernal knockout power

(Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Quite possibly the hardest hitter the sport has ever seen, and the honorary “baddest man on the planet” as a UFC heavyweight champion. All but one of his wins have come by way of stoppage, with 12 knockouts to his name – including a number in under 60 seconds. After suffering back-to-back decision losses in 2018, the Franco-Cameroonian recorded four straight wins by first-round knockout before avenging a Miocic defeat to secure the gold with another vicious finish. He then shocked fans and pundits by beating interim champion Ciryl Gane for a successful first defense.

4. Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC)

UFC history

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Charles Oliveira has the most finishes and submission wins in UFC history

(Getty Pictures)

The Brazilian’s UFC debut in 2010 gave way to an inconsistent record with some failed weight cuts along the way. The former featherweight has turned his career around, however (save for a half-pound miss in May), winning 11 straight over the past four years to become retired Khabib Nurmagomedov’s successor at the top. of the lightweight division. Oliveira holds the records for most finishes (19) and most wins by submission (16) in UFC history. Of his 33 wins as a professional, a remarkable 30 have come by way of stoppage. His recent weight loss saw him stripped of the lightweight title he won last year, but his first-round submission of Justin Gaethje the next day immediately established him as the No. 1 contender.

3. Alexander Volkanovski (24-1, featherweight champion)

Alexander Volkanovski is riding a 20-game winning streak

(Getty Pictures)

Since suffering the only loss of his professional career in 2013, Volkanovski has won 21 straight fights. Five of the Australian’s last six fights in particular have come against elite featherweights, with some fans unfairly resenting the champion due to the controversial nature of one of his two breakthrough wins over Holloway. In his most recent fight, Volkanovski faced fan favorite Chan Sung Jung, who replaced Holloway, and the champion put up an absolute clinic to stop the “Korean Zombie” in the fourth round with the challenger on his feet. Volkanovski is as dynamic, composed and complete as possible. Despite his performance seminar against ‘Zombie’, the Aussie doesn’t quite top the next fighter in our pound-for-pound rankings, even though City Kickboxing teammates are neck and neck…

2. Israel Adesanya (22-1, middleweight champion)

Israel Adesanya is one of the most engaging fighters in the world

(Getty Pictures)

One of the most exciting fighters to watch in the history of the sport. The former kickboxer regularly produces jaw-dropping masterclasses against his opponents, proving to be just too shrewd and smart for his competition. Adesanya faced a 185-pound who’s-who, beating them all and knocking out a number. Suffered his first loss in professional MMA in 2021, but there was even merit in that as the Nigerian-born New Zealander moved up a weight class to challenge then-champion Blachowicz for the weight title heavy light. He’s starting to “turn the opposition” – a term that will come back lower – with back-to-back wins in his last two fights, over Marvin Vettori and rival Robert Whittaker.

1. Kamaru Usman (20-1, welterweight champion)

Kamaru Usman went 3-0 in 2021, retaining the UFC welterweight title with every win


In 2021, the welterweight champion became the best mixed martial artist in the world, let alone the UFC. The Nigerian-American is the promotion’s most clinical wrestler and has added knockout power to his game. Usman is eight years undefeated, his 19-game winning streak including a dominating title win in 2019 and five defenses successful since.

Another big credit is the fact that the 34-year-old has fought three times in 2021, more than any other fighter on this list except Poirier. Two of its three wins in 2021 have come by stoppage, and the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ are now ‘lapping up the opposition’ in their own words, having beaten almost every division contender at least once – some of them twice.

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