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Sherdog’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10 Rankings

John Brannigan/Sherdog.com illustration


It’s time to give Charles Oliveira some long overdue respect.

On the heels of his 10th consecutive victory – a third-round submission of Dustin Poirier in the UFC 269 headliner – “Do Bronx” finally makes his debut in Sherdog.com’s pound-for-pound rankings. The promotion’s all-time submission leader joined the 20-win club on Saturday night, and along with that, he takes Poirier’s No. 7 ranking. No longer can anyone question Oliveira’s heart after surviving heavy punches from both Poirier and Michael Chandler under the championship spotlight in 2021.

Meanwhile, the vanquished Poirier stays in the Top 10 on the strength of a head-to-head victory over No. 1 lightweight contender-in-waiting Justin Gaethje. However, with submission defeats in his last two title bouts, it could be some time before “The Diamond” gets to the top of the divisional mountain again.

Note: Previous ranking in brackets.

1. Kamaru Usman (20-1) [1]

Usman kept on trucking at UFC 268, earning a unanimous decision triumph over Colby Covington in a championship rematch at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 6. “The Nigerian Nightmare” dropped Covington twice in the second round then survived a late push in the championship frames from his opponent to close the book on his rivalry with the controversial Covington. Usman now has 15 consecutive UFC triumphs under his belt, a streak that is only surpassed by middleweight great Anderson Silva.

2. Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) [2]

In his first title bout against someone other than Max Holloway, Volkanovski delivered in the UFC 266 main event, outlanding Brian Ortega by 126 significant strikes and surviving a couple of dangerous submissions en route to a unanimous decision victory. The City Kickboxing representative has won 20 consecutive professional fights and 10 straight in UFC competition to further cement his place as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound talents. Despite a 2-0 record against Holloway, a third date with the talented Hawaiian could loom, provided he gets past Yair Rodriguez in November.

3. Israel Adesanya (21-1) [3]

After failing in his bid to become a two-division champion this past March, Adesanya showed the world that he still reigns supreme at middleweight, as he cruised to a five-round verdict over Marvin Vettori in the UFC 263 headliner at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., on June 12. It was a much more decisive triumph than their first meeting, when “The Last Stylebender” captured a split verdict over his Italian rival at UFC on Fox 29 in April 2018. With 10 consecutive middleweight triumphs under his belt, the City Kickboxing stalwart now turns his attention to a rematch with ex-champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 271.

4. Francis Ngannou (16-3) [4]

Ngannou brought the same ferocious knockout power into his rematch with Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, but improved takedown defense allowed him to use it much more effectively. The end result was a second-round knockout victory that made “The Predator” the 17th heavyweight champion in UFC history. The Cameroonian-born Frenchman has laid waste to some of the division’s best during his run to the top. Up next, a title unification bout against Ciryl Gane looms at UFC 270 on Jan. 22.

5. A.J. McKee (18-0) [5]

McKee had a star-making performance at Bellator 263, as he rocked Patricio Freire with a head kick and then rendered his opponent unconscious with a guillotine choke in their headlining encounter at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on July 31. Not only does McKee claim featherweight gold, but he earned a cool $1 million for making it through the promotion’s 145-pound bracket. McKee finished all four of his opponents — Freire, Darrion Caldwell, Derek Campos and Georgi Karakhanyan — in the grand prix and now looks poised to be one of the sport’s top featherweights for years to come.

6. Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) [6]

Moreno made history at UFC 263, becoming the first Mexican-born champion in promotion history with a third-round submission of Deiveson Figueiredo at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., on June 12. Moreno was much more dominant in the rematch after battling the Brazilian to a majority draw in their first meeting at UFC 256. “The Assassin Baby” is unbeaten in six Octagon appearances since his initial release from the promotion. Moreno will have to vanquish Figueiredo again when they square off in a trilogy matchup at UFC 270.

7. Charles Oliveira (32-8, 1 NC) [NR]

Oliveira showcased his durability early against Dustin Poirier, then imposed his will through grappling to retain his lightweight crown with a third-round submission victory in the UFC 269 main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 11. “Do Bronx” has won 10 consecutive fights dating back to June 2018 and only seems to be getting better. The Brazilian appears to be on a collision course with former World Series of Fighting champ Justin Gaethje — another potential all-action bout to look forward to in 2022.

8. Stipe Miocic (20-4) [8]

When his wrestling failed against Francis Ngannou in the UFC 260 headliner, so did Miocic’s bid to make another successful heavyweight championship defense. Miocic saw his reign end in a second-round KO defeat at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on March 27, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Ohio-based firefighter has already established himself as the organization’s most consistent heavyweight king with records for most victories in title bouts and consecutive title defenses. Though requesting a trilogy wouldn’t be out of line for the 38-year-old, Miocic’s Octagon forays have become less frequent in recent years, making it unclear when he might be willing to return for another matchup with Ngannou – or anyone.

9. Dustin Poirier (28-7, 1 NC) [7]

Poirier entered UFC 269 as the uncrowned lightweight champion in many people’s eyes, but he left the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas empty handed following a third-round submission loss to Charles Oliveira in the evening’s headliner. The American Top Team representative started well, as he landed powerful punches and floored his opponent in Round 1, but that momentum gradually faded as the bout progressed. Poirier was on the verge of a memorable 2021 campaign that could have included two wins over Conor McGregor and a championship belt, but instead “The Diamond” comes up short for the second consecutive time in a title bout.

10. Justin Gaethje (23-3) [9]

More than a year removed from his lightweight championship loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, Gaethje staked his claim to another title shot at UFC 268, where he outdueled Michael Chandler in a “Fight of the Year” candidate at Madison Square Garden in New York. Gaethje endured some early adversity when he was rocked by the former Bellator champion, but he relied on a more technical approach to pull away from Chandler for a unanimous decision triumph. The former World Series of Fighting title holder has said he will “riot” if he is not next in line to face the winner of the Dustin Poirier-Charles Oliveira title bout at UFC 269..

Other Contenders: Patricio Freire, Glover Teixeira, Jan Blachowicz, Max Holloway, Deiveson Figueiredo.

Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are compiled by a panel of Sherdog.com staff members and contributors: Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Edward Carbajal, Marcelo Alonso, Tudor Leonte, Keith Shillan, Tyler Treese and Lev Pisarsky. Advertisement
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