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Jessica Andrade continues to prove that she is as pound-for-pound worthy as any woman in mixed martial arts today.
The 29-year-old Brazilian became the first female in UFC history to win bouts in three different weight classes when she dispatched Katlyn Chookagian with body punches in her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Night 180 on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi. The former 115-pound champion has recent losses to the two women — Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang — ranked directly ahead of her in our pound-for-pound rankings, so she remains at No. 6 despite this impressive achievement.
Meanwhile, No. 3 pound-for-pounder Cristiane Justino made her first Bellator featherweight title defense in typically dominant fashion, submitting Arlene Blencowe in the second round of their headlining encounter at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, last Thursday. “Cyborg” has won three straight bouts since her knockout loss to current pound-for-pound queen Amanda Nunes in December 2018.
Note: Previous ranking in parentheses.
1. Amanda Nunes (20-4) Nunes was completely dominant against Felicia Spencer in the UFC 250 headliner, winning a lopsided unanimous verdict that wasn’t as close as the judges’ scorecards (50-44, 50-44, 50-45) indicated. That makes 11 consecutive triumphs for Nunes, who joins Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo as the only two UFC fighters two successfully defend titles in two different weight classes. Retirement talks proved to be premature for “Lioness,” who will return for a another 145-pound title defense against Megan Anderson at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.
2. Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) Shevchenko continues to look unstoppable in the UFC women’s flyweight division. “Bullet” absolutely overwhelmed Katlyn Chookagian in the UFC 247 co-main event in Houston, eventually trapping her opponent in a mounted crucifix and raining down strikes for a technical knockout stoppage at the 1:03 mark of the third round. Shevchenko has won five straight since dropping a closely-contested split verdict to Amanda Nunes at UFC 215. Her next title defense will come against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 on Nov. 21.
3. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (23-2, 1 NC) Justino’s first featherweight title defense in Bellator was a breeze, as she dominated Arlene Blencowe en route to a rear-naked choke victory in the second round of the Bellator 249 headliner — the first submission triumph of the powerful Brazilian’s MMA career. “Cyborg” has won three straight contests since her upset loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 and appears poised for a dominant reign as 145-pound champ in the California-based promotion.
4. Weili Zhang (21-1) One bout removed from a 42-second stoppage of Jessica Andrade, Zhang showcased an ability to prevail in a battle of attrition, as she outdueled Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a five-round classic to retain the strawweight crown in the UFC 248 co-main event. Zhang extended her winning streak to 21 thanks to superior punching power that left a grotesque hematoma on Jedrzejczyk’s forehead. Zhang’s victory was all the more impressive considering that her camp was altered due to coronavirus concerns in her homeland of China. Zhang and Jedrzejczyk could be destined for a rematch down the road, but it will be difficult to top their first meeting, which ranks as perhaps the greatest female fight of all-time.
5. Rose Namajunas (9-4) A devastating slam KO defeat to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 had Namajunas contemplating retirement, but ultimately “Thug” Rose decided against calling it a career. The former champion made a triumphant return to the Octagon at UFC 251, where she racked up on early lead on the scorecards and held off a hard-charging Andrade down the stretch for a split-decision triumph at “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi. While a trilogy with Andrade could be in store someday, Namajunas likely earned herself a shot at reigning 115-pound champion Weili Zhang.
6. Jessica Andrade (21-8) Andrade became the first woman to earn victories in three different weight classes at UFC Fight Night 180, as she dispatched former flyweight title challenger Katlyn Chookagian with body punches 4:55 into the opening round of their co-main event encounter in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 17. With an impressive victory in her 125-pound debut, the former strawweight queen already looks primed for a title shot in her new weight class down the road.
7. Germaine de Randamie (10-4) De Randamie showcased a new element to her game at UFC on ESPN 16, as she submitted Julianna Pena with a guillotine choke in the third round of their bantamweight encounter at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 3. It was the first submission victory ever for the Dutch kickboxer, who rebounded from a five-round defeat to Amanda Nunes in a title bout at UFC 245 last December. De Randamie has won six of her eight promotional appearances, with her only two defeats both coming at the hands of Nunes.
8. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) Jedrzejczyk was all heart at UFC 248. Despite being left nearly unrecognizable by the end of her co-headlining bout with Weili Zhang, the Polish star never kept pressing the action in the strawweight championship clash. Although she outlanded her foe in significant strikes, Jedrzejczyk wasn’t as powerful as the Chinese champion in striking exchanges and came up just short in a split-decision defeat. Once one of the sport’s most dominant champions, Jedrzejczyk only raised her stock despite falling to 6-4 in UFC title fights.
9. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-0) Macfarlane was rarely threatened in her latest title defense, as she cruised to a unanimous decision over Kate Jackson in the Bellator 236 headliner at Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. Macfarlane was on the verge of a finish in the fourth and fifth rounds, but Jackson relied on her tenacity to survive until the final bell. Macfarlane now has four successful championship defenses to her credit since winning the inaugural 125-pound belt in November 2017. Interesting future challenges loom in the form of streaking flyweight Juliana Velasquez along with recently-signed training partner — and two-division UFC title challenger — Liz Carmouche.
10. Julia Budd (14-3) When she’s not facing Cristiane Justino, Budd is still just about as dominant as they come. The former featherweight champion was rarely threatened by Jessy Miele at Bellator 244, as she swept the scorecards in convincing fashion at Mohegan Sun Arena on Aug. 21. Few 145-pounders are a physical match for Budd, who has won 12 of her last 13 professional appearances. As long as “Cyborg” is champion, it may take another victory or two for Budd to get another shot at the belt.
Other Contenders: Tatiana Suarez, Seo Hee Ham, Ayaka Hamasaki, Holly Holm, Nina Ansaroff.
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, Tudor Leonte, Keith Shillan, Mike Sloan, Tyler Treese and Lev Pisarsky.