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Sherdog’s WMMA Pound-for-Pound Top 10

Image: John Brannigan/Sherdog.com illustration



Manon Fiorot’s physical tools continue to make her a nightmare matchup in the flyweight division.

While it wasn’t especially thrilling, the Frenchwoman relied on her size, strength and countering ability to cruise to a five-round verdict against Erin Blanchfield in the UFC on ESPN 54 headliner at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday night. It’s Fiorot’s second consecutive victory over a female pound-for-pound talent — she bested Rose Namajunas in her previous outing — and her seventh UFC win in a row overall. That’s enough for “The Beast” to climb to No. 6 in the Sherdog’s latest pound-for-pound rankings.

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While Fiorot has a legitimate claim to being the No. 1 contender in the UFC women’s flyweight division, she might have to be willing to wait to receive her desired title shot, as Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko are expected to square off in a trilogy bout after their coaching duties on “The Ultimate Fighter 32” conclude.

Note: Previous rankings listed in brackets.

1. Amanda Nunes (23-5) | UFC [1]

Nunes was rarely threatened in a lopsided unanimous decision triumph over Irene Aldana in the UFC 289 headliner, and she capped off that performance by announcing her retirement from mixed martial arts. “Lioness” exits the sport as a two-division champion and arguably the most accomplished female fighter of all-time with a resume that includes wins over the likes of Cristiane Justino, Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie and Julianna Pena. While Nunes leaves a potential trilogy with Pena on the table, she really had nothing left to accomplish in a decorated career. If her retirement holds up, Nunes’ rankings eligibility will expire on June 10, 2024.

2. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (27-2, 1 NC) | Bellator [2]

“Cyborg” turned away another challenger with ease, as Cat Zingano found herself outstruck and outwrestled before succumbing to a torrent of ground-and-pound in the first round of their co-headlining tilt at Bellator 300. The win was Justino’s fifth straight in Bellator and sixth since her shocking knockout loss to Amanda Nunes almost five years ago. With Professional Fighters League’s recent purchase of Bellator, Justino appears to be on a collision course with Larissa Pacheco after Kayla Harrison signed with the UFC.

3. Alexa Grasso (16-3-1) | UFC [3]

Grasso proved she was no fluke in the UFC Fight Night 227 headliner, as she battled Valentina Shevchenko tooth-and-nail for five rounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The end result was a split draw that provided little in the way of closure for either woman, but it does allow Grasso to keep her flyweight crown for at least one more defense. Grasso will coach against Shevchenko on “The Ultimate Fighter 32,” setting the stage for their trilogy later in 2024.

4. Weili Zhang (24-3) | UFC [4]

Zhang bullied Amanda Lemos for five rounds, winning a lopsided decision triumph in the UFC 292 co-main event. Currently on her second reign as strawweight queen, “Magnum” has rebounded from back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas in 2021 to win her last three outings in impressive fashion. With a resume that includes notable wins over the likes of Lemos, Carla Esparza, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice), Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres, the Chinese standout ranks among the top females in the sport. She’ll attempt to continue her reign against Xiaonan Yan at UFC 300.

5. Valentina Shevchenko (23-4-1) | UFC [5]

Shevchenko displayed a champion’s resolve in her rematch with Alexa Grasso at UFC Fight Night 227, but a split draw kept “Bullet” from regaining the title she held for more than four years. To her credit, Shevchenko rebounded from being dropped for the first time in her UFC tenure in the second round to author a strong performance behind a stiff jab, solid wrestling and positional control. Shevchenko is expected to receive a trilogy bout against her Mexican rival after coaching opposite Grasso on “The Ultimate Fighter 32.”

6. Manon Fiorot (12-1) | UFC [8]

Fiorot relied on her physical advantages at UFC on ESPN 54, as she cruised to a unanimous decision triumph over Erin Blanchfield in the evening’s main event at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Fiorot’s winning streak now stands at seven, and while it wasn’t an especially enthralling performance, it’s hard to deny the Frenchwoman her place as the division’s No. 1 contender. However, Fiorot might have to wait until Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko square off for a third time after coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter 32” — or even longer than that, depending on the result of their trilogy.

7. Carla Esparza (19-7) | UFC [6]

Esparza’s second reign as strawweight champion was as short-lived as the first, as she relinquished the crown to Weili Zhang in a second-round submission defeat in the UFC 281 co-main event. “Cookie Monster” rebuilt her career after the first title bout loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015, and it’s possible she could rise to the top again — especially if the title changes hands. After having a six-bout winning streak snapped in defeat, Esparza will be in line to face another highly ranked foe in her next outing. That won’t come until 2024, as Esparza gave birth to her first child in September.

8. Liz Carmouche (20-7) | PFL [7]

For the second time in a row, Carmouche staked her flyweight strap against a woman who was ineligible to win it, as Ilima-Lei Macfarlane missed weight for their feature tilt at Bellator 300 on Oct. 7, just as DeAnna Bennett did earlier this year. The fight itself was an awkward and tedious affair, as the two close friends and former longtime training partners engaged in a glorified sparring match for four full rounds before the challenger succumbed to a knee injury early in the fifth. While it might have lacked entertainment value, Carmouche’s one-sided handling of the former titleholder ran her Bellator record to 7-0 and affirmed her place as one of the promotion’s most dominant champs. Rather than defend her Bellator title, Carmouche will compete in the 2024 PFL flyweight season beginning with a trilogy against Juliana Velasquez on April 4.

9. Erin Blanchfield (12-2) UFC [9]

Blanchfield appeared to be overmatched by the larger Manon Fiorot in the UFC on ESPN 54 main event, as she struggled to close the distance for 25 minutes in a clear-cut unanimous decision defeat. While Blanchfield deserves credit for staying in her opponent’s face until the final horn, the Elmwood Park, New Jersey native missed out on a golden opportunity to assert herself as the division’s No. 1 contender. Instead, “Cold Blooded” has more questions to answer after seeing her six-bout winning streak come to an end.

10. Rose Namajunas (12-6) | UFC [10]

Namajunas returned to the win column in the UFC on ESPN 53 main event, as she outworked Amanda Ribas for five rounds in a unanimous decision triumph at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. In addition to earning her first career victory at 125 pounds, the former strawweight champion bounces back from a discouraging loss to Manon Fiorot in her flyweight debut.

Other Contenders: Xiaonan Yan, Raquel Pennington, Seika Izawa, Julianna Pena, Larissa Pacheco.

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, Marcelo Alonso, Keith Shillan, Tyler Treese and Rob Sargent.

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