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UFC pound for pound rankings: Leon Edwards rises after UFC 286 win

ufc pound for pound rankings
RankFighterRecordLast 3 Results
#1Islam Makhachev24-1W-W-W
#2Alexander Volkanovski23-2L-W-W
#3Jon Jones27-1W-W-W
#4Israel Adesanya21-2L-W-W
#5Leon Edwards21-3W-W-W
#6Kamaru Usman20-3L-L-W
#7Aljamain Sterling22-3W-W-W
#8Alex Pereira7-1W-W-W
#9Charles Oliveira33-9L-W-W
#10Brandon Moreno21-6W-W-L

The men’s UFC pound for pound rankings is the cream of the crop when it comes to MMA top-10 lists. It is a group of the very best fighters on planet earth. It features the competitors who best mix power, speed, athleticism, and fight IQ into an absolutely destructive cage fighting force. It’s also a list that is heavily debated and as subjective a topic as there is in the MMA community.

With that said, here are the official Sportsnaut.com men’s UFC pound-for-pound rankings.

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10. Brandon Moreno (21-6)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

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After a short time away, Brandon Moreno is back in our UFC pound for pound rankings and it is well deserved. While Demetrious Johnson is still the greatest flyweight in MMA and UFC history, Moreno solidified his place at No. 2 with his definitive series-ending win over Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 283. “The Assassin Baby’s” next fight options are quite fascinating in a division that is highly entertaining.

9. Charles Oliveira (33-9)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Oliveira was dominantly defeated in October by Islam Makhachev but he still remains one of the best fighters on the planet. It is just the nature of fighting at the top of what has long been the best division in the MMA. The question now is does he return for a title eliminator clash next, or does “Oliveira “do Bronx” look to cash in an exciting money fight?

  • Next fight: vs. Beneil Dariush at UFC 288 on May 6

8. Alex Pereira (7-1)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the doubters and those who questioned his getting a UFC title shot in just his fourth bout in the promotion, Alex Pereira proved he completely owns Israel Adesanya at UFC 281. For much of the bout, the champ seemed the better fighter and looked headed to a decision win at the start of the fifth round. However, “Poatan’s” unique power proved valuable late as he shocked the world and is now 3-0 against Adesanya in combat sports.

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The Brazilian will get a chance to move to 4-0 against the pound-for-pound superstar in a headlining MMA rematch again in New York. This time at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for UFC 287 in April.

  • Next fight: vs. Israel Adesanya at UFC 287 on Apr. 8

7. Aljamain Sterling (22-3)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

Many doubted the validity of Aljamain Sterling as the bantamweight champion, but at UFC 273 he proved his merit as a titlist and one of the best fighters in the world. It wasn’t a performance for the ages but Sterling won fair and square and beat an elite talent using his world-class wrestling. And he did it again at UFC 280 against TJ Dillashaw. Although the former champion had a compromised shoulder heading into the bout.

Next, the 135-pound king will faceoff with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 288. However, while Cejudo should be his toughest test yet, “The Messenger” will compete in a weight class he has only fought twice at before and following nearly three years away from the sport.

  • Next fight: vs. Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 6

6. Kamaru Usman (20-3)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The long-standing king of the UFC has finally been dethroned. While Kamaru Usman dominated most of his UFC 278 title defense against Leon Edwards, his fall from glory is now the new thesis of a fight is never over, until the final bell rings. “The Nigerian Nightmare” is still one of the best fighters on the planet, but with the competition at the top of the UFC pound of round rankings so strong, the former welterweight king had to fall.

At UFC 286, the welterweight legend got a chance to avenge just the second loss of his career but came up just short by a majority decision to Edwards. It will be interesting to see where he goes next. Does he want to reclimb the ladder back to contention at welterweight, or maybe try a change of scenery at middleweight?

  • Next Fight: TBD

5. Leon Edwards (21-3)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Leon Ewards will go down as having the greatest comeback victory in the entire history of the UFC and the sport of MMA. His last-minute UFC 278 win over a living legend in Kamaru Usman stamped his spot in welterweight history and landed him in the pound-for-pound rankings for the first time. He proved he has a heart just like the fictional “Rocky” and is a dangerous man to the very last seconds of a fight.

At UFC 286 he got a chance to prove his win wasn’t a fluke after being beaten in most of the previous seven rounds the duo had. And he did exactly that with an improved wrestling game, smart strategy, and a well-placed cage grab to outlast Usman for a second straight win over one of the best welterweights ever.

If there were any doubters before, they can quiet the discourse because Edwards is the undisputed top 170-pounder in the world today.

  • Next Fight: TBD

4. Israel Adesanya (21-2)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Israel Adesanya had lost just once in 22 MMA fights heading into UFC 281. That all changed due to the uncanny power of arch-rival Alex Pereira. Adesanya is still one of the best fighters on the planet, but his third straight loss to the Brazilian in combat sports is going to sting for a long time after he seemed on his way to a revenge unanimous decision win.

“The Last Stylebender” will get a third chance to exercise the demons and finish the job in April when he once again faces Pereira in New York. This time the pair will headline UFC 287 inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

3. Jon Jones (27-1)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, after dominating the light heavyweight division for just over a decade, it did not take long for Jon Jones to usurp control at heavyweight. At UFC 285 the MMA GOAT jumped into the division for the first time and needed less than three minutes to beat former interim champion Ciryl Gane and become the new division king.

The submission finish was his first fight-ender since 2018 and put the sport on notice that a motivated Jon Jones is still as terrifying as it’s always been. He may hold on to this title for a very long time and he is back in our UFC pound-for-pound rankings for the first time in nearly two years.

  • Next Fight: TBD

2. Alexander Volkanovski (23-1)

ufc pound for pound
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski has won 20 straight fights, defeated the best 145-pounder ever, Max Holloway three times, and hasn’t tasted defeat in eight years. With Kamaru Usman’s stunning last-minute defeat at UFC 278, “The Great” jumped up to the top spot of our rankings as the best cage fighter on Earth.

However, in an attempt to be a two-division champion, he rolled the dice at UFC 284 versus lightweight king Islam Makhachev. And while he came very close to upsetting the fast-rising star, he fell short of his goal and suffered his first loss in nearly eight years by unanimous decision. He drops a spot due to the loss, but he doesn’t fall far after the bout was very close.

  • Next Fight: TBD

1. Islam Makhachev (23-1)

ufc pound for pound rankings
Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

Winning 11 straight fights and dominating one of the best lightweight competitors of all time is grounds to land a spot in our top 10. While Islam Makhachev’s dominance hasn’t been quite as spectacular as Oliveira’s, there is no denying the force he has become in the company. He has rarely been challenged and brings a style that is an elite puzzle.

If there were any doubters of his talent, they were quieted again at UFC 284 when he showed he is far more than a dominant wrestler when he held his own on the feet against pound-for-pound superstar Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284. He was able to outpoint and outwork the best in the world, and that is why he moves up to the top spot in our latest UFC pound-for-pound rankings.

  • Next fight: TBD