The UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings are one of the most divisive topics of conversation in MMA so with that in mind, we had a go at creating our own top-15.
The current pound-for-pound ranking system isn’t exactly one that has any bearing on the sport itself. It merely stands a show of status for the top-15 fighters in the game, one that is decided upon by several members of the media – and not anyone who has anything to do with match-making or the fighters themselves.
The criteria that will be considered are the following.
- Technical skill
- Recent form
- Overall arc of career
- Calibre of opposition
- Ability to finish
- Success in multiple weight-classes
#15 – Yoel Romero
Yoel is probably the greatest fighter in the sport today to have never won a UFC title. There are some who might disagree with his inclusion on this list but two highly competitive losses to Robert Whittaker on the scorecards just aren’t enough to see ‘The Soldier of God’ get the boot from my top-15.
#14 – Rose Namajunas
Proving that her UFC 217 victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk was incredibly impressive but with some tough contenders rising up at 115lbs, the true test of Rose’s championship pedigree will begin next year. Strawweight is easily the most-stacked women’s division today and if she can hold onto the belt, expect her to crack that top-10 before long.
#13 – Amanda Nunes
You’d be hard-pressed to deny Amanda Nunes a spot in the top-5 if she can become the fighter to finally defeat Cris Cyborg – especially if her past conquest Valentina Shevchenko can beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk to take the 125lb belt. Nunes has the best CV in women’s MMA today and can really take her stock to the next level if she can pass the test that will face her in her UFC 232 super-fight.
#12 – Tony Ferguson
‘El Cucuy’ would no doubt have been a champion at lightweight in another era. Eleven wins in a row and still no title shot. It’s a strange one for sure but with the division now reaching something of a level of stability, Ferguson has to be close. Seen as one of the few men who can beat Khabib Nurmagomedov, that fight is one that we’ve been waiting for for years and a true stylistic clash for the ages.
#11 – Conor McGregor
Conor’s status as a former double champ is just about the only thing keeping him above Tony on this list. His loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov was a tough one, for sure, but given his resumé and past accomplishments, I’m not ready to kick him out of this top-15. Unlike GSP he is not lingering in a state of semi-retirement and for that reason, he comes in just shy of the ten men at the top of the heap.
#10 – Cristiane Justino
If Cyborg can add the scalp of another former champion to her collection when he fights Amanda Nunes later this year, it’ll be hard to deny her a spot closer to the top. For now, though, it’s hard to justify placing her any higher than this due to the calibre of some of the opponents she has beaten in the UFC.
#9 – Henry Cejudo
Beating the former pound-for-pound number 1 doesn’t exactly get you the top spot but it sure does make your argument for a top-10 position beyond any doubt. Cejudo’s next fight will tell us a lot about his pedigree and whether it’s a trilogy fight with Demetrious Johnson or a super-fight with TJ Dillashaw, a win could set him up to take the game by storm in the later months of 2019.
#8 – Robert Whittaker
The man just cannot be killed. In his UFC 225 instant classic against Yoel Romero, ‘The Reaper’ displayed the type of chin that would make Rocky Balboa stand with his mouth agape. Whittaker is one of the new breed of mixed martial artists that are slowly taking over the game and with him set to defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum, ‘Bobby Knuckles’ could find himself in a position for several fantastic showdowns in 2019 if he is able to come out on top.
#7 – Stipe Miocic
The second-highest-ranked non-champion on our list just wasn’t going to be dropped out of the top-10 on the back of one loss. It was a brutal KO, don’t get me wrong, but Miocic has been able to put together the most impressive title-reign in the history of the division with the smallest margin for error and that is enough to keep him at number 7 for now.
#6 – Demetrious Johnson
Like Miocic, DJ’s credentials are enough to keep his name in and around the top here. Losing to Henry Cejudo – a man he once TKO’d in round one – by way of a close and divisive decision isn’t the worst look for ‘Mighty Mouse’. For years, people complained about the relative lack of challenges this man has been faced with but when he settles his trilogy with Cejudo next year, we’re going to learn alot about his mettle.
#5 – Max Holloway
Brian Ortega has claimed that he will be fighting for the undisputed 145lb title even if Holloway is forced to withdraw from UFC 231 and to be honest, it would be a sad way to watch this man’s run at featherweight conclude. ‘Blessed’ just seems to get better and better every time we see him in action and with his pair of wins over José Aldo, he made his position as a top-5 P4P fighter crystal clear.
#4 – TJ Dillashaw
The Dominick Cruz fight aside, it’s been a perfect string of years for the Bang Muay-Thai product. His unorthodox style of striking is an absolute joy to watch and with his back-to-back wins over Cody Garbrandt, it does appear as though we’ll be seeing a rematch with the one man who was able to beat him in recent times before long.
#3 – Tyron Woodley
In one of the year’s most impressive statements, Woodley managed to send a huge ‘f**k you’ to his haters with a comprehensive stoppage victory over Darren Till at UFC 228. The man has finally gotten some of the respect he deserves and with a potentially fantastic showdown with Colby Covington on the cards for 2019, expect Tyron’s popularity to grow as he slips in the role of the hero to Colby’s villain.
#2 – Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib’s stock has well and truly reached the next level after UFC 229. The world tuned in to see the triumphant return of the biggest star in the sport and instead, witnessed a clinic in Dagestani dominance. A win over Tony Ferguson could perhaps see him give our number-1 fighter on this list some trouble but for now, ‘The Eagle’ is still soaring quite high.
#1 – Daniel Cormier
Who else could it have been? Nobody in the sport can boast the type of resumé and recent achievements that DC can. Once seen as the less popular figure in his dynamic with Jon Jones, Cormier has emerged from the shadow of the troubled former champion to become one of the greatest to ever do it. At UFC 230 he will face Derrick Lewis and if he is successful, he will find himself in a position for some of the biggest fights of his career next year.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena