MMA pound-for-pound rankings: How did Israel Adesanya-Robert Whittaker fight impact the top 10?

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Israel Adesanya showed he belongs among the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA when he defended his UFC middleweight championship against a fellow top-10 fighter, ex-champ Robert Whittaker, and won a unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 271.

The problem for Adesanya, who was No. 2 in the ESPN rankings going into the bout, was that there was little opportunity for upward movement. The fighter ranked above him, UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, wasn’t going anywhere. So Adesanya stayed put in the latest men’s rankings. He even fell one spot in the top 10s of two voters on the ESPN panel.

“Pound-for-pound rankings, you’re always splitting hairs,” Brett Okamoto said. “We’re talking about the very best handful of fighters on the planet. Obviously, there’s not much separation, and this list could change by the day. The reason I dropped Adesanya to No. 3 is not because I wasn’t impressed with him on Saturday; he fought another guy in my top 10 in Whittaker. But I was more impressed with Alexander Volkanovski’s last performance than this performance by Adesanya, so since I have them so close, I felt Volkanovski should get my nod.”

Whittaker, meanwhile, remains in the top 10 but slipped just a bit. Despite the loss, Whittaker’s performance was impressive enough that only one ESPN voter dropped him from his pound-for-pound top 10.

“It was nothing against Whittaker, really,” Jeff Wagenheim said. “I had him and Justin Gaethje pretty much neck and neck prior to UFC 271, and after Whittaker’s loss I flipped the order of those two. Whittaker would be my No. 11 if we weren’t restricted to a top 10.”

The women’s rankings remain unchanged, and with no one on the list officially scheduled for her next bout, we might not see change for a while.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Feb. 16.

Men’s pound-for-pound rankings

1. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 20-1
Last: W (UD) Colby Covington, Nov. 6, 2021
Next: TBD


2. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight champion
Record: 22-1
Last: W (UD) Robert Whittaker, Feb. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


3. Francis Ngannou

UFC heavyweight champion
Record: 17-3
Last: W (UD) Ciryl Gane, Jan. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


4. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 23-1
Last: W (UD) Brian Ortega, Sept. 25, 2021
Next: TBD


5. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight champion
Record: 32-8, 1 NC
Last: W (Sub3) Dustin Poirier, Dec. 11, 2021
Next: May 7 vs. Justin Gaethje


6. Petr Yan

UFC bantamweight interim champion
Record: 16-2
Last: W (UD) Cory Sandhagen, Oct. 30, 2021
Next: March 5 vs. Aljamain Sterling


7. Max Holloway

UFC featherweight
Record: 23-6
Last: W (UD) Yair Rodriguez, Nov. 13, 2021
Next: TBD


8. Dustin Poirier

UFC lightweight
Record: 28-7, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub3) Charles Oliveira, Dec. 11, 2021
Next: TBD


9. Glover Teixeira

UFC light heavyweight champion
Previous ranking: 10
Record: 33-7
Last: W (Sub2) Jan Blachowicz, Oct. 30, 2021
Next: May 7 vs. Jiri Prochazka


T-10. Robert Whittaker

UFC middleweight
Previous ranking: 9
Record: 23-6
Last: L (UD) Israel Adesanya, Feb. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


T-10. Deiveson Figueiredo

UFC flyweight champion
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 21-2-1
Last: W (UD) Brandon Moreno, Jan. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Justin Gaethje and Stipe Miocic.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Kamaru Usman; 2. Alexander Volkanovski; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Max Holloway; 5. Petr Yan; 6. Charles Oliveira; 7. Francis Ngannou; 8. Deiveson Figueiredo; 9. Robert Whittaker; 10. Dustin Poirier.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Kamaru Usman; 2. Israel Adesanya; 3. Francis Ngannou; 4. Alexander Volkanovski; 5. Charles Oliveira; 6. Petr Yan; 7. Dustin Poirier; 8. Glover Teixeira; 9. Max Holloway; 10. Robert Whittaker.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Kamaru Usman; 2. Charles Oliveira; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Francis Ngannou; 5. Alexander Volkanovski; 6. Petr Yan; 7. Max Holloway; 8. Glover Teixeira; 9. Deiveson Figueiredo; 10. Robert Whittaker.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Kamaru Usman; 2. Francis Ngannou; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Alexander Volkanovski; 5. Charles Oliveira; 6. Dustin Poirier; 7. Petr Yan; 8. Max Holloway; 9. Justin Gaethje; 10. Robert Whittaker.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Kamaru Usman; 2. Francis Ngannou; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Alexander Volkanovski; 5. Charles Oliveira; 6. Petr Yan; 7. Stipe Miocic; 8. Glover Teixeira; 9. Dustin Poirier; 10. Justin Gaethje.


1. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 21-3
Last: W (TKO4) Lauren Murphy, Sept. 25, 2021
Next: TBD


2. Amanda Nunes

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 21-5
Last: L (Sub2) Julianna Peña, Dec. 11, 2021
Next: TBD


3. Rose Namajunas

UFC strawweight champion
Record: 11-4
Last: W (SD) Zhang Weili, Nov. 6, 2021
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Record: 25-2, 1 NC
Last: W (KO1) Sinead Kavanagh, Nov. 12, 2021
Next: TBD


5. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 11-4
Last: W (Sub2) Amanda Nunes, Dec. 11, 2021
Next: TBD


6. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight
Record: 21-3
Last: L (SD) Rose Namajunas, Nov. 6, 2021
Next: TBD


T-7. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Record: 22-9
Last: W (TKO1) Cynthia Calvillo, Sept. 25, 2021
Next: TBD


T-7. Kayla Harrison

PFL lightweight champion
Record: 12-0
Last: W (Sub2) Taylor Guardado, Oct. 27, 2021
Next: TBD


9. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight
Record: 18-6
Last: W (TKO2) Yan Xiaonan, May 22, 2021
Next: TBD


10. Holly Holm

UFC bantamweight
Record: 14-5
Last: W (UD) Irene Aldana, Oct. 3, 2020
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Katlyn Chookagian and Marina Rodriguez.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Valentina Shevchenko; 2. Amanda Nunes; 3. Rose Namajunas; 4. Cris Cyborg; 5. Kayla Harrison; 6. Zhang Weili; 7. Jessica Andrade; 8. Julianna Peña; 9. Carla Esparza; 10. Katlyn Chookagian.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Valentina Shevchenko; 2. Amanda Nunes; 3. Cris Cyborg; 4. Rose Namajunas; 5. Julianna Peña; 6. Kayla Harrison; 7. Zhang Weili; 8. Jessica Andrade; 9. Holly Holm; 10. Katlyn Chookagian.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Valentina Shevchenko; 2. Amanda Nunes; 3. Rose Namajunas; 4. Julianna Peña; 5. Cris Cyborg; 6. Holly Holm; 7. Kayla Harrison; 8. Jessica Andrade; 9. Zhang Weili; 10. Carla Esparza.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Julianna Peña; 2. Amanda Nunes; 3. Valentina Shevchenko; 4. Rose Namajunas; 5. Zhang Weili; 6. Cris Cyborg; 7. Jessica Andrade; 8. Carla Esparza; 9. Kayla Harrison; 10. Marina Rodriguez.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Valentina Shevchenko; 2. Cris Cyborg; 3. Rose Namajunas; 4. Amanda Nunes; 5. Zhang Weili; 6. Jessica Andrade; 7. Julianna Peña; 8. Carla Esparza; 9. Kayla Harrison; 10. Katlyn Chookagian.

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