Welcome to our monthly update of the MMA Hook pound-for-pound rankings, where our esteemed panel carefully sifts through the noise to answer the question: Who are the best male and female MMA fighters in the world?
UFC 290 left no disappointment, delivering the best MMA event of the year and reshaping the trajectories of several top fighters. Alexander Volkanovski emerged triumphant, while Brandon Moreno faced disappointment, and Dricus Du Plessis displayed his relentless determination.
Beyond the UFC, we witnessed Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis ward off the advances of the would-be three-division titleholder Patricio Pitbull, and the PFL’s top female fighter, Larissa Pacheco, continuing her impressive streak.
These recent events have caused significant shifts in our Pound-for-Pound rankings, with a familiar face reclaiming the top spot.
Men’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Alexander Volkanovski Regains the Throne
Alexander Volkanovski, Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Alexander Volkanovski has once again secured his throne.
One could argue that the UFC’s featherweight champion never should have lost his spot, despite his narrow defeat in his attempt to capture the lightweight title from Islam Makhachev. However, it seems that our panel simply needed to witness Volkanovski’s return to winning ways. Following his dominant performance against Yair Rodriguez, he now sits at the top of the men’s Pound-for-Pound rankings.
Volkanovski remains undefeated at 145 pounds, and each successful title defense (now five in a row) solidifies his reputation as the best all-around fighter in the world. If we were to evaluate Pound-for-Pound purely based on hypothetical matches where the participants magically possess the exact same size, it would be challenging to argue that anyone would be favored over “The Great.”
Moreover, we may witness Volkanovski’s potential rematch against Makhachev in the future, or witness his legendary championship run continue with a defense against the unbeaten Ilia Topuria. Either way, it is safe to say that Volkanovski will not relinquish his spot anytime soon.
Noteworthy changes include the significant drops of Pound-for-Pound stalwarts Brandon Moreno and Robert Whittaker. Moreno’s failure to overcome his nemesis Alexandre Pantoja resulted in a ten-spot drop, tying him for the 18th position. As for Whittaker, his crushing loss to a dominant Dricus Du Plessis has led to his complete removal from our rankings for the first time since their inception.
Notable recent results: Alexander Volkanovski (No. 2) defeated Yair Rodriguez, Alexandre Pantoja defeated Brandon Moreno (No. 8, tied), Sergio Pettis defeated Patricio Pitbull (No. 12), Dricus Du Plessis defeated Robert Whittaker (No. 13).
Upcoming fights featuring ranked fighters: Aljamain Sterling (No. 6) vs. Sean O’Malley (UFC 292, Aug. 19), Dustin Poirier (No. 14, tied) vs. Justin Gaethje (UFC 291, July 29), Alex Pereira (No. 16) vs. Jan Blachowicz (UFC 291, July 29).
Other fighters receiving votes: Johnny Eblen (4), Vadim Nemkov (4), Robert Whittaker (4), Jan Blachowicz (2), Merab Dvalishvili (2), Jamahal Hill (2), A.J. McKee (2), Magomed Ankalaev (1), Colby Covington (1), Justin Gaethje (1), Patchy Mix (1), Belal Muhammad (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1), Shavkat Rakhmonov (1).
Related: UFC 290: Six Key Takeaways from the New Event of the Year
Women’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Larissa Pacheco’s Rise
Larissa Pacheco, Cooper Neill, PFL
Let’s give Larissa Pacheco the recognition she deserves.
During her first two seasons in the PFL, Pacheco struggled to escape the shadow of Kayla Harrison, suffering two losses to her rival in 2019. Furthermore, a failed weight cut cost her a tournament spot, denying her a potential rematch in 2021. Despite her undeniable talent, there were doubts about whether she would be able to put it all together.
Finally, Pacheco overcame Harrison in the lightweight finals of the 2022 league championship. Since then, her continued excellence has propelled her up the women’s Pound-for-Pound rankings. Her victories this season include outpointing former Bellator champion Julia Budd and a blistering 45-second win over Amber Leibrock.
Out of Pacheco’s last eight opponents, only Harrison and Budd have made it out of the first round. With her relentless pursuit of a second million-dollar prize, this time at featherweight, she has proven to be a finishing machine. If she maintains this momentum, she might find herself closer to the top five than her current 10th position by the end of 2023.
Notable recent result: Larissa Pacheco (No. 12) defeated Amber Leibrock.
Other fighters receiving votes: Katlyn Chookagian (4), Mackenzie Dern (4), Lauren Murphy (3), Ketlen Vieira (3), Seo Hee Ham (2), Virna Jandiroba (2), Irene Aldana (1), Maycee Barber (1), Marina Rodriguez (1), Juliana Velasquez (1).
Related: MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Identifying the Best Women’s Fighter in the World After Amanda Nunes’ Departure
A Reminder of Ground Rules and Subjectivity
To provide clarity, let’s review some ground rules:
Our voting panel consists of MMA Hook staffers Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin, and Jed Meshew.
Rankings will be updated after every UFC pay-per-view event. Fighters who do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout will be removed from the rankings.
In case of a fighter’s retirement, our panel will determine whether to immediately remove them from the rankings or retain their position until further notice.
It is important to acknowledge that pound-for-pound supremacy is inherently subjective. Debating whether a fighter like Robert Whittaker should be ranked above Max Holloway does not have a definitive answer. In other words, let’s remember that this is all in good fun and not to be taken too seriously.
We would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or concerns. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below.
Poll: Does Alexander Volkanovski need to defeat Islam Makhachev to solidify his Pound-for-PPoll: Does Alexander Volkanovski need to defeat Islam Makhachev to solidify his Pound-for-Pound greatness?
VOTE view results
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about mma pound-for-pound rankings
Q: How often are the MMA Pound-for-Pound rankings updated?
A: The MMA Pound-for-Pound rankings are updated on a monthly basis, following every UFC pay-per-view event.
Q: What criteria are considered when determining the Pound-for-Pound rankings?
A: The rankings are determined by an esteemed panel of MMA Hook staffers who take into account a fighter’s overall performance, skill set, accomplishments, and title defenses.
Q: Can fighters be removed from the rankings?
A: Yes, fighters who do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout will be removed from the rankings. Additionally, if a fighter announces their retirement, the panel will decide whether to immediately remove them or keep them in the rankings.
Q: Is the Pound-for-Pound ranking system subjective?
A: Yes, the notion of Pound-for-Pound supremacy is inherently subjective as it involves comparing fighters across weight classes. Different opinions may arise when determining the rankings, making it a subjective evaluation.
Q: Are these rankings a serious business?
A: The Pound-for-Pound rankings are meant for discussion and enjoyment. While they hold significance in the MMA community, it is important to remember that they are subjective and not to be taken too seriously.