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Top 10 MMA pound-for-pound fighter rankings

Jon Jones after his light heavyweight title bout
Khabib Nurmagomedov looks on after defeating Dustin Poirier
Champion Amanda Nunes reacts after defeating Holly Holm
Stipe Miocic (R) punches Daniel Cormier in their
Israel Adesanya, right, connects on Robert Whittaker in

A look at the top pound-for-pound MMA fighters.

There are a dozen or so weight classes in mixed martial arts and dozens of fighters competing in each one across multiple promotions, including the UFC, Bellator, One Championship and the Professional Fighters League.

Here’s a look at the 10 best MMA fighters across the entire landscape of the sport, regardless of division or promotion, presented in reverse order. The list updates quarterly to help guard against recency bias.

10. Justin Gaethje (UFC, 22-2)

Known as "The Highlight," Gaethje brings to the octagon a reputation of violence, wildness and excitement. He's known for throwing big punches and taking big punches. But in his last fight against Tony Ferguson to win the interim lightweight title, Gaethje showed patience. That allowed him to dominate Ferguson and end his 12-fight win streak. That "fighting smarter" approach also maybe gave reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov something else to think about when preparing to face Gaethje.

Next fight: vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 on Oct. 24.

9. Valentina Shevchenko (UFC, 19-3)

An injury has delayed Shevchenko's return to the octagon as she had to pull out of her title defense against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 251 last June. Before that, though, what a run, from beating Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win the flyweight title in December 2018 to her third title defense in February 2020 with a third-round TKO stoppage of Katlyn Chookagian. Along the way, she took off Jessica Eye's head with a highlight-reel headkick knockout and beat Liz Carmouche via unanimous decision. In these four fights, Shevchenko has lost just one round, to former strawweight champion Jedrzejczyk in the vacant title fight. Shevchenko likely will fight Jennifer Maia next.

Next fight: TBA.

8. Demetrious Johnson (One, 30-3-1)

The coronavirus pandemic has delayed Demetrious Johnson from getting his ONE flyweight title shot. Since being "traded" from the UFC to ONE, Johnson continued to do what he did in the UFC: win. In three fights in, Johnson is 3-0 with a submission victory and two unanimous decisions. Johnson still holds the record for most consecutive UFC title defenses with 11.

Next fight: TBA vs. champion Adriano Moraes.

7. Alexander Volkanovski (UFC, 22-1)

Which 19 should we begin with for the UFC featherweight champion from Australia? Perhaps the 19 straight wins? Or maybe the 19 of a possible 30 scored rounds won against Max Holloway? His 55% striking accuracy is pretty good, too. Good enough for No. 2 in UFC featherweight history (minimum five fights).

Next fight: TBA.

6. Kamaru Usman (UFC, 17-1)

Kamaru Usman ran his UFC win streak to 12 in a row when he beat Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision at UFC 251 in July. Masvidal had about a week to prepare for the welterweight champion after Gilbert Burns was forced out of the title fight because of a positive test for COVID-19. That added another big name to Usman's resume, a list that includes former champions Tyron Woodley and Rafael Dos Anjos (lightweight), former interim champion Colby Covington, Demian Maia and Leon Edwards.

Next fight: vs. Gilbert Burns at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.

5. Israel Adesanya (UFC, 20-0)

In the prime of his career, Israel Adesanya picked apart the undefeated Paulo Costa to defend his middleweight title at UFC 253 on Sept. 26. "The Last Stylebender" is 31, and his victory over Costa was his 100th career win in a martial arts bout (75 kickboxing, 20 MMA, 5 boxing). Adesanya is only the 13th fighter in UFC history to win a title with an undefeated record, and with two title defenses so far, he is one shy of tying Chris Weidman for the second longest such streak for a UFC middleweight.

Next fight: TBA.

4. Stipe Miocic (UFC, 20-3)

Miocic became the fourth person to win back his UFC heavyweight championship when he finished Daniel Cormier at UFC 241 on Aug. 17. It was his first fight in more than a year, and a rematch against the man who took the title from him. Miocic is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight champion in the UFC, having successfully defended his title a record three consecutive times. He added to that legacy when he beat Cormier again, this time by unanimous decision at UFC 252 in August.

Next fight: TBA.

3. Amanda Nunes (UFC, 20-4)

Amanda Nunes won both the bantamweight and featherweight UFC titles. She has defended both of them at least once, and she continues to dominate both divisions. She hasn't lost since 2014, a run of 11 straight wins. Among the champions she has faced and dismissed: Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Germaine de Randamie. She next is scheduled defend her featherweight title toward the end of the year.

Next fight: vs. Megan Anderson at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.

2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC, 28-0)

To remain undefeated over the course of 12 years and 28 fights seems like a typo here. It is not. Nurmagomedov has only lost one round in his 12-fight UFC career -- to Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018. Nurmagomedov's round record? A whopping 35-1. He faces his toughest challenge to date when he defends his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje, but doesn't it feel like we say that before all of Nurmagomedov's fights? Yet, he's still undefeated, still undisputed and still dominant.

Next fight: vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Oct. 24.

1. Jon Jones (UFC, 26-1, 1 NC)

After years of back-and-forth talk about moving up a division, Jon "Bones" Jones finally did it. He vacated his UFC light heavyweight title and plans to compete next at heavyweight. Whether that means an immediate shot against the champion or a top contender first remains to be seen. In either division, Jones remains No. 1 on this list still.

Next fight: TBA.

 

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