The UFC is home to some of the best mixed martial artists in the world, so it’s no surprise that fans often argue about how the elite fighters compare.
In addition to the weekly updated rankings for each weight class, the UFC has its own pound-for-pound ranking, with 15 names – as with each list for each division.
Here, TBEN has compiled its own top 10 pound-for-pound rankings for men’s UFC fighters, which are updated monthly.
While there is no exact science to compile these types of lists, a number of factors have been taken into account when creating the rankings, including each fighter’s overall record, recent record, activity level, and opposition caliber.
Before we dive into the top 10, here are some honorable mentions:
Brandon Moreno (19-6-2, flyweight)
The Mexican has had two draws in his last eight games but was at least undefeated in three and a half years until he handed the flyweight title back to Deiveson Figueiredo in January, dropping him from No. 10 on this list. In his previous fight, Moreno won the title with a stunning entry from the incredibly dangerous Brazilian in June, after beating him for the better part of two rounds. The pair’s trilogy at the start of this year was almost as close as their first draw in December 2020. A fourth showdown seems inevitable, with Moreno winning the interim flyweight title by quitting Kai Kara-France in July.
Aljamain Sterling (21-3, Bantamweight Champion)
The Jamaican-American was mocked by some fans after winning the bantamweight title via disqualification in 2020 when Petr Yan sustained an illegal knee that prevented Sterling from continuing. While Yan won the interim title, Sterling recovered from neck surgery and had to wait more than a year for his rematch with the Russian. While many predicted that Sterling would face the loss he expected in his first meeting with Yan – and others hoped – he silenced some doubters and annoyed others by making a narrow decision against his rival in April. That result made it seven straight wins for the grappling specialist (including the DQ win over Yan) and ensures Sterling gets our commendations.
Max Holloway (23-7, featherweight)
The former featherweight champion has lost four of his last seven fights, although one of those defeats was a lightweight and controversial points loss. Despite what recent results suggest, the Hawaiian appears to be in his best form, shining even in defeat and delivering mesmerizing feats in victory. Holloway entered our top 10 at the expense of Moreno after the Mexican’s loss to Figueiredo at UFC 270, but fell back after losing his trilogy fight with Alexander Volkanovski in July — the 30-year-old’s third loss to the man who dethroned him.
10. Dustin Poirier (28-7, 1 no contest; lightweight)
The American has only had two defeats in the past six years – against the greatest lightweight of all time in Khabib Nurmagomedov and the best active lightweight at present in Charles Oliveira. The “Diamond” has racked up seven wins against five different former world champions of the sport, after beating Conor McGregor twice in 2021 to improve that number. The first of those two wins against the Irishman marked McGregor’s first knockout loss in his career.
9. Colby Covington (17-3, welterweight)
The former interim welterweight title holder is without a doubt the second best 170lber in the world, behind only Kamaru Usman, who has held his title twice against Covington in the past two years. Covington responded to the last of those losses by easily beating friend turned rival Jorge Masvidal in March, and he climbed back into our top 10 when Holloway fell after UFC 276.
8. Stipe Miocic (20-4, heavyweight)
The consensus heavyweight GOAT, the part-time firefighter, holds the record for the most successful title defense in the division — the hardest weight class to put together a sustained run. The American handed over the title to Francis Ngannou and the erratic knockout force of the French Cameroons in March 2021, but before that took consecutive wins against one of the greatest ever in Daniel Cormier. The veteran also has a decisive win over Ngannou, plus wins against more UFC champions in Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum and Andrei Arlovski.
7. petr yano (16-3, bantamweight)
Went exactly five years without a loss until he was disqualified while defending the bantamweight title against Sterling in the spring of 2021, in a fight he looked well on his way to winning. The Russian responded by claiming the interim gold by beating Cory Sandhagen in a fight of the year contender. Was considered by many fans to be the true champion weighing in at 135 pounds, despite his naive offense against Sterling, and some still believe, despite his loss to the Jamaican-American in their unification in April. The rematch was a hotly contested affair that Sterling won via split decision, although some fans felt the Russian had done enough to take the win.
6. Robert Whittaker (23-6, middleweight)
The Australian has only tasted defeat twice in the past eight years. Both losses came against the phenomenal Israel Adesanya, with Whittaker losing the middleweight title to his rival by TKO in 2019 before dropping a contentious decision for the “Last Stylebender” in February. In between those fights, the “Reaper” racked up three straight wins against elite competition, and his previous run to the belt saw him successfully navigate a killer row of opponents that is almost beyond comprehension.
5. Francis Ngannou (17-3, Heavyweight Champion)
Certainly the hardest hitter the sport has ever seen, and honorary “worst man in the world” as UFC heavyweight champion. All but one of his wins have been won by stoppage, with 12 knockouts to his name – some of them in under 60 seconds. After suffering consecutive losses in 2018, the Cameroonian recorded four consecutive first-round KOs before taking revenge on Miocic’s defeat to secure the gold with another villainous finish. He then shocked fans and pundits by defeating interim champion Ciryl Gane for a successful first defense in January. A phenomenon.
4. Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC; lightweight)
The Brazilian’s 2010 UFC debut gave way to an inconsistent record with numerous failed weight-savings along the way. However, the former featherweight has turned his career around (save for a half-pound miss in May), winning 11 in a row in the past five years to emerge as the retired Khabib’s successor at the top of the lightweight division. Oliveira holds the records for most finishes (19) and most entries (16) in UFC history. Of his 33 victories as a pro, 30 are notable via stoppages. Due to his recent weight miss, he lost the lightweight title he won last year, but his first-round entry from Justin Gaethje the next day made him the #1 contender.
3. Israel Adesanya (23-1, Middleweight Champion)
One of the most exciting fighters to watch in the history of the sport. The former kickboxer regularly produces striking masterclasses against his opponents, but proves simply too slick and smart for his competition. Adesanya has faced a 185lb who’s who, beating them all and knocking out some of them. The “Last Stylebender” suffered his first pro MMA defeat in 2021, but there was even merit to it when the Nigerian-born New Zealander moved up a weight class to challenge then-champion Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title. He is now “wrapping the opposition” – a term that will come up again below – with back-to-back rematch wins against Marvin Vettori and Whittaker prior to his decision win over Jared Cannonier at UFC 276. Was No. 2 on this list until that event, where one of his City Kickboxing teammates made him leapfrog in our rankings; more on that soon…
2. Kamaru Usman (20-1, Welterweight Champion)
In 2021, the welterweight champion became arguably the best mixed martial artist in the world, let alone the UFC. The Nigerian-American is the most clinical wrestler in the promotion and has added knockout power to his game. Usman is undefeated in nine years, his sustained 19-fight win streak, including a dominant title win in 2019 and five successful defenses since then.
Also of great credit is the fact that the 35-year-old has fought three times in 2021, more than any other fighter on this list, with the exception of Poirier. Two of his three wins in 2021 came via interruption, and the ‘Nigerian nightmare’ is now in his own words ‘beating the adversary’, beating nearly every major competitor in the division at least once – some of them two time. In fact, the next one for Usman is another rematch – against Leon Edwards, whom he defeated in 2015. Was our number 1 here until UFC 276 in July where a certain smaller champion caught up with him…
1. Alexander Volkanovsky (25-1, Featherweight Champion)
Since he suffered the only defeat of his professional career in 2013, Volkanovski has won a whopping 22 fights in a row. In fact, his only pro loss came against a welterweight champion. In six of the Australian’s last seven fights, he has taken on ‘elite’ featherweights, with some fans unfairly holding a grudge against the champion over the controversial nature of the second of his three decision wins over Max Holloway.
In April, Volkanovski took on fan favorite Chan Sung Jung and gave an absolute clinic to stop the “Korean zombie” in the fourth round. In July, he produced a masterclass to outdo Holloway for the third time, leaving no doubt about his superiority over the man he dethroned in 2019. contender. By doing so, the 33-year-old reinforced his own claim to be called the 145lbs GOAT. He even took a win against the other standout contender for that title – Jose Aldo – as well as Chad Mendes and Brian Ortega.
Volkanovski is as dynamic, composed and well-rounded as they come. Despite his seminar of a performance against “Zombie”, the Australian remained third in our pound-for-pound ranking. His most recent appearance against Holloway, however, saw him overtake both teammate Adesanya and Usman, with that outing eventually leading some to suggest that Volkanovski is the best mixed martial artist alive today.