MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Kamaru Usman’s loss is Alexander Volkanovski’s gain

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Alexander Volkanovski was already hovering near the top of the ESPN pound-for-pound MMA rankings on the strength of last month’s dominant UFC men’s featherweight title defense against former champion Max Holloway. But there was a roadblock standing between Volkanovski and the No. 1 spot.

Kamaru Usman had long held that top position, and with him riding a 19-fight winning streak, it looked like the reigning welterweight champ was going to be there for a while.

Then Leon Edwards landed the head kick that changed everything, dethroning Usman at UFC 278 last weekend.

That stunning knockout in the final minute not only earned Edwards the 170-pound belt, it also paved the way for Volkanovski to take over the No. 1 position in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings. Volkanovski has won 22 in a row, a run of success that extends all the way back to 2013.

Edwards, unbeaten in his last 11 fights, also moves into the top 10 for the first time.

The ESPN women’s rankings saw a change lower in the top 10, as two-time PFL women’s lightweight champ Kayla Harrison moved up a spot after winning a playoff semifinal over the weekend. Harrison, a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in judo, is 15-0 in MMA and thrashing everyone put in front of her. She’ll go for a third PFL title in November.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Aug. 24.


Men’s pound-for-pound rankings

1. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Previous ranking: 2
Record: 25-1
Last: W (UD) Max Holloway, July 2, 2022
Next: TBD


2. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight
Previous ranking: T-3
Record: 33-8, 1 NC
Last: W (Sub1) Justin Gaethje, May 7, 2022
Next: Oct. 22 vs. Islam Makhachev


3. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight champion
Record: 23-1
Last: W (UD) Jared Cannonier, July 2, 2022
Next: Nov. 12 vs. Alex Pereira


4. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight
Previous ranking: 1
Record: 20-2
Last: L (KO5) Leon Edwards, Aug. 20, 2022
Next: TBD


5. Francis Ngannou

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


6. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 20-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO5) Kamaru Usman, Aug. 20, 2022
Next: TBD


7. Jiri Prochazka

UFC light heavyweight champion
Previous ranking: 6
Record: 29-3-1
Last: W (Sub5) Glover Teixeira, June 11, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Deiveson Figueiredo

UFC flyweight champion
Previous ranking: 7
Record: 21-2-1
Last: W (UD) Brandon Moreno, Jan. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


T-9. Dustin Poirier

UFC lightweight
Previous ranking: T-8
Record: 28-7, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub3) Charles Oliveira, Dec. 11, 2021
Next: TBD


T-9. Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion
Previous ranking: T-8
Record: 21-3
Last: W (SD) Petr Yan, April 9, 2022
Next: Sept. 10 vs. TJ Dillashaw


Other fighters receiving votes: Robert Whittaker, Max Holloway, Brandon Moreno and Colby Covington.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Alexander Volkanovski; 2. Israel Adesanya; 3. Charles Oliveira; 4. Kamaru Usman; 5. Francis Ngannou; 6. Deiveson Figueiredo; 7. Robert Whittaker; 8. Dustin Poirier; 9. Aljamain Sterling; 10. Brandon Moreno.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Adesanya; 3. Oliveira; 4. Usman; 5. Ngannou; 6. Edwards; 7. Sterling; 8. Jiri Prochazka; 9. Poirier; 10. Colby Covington.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Oliveira; 3. Usman; 4. Adesanya; 5. Ngannou; 6. Edwards; 7. Prochazka; 8. Figueiredo; 9. Sterling; 10. Moreno.

Megan Anderson: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Oliveira; 3. Adesanya; 4. Usman; 5. Ngannou; 6. Edwards; 7. Prochazka; 8. Max Holloway; 9. Whittaker; 10. Figueiredo.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Oliveira; 2. Adesanya; 3. Volkanovski; 4. Usman; 5. Ngannou; 6. Poirier; 7. Figueiredo; 8. Sterling; 9. Prochazka; 10. Edwards.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Ngannou; 3. Oliveira; 4. Adesanya; 5. Usman; 6. Edwards; 7. Prochazka; 8. Poirier; 9. Sterling; 10. Figueiredo.


1. Amanda Nunes

UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion
Record: 22-5
Last: W (UD) Julianna Peña, July 30, 2022
Next: TBD


2. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (SD) Taila Santos, June 11, 2022
Next: TBD


3. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Record: 26-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) Arlene Blencowe, April 23, 2022
Next: TBD


T-4. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight
Record: 11-5
Last: L (UD) Amanda Nunes, July 30, 2022
Next: TBD


T-4. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight
Record: 22-3
Last: W (KO2) Joanna Jedrzejczyk, June 11, 2022
Next: Nov. 12 vs. Carla Esparza


6. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight champion
Record: 19-6
Last: W (SD) Rose Namajunas, May 7, 2022
Next: Nov. 12 vs. Zhang Weili


7. Rose Namajunas

UFC strawweight
Record: 11-5
Last: L (SD) Carla Esparza, May 7, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Kayla Harrison

PFL lightweight champion
Previous ranking: 9
Record: 15-0
Last: W (Sub1) Martina Jindrova, Aug. 20, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 23-9
Last: W (Sub1) Amanda Lemos, April 23, 2022
Next: TBD


10. Marina Rodriguez

UFC strawweight
Record: 16-1-2
Last: W (SD) Yan Xiaonan, March 5, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Katlyn Chookagian, Holly Holm and Seika Izawa.


How our panel voted

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

Marc Raimondi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Cyborg; 4. Peña; 5. Esparza; 6. Harrison; 7. Namajunas; 8. Weili; 9. Andrade; 10. Seika Izawa.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Peña; 4. Harrison; 5. Cyborg; 6. Esparza; 7. Weili; 8. Namajunas; 9. Andrade; 10. Holly Holm.

Megan Anderson: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Cyborg; 4. Weili; 5. Namajunas; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Marina Rodriguez; 9. Harrison; 10. Peña.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Peña; 4. Weili; 5. Cyborg; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Namajunas; 9. Harrison; 10. Rodriguez.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Cyborg; 4. Weili; 5. Andrade; 6. Peña; 7. Esparza; 8. Namajunas; 9. Harrison; 10. Chookagian.

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