Pound-for-pound MMA rankings October update: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Amanda Nunes debate intensifies


Welcome to the latest Pound-for-Pound MMA Fighting Rankings update, where each month our esteemed panel of experts sorts the noise to answer a question: Who are the best male and female mixed martial arts fighters in the world?

With September in the rearview mirror and an intriguing October list to come, it’s time to look back on how the last ranking round affected the global pound-for-pound MMA landscape.

(And don’t forget to check out the latest edition of the MMA Fighting Rankings Show!)

Brush up on some basic rules before you dive in.

  • Our eight-person voting panel is made up of MMA Fighting staff Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin and Jed Meshew.
  • Fighters will be removed from the leaderboard if they do not compete within 18 months of their most recent fight.
  • Leaderboards updates will be completed at the start of each month.
  • If a fighter announces his retirement, our panel will decide whether that fighter should be immediately removed from the rankings or retain his position until further notice (let’s put it this way: we would have removed Khabib Nurmagomedov from our rankings much faster than UFC l ‘did).
  • Holding the title of a promotion does not guarantee that the fighter will be considered the best in his promotion.
  • Regarding all of the above rules, all possible exceptions will be discussed internally and noted in the article.

As a reminder, the notion of pound-for-pound supremacy will always be inherently subjective. When wondering if someone like Stipe Miocic should be ranked below someone like Max Holloway, there’s no real right answer. So while our Global MMA Fighting Rankings serve a real functional purpose, the following pound-for-pound lists are only around for a good while. In other words: this is no serious business, folks.

In case you missed it, last month’s pound-for-pound MMA rankings can be viewed here.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.

Photo by Louis Grasse / PxImages / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With one exception, September was another uneventful month for the world’s top male fighters.

That exception was of course UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who defended his title – and No.5 ranking – with an outright victory over Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Volkanovsky’s heroism in the third round and his ability to survive Ortega’s squeeze in a way that no other UFC fighter has ever known was a legend, and will surely be on the fight of the year shortlist once the season desires. Year-end rewards 2021 will take place.

Volkanovski’s victory earned him a few more points from our eight-person panel, but not enough to overtake him in the top 4 on the pound-for-pound list, with the quartet of Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya, Francis Ngannou and Dustin Poirier holding closes at the top.

Looking ahead, the rest of the October schedule revolves around one date and one event: UFC 267 on October 30. The Abu Dhabi Card is a rare free pay-per-view offer for U.S. residents (well, free outside of ESPN + cost) and features two of the world’s top male talent vying for gold. The welfare match between No.6-ranked Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira is expected to provide fireworks, and the already messy UFC bantamweight division will get a bit more complicated when No.16-ranked Petr Yan takes on Cory Sandhagen for an interim UFC strap.

September cycle results for ranked fighters (previous ranking displayed): The 5th Alexander Volkanovski defeated. Brian Ortega (UFC 266, September 25)

October fights featuring ranked fighters: No.6 Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira (UFC 267, October 30), No.16 Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen (UFC 267, October 30)

Fighters also receiving votes: Ryan Bader, Colby Covington, Deiveson Figueiredo, Gilbert Burns, Rob Font, Jose Aldo, Ciryl Gane, Sergio Pettis, Glover Teixeira, Yaroslav Amosov, Cory Sandhagen, TJ Dillashaw


Photo by Louis Grasse / PxImages / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is becoming more and more difficult to refuse Valentina Shevchenko.

The reigning UFC flyweight champion headlined a busy month for the female half of our pound-for-pound list. The three women ranked to compete in October – Shevchenko, Jessica Andrade and RIZIN super atomic weight champion Ayaka Hamasaki – successfully defended their places against lower-ranked competitors last month. But it was Shevchenko who made the most headlines.

Following her defeat from Lauren Murphy at UFC 266, Shevchenko’s record over the past six years continues to be remarkable: 11-2 in the UFC with six title defenses. The only woman to beat her, of course, is our number 1 pound for pound, Amanda Nunes, who has done it twice. But something unusual seems to be happening at the top of the female ranks. After Nunes topped our list with seven out of eight first-place votes since this leaderboard’s inception, support for “The Bullet” seems to be slowly creeping in Shevchenko’s path.

Two members of the eight-person panel defected from Nunes’ side to Shevchenko’s side with their No.1 vote this month, bringing Shevchenko’s total to three first-place votes and putting her a hair’s breadth to match Nunes for the first place.

Was it just a gut reaction or a sign of things to come?

Considering how Shevchenko has spoken about a potential trilogy match in recent weeks, we can only hope that something special is indeed brewing at the top of the women’s ranks if Nunes overtakes Julianna Pena at UFC 269.

September cycle results for ranked fighters (previous ranking displayed): The No. 2 Valentina Shevchenko beat. No.12 Lauren Murphy (UFC 266, Sep 25), No.6 Jessica Andrade beat. Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 266, Sep 25), No. 14 Ayaka Hamasaki defeats. Emi Fujino (RIZIN 30, September 19)

October fights featuring ranked fighters: # 15 Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 39, Oct 9)

Fighters also receiving votes: Yan Xiaonan, Xiong Jing Nan, Larissa Pacheco, Michelle Waterson, Julianna Pena, Cynthia Calvillo, Leslie Smith, Alesha Zappitella, Denise Kielholtz

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