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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Can anyone top Islam Makhachev?

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Islam Makhachev taps Dustin Poirier to retain lightweight championship (1:20)

Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier face off in a relentless battle for the lightweight championship, before Poirier taps in the fifth round. (1:20)

Islam Makhachev made a third successful defense of his UFC lightweight championship on Saturday night, and his reward in the pound-for-pound rankings is ... nothing.

Makhachev (26-1), who submitted Dustin Poirier in Round 5 of their UFC 302 main event, was already No. 1 in the ESPN rankings. There was nowhere for him to rise.

However, Makhachev surely solidified his position at the top of the sport in the eyes of our voters and many fans, although not the person whose job it is to promote him.

"I don't think he's the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world," UFC CEO Dana White said after Saturday's fights. "For anyone to call Islam the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world when Jon Jones is still f---ing fighting is nuts and shouldn't be ranking in the pound-for-pound or doing any of the f---ing rankings ever, if that's what you really think."

One can argue for Jones, for sure, but there's a strong case to be made for Makhachev. Unlike the GOAT discussion, rankings are not a lifetime achievement award. Jones has fought only once in over four years. In that time, Makhachev is 8-0 with seven finishes.

And when it comes to ESPN's rankings, our eligibility rules require a fighter to have competed in the past year or have a fight booked. Jones last fought on March 4, 2023 -- exactly 15 months ago, after a three-year absence -- and has no upcoming fight scheduled. He is ineligible. (Interestingly, Jones does appear in the UFC's official rankings -- at No. 2, behind Makhachev.)

Eligibility rules account for the one (small) change in these ESPN rankings. One of our voters had Demetrious Johnson in his top 10 the last time we published rankings, but "Mighty Mouse" is now ineligible. Removing Johnson, whose last fight was 13 months ago, bumped up Israel Adesanya one spot on that voter's ballot, putting Adesanya in an overall tie with his teammate, Alexander Volkanovski.

For the ESPN divisional MMA rankings, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of June 4. To be eligible for the rankings, a fighter must have competed over the past 12 months or must have an upcoming fight booked. Fighters who have been dropped for inactivity can be reinstated only after they compete.


Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Islam Makhachev

UFC lightweight champion
Record: 26-1
Last: W (Sub5) vs. Dustin Poirier, June 1, 2024
Next: TBD


2. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 22-3, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs Colby Covington, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: July 27 vs. Belal Muhammad


3. Alex Pereira

UFC light heavyweight champion
Record: 10-2
Last: W (KO1) vs. Jamahal Hill, April 13, 2024
Next: TBD


4. Ilia Topuria

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 15-0
Last: W (KO2) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


5. Sean O'Malley

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 18-1, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Marlon Vera, March 9, 2024
Next: TBD


6. Alexandre Pantoja

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 28-5
Last: W (UD) vs. Steve Erceg, May 4, 2024
Next: TBD


T-7. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 24-3
Last: L (UD) vs. Sean Strickland, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


T-7. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight
Record: 26-4
Last: L (KO2) vs. Ilia Topuria, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


9. Max Holloway

UFC featherweight
Record: 26-7
Last: W (KO5) vs. Justin Gaethje, April 13, 2024
Next: TBD


10. Dricus Du Plessis

UFC middleweight champion
Record: 21-2
Last: W (SD) vs. Sean Strickland, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Merab Dvalishvili, Aljamain Sterling and Sean Strickland.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Islam Makhachev; 2. Leon Edwards; 3. Alex Pereira; 4. Israel Adesanya; 5. Ilia Topuria; 6. Alexandre Pantoja; 7. Sean O'Malley; 8. Alexander Volkanovski; 9. Max Holloway; 10. Aljamain Sterling.

Andreas Hale: 1. Makhachev; 2. Pereira; 3. Edwards; 4. Topuria; 5. O'Malley; 6. Pantoja; 7. Volkanovski; 8. Holloway; 9. Adesanya; 10. Dricus Du Plessis.

Megan Anderson: 1. Makhachev; 2. Edwards; 3. Pereira; 4. O'Malley; 5. Volkanovski; 6. Topuria; 7. Holloway; 8. Du Plessis; 9. Adesanya; 10. Pantoja.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Makhachev; 2. Edwards; 3. Pereira; 4. Topuria; 5. O'Malley; 6. Adesanya; 7. Volkanovski; 8. Pantoja; 9. Du Plessis; 10. Holloway.

Ian Parker: 1. Makhachev; 2. Pereira; 3. Topuria; 4. Edwards; 5. O'Malley; 6. Holloway; 7. Du Plessis; 8. Pantoja; 9. Adesanya; 10. Sean Strickland.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Makhachev; 2. Edwards; 3. Pantoja; 4. Adesanya; 5. Pereira; 6. Volkanovski; 7. Topuria; 8. O'Malley; 9. Holloway; 10. Du Plessis.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Makhachev; 2. Pereira; 3. Edwards; 4. Topuria; 5. Holloway; 6. O'Malley; 7. Pantoja; 8. Volkanovski; 9. Merab Dvalishvili; 10. Du Plessis.


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight champion
Record: 25-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Yan Xiaonan, April 13, 2024
Next: TBD


2. Alexa Grasso

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 16-3-1
Last: Split draw vs. Valentina Shevchenko, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight
Record: 22-4-1
Last: Split draw vs. Alexa Grasso, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Record: 27-2, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Cat Zingano, Oct. 7, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Kayla Harrison

UFC bantamweight
Record: 17-1
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Holly Holm, April 13, 2024
Next: TBD


6. Manon Fiorot

UFC flyweight
Record: 12-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Erin Blanchfield, March 30, 2024
Next: TBD


7. Raquel Pennington

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 16-8
Last: W (UD) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


8. Larissa Pacheco

PFL featherweight champion
Record: 23-4
Last: W (UD) vs. Marina Mokhnatkina, Nov. 24, 2023
Next: TBD


T-9. Tatiana Suarez

UFC strawweight
Record: 10-0
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Jessica Andrade, Aug. 5, 2023
Next: TBD


T-9. Yan Xiaonan

UFC strawweight
Record: 17-4, 1 NC
Last: L (UD) vs. Zhang Weili, April 13, 2024
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Erin Blanchfield, Rose Namajunas, Seika Izawa, Amanda Lemos and Julianna Peña.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Zhang Weili; 2. Alexa Grasso; 3. Valentina Shevchenko; 4. Manon Fiorot; 5. Cris Cyborg. 6. Tatiana Suarez; 7. Rose Namajunas; 8. Erin Blanchfield; 9. Kayla Harrison; 10. Larissa Pacheco.

Andreas Hale: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Cyborg; 5. Fiorot; 6. Harrison; 7. Suarez; 8. Raquel Pennington; 9. Pacheco; 10. Namajunas.

Megan Anderson: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Cyborg; 5. Fiorot; 6. Pennington; 7. Harrison; 8. Yan Xiaonan; 9. Blanchfield; 10. Julianna Peña.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Harrison; 4. Shevchenko; 5. Cyborg; 6. Pennington; 7. Blanchfield; 8. Pacheco; 9. Yan; 10. Suarez.

Ian Parker: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Cyborg; 5. Harrison; 6. Yan; 7. Suarez; 8. Pennington; 9. Pacheco; 10. Fiorot.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Pacheco; 5. Cyborg; 6. Harrison; 7. Fiorot; 8. Blanchfield; 9. Amanda Lemos; 10. Seika Izawa.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Zhang; 2. Grasso; 3. Cyborg; 4. Shevchenko; 5. Fiorot; 6. Harrison; 7. Yan; 8. Blanchfield; 9. Izawa; 10. Pennington.