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CBS Sports Illustration

The queen of MMA is back. Long live the queen.

Fueled by a clean bill of health and an evolved southpaw stance, Amanda Nunes looked every bit the G.O.A.T. of women's MMA at UFC 277 on July 30 by soundly outpointing Julianna Pena in their rematch to regain her women's bantamweight title.  

Nunes, 34, may have ended her redemption night with a badly swollen right eye, but she proved time and again by dropping Pena throughout just how much her self-implosion at UFC 269 last December was the exception to the rule.  

With nothing physical holding her back, Nunes proved just how wide the gap between her and the insanely tough Pena truly is from a technical standpoint. And Nunes, who also holds the 145-pound title, was also tough enough mentally to avoid repeating such a disaster.  

A trilogy bout against current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, whom Nunes has already defeated twice, seems likely for her next move. And whether or not you believe Nunes deserved to regain the top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings above Shevchenko with the win at UFC 277, the better news is the two would get a chance to finally settle the argument inside the cage, five years after their rematch left the judges split. 

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Using a criteria that takes into account everything from accomplishments to current form, let's take a closer look at the top fighters inside the Octagon.

For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings, click here.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Alexander Volkanovski -- Featherweight champion (24-1)

Previous ranking: No. 1

With respect to Jose Aldo's 145-pound division record of seven title defenses, Volkanovski just took one step closer to featherweight G.O.A.T. status with his fourth. This wasn't just any title defense, however, as Volkanovski continued his evolution at 33 by leaving Max Holloway a bloody mess in their trilogy bout. The champ has teased a move up to lightweight to challenge Charles Oliveira for the title. 

2. Kamaru Usman -- Welterweight champion (20-1)

Previous ranking: No. 2

Fresh off a Fighter of the Year campaign in 2021, Usman is closing in on some hallowed territory from a historical perspective. He's unbeaten in 15 UFC bouts and has won 19 straight fights overall. The 35-year-old will face Leon Edwards in an August rematch with a shot at tying Anderson Silva for the UFC's longest win streak. 

3. Israel Adesanya -- Middleweight champion (23-1)

Previous ranking: No. 3

Although he was unnecessarily booed during his UFC 276 title defense against Jared Cannonier, "The Last Stylebender" left the Octagon without a scratch after another dominant victory. Adesanya's next defense is expected to be a difficult one when former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira meets him on Nov. 12 in New York.

4. Charles Oliveira -- Lightweight (33-8)

Previous ranking: No. 4

Although his 155-pound title is currently vacant after missing weight ahead of UFC 274, no one is disputing who the best active lightweight in the world is. Oliveira extended his win streak to 11 with a first-round submission of Justin Gaethje. Next up is the red-hot Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 in October. 

5. Francis Ngannou -- Heavyweight champion (16-3)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Despite suffering a serious knee injury during training camp amid a very public contract battle with UFC brass, Ngannou gutted out a unification win against former teammate, and unbeaten interim champion, Ciryl Gane. A long recovery is expected as Ngannou's UFC future remains in question. 

6. Aljamain Sterling -- Bantamweight champion (21-3)

Previous ranking: No. 6

For all the criticism aimed at Sterling in how he handled his disqualification victory over Petr Yan in their first meeting, "Aljo" was a completely different fighter in the rematch 13 months later. Sterling's split-decision victory at UFC 273 extended his win streak to seven overall and sets up an intriguing UFC 280 showdown with former champion TJ Dillashaw.

7. Jiri Prochazka -- Light heavyweight champion (29-3-1)

Previous ranking: No. 7

It's time to give the unpredictable Prochazka his full due after extending his win streak to 13 in a dramatic and savage fifth-round submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. Prochazka is 23-1-1 since 2013, avenging his lone defeat by knockout. He has also shown an elite chin and gas tank to package with his fight-ending power. 

8. Deiveson Figueiredo -- Flyweight champion (21-2-1)

Previous ranking: 8

Just how impressive was Figueiredo's win over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy fight? At 34, Figueiredo not only rebounded from a stoppage loss to regain his 125-pound title, he showed the kind of poise and patience under new coaches Henry Cejudo and Eric Albarracin he had been lacking. A fourth fight with Moreno, who just captured the interim crown, appears next.  

9. Petr Yan -- Bantamweight (16-3)

Previous ranking: No. 9

It's hard to fault Yan's effort in coming up just short against Sterling in their long-awaited rematch. Although he called for an instant trilogy bout following his disputed decision loss, Yan chose to instead accept an October bout against Sean O'Malley in Abu Dhabi. 

10. Brandon Moreno -- Interim flyweight champion (20-6-2) 

Previous ranking: NR

Don't call it a comeback but the former 125-pound champ bounced back in a big way at UFC 277. Moreno finished a rising Kai Kara-France in their rematch to claim the interim flyweight title while putting his recent loss to Figueiredo in their trilogy bout behind him. Buckle your seat belt for the fourth installment. 

Dropped out: Max Holloway

Just missed: Holloway, Robert Whittaker, Dustin Poirier, TJ Dillashaw, Stipe Miocic 

Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes -- Two-division champion (21-4)

Previous ranking: No. 2

Nunes soundly outpointed a stubborn Julianna Pena at UFC 277 to regain her 135-pound title and remind everyone of her G.O.A.T. ways. The victory was also a big one considering Nunes, after leaving American Top Team, started her own gym and changed her style.

2. Valentina Shevchenko -- Flyweight champion (23-3)

Previous ranking: No. 1

The combination of Nunes' comeback win and Shevchenko struggling in a disputed decision against Taila Santos dropped the 125-pound champion from the top spot. She may get a shot at leaving no doubt for good, however, should UFC move forward with a trilogy fight against Nunes at bantamweight.  

3. Rose Namajunas -- Strawweight (11-5)

Previous ranking: No. 3

A baffling strategy of defensive circling led to Namajunas surrendering her 115-pound title to inaugural champion Carla Esparza in their May rematch. Namajunas was barely touched in her unanimous decision loss. Still, the miscalculation was a huge one. 

4. Zhang Weili -- Strawweight (22-3) 

Previous ranking: No. 4

The former champion looked completely reborn following consecutive defeats to Namajunas when she sent Joanna Jedrzejczyk to retirement via vicious knockout in their UFC 275 rematch. The native of China has evolved her striking and added offensive wrestling to increase her overall danger. 

5. Carla Esparza -- Strawweight champion (19-6)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Esparza simply took what was dealt to her and made the most of it by edging out Namajunas in their disappointing strawweight title rematch at UFC 274. Although the win won't do a ton for her critically, it will go a long way in adding to her resume as the now two-time champion extended her win streak to six while adding a second victory over Namajunas.   

Dropped out: None

Just missed: Jessica Andrade, Marina Rodriguez, Holly Holm, Talia Santos, Yan Xionan