Never one to miss out on a good opportunity, it's a wonder whether Israel Adesanya will one day look back at his March loss to Jan Blachowicz for the UFC's light heavyweight title as a turning point in his evolution.
Adesanya (21-1) rebounded from his first pro defeat in impressive fashion at UFC 263 when he defended his middleweight title for the third time in a shutout decision over Marvin Vettori in their rematch.
Not only was "The Last Stylebender" as dazzling as ever on his feet by controlling distance with feints and picking apart Vettori's forward attack with relative ease, he showed an improved ability to work his way out of any potential issues on the ground after being taken down, which was the exact opposite of what happened against Blachowicz.
With the victory, Adesanya restored his reputation among the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world and continued him down a necessary path of building up more strength to defend against takedowns while the renown striker attempts to fully round out his game at age 31.
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Adesanya still looks to be a generational talent whose command of the finer points of striking remain second to none. While the jury is still out as to whether his lofty goals of one day finding the same kind of success at 205 pounds and above will come to fruition, it wouldn't be wrong to call him one of the most dominant and talented middleweights the sport has ever seen.
An all-Oceanic rematch against former champion Robert Whittaker is likely up next as Adesanya continues to write his story in UFC lore.
For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings,.
Men's pound-for-pound rankings
| 1. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion||18-1||--|
|"The Nigerian Nightmare" has become just that to the competition at 170 pounds, extending his winning streak to 14. His spectacular knockout of Jorge Masvidal in their UFC 261 rematch proved Usman could fill the void left by the retired Khabib Nurmagomedov as the UFC's dominant champion of the moment.|
|2. Israel Adesanya||Middleweight champion||21-1|
|A hiccup at light heavyweight in March while attempting to become a two-division champion did nothing to question whether Adesanya is still the best 185-pound fighter in the world today. His UFC 263 shutout of Marvin Vettori in their rematch was masterful, setting the stage for a another rematch with former champion Robert Whittaker. |
|3. Jon Jones||Heavyweight||26-1 (1 NC)|
|It wouldn't be wrong to consider the former light heavyweight king as MMA's G.O.A.T. That doesn't mean his hold on the active P4P throne isn't slipping. The competition has slowly caught up to Jones, who turns 34 in July. A move to heavyweight should be an interesting one. |
|4. Francis Ngannou||Heavyweight champion||16-3||--|
|How do you properly frame just how scary and dangerous "The Predator" really is? If his knockout streak hasn't fully convinced you, the evolution shown in his game during his rematch with Stipe Miocic to capture the heavyweight title should be enough. At 34, he's improving at a terrifying rate entering his first title defense in a rematch with Derrick Lewis. |
|5. Dustin Poirier||Lightweight||28-6 (1 NC)|
|Poirier may not have his crown yet, but another win over Conor McGregor just adds to his illustrious resume. "The Diamond" has just one loss in 10 fights since 2017 with victories over five former titleholders, including two against McGregor. Up next is expected to be a shot at the full lightweight title against Charles Oliveira to determine the best 155-pound fighter on the planet.|
|6. Charles Oliveira||Lightweight champion||31-8 (1 NC)|
|Nine straight victories in the sport's toughest division culminated with the Brazilian stopping Michael Chandler to capture the vacant lightweight crown at UFC 262. Oliveira is the most prolific finisher in UFC history and should have no shortage of even tougher matchups available to him as champion.|
|7. Alexander Volkanovski||Featherweight champion||22-1|
|Volkanovski saw his title defense against Brian Ortega pushed back to September following complications from COVID-19. The native Australian, who is riding a 19-bout win streak, joined Ortega as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter" in the interim to promote the fight. |
|8. Max Holloway||Featherweight||22-6|
|A shutout of Calvin Kattar in January might just be the most dynamic performance of the future Hall of Famer's career. Holloway returns on July 17 against Yair Rodriguez where a win likely secures a fresh shot at his old 145-pound title.|
|9. Robert Whittaker||Middleweight||23-5|
|A three-fight win streak, all against elite competition, has the former middleweight champion all set for a fall rematch against Adesanya. Whittaker has used the time since his 2019 TKO loss to rebuild himself from a technical standpoint and appears as dangerous as ever. |
|10. Jan Blachowicz||Light heavyweight champion||28-8|
|Talk about an unlikely late career surge. The 38-year-old slugger has been on a renaissance over the past full year by stopping Dominick Reyes to capture the vacant 205-pound title before making an impressive title defense in March against Adesanya. A battle with another veteran, Glover Teixeira, is next in September.|
Dropped out: Deiveson Figueiredo
Just missed: Brandon Moreno, Petr Yan, Figueiredo, Justin Gaethje, Brian Ortega, Aljamain Sterling
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||20-4||--|
First-time parenthood did nothing to slow "The Lioness" in her dominant finish of Megan Anderson in March to defend her 145-pound title. Unless a trilogy against flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko can be made, Nunes will continue to be an overwhelming favorite against any fighter across two divisions.
|2. Valentina Shevchenko||Flyweight champion||21-3||--|
|Despite holding a pair of close decision defeats to Nunes, all Shevchenko has done since moving down to her natural weight of 125 pounds is make a case for inclusion alongside Nunes atop the P4P rankings. Her demolition of an always dangerous Jessica Andrade in April only echoed her greatness. |
|3. Rose Namajunas||Strawweight champion||10-4||--|
|Meet the new boss of the 115-pound division; it's the same as the old boss. "Thug" Rose cemented her comeback with authority by finishing Weili Zhang at UFC 261 via head-kick knockout in the opening round. True to form, when Namajunas is at her very best, few in history can compare. |
|4. Weili Zhang||Strawweight||21-2||--|
|Despite her complaints regarding an early stoppage, Zhang's return from a 13-month layoff and five-round war against Joanna Jedrzejczyk turned out to be disastrous as Namajunas regained her title. Luckily for Zhang, UFC president Dana White seemed to favor an immediate rematch.|
|5. Carla Esparza||Strawweight||18-6|
|Five straight wins and a dominant finish of contender Yan Xiaonan has the UFC's first women's champion at 115 pounds on the verge of a possible shot at regaining her crown. "The Cookie Monster" is currently the most dangerous and confident version of herself to date at 33 and riding a ton of momentum.|
Dropped out: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Just missed: Jedrzejczyk, Germaine de Randamie, Holly Holm, Aspen Ladd, Mackenzie Dern