UFC Pound for Pound Fighter Rankings: Jorge Masvidal crashes the party with brilliant run
'Gamebred' is on one of the best runs of his career and nearing a title shot
If you watched UFC 244 last weekend simply from the standpoint of entertainment, the main event bout to declare the promotion's inaugural BMF champion lived up to expectations from the standpoint of entertainment.
Save for the somewhat anticlimactic finish of the cage side physician ruling Nate Diaz was unable to continue due to cuts around his right eye, the welterweight showdown provided violence and drama in its absolute most pure and fun way.
But despite how much the can't-miss fight from New York's Madison Square Garden may have, one would've needed the full context of Jorge Masvidal's remarkable journey over the past two years to understand what really took place.
Can't get enough UFC? Subscribe to our podcast State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon.
For the first time in a 48-fight pro career that began in 2003 (after a run on the backyard, bareknuckle scene), Masvidal looked the part of an elite on the verge of both crossover stardom and a UFC title shot.
It's not Masvidal hadn't enjoyed success before, including both a title shot with Strikeforce in 2011 and a trio three-fight win streaks after joining UFC. But he had never been able to put it all together when it mattered most, with everything from bad luck on the scorecards to a lack of elite cardio to blame for him never getting over the hump.
The low point likely came two years earlier in the exact same building when Masvidal lost a hapless decision to Stephen Thompson at UFC 217 that left him visibly overmatched.
Something happened to Masvidal, however, during the 16-month layoff that followed as he took a step back from the sport to heal physically and rejuvenate mentally. That something was coming to terms to what he wasn't doing to maximize his ability and building the confidence necessary to start a self-proclaimed tour of "baptizing" opponents.
What happened next was a year so successful and resurgent, it wouldn't be ridiculous to see Masvidal end up with year-ending honors for best fighter, comeback, most improved and knockout. The highlight-reel wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren, along with the backstage beatdown he gave Leon Edwards, was surely fun but he never would've reaped the attention he got form them had it not been for the remarkable improvements to his game.
The stoppage win over an equally resurgent Diaz was the perfect tipping point to the idea that Masvidal has legitimately become one of the best and most dangerous fighters in the world -- who just so happens to be the epitome of what the BMF title represents as a counter-culture hero who is as real as it gets. The ease with which he took Diaz apart over the first two rounds in such damaging fashion was an eye opener.
While Masvidal showed class in saying he would be willing to give Diaz a rematch considering how much the crowed booed the early stoppage, the rightful next stop for him after such a transcendent year -- save for a super fight with cash cow Conor McGregor -- is a title shot against the winner of Kamaru Usman-Colby Covington in December.
For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings,.
Men's pound-for-pound rankings
| 1. Khabib Nurmagomedov||Lightweight champion||28-0||--|
| The mauling grappler from Dagestan, Russia, continues to evolve fresh off a shellacking of Dustin Poirier. The challenges will likely only get stiffer from here atop such a historically deep division, but Nurmagomedov's mental toughness has separated him from the pack just as much as his dominant wrestling. |
|2. Jon Jones||Light heavyweight champion||25-1 (1 NC)||--|
| Jones fought for the third time in seven months when he outpointed Thiago Santos in a split decision in July. From a legacy standpoint, the only thing remaining for Jones to accomplish is a seemingly inevitable move to heavyweight. |
|3. Henry Cejudo||Flyweight/bantamweight champion||15-2||--|
| The cringemaster and two-division champion continues to make more headlines outside the cage by calling out fighters of all genders and weights while recovering from injury. He will eventually return to a deep pool of bantamweights (not to mention Joseph Benavidez at flyweight) who are waiting impatiently for the champ-champ to return. |
|4. Stipe Miocic||Heavyweight champion||19-3||--|
| Miocic's never-say-die toughness was on full display in rallying to finish Daniel Cormier at UFC 241 to regain his heavyweight championship. Miocic very well may be the greatest heavyweight to ever step foot in the Octagon. DC's interest in a trilogy fight sets the stage for quite possibly the most important fight in terms of legacies in UFC history. |
|5. Israel Adesanya||Middleweight champion||18-0|
| "The Last Stylebender" took a monster step forward in the direction of crossover superstar with his dismantling of Robert Whittaker to unify middleweight titles at UFC 243. The sky is the limit for Adesanya as to whether he can truly become a transcendent figure and appears to have rising star Paulo Costa or veteran Yoel Romero in his crosshairs next. |
|6. Tony Ferguson||Lightweight||19-3-1|
| Ferguson's dominant stoppage of Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 238 was just another reminder as to how dangerous and talented he can be. Riding an insane 12-fight win streak in the sport's deepest division, it's time for "El Cucuy" to finally touch gloves with Nurmagomedov for true lightweight supremacy. |
|7. Max Holloway||Featherweight champion||21-4||--|
| Holloway bounced back beautifully from his thrilling loss to Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight crown by returning to featherweight and convincingly outpointing veteran Frankie Edgar at UFC 240. Holloway continues to prove he's one of the sport's toughest and most skilled fighters and gets another challenge in Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 245 in December.|
|8. Daniel Cormier||Heavyweight||22-2 (1 NC)||--|
| At 40, Cormier has made the decision to come back for one more fight and wants it to be in a heavyweight title trilogy against Miocic. A victory would help DC cement his legacy as the greatest UFC fighter the division has ever known and one of the best overall in history. |
|9. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion||15-1||--|
| Usman backed up every word he spoke by humbling Tyron Woodley over five rounds to commandeer the 170-pound title in March. A reloaded division won't make defending the crown an easy task with former interim titleholder Colby Covington getting the first call on Dec. 14. |
|10. Jorge Masvidal||Welterweight||35-13|
| Years of toiling between fun journeyman and contender appear to be over as "Gamebred" has figured out how to get the best out of himself at age 34. The result has been a three-fight streak of stoppages, a meteoric rise to fame and the inaugural BMF belt. Could a shot at the real UFC championship be next? |
Dropped out: Robert Whittaker
Just missed: Whittaker, Colby Covington, Dustin Poirier, Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley, Conor McGregor
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||18-4||--|
| If Nunes wasn't already the greatest female fighter in UFC history, she cemented G.O.A.T. status by knocking out Holly Holm so viciously at UFC 239 in July. Next up is a rematch against former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245. |
|2. Valentina Shevchenko||Flyweight champion||18-3||--|
| The best female 125-pound fighter in the world made a quick turnaround following her highlight-reel knockout of Jessica Eye by whitewashing Liz Carmouche in Uruguay. Don't be surprised if UFC has trouble finding anyone to truly challenge her at this weight class. |
|3. Weili Zhang||Strawweight champion||20-1|
| Talk about a homecoming. Zhang steamrolled Jessica Andrade at UFC Shenzhen in less than one minute to become the first Chinese-born champion in the promotion's history. Zhang's 20-fight win streak is impressive, as is her blend of striking and intensity. If you didn't know the name before, you sure do now. |
|4. Joanna Jedrzejczyk||Strawweight||16-3|
| Boogie Woman is back! Jedrzejczyk's convincing decision win over Michelle Waterson in October was a forceful reminder that she isn't done yet as a strawweight title contender. A showdown against current champion Zhang for the former 115-pound queen would be a can't-miss affair. |
|5. Germaine de Randamie||Bantamweight||9-3||--|
| The former 145-pound champion secured a shot at the bantamweight crown by needing just 16 seconds to dispatch rising prospect Aspen Ladd in July. De Randamie will get a second chance at Nunes in a rematch of their 2013 bout which "The Iron Lady" lost by first-round TKO.|
Dropped out: None
Just missed: Rose Namajunas, Tatiana Suarez, Jessica Andrade, Ketlen Viera
The action was lacking, but Blachowicz got the victory in the UFC Fight Night 164 main event
Everything you need to know about Saturday night's UFC Fight Night 164 from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Kyle Marley just locked in his picks for UFC Fight Night 164 in Brazil.
The Dec. 29 and 31 cards suffered a big blow, but have some intriguing matchups newly scheduled.
Diaz made good on the social media promise
Blaydes and dos Santos will headline the event set to take place in Raleigh, North Carolina