UFC Pound for Pound Fighter Rankings: Kamaru Usman, Alexander Volkanovski make huge jumps
Two of the big winners at UFC 245 secured spots among the best in the game
In a 12-month span already overflowing with deserving candidates for fighter of the year in MMA, Kamaru Usman and Alexander Volkanovski only made that conversation even more difficult after their performances at UFC 245 on Saturday.
The final pay-per-view of 2019 for the UFC produced many memorable performances over a deep card headlined by three title bouts. The most enduring came from Usman, who defended his welterweight title by finishing heated rival Colby Covington via fifth-round TKO in the main event.
Usman, 32, was making the first defense of the 170-pound title he won in absolutely dominant fashion against Tyron Woodley in March. Although both performances in 2019 saw him utilize very different skill sets -- from straight wrestling against Woodley to boxing against Covington — it produced a snapshot of just how well-rounded and dangerous the native of Nigeria has become.
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Not only did Usman improve to 11-0 since his UFC debut in 2015, he extended his winning streak to 15. The scary news is he only appears to be getting better with each fight.
Volkanovski, a 31-year-old native of Australia, took a much more cerebral approach in the game plan he concocted to disarm featherweight champion Max Holloway en route to a unanimous decision.
A master of feints and footwork, Volkanovski cemented his P4P inclusion by backing up his impressive win over Jose Aldo in June and controlling distance to limit the typically aggressive Holloway's output. Holloway hadn't lost at featherweight since 2013 when he fell to Conor McGregor at just 21-years old, making his supplanting atop the division all the more impressive.
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 only get stiffer from here atop such a historically deep division as "The Eagle" prepares for an April showdown with Tony Ferguson that's among the most anticipated in all of combat sports. |
|2. Jon Jones||Light heavyweight champion||25-1 (1 NC)||--|
|Jones fought for the third time in seven months when he outpointed Thiago Santos via split decision in July. Although "Bones" continues to tease a move to heavyweight, he'll defend his 205-pound title once more in February against Dominick Reyes. |
|3. Henry Cejudo||Flyweight/bantamweight champion||15-2||--|
|The cringemaster and two-division champion will look to start fresh in 2020 after missing the last six months following shoulder surgery. A bevy of 135-pound contenders have piled up in his absence, led by Petr Yan. Meanwhile, Joseph Benavidez awaits his return to 125.|
|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 title. Miocic very well may be the greatest heavyweight to ever step foot in the Octagon. DC's interest in a trilogy sets the stage for quite possibly the most important fight in terms of legacies in UFC history entering 2020. |
|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 has shown interest in a title defense against Yoel Romero. |
|6. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion||16-1|
|Usman capped off an impressive year by out slugging Colby Covington over five brutal rounds to defend his 170-pound title at UFC 245. Up next could be his most marketable opportunity to date should UFC match him with red-hot Jorge Masvidal for all the marbles.|
|7. Alexander Volkanovski||Featherweight champion||21-1|
|There's a new sheriff in town at 145 pounds, and he won the title with brilliant efficiency in outpointing Max Holloway in December. Volkanovski's game plan and control of distance was nearly flawless as his victory opens up a new set of fun pairings atop the division.|
|8. Tony Ferguson||Lightweight||19-3-1|
|It looks like the fifth time will be the charm for Ferguson in an April fight against lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov. No one is more deserving than "El Cucuy" for a title shot after running off 12 straight wins in the sport's deepest division. |
|9. Daniel Cormier||Heavyweight||22-2 (1 NC)|
|Although he'll turn 41 in March, it appears DC has made the decision to come back for one more fight and a possible trilogy against Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight crown. 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. |
|10. Max Holloway||Featherweight||21-5|
|Holloway saw his incredible 14-fight win streak at 145 pounds come to an end at UFC 245 against Alexander Volkanovski. Given his age at 28, it's very likely "Blessed" works his way back into the title picture in due time as he continues to build one of the better resumes of this era. |
Dropped out: Jorge Masvidal
Just missed: Masvidal, Robert Whittaker, Colby Covington, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||19-4||--|
|The greatest female fighter in UFC history continued to cement her legacy by adding a second win over former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. What will be difficult moving forward is finding Nunes with quality opponents considering she has cleaned out two divisions.|
|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. She will defend her title once more at UFC 247 against Katllyn Chookagian in February. |
|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. Up next is former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248.|
|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 is a can't-miss affair on March 7.|
|5. Germaine de Randamie||Bantamweight||9-3||--|
|As far as moral victories go, "The Iron Lady" scored a resounding one in her decision loss to Amanda Nunes in their UFC 245 rematch. De Randamie earned the respect of Nunes after rocking her twice and nearly submitting her, which forced the women's G.O.A.T. to play it safe by wrestling. |
Dropped out: None
Just missed: Rose Namajunas, Tatiana Suarez, Jessica Andrade, Aspen Ladd, Marina Rodriguez
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