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For as dramatic and inspirational as Leon Edwards' head-kick knockout of Kamaru Usman was in their rematch last summer, there was a working theory adopted by many entering their UFC 286 trilogy that he would have to do it a second time for it to truly count. 

If we learned anything from their five-round chess match in London, it's that Edwards is anything but a one-hit wonder. 

Edwards (21-3, 1 NC) scored an impressive majority decision over Usman (20-3) in the first defense of his welterweight title and did so by having an answer for every problem the former pound-for-pound king presented to him. 

A native of Jamaica, Edwards had his adopted home of the U.K. behind him in London when he scored a second straight win over Usman, who claimed a decision in their first meeting in 2015. But Edwards did so by evolving his game in very subtle ways to prevent the always aggressive Usman from ever creating momentum. 

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Undoubtedly, it was Edwards' takedown defense that played a key role but so was his ability to pop back up quickly the four times he was taken down. But it was also how comfortable he was countering Usman's jabs with two-punch combinations and how much his constant threat of jumping knees and high kicks prevented his chief rival from taking aggressive chances. 

By extending his unbeaten streak to 12 fights with the win, Edwards also garnered the missing critical respect that many had withheld due to the surprising nature of his title win at UFC 278. 

Nothing about Edwards' rise to the top has been easy, but the hard work has truly paid off. Yes, Usman is two months shy of 36 and was never quite able to create any big moments. But that's because Edwards shut the door in almost every instance while showing just how much of a student of the game he truly is. 

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 (24-2)

Previous ranking: No. 1

The striking wizard proved his wrestling is just as world class in a close loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Volkanovski retained his crown as best in the sport, for now, but things will only get more difficult from here as newly crowned interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez is likely next.

2. Islam Makhachev -- Lightweight champion (24-1)

Previous ranking: 2

Lost in his victory over defending featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, and the subsequent fallout of dispute over the fight's scoring, was just how incredibly Makhachev has grown as a striker. His pinpoint accuracy and poise was able to prevent Volkanovski from edging him, even as his preferred wrestling game was stifled. 

3. Jon Jones -- Heavyweight champion (27-1, 1 NC)

Previous ranking: 3

With nearly 50 pounds of added weight following a long-awaited move up to heavyweight, Jones removed any fears of cage rust after three years away by quickly finishing Cyril Gane at UFC 285 to become a two-division champion. At 35, Jones' return coincided perfectly for the promotion with the exit of Francis Ngannou. 

4. Leon Edwards -- Welterweight champion (20-3, 1 NC)

Previous ranking: 10

Doubt him no more. Seven months removed from his real-life "Rocky" moment against Kamaru Usman via fifth-round knockout to commandeer the 170-pound title, Edwards doubled down in their UFC 286 rematch by taking home a majority decision. For his second title defense, Edwards is expected to face former two-time title challenger Colby Covington. 

5. Israel Adesanya -- Middleweight champion (23-2)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Despite leading on all three scorecards in his UFC 281 title defense against long-time kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, Adesanya succumbed to a fifth-round stoppage for his first loss at middleweight inside the Octagon. An immediate rematch is set for April 8 even though Pereira now owns three victories over Adesanya across two combat sports.

6. Aljamain Sterling -- Bantamweight champion (22-3)

Previous ranking: No. 6

One fight after shutting his critics up by outpointing Petr Yan in their title rematch, Sterling's second title defense produced largely inconclusive results. While history will always show a second-round TKO win for Sterling against TJ Dillashaw, the former champion entered with a badly injured shoulder that was reaggravated seconds in. 

7. Alex Pereira -- Middleweight champion (7-1)

Previous ranking: 7

At 35, making a late transition from kickboxing into MMA, it was hard to project just how good the Brazilian slugger might be. But just four fights into his UFC career, "Poaton" lived up to his "hands of stone" moniker by stopping middleweight king Israel Adesanya in Round 5 to capture the 185-pound crown in November. A rematch is set for UFC 287.

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

Previous ranking: No. 8

The unpredictable Prochazka achieved his full due of critical respect after extending his win streak to 13 in a dramatic and savage fifth-round submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275. But Prochazka, who is 23-1-1 since 2013, suffered a serious shoulder injury which pulled him from the rematch and led to him vacating the belt. A late 2023 return could be in the cards depending upon the length of his recovery.

9. Charles Oliveira -- Lightweight (33-9)

Previous ranking: 9

Was the Brazilian finish machine's one-sided title loss to Islam Mahkachev the result of a bad stylistic matchup or did Oliveira's reckless and dramatic ways finally catch up to him? Either way, the 33-year-old will be forced to regroup after a remarkable 11-fight win streak that won't be forgotten anytime soon. Up next is Beneil Dariush on May 6. 

10. Kamaru Usman -- Welterweight (20-3)

Previous ranking: No. 4

The former P4P king kept things close against Leon Edwards in their title trilogy only to fall by majority decision at UFC 286. Usman, who turns 36 in May, said he plans to keep fighting although whispers abound following two straight defeats whether age and mileage have slowed him down just a bit. 

Dropped out: None
Just missed: Brandon Moreno, Robert Whittaker, Jamahal Hill, Dustin Poirier, Cyril Gane, Yair Rodriguez

Women's pound-for-pound rankings

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

Previous ranking: No. 1

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. A rumored bantamweight title defense against Irene Aldana is targeted for UFC 285. 

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

Previous ranking: No. 2

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. An inevitable trilogy looms with new champion Zhang Weili, whom Namajunas has defeated twice. 

3. Zhang Weili -- Strawweight (23-3) 

Previous ranking: No. 3

The first Chinese-born UFC champion regained her 115-pound crown by dominating Carla Esparza at UFC 281 via second-round submission. The victory showcased Zhang's continued improvement in her grappling game yet she won't truly gain recognition as the best strawweight in the sport until she can avenge a pair of losses to Namajunas. 

4. Alexa Grasso – Flyweight champion (16-3)

Previous ranking: 4

The former strawweight contender shocked the world by becoming the first flyweight to defeat Valentina Shevchenko in a massive upset at UFC 285. In doing so, Grasso became the first female Mexican-born champion in UFC history. Unbeaten in five fights at 125 pounds, Grasso was successful in turning the division upside down. 

5. Valentina Shevchenko – Flyweight (23-4)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Her first defeat in six years brought an end to Shevchenko's dominant title reign at 125 pounds following a UFC female record seven title defenses. The fourth-round submission loss to Alexa Grasso at UFC 285 was nothing short of shocking. It remains to be seen whether an immediate rematch is in her future. 

Dropped out: None
Just missed: Jessica Andrade, Julianna Pena, Carla Esparza, Amanda Lemos, Taila Santos, Manon Fiorot