UFC Pound for Pound Rankings: Henry Cejudo, Valentina Shevchenko jump after big victories in Chicago
Notable victories for the champs at UFC 238 caused a change in the CBS Sports rankings
Say what you will about his cringeworthy antics or whether his promotional push has felt deserved, Henry Cejudo put on a performance at UFC 238 that can do nothing but quiet his remaining critics. The flyweight champion moved up to 135 pounds and rallied to stop top contender Marlon Moraes to become just the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold world titles in two divisions simultaneously. What's more, the 32-year-old Cejudo did so with a badly swollen ankle while showcasing his heart, cardio and intelligence in how he turned the fight around.
Whether you buy into the former U.S. Olympic gold medalist's claim that he's now the greatest combat sports athlete in history, it's hard to deny his pound-for-pound credentials following such an impressive victory; the evolution of Cejudo's game was on display, but so was his toughness.
Cejudo also succeeded in completing a trio of consecutive wins against Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw and Moraes that compares well historically to the best trifectas from Jon Jones (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans), Amanda Nunes (Valentina Shevchenko, Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey) and Vitor Belfort (Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson).
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Now a two-division champion, Cejudo is also attempting to capitalize on his shot at crossover stardom. On Monday, he made public demands to UFC for more money and threatened to walk away from the sport if not rewarded. At the same time, though, the new dual-champ said after the fight in Chicago that he's willing to move up to 145 pounds in an attempt to become UFC's first three-division champion.
On the women's side, Valentina Shevchenko made an incredibly violent statement in the first defense of her flyweight title with a head-kick knockout of Jessica Eye. While there's little question her longtime rival Nunes has carved out a historical place as the current G.O.A.T. of the women's game, Shevchenko did well to remind just how close she is to Nunes in the race for current pound-for-pound queen. A native of Kyrgysztan, Shevchenko is completely at home at her natural weight of 125 pounds and has evolved her game that much more from an offensive standpoint that she gives up so much size to her opponents.
There are still many who believe Shevchenko deserved the win in her close decision loss to Nunes in their bantamweight title rematch. Considering she's the only fighter to give Nunes trouble during this current run, it would be far from a ridiculous notion to suggest the two rivals settle their beef one final time in a trilogy bout at bantamweight to decide the true best in the game.
Let's now have a look at how the UFC pound-for-pound rankings were affected after what was an eventful UFC 238 over the weekend.
Men's pound-for-pound rankings
| 1. Jon Jones||Light heavyweight champion||24-1 (1 NC)||--|
Jones' stay-busy tour following the end of his USADA suspension late last year continues when he fights for the third time in seven months against Thiago Santos in July. From a legacy standpoint, the only thing left for Jones to accomplish is a previously inevitable move to heavyweight that no longer feels as such.
|2. Khabib Nurmagomedov||Lightweight champion||27-0||--|
| With his suspension for his role in the UFC 229 post-fight melee expiring this summer, "The Eagle" has officially signed on to defend his crown in September against interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. |
|3. Daniel Cormier||Heavyweight champion||22-1 (1 NC)||--|
| Brock Lesnar's decision not to return to UFC robbed DC of a payday he had openly coveted. Instead, he will rematch former champ Stipe Miocic in August with hopes of a third fight against Jon Jones before he retires. |
|4. Henry Cejudo||Flyweight/bantamweight champion||15-2|
| Despite his claims that a move up to featherweight to seek a third title is in his plans, Cejudo has plenty of worthy names to defend against as the new bantamweight king. What Cejudo's recent title win likely means, however, is an end to the men's flyweight division once and for all. |
|5. Tony Ferguson||Lightweight||19-3-1|
Are you not entertained? Ferguson's dominant stoppage of Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 238 shouldn't be overshadowed by a late punch he was warned for landing after the horn to end Round 2. What more does this man have to do to get a title shot? Riding an insane 12-fight win streak in the sport's deepest division, it's time for "El Cucuy" to get his due.
|6. Robert Whittaker||Middleweight champion||20-4||--|
| While yet another injury delayed Whittaker's return to the Octagon, business has picked up increasingly within the division during his absence. Israel Adesanya's all-action win over Kelvin Gastelum for the interim title sets up an all-Oceanic showdown for 185-pound supremacy later this year. |
|7. Kamaru Usman||Welterweight champion|| 15-1||--|
| Usman backed up every word he spoke by humbling Tyron Woodley over five rounds and commandeering the UFC welterweight title. A reloaded division won't make defending the crown an easy task as the likes of Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal lead a hungry group of contenders hot on his trail.|
|8. Dustin Poirier||Interim lightweight champion||25-5||--|
| Poirier's feel-good story of evolution and growth continued with his hard-fought interim title win over Max Holloway at UFC 236. In the sport's most dangerous division, Poirier now finds himself one win away from lightweight supremacy entering a September clash with champion Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi.|
|9. Max Holloway||Featherweight champion||16-4||--|
| Holloway fought bravely in his one-off experiment at 155 pounds yet suffered plenty of damage in a thrilling loss to Dustin Poirier. A move back down to defend his title at featherweight awaits "Blessed" when he faces 37-year-old Frankie Edgar at UFC 240 on July 27. |
|10. Israel Adesanya||Interim middleweight champion||17-0||--|
| In the span of two months, the undefeated rising star defeated a still-game Anderson Silva in a passing-of-the-torch fight before winning one of the most brutal and dramatic bouts in UFC history when he outlasted Kelvin Gastelum for the interim crown. After resting to heal, a showdown with Robert Whittaker awaits to find out who the best middleweight and possibly the UFC's next crossover star truly is. |
Dropped out: none
Just missed: Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley, Conor McGregor, Brian Ortega, Stipe Miocic
Women's pound-for-pound rankings
|1. Amanda Nunes||Bantamweight/Featherweight champion||17-4||--|
| The two-division champion has not been forced by UFC to give up one of her titles as she continues her bid for G.O.A.T. status against Holly Holm at UFC 239 in July. At 30, Nunes has said a win over Holm and maybe another in a rematch against Cris "Cyborg" Justino are the only remaining fights that excite her before retirement. |
|2. Valentina Shevchenko||Flyweight champion||17-3|
| The best female 125-pound fighter in the world may have trouble finding anyone to truly challenge her at flyweight. Some of that has to do with the fledgling division's lack of depth, but a lot of it surrounds just how dominant Shevchenko has become at her natural weight. |
|3. Cris "Cyborg" Justino||Featherweight||20-2|
After succumbing to strikes early in Round 1 against Nunes, "Cyborg" must now prove she can bounce back following one of MMA's most impressive win streaks. At 33, Justino enters the final fight of her current UFC contract against Felicia Spencer on July 27 and has entertained the idea of testing free agency, whether that means MMA, boxing or pro wrestling.
|4. Jessica Andrade||Strawweight champion||20-6||--|
| One of the sport's most dangerous fighters only added to her reputation by violently removing Rose Namajunas of the 115-pound title. Up next is her first title defense, likely slated for China against rising strawweight Weili Zhang. |
|5. Rose Namajunas||Strawweight||8-4||--|
| After initially questioning her fighting future in the aftermath of her loss via knockout slam to Andrade, the 26-year-old has decided to take some time off to heal before mounting a comeback. One thing is for certain: Namajunas proved in the opening round against Andrade that it's not out of the question she one day cements herself as the best fighter in the game.|
Dropped out: None
Just missed: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Tatiana Suarez, Holly Holm, Michelle Waterson, Germane de Randamie
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