POWER RANKED: The 15 best fighters in the MMA world right now

Israel Adesanya. Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, and Israel Adesanya are three of the top pound-for-pound athletes competing in mixed martial arts today.
  • The pound-for-pound concept ranks fighters according to talent, potential, accomplishments, recent level of competition, and victories. They tend to create arguments, and Insider’s is no different.
  • Conor McGregor was named on this list last year, but his recent losses mean he’s been removed from the ranking. It may not be long before Nurmagomedov is removed, too.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

15: Jan Blachowicz — 27 wins (8 KOs, 9 submissions, and 10 decisions) against 8 losses (2 KOs, 1 submission, and 5 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: UFC light heavyweight.

Nationality and style: Polish mixed martial artist.

Why he’s ranked: Since suffering back-to-back defeats in 2016 to 2017, Jan Blachowicz rebounded by posting eight wins against one defeat – beating big name fighters like Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuwa, Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, and Corey Anderson.

The most recent win in that run, a second-round knockout over Dominick Reyes, saw him crowned king at 205-pounds as he picked up the vacant UFC title.

Blachowicz is by no means the dominant force in the division and would likely not even be champion had it not been for Jones relinquishing the title.

It also remains to be seen how well he can do defending his championship status, particularly as he has a challenging first defence on March 6 as he takes on Israel Adesanya – another pound-for-pound star – at UFC 259.

14: Petr Yan — 15 wins (7 KOs, 1 submission, and 7 decisions) against 1 loss (1 decision).


Organisation and weight class: UFC bantamweight.

Nationality and style: Russian striker.

Why he’s ranked: The newly-crowned bantamweight champion after besting Jose Aldo with punches at UFC 251 last summer, Petr Yan is currently the world’s No.1 fighter at 135-pounds.

When you think of Russian fighters, you’d be forgiven for conjuring images of cauliflower ears and chin-strap beards thanks to the dominant presence of Khabib Nurmagomedov and potential of blue-chip prospect Khamzat Chimaev.

They are highly-skilled on their feet, but can bring you down to the depths of hell when they have you on the floor, beating you until an inevitable submission.

Yan, of course, bucks that trend as he is a stand-up combatant, with previous stoppage wins over Urijah Faber and Douglas Silva de Andrade.

He makes the first defence of his UFC title March 6 when he fights Aljamain Sterlin at UFC 259.

13: Robert Whittaker — 22 wins (9 KOs, 5 submissions, and 8 decisions) against 5 losses (2 KOs, 1 submission, and 2 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: UFC middleweight.

Nationality and style: Australian mixed martial artist.

Why he’s ranked: The only loss Robert Whittaker has suffered in a 12-fight stretch that covers a seven-year duration is a knockout defeat to Israel Adesanya in 2019.

Aside from that Whittaker has, really, done more than enough to establish himself as the clear No.1 contender thanks to back-to-back victories over Yoel Romero and decision wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

Whittaker has a fight scheduled with another top-ranked fighter as he competes against Paulo Costa on April 17 at a UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.

A win over Costa would mean three in a row for Whittaker, and would all but guarantee another shot at the UFC middleweight championship.

12: Francis Ngannou — 15 wins (11 KOs and 4 submissions) against 3 losses (3 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: UFC heavyweight.

Nationality and style: Cameroonian boxer.

Why he’s ranked: Ngannou is one of the baddest men on the planet. He’s 6-foot-4, 255-pounds, and the heaviest hitter in UFC history.

Insider asked Ngannou whether punchers are born or made, and where he got his concussive power. He told us last year that he is a made puncher, and it was because of child labour in Africa.

Ngannou moved to France later in life, learned to fight, and was signed by the UFC after his sixth bout.

During his time in the UFC he has scalped many big names, including Curtis Blaydes, Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, and Junior dos Santos.

A super-fight beckons for Ngannou as he challenges for the UFC heavyweight crown on March 27 at UFC 260 in a rematch involving Stipe Miocic.

11: Max Holloway — 22 wins (10 KOs, 2 submissions, and 10 decisions) against 6 losses (1 submission and 5 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: UFC featherweight.

Nationality and style: American striker.

Why he’s ranked: Beaten narrowly back-to-back by Alexander Volkanovski, in a two-fight series he could have won, Max Holloway’s did not let his confidence slide, returning in January to completely batter Calvin Katter.

The beating was so resolute, so thorough, and so merciless,the UFC boss Dana White feared Kattar could collapse and die backstage.

It was a record-breaking performance for strikes landed and thrown, as Holloway redefined what it meant to attack with volume.

In addition to his previous defeats over Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo (twice), Anthony Pettis, Jeremy Stephens, and Charles Oliveira, Holloway has not only done enough to be one of the pound-for-pound stars in MMA, but creates an argument to be recognised as the No.1 featherweight who’s ever lived.

10: Alexander Volkanovski — 22 wins (11 KOs, 3 subs, 8 decisions) against 1 loss (KO).


Organisation and weight class: UFC featherweight.

Nationality and style: Australian striker.

Why he’s ranked: Volkanovski has won 19 fights in a row in a run that stretches back to 2013.

But his recent victories are the ones that elevated his name to global recognition.

In his most recent fights he has finished American wrestler Chad Mendes, out-pointed Brazilian veteran Jose Aldo, and defeated Max Holloway to claim the UFC featherweight championship in December 2019.

To top Volkanovski’s run, he beat Holloway in a rematch in Abu Dhabi in July 2020.

He will likely have had one eye on Abu Dhabi last month, as Max Holloway’s bludgeoning of Calvin Kattar means he may well have to fight the 145-pounder once again.

First, though, he takes on Brian Ortega at UFC 260 on March 27.

9: Patricio Freire — 31 wins (11 KOs, 11 subs, and 9 decisions) against 4 losses (1 KO and 3 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: Bellator MMA lightweight.

Nationality and style: Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

Why he’s ranked: Since Freire suffered the fourth loss of his career against Benson Henderson at Bellator 160 in 2016, he has rebounded by not only winning the Bellator featherweight title but the lightweight title, too.

He’s also put the featherweight belt on the line by entering the Bellator World Grand Prix.

Should he win that competition, then it would be fair to call him one of the gutsiest athletes in combat sports today, if he’s not already.

Competing outside the UFC can be seen as a sleight on a combatant’s abilities, however, Freire finished Michael Chandler in the opening round of a 2019 bout.

Chandler made his UFC debut on Fight Island last month, and annihilated Dan Hooker in the first round.

The better Chandler does in the UFC, the better Freire’s win over him looks in the long run.

8: Dustin Poirier — 27 wins (13 KOs, 7 submissions, and 7 decisions) against 6 losses (2 KOs, 2 submissions, and 2 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: UFC lightweight.

Nationality and style: American mixed martial artist.

Why he’s ranked: Since a knockout loss to Michael Johnson in 2016, Dustin Poirier has gone through a guantlet run of lightweight killers.

He’s beaten Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and Dan Hooker during that run, losing only to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019.

His signature win was his most recent, though. Poirier shellacked Conor McGregor against the fence in the second round of a wild bout on Fight Island, beat him to the floor, and left him on the canvas bloody and concussed.

Poirier’s status right now is so good, he’s become a shot-caller.

He could demand a title shot after Nurmagomedov vacates his belt or he could push for a trilogy bout against McGregor.

The UFC would likely give it to him.

7: Demetrious Johnson — 30 wins (5 KOs, 12 subs, 13 decisions) against 3 losses (3 decisions).


Organisation and weight class: One Championship flyweight.

Nationality and style: American wrestler.

Why he’s ranked: Johnson was one of the most dominant athletes in all sports through the 2010s.

He was a winning machine, making 11 title defences of his UFC flyweight belt, including victories over Joseph Benavidez, Kyoji Horiguchi, and even Henry Cejudo.

But when Cejudo beat him in a rematch in 2018, it was unclear where Johnson would go.

He ended up moving to Singapore-based firm One Championship, and won three fights in a row, being crowned the company’s Flyweight Grand-Prix champion in his first year of competition.

Winning is what Johnson knows, and a title shot at One is now in his sights as he fights Adriano Moraes on April 7 in one of the biggest bouts the Asian MMA firm can offer.

6: Deveison Figuereido — 20 wins (9 knockouts, 8 submissions, and 3 decisions) against one loss and one draw.


Organisation and weight class: UFC flyweight.

Nationality and style: Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt.

Why he’s ranked: God damn, Figueiredo is vicious.

There were concerns that the flyweight division could be canned after long-reigning king Demetrious Johnson left for One Championship, but Figuereido’s performance-level has raised interest in the 115-pound weight class.

The 33-year-old didn’t just beat Joseph Benavidez at Fight Island last July. He scored three knockdowns and four submission attempts until he bloodied then choked Benavidez unconscious in one of the most brutally dominant performances the division had seen.

The UFC boss Dana White called it “pure violence.”

Figueiredo’s year was not done, however, and he returned to the Octagon in November and scored a first-round guillotine choke from bottom guard against Alex Perez.

The following month he engaged Brandon Moreno in a fight of the year bout. We’ll likely see a rematch of that matchup in 2021, with White seeming keen.

5: Stipe Miocic — 20 wins (15 KOs and 5 decisions) against 3 losses (2 KOs and 1 decision).


Organisation and weight class: UFC heavyweight.

Nationality and style: American boxer.

Why he’s ranked: Miocic is one of the most decorated heavyweights in MMA history.

He’s a two-time heavyweight champion, the division’s current ruler, and he has the most heavyweight title defences in UFC history – four.

During that run, he has beaten a who’s who of tough guys: Fabricio Werdum, Junior dos Santos, and Francis Ngannou. Miocic has brutalized them all.

He’s even gone 2-1 with Dan Cormier.

His next challenge is the big-punching Ngannou, who he fights in a heavyweight rematch at UFC 260 on March 27.

4: Kamaru Usman — 17 wins (7 KOs, 1 sub, 9 decisions) against 1 loss (sub).


Organisation and weight class: UFC welterweight.

Nationality and style: Nigerian wrestler and jiu-jitsu black belt.

Why he’s ranked: Usman has been crushing the UFC competition ever since his debut in 2015.

He’s already beaten Leon Edwards, Rafael dos Anjos, and Tyron Woodley; a bout which saw him crowned middleweight champion.

It was his first UFC title defence against the MAGA hat-wearing Colby Covington that edged him further into the consciousness of wider combat sports fans, as he beat Covington so bad he left his jaw hanging off its bloody hinges.

Usman then followed that with a controlled win over the “bad mother-f—–” Jorge Masvidal at the UFC’s inaugural Fight Island event last July.

It is hard to see who can beat Usman on this form but he has a tough challenge in the coming weeks when he defends his belt against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 on February 13.

3: Israel Adesanya — 20 wins (15 KOs and 5 decisions), unbeaten.


Organisation and weight class: UFC middleweight.

Nationality and style: Nigerian-born New Zealand striker.

Why he’s ranked: Adesanya was competing in kickboxing shows in 2017 before making his UFC debut in 2018.

One year later, he won the UFC middleweight championship, and now he’s lining up the division’s beastliest men to defend his title.

Adesanya is not normal.

The way he lit up the division in a clear trajectory to the top bore comparisons to a young Conor McGregor, who flew through the UFC’s featherweight and lightweight divisions half a decade ago.

Adesanya has beaten Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, and Paulo Costa in his last five matches.

His next fight is a March 6 title challenge against the light heavyweight ruler Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259.

Beating Blachowicz would stamp the 31-year-old as the rarest of fighting men – a two-weight champion in MMA.

2: Jon Jones — 26 wins (10 KOs, 6 subs, 10 decisions) against 1 loss (DQ) and 1 NC.


Organisation and weight class: UFC light heavyweight.

Nationality and style: American mixed martial artist.

Why he’s ranked: There was a time when Jones was on a killer run. That Jones was awesome.

But then things unravelled.

Forget about the controversies, the out-of-Octagon misdemeanours, and the failed drug tests … Jones hasn’t even looked like the old Jones for a long time.

Though his standards have slipped, Jones remained a light heavyweight champion with the UFC until 2020, and he continues to collect wins to this day.

But for how long?

His next move may be at heavyweight, where matches against the hulking Ngannou or the champion Miocic await.

Victory there would only fortify his reputation as a pound-for-pound mainstay.

1: Khabib Nurmagomedov — 29 wins (8 KOs, 11 subs, and 10 decisions), unbeaten.


Organisation and weight class: UFC lightweight.

Nationality and style: Russian wrestler.

Why he’s ranked: Here he is, Insider’s pound-for-pound No.1 athlete in all MMA right now.

Nurmagomedov, unbeaten after 29 bouts, smashed his way through all his opponents while barely losing a round.

The only round he did not win was the third of his 2018 fight against Conor McGregor, but he dropped the Irishman in the second and stopped him with a neck crank in the fourth. He also trash-talked McGregor throughout the fight.

Nurmagomedov went on to beat Dustin Poirier, in style, in Abu Dhabi in 2019 before returning to the region the following year, in the middle of the pandemic, to sleep Justin Gaethje in the second round.

The 32-year-old gave a dramatic, emotional, and abrupt retirement speech but the UFC boss Dana White is hopeful of talking Nurmagomedov into returning for at least one more fight.

Should White bring him back into the UFC, a super-fight with Georges St. Pierre would likely go on to become the biggest bout of the year it is made.

Nurmagomedov, though, continues to reiterate that he will never fight again. “I have achieved everything in this sport,” he said recently.