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Bellator middleweight champ Johnny Eblen earns rave reviews, rankings rise

Undefeated Johnny Eblen put on a feisty performance at Bellator 299 to remain middleweight champ. Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA

Johnny Eblen put on an impressive performance over the weekend, retaining his Bellator middleweight championship and remaining undefeated.

He didn't just utilize his superior wrestling to take down Fabian Edwards and grind him out. No, Eblen stood and traded with the slicker striker, and knocked him out. Then Eblen tried to go after Edwards' brother, Leon, the UFC welterweight champ and a top-five pound-for-pound guy in the sport. That's feisty.

On the strength of that victory -- and the self-assurance that followed? -- Eblen moves up one spot in Brett Okamoto's ESPN middleweight rankings.

"He jumps ahead of Paulo Costa, whose only win in the last four years was against the now-retired Luke Rockhold," Okamoto said. "American Top Team has been raving about Eblen's skills for years, as one would expect a fighter's camp to do. But we're seeing it now in every one of his performances, and he certainly looks to be everything the camp says he is. He now has three straight wins in championship fights."

For the ESPN pound-for-pound MMA rankings, click here. For a list of current UFC champions in all weight classes, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Sept. 26. To be eligible for the rankings, a fighter must have competed over the past 12 months or must have an upcoming fight booked. Fighters who have been dropped for inactivity can be reinstated only after they compete.

Heavyweight - Light heavyweight - Middleweight - Welterweight
Lightweight - Men's featherweight - Men's bantamweight
Men's flyweight - Women's bantamweight - Women's flyweight - Strawweight

HEAVYWEIGHT (up to 265 pounds)

1. Jon Jones

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 27-1, 1 NC
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Ciryl Gane, March 4, 2023
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Stipe Miocic


2. Sergei Pavlovich

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-1
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Curtis Blaydes, April 22, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Ciryl Gane

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Serghei Spivac, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Curtis Blaydes

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4, 1 NC
Last: L (TKO1) vs. Sergei Pavlovich, April 22, 2023
Next: Nov. 4 vs. Jailton Almeida


5. Tom Aspinall

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-3
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Marcin Tybura, July 22, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Alexander Volkov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 37-10
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Tai Tuivasa, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Tai Tuivasa

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-6
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Alexander Volkov, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Serghei Spivac

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-4
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Ciryl Gane, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Ryan Bader

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 31-7, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Fedor Emelianenko, Feb. 4, 2023
Next: Oct. 7 vs. Linton Vassell


10. Jailton Almeida

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-2
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, May 13, 2023
Next: Nov. 4 vs. Curtis Blaydes


LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (up to 205 pounds)

1. Jamahal Hill

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-1, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Glover Teixeira, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Alex Pereira

Promotion: UFC
Record: 8-2
Last: W (SD) vs. Jan Blachowicz, July 29, 2023
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Jirí Procházka


3. Jan Blachowicz

Promotion: UFC
Record: 29-10-1
Last: L (SD) vs. Alex Pereira, July 29, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Magomed Ankalaev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-1-1
Last: D (SD) vs. Jan Blachowicz, Dec. 10, 2022
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Johnny Walker


5. Vadim Nemkov

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 17-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Yoel Romero, June 16, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Corey Anderson

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 17-6, 1 NC
Last: W (SD) vs. Phil Davis, June 16, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Nikita Krylov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 30-9
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Ryan Spann, March 11, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Johnny Walker

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-7
Last: W (SD) vs. Anthony Smith, May 13, 2023
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Magomed Ankalaev


9. Anthony Smith

Promotion: UFC
Record: 37-18
Last: W (SD) vs. Ryan Spann, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Phil Davis

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 24-7, 1 NC
Last: L (SD) vs. Corey Anderson, June 16, 2023
Next: TBD


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MIDDLEWEIGHT (up to 185 pounds)

1. Israel Adesanya

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-3
Last: L (UD) vs. Sean Strickland, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Dricus du Plessis

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Robert Whittaker, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Robert Whittaker

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-7
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Dricus Du Plessis, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Jared Cannonier

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-6
Last: W (UD) vs. Marvin Vettori, June 17, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Sean Strickland

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 28-5
Last: W (UD) vs. Israel Adesanya, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Marvin Vettori

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-7-1
Last: L (UD) vs. Jared Cannonier, June 17, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Johnny Eblen

Promotion: Bellator champion
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 14-0
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Fabian Edwards, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Paulo Costa

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 7
Record: 14-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Luke Rockhold, Aug. 20, 2022
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Khamzat Chimaev


9. Derek Brunson

Promotion: None
Record: 23-9
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Dricus Du Plessis, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Roman Dolidze

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-2
Last: L (UD) vs. Marvin Vettori, March 18, 2023
Next: TBD


WELTERWEIGHT (up to 170 pounds)

1. Leon Edwards

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 21-3, 1 NC
Last: W (MD) vs. Kamaru Usman, March 18, 2023
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Colby Covington


2. Kamaru Usman

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-3
Last: L (MD) vs. Leon Edwards, March 18, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Belal Muhammad

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-3, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Gilbert Burns, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Khamzat Chimaev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-0
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Kevin Holland, Sept. 10, 2022
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Paulo Costa


5. Gilbert Burns

Promotion: UFC
Record: 22-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Belal Muhammad, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Yaroslav Amosov

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 27-0
Last: W (UD) vs. Logan Storley, Feb. 25, 2023
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Jason Jackson


7. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-0
Last: W (Sub3) vs. Geoff Neal, March 4, 2023
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Stephen Thompson


8. Stephen Thompson

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-6-1
Last: W (TKO4) vs. Kevin Holland, Dec. 3, 2022
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov


9. Geoff Neal

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-5
Last: L (Sub3) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Sean Brady

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-1
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Belal Muhammad, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Kelvin Gastelum


LIGHTWEIGHT (up to 155 pounds)

1. Islam Makhachev

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 23-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, Feb. 11, 2023
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Charles Oliveira


2. Charles Oliveira

Promotion: UFC
Record: 34-9, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Beneil Dariush, June 10, 2023
Next: Oct. 21 vs. Islam Makhachev


3. Justin Gaethje

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-4
Last: W (KO2) vs. Dustin Poirier, July 29, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Beneil Dariush

Promotion: UFC
Record: 22-5-1
Last: L (TKO1) vs. Charles Oliveira, June 10, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Dustin Poirier

Promotion: UFC
Record: 29-8, 1 NC
Last: L (KO2) vs. Justin Gaethje, July 29, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Michael Chandler

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-8
Last: L (Sub3) vs. Dustin Poirier, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


7. Rafael Fiziev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 26-8
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Mateusz Gamrot, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Mateusz Gamrot

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-2, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Rafael Fiziev, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Arman Tsarukyan

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 10
Record: 20-3
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Joaquim Silva, June 17, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Rafael dos Anjos

Promotion: UFC
Record: 32-15
Last: L (UD) vs. Vicente Luque, Aug. 12, 2023
Next: TBD


MEN'S FEATHERWEIGHT (up to 145 pounds)

1. Alexander Volkanovski

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 26-2
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Yair Rodriguez, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Max Holloway

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-7
Last: W (KO3) vs. Chan Sung Jung, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Yair Rodriguez

Promotion: UFC interim champion
Record: 15-4, 1 NC
Last: L (TKO3) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Patricio Freire

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 35-7
Last: L (KO1) vs. Chihiro Suzuki, July 30, 2023
Next: TBD


5. A.J. McKee

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 20-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Roberto de Souza, Dec. 31, 2022
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Sidney Outlaw


6. Ilia Topuria

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-0
Last: W (UD) vs. Josh Emmett, June 24, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Josh Emmett

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-4
Last: L (UD) vs. Ilia Topuria, June 24, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Arnold Allen

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-2
Last: L (UD) vs. Max Holloway, April 15, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Calvin Kattar

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-7
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Arnold Allen, Oct. 29, 2022
Next: TBD


10. Movsar Evloev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-0
Last: W (UD) vs. Diego Lopes, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


MEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT (up to 135 pounds)

1. Sean O'Malley

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 17-1, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Aljamain Sterling, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Aljamain Sterling

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-4
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Sean O'Malley, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Merab Dvalishvili

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-4
Last: W (UD) vs. Petr Yan, March 11, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Henry Cejudo

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-3
Last: L (SD) vs. Aljamain Sterling, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Cory Sandhagen

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4
Last: W (UD) vs. Rob Font, Aug. 5, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Petr Yan

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Merab Dvalishvili, March 11, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Sergio Pettis

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 23-5
Last: W (UD) vs. Patricio Freire, June 16, 2023
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Patchy Mix


8. Marlon Vera

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-8-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Pedro Munhoz, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Patchy Mix

Promotion: Bellator interim champion
Record: 18-1
Last: W (KO1) vs. Raufeon Stots, April 22, 2023
Next: Nov. 17 vs. Sergio Pettis


10. Rob Font

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-7
Last: L (UD) vs. Cory Sandhagen, Aug. 5, 2023
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Deiveson Figueiredo


MEN'S FLYWEIGHT (up to 125 pounds)

1. Alexandre Pantoja

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 26-5
Last: W (SD) vs. Brandon Moreno, July 8, 2023
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Brandon Royval


2. Brandon Moreno

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-7-2
Last: L (SD) vs. Alexandre Pantoja, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Demetrious Johnson

Promotion: One Championship champion
Record: 25-4-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Adriano Moraes, May 5, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Deiveson Figueiredo

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-3-1
Last: L (TKO3) vs. Brandon Moreno, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: Dec. 2 vs. Rob Font


5. Amir Albazi

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-1
Last: W (SD) vs. Kai Kara-France, June 3, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Kai Kara-France

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-11, 1 NC
Last: L (SD) vs. Amir Albazi, June 3, 2023
Next: Sept. 10 vs. Manel Kape


7. Adriano Moraes

Promotion: One Championship
Record: 20-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Demetrious Johnson, May 5, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Brandon Royval

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-6
Last: W (KO1) vs. Matheus Nicolau, April 15, 2023
Next: Dec. 16 vs. Alexandre Pantoja


9. Matheus Nicolau

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-3-1
Last: L (KO1) vs. Brandon Royval, April 15, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Manel Kape

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-6
Last: W (UD) vs. Felipe dos Santos, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


WOMEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT (up to 135 pounds)

1. Raquel Pennington

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-8
Last: W (SD) vs. Ketlen Vieira, Jan. 14, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Ketlen Vieira

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Pannie Kianzad, July 22, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Holly Holm

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-7
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, July 15, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Irene Aldana

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-7
Last: L (UD) vs. Amanda Nunes, June 10, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Sara McMann

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 14-6
Last: W (UD) vs. Arlene Blencowe, April 21, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Norma Dumont

Promotion: UFC
Record: 10-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Chelsea Chandler, July 15, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Pannie Kianzad

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-7
Last: L (UD) vs. Ketlen Vieira, July 22, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Karol Rosa

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-5
Last: W (SD) vs. Yana Santos, July 1, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Yana Santos

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-8, 1 NC
Last: L (SD) vs. Karol Rosa, July 1, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Josiane Nunes

Promotion: UFC
Record: 10-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Zarah Fairn, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


WOMEN'S FLYWEIGHT (up to 125 pounds)

1. Alexa Grasso

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 16-3-1
Last: Split draw vs. Valentina Shevchenko, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Valentina Shevchenko

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-4-1
Last: Split draw vs. Alexa Grasso, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Manon Fiorot

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Rose Namajunas, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Erin Blanchfield

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Taila Santos, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Jessica Andrade

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-12
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Tatiana Suarez, Aug. 5, 2023
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Mackenzie Dern


6. Liz Carmouche

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 19-7
Last: W (Sub4) vs. DeAnna Bennett, April 21, 2023
Next: Oct. 7 vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane


7. Katlyn Chookagian

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Manon Fiorot, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Rose Namajunas

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Manon Fiorot, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Lauren Murphy

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Jessica Andrade, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Juliana Velasquez

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 12-2
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Liz Carmouche, Dec. 9, 2022
Next: TBD


STRAWWEIGHT (up to 115 pounds)

1. Zhang Weili

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 24-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Amanda Lemos, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Carla Esparza

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-7
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Zhang Weili, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


3. Amanda Lemos

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-3-1
Last: L (UD) vs. Zhang Weili, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Yan Xiaonan

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO1) vs. Jessica Andrade, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Tatiana Suarez

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-0
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Jessica Andrade, August 5, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Virna Jandiroba

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Marina Rodriguez, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Marina Rodriguez

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-3-2
Last: L (UD) vs. Virna Jandiroba, May 6, 2023
Next: Sept. 23 vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez


8. Mackenzie Dern

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Angela Hill, May 20, 2023
Next: Nov. 11 vs. Jessica Andrade


9. Maycee Barber

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Amanda Ribas, June 24, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Luana Pinheiro

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-1
Last: W (SD) vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez, April 8, 2023
Next: TBD