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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Jon Jones is back in the top 10 ... but is he at the very top?

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Jon Jones celebrates after first-round submission of Ciryl Gane (1:25)

Jon "Bones" Jones celebrates with his team after his first-round victory vs. Ciryl Gane to win the UFC heavyweight championship. (1:25)

Jon Jones is in. Francis Ngannou is out.

Conspiracy theorists might raise an eyebrow about the former UFC heavyweight champion's sudden absence from the ESPN pound-for-pound men's rankings, but it has nothing to do with Jones taking over as champ and the UFC putting Ngannou in the rearview mirror.

The knockout artist from Cameroon, who fought out his UFC contract and now is pursuing opportunities in boxing and perhaps other MMA promotions, is simply ineligible. He has not fought since successfully defending the UFC belt against Ciryl Gane on Jan. 22, 2022. That makes him inactive for over a year, and to be eligible for the ESPN rankings, a fighter must have either competed within the past 12 months or have an upcoming bout scheduled.

Jones, who returned from a three-year absence from the sport to claim the vacant UFC belt with a win over Gane on Saturday, is a longtime No. 1 but had dropped out of our men's top 10 after his first year of inactivity. Now he's back in the cage ... and the rankings.

Where exactly does Jones fit in these rankings? It depends on whom you ask. The ESPN panel has six voters, and they're split on who belongs at No. 1. Jones got two votes for that spot, but so did both UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski. You'll see below how that tight balloting shakes out.

The women's top 10 also underwent some jostling as a result of the other fight at the top of the bill this past weekend at UFC 285. Alexa Grasso, who dethroned the promotion's longest-reigning champ, flyweight Valentina Shevchenko, is making her debut in the ESPN rankings. Shevchenko moved down the hierarchy a bit but still is in the top five.

For the ESPN divisional MMA rankings, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of March 7. In order to be eligible for the rankings, a fighter must have competed over the past 12 months or must have an upcoming fight booked.


Men's pound-for-pound rankings

T-1. Islam Makhachev

UFC lightweight champion
Record: 24-1
Last: W (UD) Alexander Volkanovski, Feb. 11, 2023
Next: TBD


T-1. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 25-2
Last: L (UD) Islam Makhachev, Feb. 11, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Jon Jones

UFC heavyweight champion
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 27-1, 1 NC
Last: W (Sub1) Ciryl Gane, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 20-3
Last: L (MD) Leon Edwards, March 18, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 23-2
Last: L (TKO5) Alex Pereira, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: April 8 vs. Alex Pereira


6. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight
Record: 33-9, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub2) Islam Makhachev, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: May 6 vs. Beneil Dariush


7. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 21-3, 1 NC
Last: W (MD) Kamaru Usman, March 18, 2023
Next: TBD


T-8. Brandon Moreno

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 21-6-2
Last: W (TKO3) Deiveson Figueiredo, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


T-8. Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (TKO2) TJ Dillashaw, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: May 6 vs. Henry Cejudo


10. Robert Whittaker

UFC middleweight
Record: 24-6
Last: W (UD) Marvin Vettori, Sept. 3, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Alex Pereira, Dustin Poirier and Jiri Prochazka.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Islam Makhachev; 2. Alexander Volkanovski; 3. Jon Jones; 4. Israel Adesanya; 5. Kamaru Usman; 6. Robert Whittaker; 7. Charles Oliveira; 8. Aljamain Sterling; 9. Brandon Moreno; 10. Leon Edwards.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Jones; 2. Makhachev; 3. Volkanovski; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Sterling; 8. Edwards; 9. Moreno; 10. Alex Pereira.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Jones; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Jiri Prochazka; 9. Moreno; 10. Pereira.

Megan Anderson: 1. Jones; 2. Volkanovski; 3. Makhachev; 4. Adesanya; 5. Usman; 6. Oliveira; 7. Edwards; 8. Whittaker; 9. Pereira; 10. Moreno.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Jones; 4. Adesanya; 5. Usman; 6. Oliveira; 7. Dustin Poirier; 8. Moreno; 9. Sterling; 10. Prochazka.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Makhachev; 2. Volkanovski; 3. Jones; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Pereira; 9. Sterling; 10. Moreno.


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion
Record: 22-5
Last: W (UD) Julianna Peña, July 30, 2022
Next: TBD


2. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight champion
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 23-3
Last: W (Sub2) Carla Esparza, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


3. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight
Previous ranking: 2
Record: 22-4
Last: L (Sub4) Alexa Grasso, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Record: 26-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) Arlene Blencowe, April 23, 2022
Next: TBD


5. Alexa Grasso

UFC flyweight champion
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 16-3
Last: W (Sub4) Valentina Shevchenko, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight
Previous ranking: 5
Record: 11-5
Last: L (UD) Amanda Nunes, July 30, 2022
Next: TBD


T-7. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Previous ranking: Tied for 6
Record: 24-10
Last: L (Sub2) Erin Blanchfield, Feb. 18, 2023
Next: TBD


T-7. Rose Namajunas

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: Tied for 6
Record: 11-5
Last: L (SD) Carla Esparza, May 7, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Erin Blanchfield

UFC flyweight
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 11-1
Last: W (Sub2) Jessica Andrade, Feb. 18, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: 9
Record: 19-7
Last: L (Sub2) Zhang Weili, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Kayla Harrison, Amanda Lemos and Raquel Pennington.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Amanda Nunes; 2. Valentina Shevchenko; 3. Zhang Weili; 4. Cris Cyborg; 5. Rose Namajunas; 6. Alexa Grasso; 7. Jessica Andrade; 8. Julianna Peña; 9. Kayla Harrison; 10. Erin Blanchfield.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Nunes; 2. Cyborg; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Zhang; 5. Grasso; 6. Peña; 7. Namajunas; 8. Andrade; 9. Blanchfield; 10. Esparza.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Grasso; 6. Peña; 6. Harrison; 7. Esparza; 8. Andrade; 10. Blanchfield.

Megan Anderson: 1. Nunes; 2. Zhang; 3. Cyborg; 4. Shevchenko; 5. Grasso; 6. Esparza; 7. Namajunas; 8. Blanchfield; 9. Andrade; 10. Raquel Pennington.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Nunes; 2. Zhang; 3. Grasso; 4. Shevchenko; 5. Peña; 6. Cyborg; 7. Blanchfield; 8. Andrade; 9. Namajunas; 10. Lemos.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Nunes; 2. Zhang; 3. Shevchenko; 4. Cyborg; 5. Grasso; 6. Peña; 7. Blanchfield; 8. Andrade; 9. Esparza; 10. Namajunas.