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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Two champs falling at UFC 281 shakes things up for women, men

Zhang Weili begins her celebration after finishing Carla Esparza at UFC 281 to regain the strawweight title. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Last weekend's UFC 281 in New York saw two championships change hands. No surprise that it has led to a shakeup in the latest ESPN pound-for-pound MMA rankings.

Israel Adesanya, who dropped his middleweight title in a fifth-round knockout loss to Alex Pereira, previously was No. 2 in our men's top 10. He fell a couple of spots, with half of our panelists moving him out of their top five. And half of our panel also gave Pereira top-10 votes -- after only his eighth pro MMA fight.

In the women's rankings, Zhang Weili's second-round submission of Carla Esparza earned her a second reign as strawweight champ -- and elevated her in our top 10, boosting her above a legend of the sport, Cris Cyborg. Esparza remains in the women's rankings, just a bit lower.

And with flyweight Marina Rodriguez dropping out of the rankings following a knockout loss earlier this month, bantamweight Ketlen Vieira found her way into the top 10.

For the ESPN divisional MMA rankings, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Nov. 16.


Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 25-1
Last: W (UD) Max Holloway, July 2, 2022
Next: Feb. 11 vs. Islam Makhachev


2. Islam Makhachev

UFC lightweight champion
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 23-1
Last: W (Sub2) Charles Oliveira, Oct. 22, 2022
Next:Feb. 11 vs. Alexander Volkanovski


3. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 20-2
Last: L (KO5) Leon Edwards, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


T-4. Israel Adesanya

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


T-4. Francis Ngannou

UFC heavyweight champion
Previous ranking: 5
Record: 17-3
Last: W (UD) Ciryl Gane, Jan. 22
Next: TBD


6. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight
Record: 33-9, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub2) Islam Makhachev, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


7. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 20-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO5) Kamaru Usman, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


8. Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (TKO2) TJ Dillashaw, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Jiri Prochazka

UFC light heavyweight
Record: 29-3-1
Last: W (Sub5) Glover Teixeira, June 11
Next: TBD


10. Robert Whittaker

UFC middleweight
Record: 24-6
Last: W (UD) Marvin Vettori, Sept. 3, 2022
Next: Feb. 12 vs. Paulo Costa


Other fighters receiving votes: Deiveson Figueiredo, Alex Pereira, Dustin Poirier, Ciryl Gane and Brandon Moreno.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Alexander Volkanovski; 2. Islam Makhachev; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Kamaru Usman; 5. Robert Whittaker; 6. Charles Oliveira; 7. Aljamain Sterling; 8. Francis Ngannou; 9. Deiveson Figueiredo; 10. Brandon Moreno.

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

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

Megan Anderson: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Adesanya; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Ngannou; 7. Edwards; 8. Prochazka; 9. Whittaker; 10. Figueiredo.

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

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


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

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


2. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (SD) Taila Santos, June 11
Next: TBD


3. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight champion
Previous ranking: Tied for 4
Record: 23-3
Last: W (Sub2) Carla Esparza, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 26-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) Arlene Blencowe, April 23
Next: TBD


5. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight
Previous ranking: Tied for 4
Record: 11-5
Last: L (UD) Amanda Nunes, July 30
Next: TBD


6. Rose Namajunas

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


7. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: 6
Record: 19-7
Last: L (Sub2) Zhang Weili, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Kayla Harrison

PFL lightweight
Record: 15-1
Last: L (UD) Larissa Pacheco, Nov. 25, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Record: 23-9
Last: W (Sub1) Amanda Lemos, April 23
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Lauren Murphy


10. Ketlen Vieira

UFC bantamweight
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 13-2
Last: W (SD) Holly Holm, May 21, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Manon Fiorot, Amanda Lemos and Holly Holm.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Amanda Nunes; 2. Valentina Shevchenko; 3. Zhang Weili; 4. Cris Cyborg; 5. Rose Namajunas; 6. Julianna Peña; 7. Kayla Harrison; 8. Jessica Andrade; 9. Carla Esparza; 10. Manon Fiorot.

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

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Harrison; 5. Cyborg; 6. Peña; 7. Esparza; 8. Namajunas; 9. Andrade; 10. Holly Holm.

Megan Anderson: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Namajunas; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Ketlen Vieira; 9. Harrison; 10. Peña.

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

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