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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Is there room at the top for Israel Adesanya?

Israel Adesanya's dominant UFC middleweight title defense against Paulo Costa on Sept. 26 boosted his standing in the ESPN pound-for-pound rankings. Carmen Mandato/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya put on a spectacular performance at UFC 253. The middleweight champion's second-round TKO of previously unbeaten Paulo Costa on Sept. 26 was as dominant a title fight victory as we've seen in a while. It was the kind of performance that can send a fighter skyrocketing in the rankings.

Problem is, Adesanya was already No. 4 in the ESPN men's pound-for-pound rankings, behind only lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, consensus GOAT Jon Jones and heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. There simply isn't any upward mobility available to the Nigeria-born New Zealander.

So Adesanya has to settle for now sitting all alone at No. 4. Previously, he had been tied for that spot with welterweight king Kamaru Usman. A small shift in voting among the ESPN panel has separated the two, with Usman dropping down to No. 5.

That's it for movement in the men's and women's top 10s. Can anyone knock two-division champion Amanda Nunes off her longtime perch as women's No. 1?

The next big opportunity for a significant shift comes on Oct. 24, when Nurmagomedov defends his 155-pound title, his undefeated record and his top spot in the men's rankings against No. 8 Justin Gaethje.

(For Brett Okamoto's division-by-division rankings, go here.)

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Sept. 29.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Record: 28-0
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (SUB3) Dustin Poirier, Sept. 7
Next: Oct. 24 vs. Justin Gaethje


2. Jon Jones

Record: 26-1, 1 NC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Last: W (UD) Dominick Reyes, Feb. 8
Next: TBD


3. Stipe Miocic

Record: 20-3
Weight class: Heavyweight
Last: W (UD) Daniel Cormier, Aug. 15
Next: TBD


4. Israel Adesanya

Record: 20-0
Weight class: Middleweight
Last: W (TKO2) Paulo Costa, Sept. 26
Next: TBD


5. Kamaru Usman

Previous ranking: T-4
Record: 17-1
Weight class: Welterweight
Last: W (UD) Jorge Masvidal, July 11
Next: TBD vs. Gilbert Burns


6. Alexander Volkanovski

Record: 22-1
Weight class: Featherweight
Last: W (SD) Max Holloway, July 11
Next: TBD


7. Demetrious Johnson

Record: 30-3-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (UD) Danny Kingad, Oct. 12
Next: TBD vs. Adriano Moraes


8. Justin Gaethje

Record: 22-2
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (TKO5) Tony Ferguson, May 9
Next: Oct. 24 vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov


9. Deiveson Figueiredo

Record: 19-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (TechSub1) Joseph Benavidez, July 19
Next: Nov. 21 vs. Cody Garbrandt


10. Dustin Poirier

Record: 25-6, 1 NC
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (UD) Dan Hooker, June 27
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Conor McGregor, Francis Ngannou and Petr Yan.


How our writers voted

Brett Okamoto
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Israel Adesanya
4. Stipe Miocic
5. Kamaru Usman
6. Alexander Volkanovski
7. Justin Gaethje
8. Deiveson Figueiredo
9. Demetrious Johnson
10. Dustin Poirier

Marc Raimondi
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Kamaru Usman
5. Israel Adesanya
6. Demetrious Johnson
7. Alexander Volkanovski
8. Deiveson Figueiredo
9. Justin Gaethje
10. Petr Yan

Ariel Helwani
1. Jon Jones
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Israel Adesanya
5. Kamaru Usman
6. Justin Gaethje
7. Alexander Volkanovski
8. Dustin Poirier
9. Demetrious Johnson
10. Conor McGregor

Jeff Wagenheim
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov
2. Jon Jones
3. Stipe Miocic
4. Demetrious Johnson
5. Israel Adesanya
6. Kamaru Usman
7. Alexander Volkanovski
8. Justin Gaethje
9. Deiveson Figueiredo
10. Francis Ngannou


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

Record: 20-4
Weight class: Bantamweight/featherweight
Last: W (UD) Felicia Spencer, June 6
Next: Dec. 12 vs. Megan Anderson


2. Valentina Shevchenko

Record: 19-3
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (TKO3) Katlyn Chookagian, Feb. 8
Next: Nov. 21 vs. Jennifer Maia


3. Cris Cyborg

Record: 23-2, 1 NC
Weight class: Featherweight
Last: W (SUB2) Arlene Blencowe, Oct. 15
Next: TBD


4. Zhang Weili

Record: 21-1
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: W (SD) Joanna Jedrzejczyk, March 7
Next: TBD


5. Rose Namajunas

Record: 9-4
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: W (SD) Jessica Andrade, July 11
Next: TBD


6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Record: 16-4
Weight class: Strawweight
Last: L (SD) Zhang Weili, March 7
Next: TBD


7. Jessica Andrade

Record: 21-8
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (TKO1) Katlyn Chookagian, Oct. 17
Next: TBD


8. Germaine de Randamie

Record: 10-4
Weight class: Bantamweight
Last: W (TechSUB3) Julianna Peña, Oct. 3
Next: TBD


T-9. Katlyn Chookagian

Record: 14-4
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: L (TKO1) Jessica Andrade, Oct. 17
Next: TBD


T-9. Holly Holm

Record: 14-5
Weight class: Bantamweight
Last: W (UD) Irene Aldana, Oct. 3
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Julia Budd and Seo Hee Ham.


How our writers voted

Brett Okamoto
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Zhang Weili
4. Rose Namajunas
5. Cris Cyborg
6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Jessica Andrade
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Katlyn Chookagian
10. Holly Holm

Marc Raimondi
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Jessica Andrade
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Seo Hee Ham

Ariel Helwani
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Jessica Andrade
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Holly Holm
10. Katlyn Chookagian

Jeff Wagenheim
1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Cris Cyborg
4. Zhang Weili
5. Rose Namajunas
6. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
7. Jessica Andrade
8. Germaine de Randamie
9. Katlyn Chookagian
10. Julia Budd