MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Dricus du Plessis, Raquel Pennington rocket up the list

Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting pound-for-pound rankings, where every month our esteemed panel sort through the noise to answer one question: Who are the best overall male and female MMA fighters in the world?

With the first UFC pay-per-view of 2024 in the books, how has the start of the MMA calendar affected the global pound-for-pound landscape? Let’s take a look.

UFC 297: Strickland v Du Plessis

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

mens p4p jan 2024

MMA Fighting

Dricus du Plessis is the latest UFC middleweight champion to flip the pound-for-pound rankings upside down.

For the fourth time in a row, the middleweight belt changed hands at its earliest possible opportunity this past weekend at UFC 297. This time it was du Plessis who seized the throne with a razor-close split decision over Sean Strickland. Just as it did when Alex Pereira, Israel Adesanya, and Strickland all did the same before him, the South African’s ascent caused a bit of chaos in the men’s pound-for-pound ranks, as du Plessis vaulted up nine spots to the No. 10 position, sending Strickland tumbling back down to a still respectable No. 15.

The big question now: Who will serve as du Plessis’ first title defense? Both of his most likely options are ranked — No. 17 Adesanya and No. 18 Khamzat Chimaev — so the new UFC middleweight champ could have a swift rise up this list if he’s able to finally bring some stability to one of the sport’s most unstable divisions over the past 14 months.

Looking ahead, all eyes now turn toward Feb. 17 at UFC 298, where No. 2 Alexander Volkanovski seeks to continue defying Father Time when the oldest champion under 170 pounds in UFC history puts his belt back on the line against undefeated Ilia Topuria.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 19 Dricus du Plessis def. No. 10 Sean Strickland

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 2 Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria (UFC 298, Feb. 17)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Jiri Prochazka (4), Johnny Eblen (3), Shavkat Rakhmonov (3), Brandon Moreno (2), Vadim Nemkov (1), Jamahal Hill (2), Robert Whittaker (2), Magomed Ankalaev (1), Jan Blachowicz (1), Merab Dvalishvili (1), A.J. McKee (1), Belal Muhammad (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1)

UFC 297: Pennington v Bueno Silva

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

womens p4p jan 2024

MMA Fighting

Finally, some movement!

It’s been a sloggy couple of months for the women’s pound-for-pound ranks, but Raquel Pennington finally injected some life back into this list by dominating Mayra Bueno Silva and ascending as the first UFC women’s bantamweight champion of the post-Nunes era. Much like du Plessis did on the men’s side, Pennington rocketed up nine spots to comfortably slot in at No. 9 on our rankings, while Silva tumbled down to No. 17 in defeat.

Also of note, RIZIN super atomweight champion Seika Izawa continued her steady climb, jumping up three spots to No. 14 after defeating Miyuu Yamamoto on New Year’s Eve. While she may not be a household name to western fans, Izawa is widely regarded as the top atomweight in MMA, and at age 26, she could be a fixture on this list for many years to come.

As for what’s next, the upcoming slate is once again light on bouts featuring the top women in the sport, however UFC 298 does have one nugget, as No. 20 Amanda Lemos faces off against Macknezie Dern in a battle to reenter the strawweight title mix.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 18 Raquel Pennington def. No. 11 Mayra Bueno Silva, No. 17 Seika Izawa def. Miyuu Yamamoto

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 20T Amanda Lemos vs. Mackenzie Dern (UFC 298, Feb. 17)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Stamp Fairtex (5), Lauren Murphy (2), Ketlen Vieira (1), Maycee Barber (1), Katlyn Chookagian (1), Irene Aldana (1), Virna Jandiroba (1), Marina Rodriguez (1)

Lastly, a refresher on some ground rules:

  • The eight-person voting panel consists of MMA Fighting staffers Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin and Jed Meshew.
  • Updates to the rankings will be completed following every UFC pay-per-view. Fighters will be removed from the rankings if they do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout.
  • Should a fighter announce their retirement, our panel will decide whether that fighter should immediately be removed from the rankings or maintain their position until further notice (let’s put it this way: we’d have taken Khabib Nurmagomedov out of our rankings a lot quicker than the UFC did).

As a reminder, the notion of pound-for-pound supremacy is always going to inherently be subjective. When you’re debating whether someone like Justin Gaethje should be ranked above someone like Max Holloway, there is no true right answer. In other words: It’s not serious business, folks.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.


Who should Dricus du Plessis fight next?

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    Israel Adesanya

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    Khamzat Chimaev

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    Sean Strickland rematch

    (0 votes)

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