MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Jon Jones falls out of top 5

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?

Alexandre Pantoja made a big jump after another successful defense of his flyweight title at UFC 301, but the real news is who he passed to get to his lofty spot. Let’s take a look at who Pantoja bumped out of the top-five list.

UFC 301: Pantoja v Erceg

Alexandre Pantoja
Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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Again, all due respect to Alexandre Pantoja for putting in work this past weekend, but we have to address the elephant in the room: Jon Jones is no longer part of the pound-for-pound top five.

Let us explain!

By far, the most significant factor that hurt Jones this rankings cycle is that our panel has gone from eight members to seven. That means one ballot’s points are completely off the board, which in this case had a major effect on Jones (No. 2 on said ballot) and less so on Pantoja (only No. 14). With the new math, Jones drops one spot to No. 6 on our consensus list, which is the lowest he’s ever been since we started our own independent rankings in July 2021.

Jones’ fall can’t be blamed entirely on the numbers though. Indisputably one of MMA’s all-time greats, “Bones” has been gradually losing support from our voters due to inactivity. His win over Ciryl Gane is now 14 months old and it remains his only fight of the past four years. His light heavyweight run is the stuff of legends, and he’s well within his rights to wait for a preferred heavyweight matchup with Stipe Miocic, but how long is Jones’ stock allowed to stay stable, especially as he continues to stubbornly dismiss a matchup with MMA Fighting’s No. 1 heavyweight Tom Aspinall?

MMA is the ultimate “what have you done for us lately?” business, and as it turns out, even Jones isn’t safe from that question.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 6 Alexandre Pantoja def. Steve Erceg (UFC 301, May 4)

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier (UFC 302, June 1), No. 13 Patchy Mix vs. Magomed Magomedov (Bellator Champions Series: Paris, May 17), No. 17 (tied) Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa (UFC 302, June 1), No. 19 Khamzat Chimaev vs. Robert Whittaker (UFC Fight Night, June 22)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Merab Dvalishvili (5), Anatoly Malykhin (3), Patricio Pitbull (2), Kamaru Usman (2), Johnny Eblen (1), Justin Gaethje (1), A.J. McKee (1), Belal Muhammad (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1), Dustin Poirier (1), Jiri Prochazka (1)

MMA: OCT 07 Bellator 300

Cris Cyborg
Photo by Matt Davies/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Not coincidentally, another all-time great takes a tumble as a result of our new panel structure.

Like Jones, Cris Cyborg has been a mainstay atop our pound-for-pound rankings. But no more. Bellator’s featherweight queen drops two spots all the way to No. 7, and like Jones, the change can be attributed to more than just math.

Cyborg certainly has more of an argument to hold steady based strictly on results. She has lost just one fight since debuting with a loss in 2005, and that defeat at the hands of fellow legend Amanda Nunes happened more than five years ago. She’s been untouchable since. Unfortunately for Cyborg, her competition at featherweight has rarely sparked the imagination, and recent wins over Cat Zingano, Arlene Blencowe (again), Sinead Kavanagh, and Leslie Smith (again) aren’t moving the needle even with the most hardcore of fans.

Perhaps if Cyborg somehow manages to manufacture a fight with now-UFC standout Kayla Harrison or an unlikely rematch with Nunes, she can ascend once more to the top of the charts. Otherwise, there’s nowhere to go but down.

It’s worth noting that there’s also plenty of movement outside the top 10, primarily due to Carla Esparza’s exit as a result of inactivity. The two-time UFC strawweight champion hasn’t fought since November 2022 as she’s taken time off to be a mother, so she’s probably not sweating her pound-for-pound ranking at the moment. Just another reminder that there are more important things in life than fighting.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): N/A

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 13 Liz Carmouche vs. Kana Watanabe (PFL 4, June 13), No. 16 Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Macy Chiasson (UFC 303, June 29), No. 18 Stamp Fairtex vs. Denice Zamboanga (ONE 167, June 7), No. 19 Taila Santos vs. Jena Bishop (PFL 4, June 13)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Virna Jandiroba (2), Natalia Silva (2), Marina Rodriguez (2), Irene Aldana (1), Holly Holm (1), Lauren Murphy (1), Ketlen Vieira (1)

Lastly, a refresher on some ground rules:

  • The seven-person voting panel consists of MMA Fighting staffers Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, 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.


Is Jon Jones still top-5 pound-for-pound?

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