MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Sean Strickland’s UFC 293 stunner breaks the system

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 UFC 293’s main event producing one of the most shocking outcomes in recent memory, we have ourselves a major shakeup on the men’s side, one that few could have predicted.

UFC 293: Adesanya v Strickland

Sean Strickland
Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images

mens p4p sept 2023

The pound-for-pound rankings were not built to handle this!

Frankly, you can blame Israel Adesanya for being the conduit through which not one, but two previously unranked fighters have made their way onto the P4P list. First, it was Alex Pereira, who had to be ranked after a fifth-round finish of Adesanya at UFC 281; now, it’s Sean Strickland demanding to have a number next to his name after an incredible upset of Adesanya at UFC 293 on Saturday. He debuts at No. 10 on our chart, ahead of former UFC champions Pereira, Max Holloway, Jiri Prochazka, Aljamain Sterling, and a number of luminaries who own superior records.

That’s what you earn when you beat Adesanya in the most impressive way possible. Strickland didn’t land a lucky punch or just bulldog his way to victory, he legitimately out-struck and outworked “The Last Stylebender” for the vast majority of the contest and looked the part of a fighter who is now the UFC’s undisputed middleweight champion. As Strickland rises, Adesanya plummets a whopping 10 spots in the rankings.

Strickland’s division has a healthy list of potential challengers, so as unbelievable as it is to see his name in the middle of some of the most decorated names in MMA right now, it will be even more unbelievable watching him climb further up the charts if he can string together a few title defenses.

Brace yourselves.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): Sean Strickland def. No. 4 Israel Adesanya, No. 12 Max Holloway def. Chan Sung Jung

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 2 Islam Makhachev vs. No. 5 Charles Oliveira (UFC 294, Oct. 21), No. 18 (tied) Khamzat Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa (UFC 294, Oct. 21)

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

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