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The Ringer MMA November Pound-for-Pound Rankings

Alex Pereira made history at UFC 295. Is he now a top-5 pound-for-pound fighter? Plus, Tom Aspinall makes his debut after his own smashing success at the Garden.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

There’s nothing quite like autumn in New York, when the leaves turn as colorful as the bruises left behind by the UFC’s annual visit to Madison Square Garden. For some reason, whenever the UFC hits New York, incredible things happen. At UFC 295 on Saturday, all the minds were blown throughout Pennsylvania Plaza. All five fights on the main card of the pay-per-view ended in knockouts—two of which were title fights.

That means there’s been a shake-up in the MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings. In UFC 295’s co-main event, England’s greatest heavyweight ever, Tom Aspinall, won the interim title by obliterating the heavy-handed Sergei Pavlovich in a master-class performance. It’s hard to apply a word like lithe to any man north of 250 pounds, especially when he’s carrying that kind of power in his hands, but somehow, Aspinall’s graceful movement is more Nijinsky than Godzilla.

Meanwhile, in the main event, Alex Pereira made a bit of history himself by winning a second title in a different weight class. Pereira scored a second-round TKO over the samurai of the light heavyweight ranks, Jiri Prochazka, and he holds not only a title again, but a property deed as well. Pereira owns Madison Square Garden, improving to 3-0 in the Big Apple, and he has captured both of his titles while fighting on the world’s most hallowed ground.

Pereira is northbound in this month’s rankings, while Aspinall—who blew out his knee against Curtis Blaydes in England just 16 months ago—makes his big P4P debut.

The panel of Chuck Mindenhall, Ariel Helwani, Petesy Carroll, and producer Troy Farkas—known as 3PAC on The Ringer MMA Show—has ranked both the men’s and women’s P4P best, one through 10.

Our only criterion for these monthly rankings is that a fighter has competed within at least a calendar year of the publication date, or has at least had a fight booked within that window. If a fighter hasn’t competed in a year and books a fight after that time, he or she is once again eligible to be voted back in.

Fighters who retire are no longer eligible for the rankings.

Though most of the best fighters are currently in the UFC, these rankings are not UFC exclusive. We take into consideration all the major promotions, from Bellator to ONE Championship to the PFL.

Without further ado, the Ringer MMA P4P Rankings for November.

Men’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Islam Makhachev

UFC Lightweight Champion
Last month: no. 1

When Dana White announced the relish tray of big upcoming UFC title fights last week, one conspicuously missing name was Islam Makhachev, the coldhearted lightweight champion who knocked out Alexander Volkanovski last month in Abu Dhabi. We say conspicuous because Volk himself had a fight announced against Ilia Topuria for February. So when will Makhachev fight next? That’s the million-dollar question. Some people have suggested he’ll show up at UFC 300, but that would be tough, especially if Conor McGregor, the archnemesis of Makhachev’s mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, ends up on that card.

2. Jon Jones

UFC Heavyweight Champion
Last month: no. 2

It must’ve been tough for the champ to watch four guys in the divisions he’s dominated soak up all the adulation and attention in New York this past week, especially when it was supposed to be his name on the bright marquee at MSG for a title defense against Stipe Miocic. Yet even though he’s out of the spotlight healing from a pectoral injury, Bones stayed vital to the conversation at heavyweight. Dana insists that when Jon comes back, he’ll face Miocic as planned rather than the new interim champion, Tom Aspinall. Will that be the case as the calendar turns to 2024? We’ll have to wait and see, but here’s guessing the public would rather get behind a Jones-Aspinall unifying title fight than a stubborn Jones-Miocic pairing.

3. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC Featherweight Champion
Last month: no. 3

If there was a red flag after Volk suffered the first knockout loss of his career against Makhachev at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, it was what he told the media. Volk said he didn’t regret taking the fight on 11 days’ notice because he needed it to keep his mind healthy, and he was having trouble mentally being idle. Perhaps that explains why the UFC up and booked Volk against Ilia Topuria for his next featherweight title defense, which is set to take place in February. This is a very tough booking. For one thing, Topuria is a relatively slept-on contender who happens to be a fucking hammer in the octagon, and he’s had this fight circled for a long, long time. And then, of course, there’s that glaring question: How does Volk look after being KO’d for the first time? And is this the beginning of the end of his reign?

4. Leon Edwards

UFC Welterweight Champion
Last month: no. 4

Leon’s wait is almost over, as he’s set to defend the welterweight title against Colby Covington in December at UFC 296. Should Edwards win, he’ll almost certainly be on the short list for Fighter of the Year, in part because he’ll be in the last title fight of the year (and therefore the most recent) and also because his Cinderella run will have reached epic proportions. Not that Leon is stopping there. He told Sky Sports this week that he wouldn’t mind matching up against the winner of the middleweight title fight between Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis, which takes place on January 20. Plotting a double-champ run? Hey, why not? This is the golden era of English MMA!

5. Alex Pereira

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
Last month: Not ranked

Just short of a year ago, Pereira was getting set to fight for Israel Adesanya’s middleweight title and was known primarily as the guy who beat Izzy in a kickboxing ring. That story line changed when Pereira scored a fifth-round TKO of Adesanya to win the UFC belt. It’s hard to believe that in the space of 12 months, he’s lost that title to Izzy, moved up to 205 pounds, scored a decision over the behemoth Jan Blachowicz, and smoked lineal LHW champion Jiri Prochazka like it was just another day at the office. This is a bad man we’re talking about here. The red face paint and blooming headdress are cool (as well as highly marketable), but when he stared into Jiri’s soul before the fight? That shit was straight chills. Doesn’t matter if it’s Jamahal Hill or Izzy or Anthony Smith next: Pereira has become must-see TV.

6. Sean O’Malley

UFC Bantamweight Champion
Last month: no. 5

Well, we now know whom Suga Sean will be fighting next, and it’s a familiar foe who’ll be standing opposite him in that initial bantamweight title defense—Ecuador’s own Chito Vera. The two will square off in March at UFC 299, the card before the big UFC 300 blowout. We’ve seen great bantamweight champions before in Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw, but none of them command a room like O’Malley, nor does any current champion give off as many unicorn vibes and marijuana fumes all at the same time. With the cult of Chito at an all-time high, not a lot of people will bemoan the lack of meritocracy in not booking O’Malley against the more deserving Merab Dvalishvili. By the time it rolls around, this very well might feel like the biggest bantamweight title fight in UFC history.

7. Tom Aspinall

UFC’s Interim Heavyweight Champion
Last month: Not ranked

Not many heavyweights have the kind of movement Aspinall possesses, and he put that on display in his title fight with Pavlovich. Tom’s father told The Ringer MMA Show’s own Petesy Carroll that the main piece of advice he imparted to his son as he was getting into MMA was “to not get hit.” Aspinall has done an admirable job of heeding his word. Pavlovich is a scary cartoon monster who hits like a freaking gamma-ray burst, yet Aspinall was well aware of it, especially as he felt that power in an early exchange. Aspinall needed only 69 seconds to showcase his own power and knock Pavlovich out. It was a tearful moment. The whole of Wigan, England, erupted in joy, as did the spectators at MSG. England now has two champions, and all Aspinall wants for Christmas is to tempt Jon Jones into a cage to fight him.

8. Max Holloway

Former UFC Featherweight Champion
Last month: no. 6

Holloway will never be a gatekeeper. Even to say that word around him feels like a sign of ultimate disrespect, given that he’s one of the greatest featherweight champions in UFC history and a cult hero to people around the world. (But you know what? Lean in here. … With all that said, so long as Volkanovski holds the 145-pound title, Holloway is the purgatorial Hawaiian guardian of the gates, because he’s 0-3 against Volk yet better than every other contender within a 5,000-mile radius. That’s a problem for the UFC, which can keep matching him against brand names until the dust settles or run the risk of killing off contenders, as it did with Arnold Allen. But let’s keep that between us.)

9. Sean Strickland

UFC Middleweight Champion
Last month: no. 9

Despite being one of the more controversial figures to hold UFC gold (to say the least), Strickland has emerged as a kind of feel-good babyface. It’s as if he shook our minds like an Etch A Sketch and started a new rosy stencil after he picked up the middleweight title. The UFC was adamant that Khamzat Chimaev would be next for Strickland, yet when it was discovered that Chimaev suffered an injury in his fight with Kamaru Usman, Du Plessis emerged as his next opponent. Perhaps it’s fitting. Strickland took Du Plessis’s spot at UFC 293 and pulled off the Upset of the Year against Adesanya. It feels only right that the two should collide next, even if it’s happening in the arbitrary city of Toronto.

10. Israel Adesanya

Former UFC Middleweight Champion
Last month: no. 10

Izzy has said that he wants to take some time off after fighting seven times since 2021, all in high-pressure title tilts. That’s a lot of fights, and it might’ve taken a toll by the time he faced (and ultimately lost to) Sean Strickland at UFC 293. It’s probably a wise move to hang back for a minute. One good thing is that whenever he does decide to come back, he won’t have any shortage of suitors. Alex Pereira already invited him to come up to 205 pounds to complete the trilogy, this time for Pereira’s light heavyweight belt. Big fights will be there for Adesanya when he’s good and ready to return.

Others receiving votes: Demetrious Johnson, Charles Oliveira

Voting Results

Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
1. Islam Makhachev 1. Islam Makhachev 1. Islam Makhachev 1. Islam Makhachev
2. Jon Jones 2. Jon Jones 2. Jon Jones 2. Jon Jones
3. Alexander Volkanovski 3. Alexander Volkanovski 3. Alexander Volkanovski 3. Alexander Volkanovski
4. Leon Edwards 4. Leon Edwards 4. Leon Edwards 4. Leon Edwards
5. Alex Pereira 5. Alex Pereira 5. Sean O’Malley 5. Alex Periera
6. Tom Aspinall 6. Tom Aspinall 6. Sean Strickland 6. Sean O’Malley
7. Max Holloway 7. Max Holloway 7. Israel Adesanya 7. Demetrious Johnson
8. Sean O’Malley 8. Sean O’Malley 8. Max Holloway 8. Tom Aspinall
9. Charles Oliveira 9. Sean Strickland 9. Alex Pereira 9. Sean Strickland
10. Israel Adesanya 10. Israel Adesanya 10. Tom Aspinall 10. Max Holloway

Women’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Zhang Weili

UFC Strawweight Champion
Last month: no. 1

If 2023 has been a mini-British explosion in MMA within the men’s ranks, it’s all about China on the women’s side of the ledger. Zhang Weili didn’t just beat Amanda Lemos this past August, she sent a message to the rest of the strawweights to find a new division or suffer a similar fate. Still awaiting word on whom Weili will face next, but whether it’s Tatiana Suarez or her fellow Chinese fighter Yan Xiaonan, catching Weili in her prime looks approximately the same as catching hell.

2. Valentina Shevchenko

Former UFC Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 2

Valentina is the greatest flyweight champion ever, and she will remain that until somebody strings together seven title defenses and twirls into a cold-blooded Lezginka dance before the smelling salts hit her opponents’ nostrils. She should’ve been given the nod against Alexa Grasso rather than the “draw” (hence the reason she’s above Alexa in these rankings), but you don’t get the sense Valentina is dwelling on it. If anything, at 35 years old she’s gotten feistier than ever. She recently engaged in a war of words with Sean Strickland for calling women’s MMA “lame,” letting the world know that nobody is safe from the Bullet.

3. Alexa Grasso

UFC Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 3

The UFC has reportedly already booked the Sphere in Las Vegas for Mexican Independence Day in 2024. That’s in large part because Alexa Grasso, the lone active Mexican champion, put on a show against Valentina Shevchenko in her last title defense in celebration of the holiday. Was she lucky to get out of that bout with a draw? Sure, but it sets up a blown-up trilogy fight with Valentina, and an even bigger moment for Grasso to capitalize on. Should she continue her run and win the rubber match, perhaps she faces off with the marauding flyweight contender, Erin Blanchfield, in the first-ever UFC show at the Sphere.

4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator Featherweight Champion
Last month: no. 4

It looks like it’s back to the boxing ring for Cyborg, who at 38 enjoys flipping back and forth between her combat sports and has earned the right to do whatever the hell she wants. Besides, Cat Zingano was the biggest name available to her in MMA, and Cyborg tenderized her like she was preparing chicken piccata at Bellator 300. Now it’s a date with somebody named … let’s see here … Kelsey Wickstrum, who has two pro boxing matches to her name. We don’t know much about Wickstrum, but we know she’s courageous.

5. Tatiana Suarez

UFC Strawweight Contender
Last month: no. 5

It’s been an excruciating stretch here for Tatiana, a.k.a. the female Khabib, as she waits to find out what’s happening with Zhang Weili. If the UFC opts to give Suarez a chance at the belt, it could go down as the baddest strawweight title fight in history. Suarez is 10-0 all told, but since winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2016 she’s felt destined for big things. She has finished five of the seven opponents she’s faced in the UFC, and the two that she didn’t finish—Nina Ansaroff and Viviane Pereira—looked like the last survivors in a slasher film after 15 minutes with Suarez. What happens when she meets up with Weili, who can crack mountain faces with the power she has? Goosebumps, that’s what.

6. Erin Blanchfield

UFC Flyweight Contender
Last month: no. 6A

Her nickname is “Cold Blooded,” and it’s an accurate one. At 24 years old, Blanchfield is the Nightmare from Elmwood Park, New Jersey. She has been quietly going about smashing the competition at flyweight, scoring victories over the likes of former contender Taila Santos and former champion Jéssica Andrade—and the UFC should be tried for reckless misconduct for locking poor Molly McCann in there with her. The wrestling pedigree is part of it, but the intensity of the warrior within is what gives Blanchfield the inevitable feel of a future champion. Whether it’s Valentina, Grasso, or Manon Fiorot she draws next, look out, because Blanchfield always dictates the dance.

7. Manon Fiorot

UFC Flyweight Contender
Last month: no. 6B

And if Blanchfield’s got a runner keeping pace at her side, it’s Fiorot, who has quietly won 11 straight fights, including all six of her UFC contests. She looked phenomenal against flyweight debutante Rose Namajunas in her last fight, which took place in her native France, and Fiorot might be the wild card in the title mix. Can she beat the current champion Grasso? Can she hang with a wily demolition queen like Shevchenko, or a wrecking ball like Blanchfield? We will soon find out some of these answers, as Fiorot is closing in on all of them.

8. Julianna Peña

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion
Last month: no. 8

It’s been one bummer after another for Peña, who not only lost out on the trilogy fight with Amanda Nunes (due to an undisclosed injury) but has now lost out on the chance to fight for the vacant title. The UFC announced that Raquel “Rocky” Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva will fight for the bantamweight title that Nunes left behind, while Peña sits on the sidelines mashing her fist into her palm. It looks as though Peña will face the winner of that fight, but man, some hard luck for the Venezuelan Vixen.

9. Rose Namajunas

Former UFC Strawweight Champion, Current Flyweight Contender
Last month: no. 9

Whenever Rose loses a fight in MMA, she takes a long sabbatical and stays out of the spotlight as much as she can. One thing is for sure: She is a gym rat who always stays in shape. At just 31 years old, Namajunas has done just about everything. She has won the strawweight title twice. She competed on The Ultimate Fighter, where she became a quasi-star in the making. She has given the UFC some of the greatest upsets in company history, first against Joanna Jedrzejczyk and later against Zhang Weili. She moved up in weight to try herself against Manon Fiorot, as the interloper in front of a partisan Parisian crowd. What’s left? Seriously, that’s the question. What’s freaking left?

10. Yan Xiaonan

UFC Strawweight Contender
Last month: no. 10

That dominant victory over Jéssica Andrade feels like it took place eons ago at this point, as six months in the fight world oftentimes can. Still no opponent scheduled for Xiaonan, who is hoping to collide with Zhang Weili for the title in the near future. Xiaonan is a supremely talented, uber-scary dark horse who has the potential to turn the division on its head. Since dropping back-to-back fights in 2021-22, she’s looked like a beast unleashed, having plowed through Mackenzie Dern and Andrade. The year 2024 might be a big one for the woman known as the “Fury.”

Others receiving votes: Larissa Pacheco

Voting Results

Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
1. Zhang Weili 1. Zhang Weili 1. Zhang Weili 1. Zhang Weili
2. Valentina Shevchenko 2. Cris Cyborg 2. Alexa Grasso 2. Valentina Shevchenko
3. Alexa Grasso 3. Alexa Grasso 3. Valentina Shevchenko 3. Cris Cyborg
4. Cris Cyborg 4. Valentina Shevchenko 4. Tatiana Suarez 4. Alexa Grasso
5. Tatiana Suarez 5. Tatiana Suarez 5. Cris Cyborg 5. Tatiana Suarez
6. Erin Blanchfield 6. Manon Fiorot 6. Manon Fiorot 6. Erin Blanchfield
7. Manon Fiorot 7. Erin Blanchfield 7. Erin Blanchfield 7. Manon Fiorot
8. Julianna Peña 8. Julianna Peña 8. Rose Namajunas 8. Yan Xiaonan
9. Larissa Pacheco 9. Larissa Pacheco 9. Julianna Peña 9. Rose Namajunas
10. Yan Xiaonan 10. Rose Namajunas 10. Yan Xiaonan 10. Larissa Pacheco