MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Two quick title defenses boost Figueiredo

Deiveson Figueiredo put in the work as 2020 wound down, and it has elevated him in ESPN’s pound-for-pound rankings — a small boost with huge symbolic significance.

Figueiredo, who became UFC men’s flyweight champion in July with a choke-out victory over longtime contender Joseph Benavidez, defended his belt on Nov. 21 and made quick work of it, submitting Alex Perez in less than two minutes.

Then, before the evening was over, the Brazilian agreed to make a second title defense just three weeks later, a record turnaround for a UFC champ.

Figueiredo’s second defense turned out to be a tougher one. On Dec. 12, he fought to a majority draw with Brandon Moreno, who sits right behind him in the ESPN men’s flyweight rankings. Figueiredo had to work for it, but he kept his strap.

On the strength of that record run, Figueiredo moved up one spot in the ESPN men’s pound-for-pound top 10. It’s a small move, but it looms large when one considers whom he leapfrogged: Demetrious Johnson, the former longtime champion, considered by many to be the greatest flyweight ever. “Mighty Mouse” has a chance to reassert himself on Feb. 24, when he challenges Adriano Moraes for the One Championship flyweight title.

Figueiredo’s short climb was the only movement in the men’s rankings, and the women’s top 10 remained intact. Valentina Shevchenko and Katlyn Chookagian were the only ranked females to see action since the previous rankings vote. On the UFC 255 card headlined by Figueiredo vs. Perez, Shevchenko defeated Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision to successfully defend her flyweight championship, and Chookagian beat Cynthia Calvillo. Everyone remains right where they were last time.

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

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Dec. 15.

Men’s pound-for-pound rankings

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov  

Record: 29-0
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (SUB2) Justin Gaethje, Oct. 24
Next: Announced retirement

2. Jon Jones  

Record: 26-1, 1 NC
Weight class: Light heavyweight/announced move to 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  

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. Deiveson Figueiredo  

Previous ranking: 8
Record: 20-1-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: D (MD) Brandon Moreno, Dec. 12
Next: TBD

8. Demetrious Johnson  

Previous ranking: 7
Record: 30-3-1
Weight class: Flyweight
Last: W (UD) Danny Kingad, Oct. 12, 2019
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Adriano Moraes

9. Dustin Poirier  

Record: 25-6, 1 NC
Weight class: Lightweight
Last: W (UD) Dan Hooker, June 27
Next: Jan. 23 vs. Conor McGregor

10. Francis Ngannou  

Record: 15-3
Weight class: Heavyweight
Last: W (KO1) Jairzinho Rozenstruik, May

Next: TBD

Other fighters receiving votes: Petr Yan, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Conor McGregor and Robert Whittaker

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