MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings, November 2022: Alex Pereira stunner sends Israel Adesanya tumbling down the charts

UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira

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?

How have the last six weeks affected the world’s pound-for-pound market? Let’s take a look.


UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira

Alex Pereira
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Alex Pereira is now the man to beat at 185 pounds. But how does he stack up against the best of the best in other divisions?

The question has to be asked after Pereira scored a stunning fifth-round knockout of Israel Adesanya at UFC 281, becoming the first fighter to defeat Adesanya in a middleweight bout in MMA and moving to 3-0 in their combat sports rivalry after twice topping Adesanya in kickboxing. It’s an enormous accomplishment by any metric, one that makes him worthy of a placement on the Pound-for-Pound list in just his eighth pro MMA bout.

But how high should he go?

But how high should he go?

With the votes tallied, “Poatan” makes a previously unfathomable — again, this was his eighth MMA fight — debut at No. 7 in the Pound-for-Pound rankings, leapfrogging over names like Charles Oliveira, Jiri Prochazka, Max Holloway and (of course) Israel Adesanya. Pereira finished ahead of Adesanya in the Pound-for-Pound rankings, but it was not guaranteed. There was only one point between them.

Respect was shown to “The Last Stylebender”, an undisputed UFC champion, for more than three years. Two of our panelists even went so far as to maintain Adesanya’s ranking above Pereira. It wasn’t enough for Adesanya to make a dramatic slide from No. 2 to No. 8.

Keep in mind, Adesanya has received first place votes in the past and been a mainstay in the top 3 since the inception of our rankings, so seeing him closer to the bottom half of the rankings than No. 1 looks downright weird. Another reminder of how one sequence can change the face of MMA.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): Alex Pereira def. No. 2 Israel Adesanya, No. 14 Dustin Poirier def. Michael Chandler

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 10 Jiri Prochazka vs. No. 18 Glover Teixeira (UFC 282, Dec. 10), No. 19 Corey Anderson vs. Vadim Nemkov (Bellator 288, Nov. 18)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Jan Blachowicz (3), Colby Covington (3), Petr Yan (3), Ciryl Gane (2), Johnny Eblen (2), A.J. McKee (1), Curtis Blaydes (1), Gegard Mousasi (1), Alexandre Pantoja (1), Reinier de Ridder (1), Raufeon Stots (1)


UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira

Zhang Weili
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In retrospect, having Zhang Weili outside of the Pound-for-Pound top 5 was silly.

The Chinese star made short work of Carla Esparza in the UFC 281 co-main event to reclaim the UFC strawweight title, an outcome that was hardly a shocker if one paid any attention to the odds and overwhelming public sentiment heading into the fight. While Esparza is undoubtedly one of the best female fighters in MMA over the last decade, and she’s likely to be a future Hall of Famer thanks to her two UFC titles fight victories, Zhang is simply one of most physically and mentally impressive fighters in the sport.

Zhang’s only foil has been Rose Namajunas and were it not for an 0-2 record in that rivalry, Zhang would have a case for a spot in the top 3. She’s currently just one point behind Cris Cyborg. If Zhang’s second run with UFC gold ends up lasting longer than the first, the Big 3 in our pound-for-pound rankings could soon become a Big 4.

A big shout out to Amanda Lemos for her appearance at No. 16, tied with Japanese wunderkind Seika Izawa. Lemos bulldozed perennial strawweight contender Marina Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 64, cementing her reputation as one of the best finishers in the world at 115 pounds and a legitimate title threat.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 8 Zhang Weili def. No. 4 Carla Esparza, Amanda Lemos def. No. 15 Marina Rodriguez

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 9 Kayla Harrison vs. Larissa Pacheco (PFL Championship 2022, Nov. 25), No. 10 Liz Carmouche vs. No. 20 Juliana Velasquez (Bellator 289, Dec. 9)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Seo Hee Ham (4), Larissa Pacheco (3), Xiong Jingnan (3), Irene Aldana (2), Erin Blanchfield (1), Raquel Pennington (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. There is no right or wrong answer when you are trying to decide whether Robert Whittaker deserves to be ranked higher than Max Holloway. In other words: It’s not serious business, folks.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Let us know your concerns in the comments section below.