Kamaru Usman (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: May 2021

Rob Tatum Assistant Editor

Every month, Combat Press will provide MMA rankings for each weight class from heavyweight to strawweight, as well as the pound-for-pound rankings (including all genders).

Note: the numbers in parentheses represent the fighter’s ranking from the previous month.

Editor’s Note: These rankings are based on fights that took place in the month of April, so the results of UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Procházka were not taken into account.


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Heavyweight
  1. Francis Ngannou (1)
  2. Stipe Miocic (2)
  3. Derrick Lewis (3)
  4. Ciryl Gane (4)
  5. Curtis Blaydes (5)
  6. Alexander Volkov (6)
  7. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (7)
  8. Alistair Overeem (8)
  9. Junior dos Santos (9)
  10. Augusto Sakai (10)/Ryan Bader (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)
  2. Jan Błachowicz (2)
  3. Dominick Reyes (3)
  4. Glover Teixeira (4)
  5. Vadim Nemkov (8)
  6. Corey Anderson (6)
  7. Aleksandar Rakić (5)
  8. Jiří Procházka (7)
  9. Thiago Santos (9)
  10. Anthony Smith (10)

Bellator MMA kicked off its light-heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 257, where champion Vadim Nemkov fought UFC veteran Phil Davis for a second time and again walked away with a win. Nemkov climbs to fifth with the victory. Also in action at the event, UFC alum Corey Anderson cruised past Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov to keep his No. 6 ranking. Finally, at UFC 261, former title challenger Anthony Smith dispatched of Jimmy Crute with a precision leg kick to score a first-round TKO. Smith remains in 10th place in the rankings.

Middleweight
  1. Israel Adesanya (1)
  2. Robert Whittaker (2)
  3. Paulo Costa (3)
  4. Yoel Romero (4)
  5. Marvin Vettori (7)
  6. Jared Cannonier (5)
  7. Darren Till (6)
  8. Jack Hermansson (8)
  9. Kelvin Gastelum (9)
  10. Derek Brunson (10)

Italy’s Marvin Vettori returned to action at UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs. Holland opposite Kevin Holland. Vettori used a smothering wrestling attack to best Holland and move up to fifth in the rankings. Elsewhere, former champion Robert Whittaker headlined UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Gastelum against fellow The Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum. The Aussie put on a striking clinic to defeat Gastelum on the scorecards. Whittaker stays planted in the No. 2 spot, with Gastelum holding onto ninth.

Welterweight
  1. Kamaru Usman (1)
  2. Gilbert Burns (2)
  3. Colby Covington (3)
  4. Leon Edwards (6)
  5. Stephen Thompson (5)
  6. Michael Chiesa (8)
  7. Vicente Luque (7)
  8. Douglas Lima (9)
  9. Jorge Masvidal (4)
  10. Rory MacDonald (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Tyron Woodley (10)

If there were still doubters about UFC champion Kamaru Usman, UFC 261 should have made them believers. The Nigerian became the first man to stop Jorge Masvidal with strikes, delivering a devastating knockout to retain his title and his spot atop the rankings. Masvidal tumbles all the way to No. 9 with the knockout loss. Former UFC title challenger and Bellator MMA champion Rory MacDonald was also in action in April. The Canadian made his Professional Fighters League debut and easily dispatched UFC veteran Curtis Millender by submission. The win earns MacDonald a return to the rankings in the 10th spot.

Lightweight
  1. Dustin Poirier (1)
  2. Justin Gaethje (2)
  3. Charles Oliveira (3)
  4. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (4)
  5. Conor McGregor (5)
  6. Michael Chandler (6)
  7. Tony Ferguson (7)
  8. Dan Hooker (8)
  9. Rafael dos Anjos (9)
  10. Paul Felder (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

Featherweight
  1. Alex Volkanovski (1)
  2. Max Holloway (2)
  3. Brian Ortega (3)
  4. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (5)
  5. Zabit Magomedsharipov (4)
  6. Chan Sung Jung (6)
  7. Yair Rodriguez (7)
  8. Bibiano Fernandes (8)
  9. A.J. McKee (9)
  10. Calvin Kattar (10)

The Bellator featherweight grand prix continued at Bellator 255, and it served as a showcase for champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. The Brazilian choked Emmanuel Sanchez out cold to retain his title and set up a tournament final with ninth-ranked A.J. McKee later this year. Pitbull climbs one spot to fourth in the rankings.

Bantamweight
  1. Petr Yan (1)
  2. Aljamain Sterling (3)
  3. Cory Sandhagen (4)
  4. Adriano Moraes (-)
  5. Demetrious Johnson (2)
  6. José Aldo (5)
  7. Frankie Edgar (6)
  8. Kyoji Horiguchi (7)
  9. Pedro Munhoz (8)
  10. Cody Garbrandt (9)
  11. Rob Font (10)

Dropped from the rankings: Rob Font (10)

The debut of ONE Championship on TNT proved to be a passing of the torch in the bantamweight division. Brazil’s Adriano Moraes absolutely demolished former pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and retained his title in the process. Moraes skyrockets to fourth in the rankings, with Johnson dropping to fifth with the loss. The inclusion of Moraes pushes the UFC’s Rob Font back outside the top 10.

Flyweight
  1. Deiveson Figueiredo (1)
  2. Brandon Moreno (2)
  3. Askar Askarov (3)
  4. Joseph Benavidez (4)
  5. Alex Perez (5)
  6. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (6)
  7. Alexandre Pantoja (7)
  8. Brandon Royval (8)
  9. Kai Kara-France (9)
  10. Joshua Pacio (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

Strawweight
  1. Jarred Brooks (1)
  2. Namiki Kawahara (2)
  3. Haruo Ochi (3)
  4. Adam Antolin (4)
  5. Tatsuya So (5)
  6. Gexi Sanlang (6)
  7. Toshiya Takashima (7)
  8. Yuta Miyazawa (8)
  9. Ryo Hatta (9)
  10. Ryosuke Noda (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

Pound-For-Pound
  1. Amanda Nunes (1)
  2. Jon Jones (2)
  3. Kamaru Usman (4)
  4. Valentina Shevchenko (5)
  5. Jan Błachowicz (6)
  6. Israel Adesanya (7)
  7. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (9)
  8. Alexander Volkanovski (10)
  9. Francis Ngannou (-)
  10. Deiveson Figueiredo (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Demetrious Johnson (3), Weili Zhang (8)

April had a major impact on the pound-for-pound top 10, as more than half the fighters were in action with varied results. At Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire continued his dominance at featherweight. He climbs to seventh in the rankings. At ONE on TNT I, Adriano Moraes knocked out Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who drops from the top 10 for the first time since this site’s inception. UFC 261 featured three title fights, and all affected fighters in the top 10. Welterweight king Kamaru Usman crushed Jorge Masvidal to earn the third spot. Former champ Rose Namajunas reclaimed her women’s strawweight belt and sent Weili Zhang out of the top 10. Finally, women’s flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko put on a show against former titleholder Jéssica Andrade to further cement her placement in the top five.


Editor’s Note: Fighters are eligible to be ranked if they have competed in the last 18 months. Any fighter that chooses to switch weight classes will be ranked in their previous weight class until they have competed twice in their new division. Fighters who announce their retirement will remain ranked for a period of six months following their final bout.