Kamaru Usman (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: December 2021

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.

  1. Francis Ngannou (1)
  2. Stipe Miocic (2)
  3. Ciryl Gane (3)
  4. Derrick Lewis (4)
  5. Curtis Blaydes (5)
  6. Alexander Volkov (6)
  7. Chris Daukaus (-)
  8. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (7)
  9. Tom Aspinall (-)
  10. Junior dos Santos (9)

Dropped from the rankings: Alistair Overeem (8), Augusto Sakai (10)


There were no fighters in action during the month of November, but we have added new writers to our rankings panel, which leads to a shuffling in the bottom half of the heavyweight rankings. Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai depart the top 10. Rising stars Chris Daukaus and Tom Aspinall make their first appearances in our rankings.

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

Our revamped panel leads to only one change in the 205-pound division, which had no fighter in action in November. The panel boosts Jiří Procházka ahead of Corey Anderson and into the No. 3 spot.

  1. Israel Adesanya (1)
  2. Robert Whittaker (2)
  3. Marvin Vettori (5)
  4. Jared Cannonier (4)
  5. Paulo Costa (3)
  6. Derek Brunson (7)
  7. Jack Hermansson (6)
  8. Gegard Mousasi (8)
  9. Sean Strickland (-)
  10. Darren Till (9)

Dropped from the rankings: Kelvin Gastelum (10)

Marvin Vettori climbs to third as a result of his victory over Paulo Costa in October. Meanwhile, our revamped panel has seen it fit to reward Sean Strickland with a spot in the top 10. Strickland, who has a five-fight winning streak dating back to 2018, debuts in ninth and causes Kelvin Gastelum to fall from the rankings.

  1. Kamaru Usman (1)
  2. Colby Covington (3)
  3. Gilbert Burns (2)
  4. Leon Edwards (4)
  5. Vicente Luque (6)
  6. Stephen Thompson (5)
  7. Yaroslav Amosov (8)
  8. Sean Brady (-)
  9. Michael Chiesa (7)
  10. Jorge Masvidal (9)

Dropped from the rankings: Belal Muhammad (10)

The rematch nearly two years in the making between UFC welterweight kingpin Kamaru Usman and the polarizing challenger Colby Covington took place at UFC 268. Covington made it to the final bell this time around — he was knocked out in the fifth round of their first encounter — but the result still favored Usman. “The Nigerian Nightmare” solidifies his spot atop the division with the victory. The revamped panel also rewards Covington with a slight uptick to second. Covington’s only two recent losses have come to Usman. Meanwhile, a new name enters the mix this month. Philadelphia’s Sean Brady remains undefeated following a decision nod over Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs. Tate. Brady secures the No. 8 spot in our poll with the victory, while Chiesa slides to ninth. Brady’s entry also bumps Belal Muhammad from the top 10.

  1. Charles Oliveira (1)
  2. Dustin Poirier (2)
  3. Justin Gaethje (3)
  4. Michael Chandler (5)
  5. Islam Makhachev (8)
  6. Beneil Dariush (6)
  7. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (4)
  8. Rafael dos Anjos (10)
  9. Dan Hooker (9)
  10. Conor McGregor (7)

The highly anticipated UFC 268 lightweight clash between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler delivered. Gaethje was able to get the better of the former Bellator champion to claim a hard-fought unanimous-decision victory. Despite Chandler’s loss, the revamped panel gives him a slight bump into the No. 4 spot. These changes cause a reshuffling of the bottom half of the lightweight top 10.

  1. Alex Volkanovski (1)
  2. Max Holloway (2)
  3. A.J. McKee (4)
  4. Yair Rodriguez (7)
  5. Brian Ortega (3)
  6. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (5)
  7. Giga Chikadze (8)
  8. Chan Sung Jung (6)
  9. Calvin Kattar (10)
  10. Dan Ige (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Edson Barboza (9)

Max Holloway reminded everyone that he’s still one of the best featherweights in the world when he outworked Yair Rodriguez in the headlining affair of UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodriguez. Holloway had his hand raised when the scorecards were read. While Holloway retains his hold on the No. 2 spot, Rodriguez jumps up to fourth with his performance, even in defeat. The revamped panel leads to some shuffling in the bottom half of the top 10, including the addition of Dan Ige, who bumps Edson Barboza from the rankings.

  1. Petr Yan (1)
  2. Aljamain Sterling (2)
  3. T.J. Dillashaw (3)
  4. Cory Sandhagen (4)
  5. Adriano Moraes (6)
  6. Rob Font (-)
  7. José Aldo (5)
  8. Demetrious Johnson (7)
  9. Kyoji Horiguchi (9)
  10. Merab Dvalishvili (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Frankie Edgar (8), Pedro Munhoz (10)

Frankie Edgar’s time in the bantamweight top 10 comes to an end courtesy of Marlon Vera. Vera landed a front kick that dropped Edgar in the pair’s UFC 268 affair. While the knockout was enough to bump Edgar from the rankings, it was not sufficient to gain Vera entry into the top 10. The revamped panel instead grants new top-10 berths to Rob Font — yes, in advance of his upcoming fight with José Aldo — and Merab Dvalishvili. The latter’s entry bumps Pedro Munhoz from the rankings.

  1. Brandon Moreno (1)
  2. Deiveson Figueiredo (2)
  3. Askar Askarov (3)
  4. Alexandre Pantoja (4)
  5. Alex Perez (5)
  6. Brandon Royval (7)
  7. Kai Kara-France (8)
  8. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (6)
  9. Rogério Bontorin (10)
  10. Matheus Nicolau (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Joshua Pacio (9)

The revamped panel returns Matheus Nicolau to the flyweight top 10 at the expense of former No. 9 Joshua Pacio.

  1. Namiki Kawahara (1)
  2. Gexi Sanlang (3)
  3. Keito Yamakita (4)
  4. Ryosuke Noda (5)
  5. Toshiya Takashima (6)
  6. Yuta Miyazawa (7)
  7. Ryo Hatta (8)
  8. Tatsuki Ozaki (9)
  9. Billy Pasulatan (10)
  10. Shuto Aki (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Haruo Ochi (2)

The biggest change to the strawweight poll is the removal of Haruo Ochi. The former second-ranked fighter has competed at flyweight in his last two appearances, the most recent of which came in November when he took a decision nod over Tatsuya So at RIZIN.32. Ochi therefore exits the 115-pound rankings, which opens the door for Shuto Aki to enter in the No. 10 hole. Former top strawweight Jarred Brooks made his debut for ONE Championship with a submission win over Lito Adiwang in November. However, despite the fight’s billing as a strawweight contest, ONE’s unique weigh-in rules mean Brooks technically fought as a flyweight and is ineligible for a return to our strawweight rankings.

  1. Amanda Nunes (1)
  2. Kamaru Usman (3)
  3. Valentina Shevchenko (2)
  4. Alexander Volkanovski (4)
  5. Francis Ngannou (5)
  6. Rose Namajunas (7)
  7. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (6)
  8. Brandon Moreno (8)
  9. Charles Oliveira (9)
  10. Israel Adesanya (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Weili Zhang (10)

Kamaru Usman’s second victory over Colby Covington allows him to climb into second in our pound-for-pound poll. The revamped panel also sees fit to bring Israel Adesanya back into the top 10, which causes Weili Zhang to depart the rankings.

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.