Magomed Ankalaev (second from right) (@ankalaev_magomed/Instagram page)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: April 2022

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. Ciryl Gane (3)
  3. Stipe Miocic (2)
  4. Tai Tuivasa (4)
  5. Curtis Blaydes (6)
  6. Derrick Lewis (5)
  7. Tom Aspinall (9)
  8. Alexander Volkov (7)
  9. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (8)
  10. Ryan Bader (10)

Two ranked UFC heavyweights made waves in their March appearances. Britain’s Tom Aspinall continued his steady climb toward a title shot with a submission victory over Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Aspinall. Aspinall locked in a straight armbar in the first round to finish his Russian counterpart. The win was the 28-year-old’s fifth straight inside the UFC’s Octagon and helps to boost Aspinall two spots to seventh in our poll. Meanwhile, established contender Curtis Blaydes played spoiler to Chris Daukaus in the headliner of UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus. Blaydes has now won six of his last seven outings. Despite a previous knockout loss to Derrick Lewis, our panel feels that Blaydes has surpassed Lewis in the pecking order at heavyweight. This is due to a 1-2 stretch for Lewis over his last three appearances.


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

In the titular battle of UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Ankalaev, Magomed Ankalaev outworked his Brazilian foe to take a five-round unanimous nod from the judges. The Russian jumps to seventh in our light-heavyweight poll.

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

There were no fighters in action during the month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Jorge Masvidal (10)

The feud between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal culminated in a unanimous-decision victory for Covington in the UFC 272 headliner. Covington knocks Masvidal outside of the welterweight top 10, which opens the door for Michael Chiesa, whose last two losses have come against ranked foes, to take over the No. 10 spot.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Dan Hooker (9)

Dan Hooker falls from our lightweight rankings after veering into the featherweight division, where he was overwhelmed by Arnold Allen. Arman Tsarukyan, who is fresh off a February victory over Joel Alvarez that upped his current winning streak to five fights, takes over the No. 10 spot. Meanwhile, former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos topped Renato Moicano on the scorecards in their UFC 272 showdown. While the bout took place at a catchweight of 160 pounds, our panel finds the Brazilian worthy of a bump into seventh in the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Josh Emmett (10)

Arnold Allen is the biggest mover in our featherweight poll. The Brit starched formerly ranked lightweight Daniel Hooker in just over half a round when the pair met at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Aspinall. Allen debuts at ninth in the rankings, which bumps Josh Emmett outside of the top 10.

  1. Petr Yan (1)
  2. Aljamain Sterling (2)
  3. T.J. Dillashaw (3)
  4. Cory Sandhagen (4)
  5. Adriano Moraes (5)
  6. José Aldo (6)
  7. Demetrious Johnson (7)
  8. Dominick Cruz (8)
  9. Rob Font (9)
  10. Sergio Pettis (10)

Adriano Moraes made another successful defense of his ONE Championship crown at ONE X. The Brazilian submitted Yuya Wakamatsu in the third round of their affair to retain the title. Moraes also maintains his hold on the No. 5 spot in our bantamweight poll. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was also in action at the same event, but he competed in a special-rules bout rather than an MMA match. After hanging with the Muay Thai practitioner in the striking-only first frame of the contest, Johnson used his MMA skill set to get the submission in the second stanza. The result has no impact on Mighty Mouse’s standing as our No. 7 bantamweight.

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

Dropped from the rankings: David Dvořák (10)

Kai Kara-France came through with what might be the month’s biggest shocker. At UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus, Kara-France defended well against the takedown attempts of Askar Askarov while also scoring on numerous occasions to rock the formerly undefeated Russian. His performance convinced the judges to unanimously award him the decision. The New Zealander vaults from seventh to third in the flyweight rankings. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Matheus Nicolau recorded his third-straight win over a borderline top-10 opponent when he decisioned David Dvořák at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus. Nicolau holds steady at No. 8 in our poll, while Dvořák exits the top 10 entirely. Dvořák’s departure opens the door for ONE champ Joshua Pacio to enter at No. 10.

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

Toshiya Takashima wasted little time en route to a submission victory over Tatsuki Ozaki at Pancrase 326. The 35-year-old Takashima sunk in a rear-naked choke in under two minutes and has now posted back-to-back wins since his loss to Ryosuke Noda last year. Takashima sits firmly at No. 5 in our strawweight poll, while Ozaki slides down two spots into tenth. Top strawweight Daichi Kitakata also competed in March, but his fight was contested at flyweight. Kitakata delivered a decision victory over Yutaro Muramoto in the pair’s RIZIN.34 match-up, and he now has an exhibition bout on the docket against Yoshiro Maeda at Maeda’s farewell show in April. His standing at the top of the rankings is not affected by those two affairs.

  1. Kamaru Usman (1)
  2. Valentina Shevchenko (2)
  3. Alexander Volkanovski (3)
  4. Rose Namajunas (4)
  5. Francis Ngannou (5)
  6. Charles Oliveira (6)
  7. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (7)
  8. Deiveson Figueiredo (8)
  9. Israel Adesanya (9)
  10. Glover Teixeira (10)

There were no fighters in action during the month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

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.