ESM’s Men’s UFC Pound-for-Pound rankings ahead of Saturday Night

One of the things that never seems to make sense to the world is the UFC rankings. If you go over to the UFC’s official rankings page, the pound for pound rankings make you scratch your head. At ESM, we have decided to throw our hat into the ring to create our own rankings that we will keep updated following every major UFC/MMA event.

Men’s Pound-For-Pound Rankings

  1. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC)
  2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0)
  3. Israel Adesanya (19-0)
  4. Kamaru Usman (16-1)
  5. Stipe Miocic (19-3)
  6. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)
  7. Alexander Volkanovski (21-1)
  8. Justin Gaethje (22-2)
  9. Conor McGregor (22-4)
  10. Francis Ngannou (15-3)

To me, Jon Jones is still the best to ever do it inside the octagon. In reality, the man is 28-0 just like Nurmagomedov but due to an elbow rule and a picogram, he’s got two blemishes on his record. Still when “Bones” is on his game, he’s the best in the world possessing elite skills in all aspects of MMA.

In comparison to the UFC‘s official rankings you’ll notice some differences. I personally left Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway outside of the top ten. Holloway is 1-2 in his last three fights which hurts his case. Poirier was a tough call, but I went with Gaethje and McGregor from that division. I think if Poirier were to rematch both men especially the new and improved Justin Gaethje, it could be a long night for him.

Francis Ngannou is the one who needs to be ranked higher in the UFC‘s rankings. The Predator is currently ranked 14th, but he belongs in the top ten. The most prolific knockout artist in UFC history is on a Mike Tyson like tear right now. His last four fights have gone a combined 2:42 against top heavyweight competition.

UFC 251’s Potential Impact

There are a couple of fights that will have an impact on the P4P UFC rankings this Saturday. The main event of the evening features Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). Masvidal has won three fights in a row, but if he’s able to defeat Usman, he will finally launch into the top ten pound for pound rankings. Usman will likely hold in the fourth spot with a win on Saturday night.

Alexander Volkanovski can jump in the rankings even more if he’s able to defeat Holloway for a second time. The Australian has won 18 fights in a row including all eight of his UFC fights. If he’s able to retain his title on Saturday night and do it impressively, you could make the argument that he belongs in the top five.

Holloway could get back into the top ten if he’s able to regain his title. 2019 was not a great year for the former champion losing two fights. However, the Blessed Era can make an emphatic return if he’s able to dethrone Vokanovski on Saturday night. Fight Island definitely has the potential to shake up our UFC men’s pound for pound rankings.

UFC: Max Holloway Questions Volkanovski’s Pre-Fight Talk

Dustin Poirier, UFC

There’s much anticipation for the UFC’s next numbered event, this one being held at Fight Island, and one fight that stands out from the rest of the card is Max Holloway versus Alexander Volkanovski.

There’s always a debate surrounding it when a champion loses and receives an immediate rematch, rather than other contenders getting a shot to take the belt, but few will contest that Holloway deserves this title shot – Holloway’s own run as featherweight champion was dominant, and his track record warrants the second shot at beating Volkanovski.

But if seeing if the former champion can get his belt back or not isn’t a good enough reason to pay attention to this fight, the potential rivalry between fighters may be. It looks like such a rivalry could be emerging based on the talk between Holloway and Volkanovski during the buildup to this matchup.

What have the fighters been saying?

“Did any of you guys interview him here? How’s he talking? Is he talking like a champion? At the end of the day, I feel like he’s attacking me. He called me out to fight. That (sounds like) something a challenger does, doesn’t it?” Holloway told MMA Junkie on Tuesday.

“He’s the one who’s been saying he’s got a chip on his shoulder about something. He’s ready to prove something,” Holloway continued.

Volkanovski is the current champion and undefeated in the UFC, but to say he has something to prove isn’t necessarily a stretch. Unlike Holloway, Volkanovski only entered the UFC in 2016. He has less total fights, and he has yet to defend the belt. In the eyes of many fans, Holloway is likely still the better fighter at featherweight.

There’s also an argument to be made that Volkanovski’s statements are pretty light, in UFC terms. In the same sport where brawls have happened due to pre-fight trash talk, and where it’s often considered a normal part of selling the fight, Volkanovski gave his opponent due respect despite showing confidence in his own skills.

“He’s a great fighter. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a fighter – so does my team,” Volkanovski said. But also claimed that his chances of finishing Holloway are a hundred percent.

Holloway had his own remarks

Holloway had his own opinions about Volkanovski’s remarks. According to him, the champion doesn’t have to make statements like these.

“If you believe you’re the champ, who are you trying to prove anything to? I’m not trying to prove anything to (anyone). I knew I was the champ. There are certain things, like the belt, that is for people to understand where I was coming from. At the end of the day, his interviews speak for themselves. You can go look and tell me any different,” Holloway said on Tuesday.

But at the end of the day, Holloway claims it’s just another fight. “I got five of those titles at home. They’re all in my closet… At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. The belt is the belt, like I said.”

UFC: Josh Emmett ready for the top five

Despite having one of the best performances of his UFC career, Josh Emmett (16-2) looked incredibly frustrated after his incredibly impressive victory on Saturday night. Not frustrated with the performance, but frustrated with all of the people who doubted him going into the fight. Admittedly, I was one of the pundits who predicted him to lose to Shane Burgos. Instead, Emmett put on the performance of his career on a likely torn ACL which was suffered seconds into the fight. With his performance Saturday, you can no longer deny that Emmett is truly one of the best featherweights in the UFC.

Frustrated with being the UFC’s Gatekeeper

“I can beat anyone in the world, so I hope tonight I can start to get some push. I hope the UFC can push me, build me up, do something for me, instead of just trying to keep me as a gatekeeper and just fight all these veterans and tough prospects and up-and-comers. It’s just so frustrating to me.” Emmett said to MMA Junkie after the fight. Emmett said in his post-fight interview that he was frustrated with being the “gatekeeper”, and that he wanted to move up in his career. After Saturday night, I don’t think you can deny the man any longer.

Top Five Options for Emmett

Obviously, we are going to have to see what the status is with Emmett’s knee. Let’s say the results come back better than expected, what’s next for Emmett? I think you would have to give Emmett someone who is in the top five of the UFC‘s featherweight division. All of the top six is currently booked, but I think I have a good fight for Emmett in his next fight. Realistically, I think a good fight for Emmett would be fighting the winner of the Calvin Kattar/Dan Ige fight which takes place on July 15th. Ideally if Kattar were to win in July, you could match Emmett up with Kattar with the winner looking to jump into a title eliminator fight.

Another fight that could make sense for Emmett is taking on the loser of the Holloway/Volkanovski UFC featherweight title fight. While it might not make sense at first, think about it. Whoever loses, unless they do the trilogy, is going to need a top ten opponent in their next fight. Emmett is looking for an opponent where he could show that he’s championship caliber. It could be a perfect matchup.

There are few possibilities, but there is no questioning the fact that Josh Emmett needs a top five opponent in his next fight. The man has paid his dues, and he’s proven to everyone that he’s more than just a one shot knockout artist.

Report: Zabit Magomedsharipov-Yair Rodriguez targeted for Aug. 29th

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

A big-time UFC featherweight contest that was originally scheduled two years ago, looks like it’s finally going to come together on the UFC‘s planned August 29th card. The contest would pair two top five featherweights against each other in Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2-1).

Zabit’s UFC Dominance

Since joining the UFC back in 2017, Magomedsharipov has been nothing short of dominant. The lengthy 6’1 featherweight holds a UFC record of 6-0. These days, the world of Russian MMA is on fire. You have the most dominant champion in the sport in Khabib Nurmagomedov, then you have Petr Yan who is getting ready to challenge for the bantamweight title, then there’s Zabit. Zabit is such a unique talent with a unique skillset especially for the 145 pound division. His last two fights were big step-ups in competition, and he passed those with flying colors. In his last fight, he defeated Calvin Kattar (21-4) back at UFC Fight Night 163. Kattar gave Zabit his toughest test yet, but the Russian was able to pull of the unanimous decision victory. This fight with Rodriguez was supposed to happen two years ago before an injury pulled Yair out of the fight. It will be very hard to deny Zabit of a title shot if he wins in August. We might have three Russian UFC champions by the end of this calendar year.

Rodriguez living up to his potential

Back in 2017, there might not have been a more exciting prospect in the UFC than Yair Rodriguez. “El Pantera” had highlight reel finishes over Andre Fili and UFC Hall of Famer, BJ Penn. He got his first real test against former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar. Rodriguez showed that he wasn’t quite ready for that step-up as Edgar completely dismantled Rodriguez. Doctors had to stop the fight after the second round. Injuries kept Rodriguez out of the UFC for over a year after that fight. Upon his return, he had an incredible come from behind knockout victory over Chan Sung Jung. Following that fight, he had a pair of fights with Jeremy Stephens. The first fight ended in fifteen seconds after Stephens was accidentally poked in the eye and couldn’t continue. In the second fight, Rodriguez showed just how dynamic he could be, beating Stephens by unanimous decision. For Rodriguez, this fight is his chance to really prove he’s finally arrived at the top of the sport. It would be hard to deny Rodriguez the title shot if he’s able to defeat Magomedsharipov. Jung is the other likely contender for a title shot if he’s able to defeat Brian Ortega, but with Rodriguez holding a knockout win over Jung, Rodriguez might be next in line.

UFC’s Featherweight Division

The UFC‘s featherweight division is heating up much like the bantamweight division. The UFC‘s lower weight classes (excluding flyweight) are so deep it’s crazy. Back at UFC 250, the bantamweights put on a show. We all know how insane the UFC’s lightweight division is, and now the featherweights are showing their strength. Next month on Fight Island, you have the title fight and rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway. Later this year we should see the “Korean Zombie” and Brian Ortega fight, and now it looks like were getting the Magomedsharipov-Rodriguez fight in August. It’s going to be an insane rest of the year for the UFC’s featherweight division.

UFC 251 adds Usman-Burns and Yan-Aldo title fights to stacked card

UFC President Dana White took to ESPN’s First Take this morning to announce three title fights for the upcoming July 11th on Fight Island.

It started to come out last night that the UFC was planning on booking the featherweight title rematch between Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) and Max Holloway (21-5) for UFC 251. It was rumored that they would be adding two more title fights, and White confirmed the news this morning.

Kamaru Usman & Gilbert Burns fight for the welterweight title

Kamaru Usman (16-1) will be defending his welterweight title against rising challenger, Gilbert Burns (19-3). There has been nobody in the MMA world hotter in the last 10 months than Burns. “Durinho” has looked like a completely different fighter since moving to the welterweight division. He’s 4-0 in the division with wins over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Gunner Nelson, and Alexey Kunchenko. The win over Woodley came less than two weeks ago. Burns completely dominated the former champion from bell to bell shutting Woodley out. Burns looks incredibly strong and fast at 170. His striking looks great, and everyone knows his ground game is world class. He poses a very big challenge for the champion.

All year long, welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, believed he would be fighting Jorge Masvidal in July. Those negotiations have fallen completely apart over the last few weeks. Usman will now shift his focus to his teammate, Burns. Usman will look to defend his welterweight title for this second time at UFC 251. Usman is coming off the two biggest wins in his career over Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington. Covington gave Usman a battle, but outside of that, the champion has completely dominated every opponent that has stepped across the octagon from him. I’m very interested to see this fight take place on Fight Island.

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title

The vacant bantamweight title will be up for grabs on Fight Island when Petr Yan (14-1) and Jose Aldo (28-6) go head to head. Since joining the UFC just under two years ago, Yan has looked completely dominant. He’s gone 6-0 with wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Jimmie Rivera, and John Dodson. Yan is a very strong bantamweight, and he has incredibly good striking skills. One of these two guys in this title fight doesn’t really deserve to be there, and it’s not Petr Yan.

Aldo really should not be fighting for the title at UFC 251. Aldo has lost two consecutive fights and he’s 0-1 in the division. Yes, many people believe he won his bantamweight debut against Marlon Moraes, but the only ones that matter didn’t think so. The only reason Aldo was getting a shot at the title was Henry Cejudo. When Cejudo was champion, he wanted to fight Aldo for legacy reasons. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Cejudo ended up fighting Dominick Cruz after Aldo was promised a title shot. Cejudo retired after defeating Cruz, and the UFC didn’t want to go back on their word to Aldo. With that in mind, the former featherweight king is getting his shot against arguably the best bantamweight in the world. This is a fight that is intriguing on a number of levels, and Aldo will look to become the eighth fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in two different weight classes.

Fight Island kicks off with a bang

UFC 251 is absolutely stacked. Fight Island, which we now know is in Abu Dhabi, has three title fights, and the card is filled with a number of incredible matchups up and down the card. This is one that all UFC fans should be pumped for. Yes, the card doesn’t feature the likes of a Conor McGregor, but if you’re a die-hard fight fan, this is the kind of card to die for.

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski & Max Holloway rematch targeted for UFC 251

The UFC is planning on putting together it’s biggest card of the year on July 11th, and we now know one of the title fights that Dana White is planning on bringing to Fight Island.

Volkanovski out to prove a point

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported Monday evening that the UFC is planning on having Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) and Max Holloway (21-5) run things back at UFC 251. Back at UFC 245, Volkanovski shocked the world when he dethroned Holloway. Volkanovski has been nothing short of dominant since he joined the UFC back in 2016. Since his debut, Volkanovski has gone 8-0 and owns victories over Holloway, Jose Aldo, and Chad Mendes. In this rematch, Volkanovski is looking to prove that his first victory over Holloway was not a fluke.

Holloway looks to win back the UFC featherweight title

Max Holloway had a rough 2019 after going on a five-year run that saw the former champion go 13-0. Holloway entered 2019 as one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world. He moved up in weight to fight Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236. He would lose that fight then return to featherweight where he successfully defended his title against Frankie Edgar. In December, Holloway was dethroned by Volkanovski which gave him a 1-2 record for 2019. Many consider Holloway to be the greatest featherweight of all-time, and he’s looking to prove that he’s still the best in the world on this trip to UFC‘s Fight Island.

The July 11th card is going to be stacked. Helwani reported that the UFC is considering having three title fights in total on the card. In addition to the title fights, the UFC has already booked: Andrade/Namajunas, Munhoz/Edgar, and Oezdemir/Prochazka. While the UFC might not have one of their biggest stars on this card, they are stacking the deck with some incredible fights.