With the latest UFC rankings being released, there appears to be a slight change at the top of the coveted pound-for-pound rankings. Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski have swapped places at 2 and 3, following their recent championship rematch at UFC 294.
That is all good and well. But the question many are now wondering is: Why has Islam Makhachev not been thrust straight to the top spot, above Jon Jones?
Jones Above Makhachev?
Don’t get me wrong, Jon Jones is perhaps the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts. But that has no bearing on what the Dagestani lightweight champion has been able to accomplish, particularly in the time that Jones has been inactive. The bulk of Makhachev’s recent run has come during Jones’ 3-year absence from the UFC. As great as the world heavyweight champion has been, the lightweight champion has simply been far busier and just as effective as what we have seen from Jon at heavyweight.
In regards to Jon’s recent hiatus from the sport, he has competed just once since February 2020. Meanwhile, the #2 pound-for-pound fighter, Makhachev, has competed seven times in that span. Activity must play a factor when you’re talking about the absolute top fighter in the world. If Jones had at least a few bouts in that time, it would perhaps be a different story. But his unbelievable resume of years past can only take him so far in today’s current timeline. The dispatching of Ciryl Gane and the manner in which he did it were no doubt impressive. But I don’t think it holds a candle to what Makhachev has done recently.
Makhachev’s Latest Run
For many years, there was a stigma around Islam Makhachev, pertaining to his quality of opposition. Many were quick to bring up the fact that he had never beaten any fighters of note. I debated for many years that he indeed defeated many quality opponents, just not fighters that were widely known to the mainstream.
Well, that tune has certainly changed in recent years. In Islam’s last three fights alone, he managed to take out perhaps the greatest featherweight in UFC history twice and one of the greatest lightweights in UFC history. The book on Islam’s strength of schedule has been slammed shut, to say the least.
Speaking of the Alexander Volkanovski fight, I think it is important to ask… What are the criteria for this pound-for-pound list?
Beating another guy in the top 3 of those same rankings should be a major factor when determining the top spot. Makhachev just beat Volkanovski, who was number 2 on the list. Where was Cirly Gane ranked on the pound-for-pound list when Jones beat him? I doubt he was even in those rankings at all. So Islam has the better quality of wins, at least the same amount of dominance, and far more activity. Yet, Jon takes the top spot. Even as a massive supporter of Jon Jones, I just don’t get this one.
Well, the rankings seem to be determined by a voting panel consisting of media members. The list is not determined by the UFC, its athletes, or anyone of real prominence as far as critiquing the fighters. Therefore, it makes me wonder why the fighters get so emotional about it, given the people voting on it. Why should they care? Also, why should media members get to determine who the best fighter is? It seems to be one of the many things in place that make no sense for the UFC.
Jones & Makhachev’s Latest Exchange
Prior to Makhachev’s rematch with Volkanovski, he questioned Jon’s position at the top of the pound-for-pound list to media members. The heavyweight champion, Jones, decided to take the high road in this instance and wish Makhachev, “all the best.”
It was a good sight to see for the man who was set to take on Stipe Miocic in November, but had to pull out due to a recent pectoral injury. Regardless of where Makhachev appears on the list, he is certainly leaving quite a legacy for himself. Something Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov would be happy to see.
Who do you think should be ranked #1 on the P4P list? Let us know in the comments below.