UFC Rankings update: January 2020

WITH two memorable pay-per-view cards marking the end of 2019 and start of the new year respectively, there have been plenty of movers and sliders in the Official UFC Rankings. A raft of up-and-comers have staked their claims for top-10 status, while others have found homes in new divisions, with the promotion also introducing a new pound-for-pound system which splits the men’s and women’s rankings. The full, updated list of UFC rankings can be found here, and the new pound-for-pound format, here.

HEAVYWEIGHT

Derrick Lewis -1 [6]

There was plenty of potential for movement among the heavyweights as two top-fivers went to war in the UFC Raleigh main event, but both Curtis Blaydes [3] and Junior dos Santos [4] maintain their spots after the American’s TKO victory. Derrick Lewis, who is set to face the unranked Illir Latifi at UFC 247, has now been officially moved down to number six after previously being ranked equal-fifth alongside Jairzinho Rozenstruik. With the title picture remaining murky, this could be a division to watch in 2020 despite early stalling.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Volkan Oezdemir +1 [7]
Alexander Gustafsson -1 [8]

A rather uneventful month for the light heavyweights, but that could soon all change as Jon Jones takes on Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 for the world title. Latifi could move out of the rankings upon his heavyweight debut on the same card, while Corey Anderson [5] fights Jan Blachowicz [6] in a possible title eliminator, and former title challenger Anthony Smith [3] makes his return against veteran Glover Teixeira [9]. The only change comes as Volkan Oezdemir swaps places with the questionably retired Alexander Gustafsson to slot into rank number seven.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

Omari Akhmedov +1 [12]
Ian Heinisch -1 [13]

Another division with seemingly not much happening over the last month, but plenty to occur over the next few. The only ranking change sees Omari Akhmedov [12] swap places with Ian Heinisch [13] after defeating the American in their December bout, but all eyes will be on shuffling at the top end. Champion Israel Adesanya gets his wish in a match-up with former challenger Yoel Romero at UFC 248, while Derek Brunson [8] will look to shake the gatekeeper tag when he meets undefeated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan [9] on the same card. Former champion Robert Whittaker has left Jared Cannonier [4] without an opponent on the night, with potential fill-in, Darren Till [5] remaining on the sidelines alongside worthy number one contender, Paulo Costa. Plenty to play out here, it should be a big year at 185lbs.

WELTERWEIGHT

Michael Chiesa NR [7]
Rafael dos Anjos -3 [8]
Anthony Pettis -2 [13]
Conor McGregor NR [15]
Neil Magny NR

Division-shifters defined much of the movement at 170lbs, with Conor McGregor‘s statement-making return helping him debut at number 14 in the welterweight rankings, since moving down to 15 with Neil Magny omitted. Another to do so was Michael Chiesa, who beat-out perennial contender and fellow former lightweight Rafael dos Anjos via decision to slot in at number seven. ‘RDA’ slid down three spots to be eighth-ranked, while Anthony Pettis – another former 155lbs champion – moved down two spots following his loss at UFC 246. The top of the tree is set to shake as Jorge Masvidal [3] jockeys for a fight against champion Kamaru Usman, while Tyron Woodley [1] and Leon Edwards [4] are set to meet in London for a bout which could decide the next number one contender.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Justin Gaethje -1 [4]
Diego Ferreira NR [11]
Anthony Pettis NR

It took a sixth-consecutive win, but Diego Ferreira finally cracked the lightweight rankings with his well-constructed submission victory over former champion, Anthony Pettis. The impressive performance puts him in at number 11, while also seeing Pettis removed from the rankings altogether. A touch further up the order, and Conor McGregor has taken sole ownership of the number three spot after formerly sharing it with Justin Gaethje, with the two likely to face each other next for the number one contender spot. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is booked to finally face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, while Paul Felder [6] and Dan Hooker [7] make up another lightweight main event in their Auckland fight night headliner, and Kevin Lee [8] takes on the dangerous Charles Oliveira [13].

FEATHERWEIGHT

Calvin Kattar +1 [10]
Jose Aldo -2 [11]
Sodiq Yusuff NR [14]
Arnold Allen NR [15]
Mirsad Bektic NR

A couple of exciting contenders have fought their way into the featherweight rankings, with ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff and Arnold Allen respectively taking up the last two spots after impressive decision wins this month. While Contender Series alum Yusuff debuts at number 14, Allen’s return to the 15th spot sees Mirsad Bektic lose his ranked status. Elsewhere, some shuffling sees Calvin Kattar move up into tenth spot, while former champion Jose Aldo slides to number 11 as he pushes for a bantamweight title shot despite losing via decision in his last bout. There may not be much movement at the top with injuries impacting almost all of the top five, including the champion, but there are obvious match-ups to make in time.

BANTAMWEIGHT

Jose Aldo +1 [7]
Jimmie Rivera -1 [8]
Song Yadong +1 [12]
John Dodson -1 [13]

It has been a rather subdued month or two among the ranked bantamweights, with only a couple of minor shuffles helping to better set the scene for likely future bouts. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo looks poised to be next in line for a bantamweight title shot with Henry Cejudo also pushing for the bout to go ahead. Thus, Aldo moves up to number seven and pushes Jimmie Rivera down to eighth, making the gap a touch more respectable. Chinese youngster Song Yadong has also moved up a spot to number 12, ahead of John Dodson [13] in a random move, with much of the division appearing a touch stagnant. Hopefully some movement from the champion gets things going.

FLYWEIGHT

Askar Askarov +6 [12]
Alex Perez +3 [9]
Tim Elliott -3 [11]
Ryan Benoit NR

A pair of rising contenders made statements over the last month to push their case in the flyweight rankings, with Askar Askarov and Alex Perez both breaking into the division’s top 10. Askarov defeated former title challenger and TUF alum Tim Elliott [11] to soar up to number six, while Perez shot up to number nine after defeating the now-twelfth-ranked Jordan Espinosa. Somewhat bizarrely, only 14 men make up the flyweight rankings as Ryan Benoit has been cut from his post at number 15, and the upcoming removal of Henry Cejudo as champion could further shorten the roster. They are great to watch, so hopefully the crowning of a new champion and those rising contenders can revitalise the division.

W. BANTAMWEIGHT

Holly Holm +1 [2]
Sara McMann +1 [9]

Another division with a lack of clarity at the top is that of the women’s bantamweights, with a fresh and truly deserving number one contender remaining out of sight. Holly Holm, a former champion and challenger, put up her hand with a dominant decision victory at UFC 246 to swap once again into second spot in front of Aspen Ladd, while Irene Aldana‘s rise into the top five makes her a possible future challenger. Further down the list, Sara McMann jumped into ninth spot upon a victorious return to action, pushing Marion Reneau down to tenth, with not a whole lot of action set to come.

W. FLYWEIGHT

Antonina Shevchenko +1 [11]
Poliana Botelho NR [15]
Paige VanZant NR

The women’s flyweight division is set to heat up in 2020, with contenders shifting up the order in anticipation of February’s title bout. Roxanne Modafferi halted the run of one of those, Maycee Barber [9], to rightfully take up rank number five, while movement down the order is also worth note. Antonina Shevchenko [11] swaps with Montana de la Rosa [12], while Paige VanZant has been removed from the rankings following her injury and bout cancellation. Poliana Botelho takes up her spot at number 15, and former strawweight Alexa Grasso could be another to slot into the numbers after declaring she would be moving up to 125lbs.

W. STRAWWEIGHT

The top end of the women’s strawweight division looks ridiculously good, and is set for a shake-up in the upcoming months with four of the top five fighters set to face off. There has been no movement as of late, or as of yet, but Alexa Grasso looks likely to be removed from the rankings once she completes a move up to flyweight after having her bout with Claudia Gadelha cancelled due to weight-cutting issues.

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