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The Ringer MMA June Pound-for-Pound Rankings

Amanda Nunes puts up one last dominant performance before calling it a career, and Charles Oliveira makes his case for a spot in the men’s top 10

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The no. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the women’s MMA ranks showed why she is the clear-cut GOAT this weekend, when she destroyed Irene Aldana over the course of 25 minutes. It was a quintessential Amanda Nunes performance, in that the bantamweight champion showed just how large the gap is between herself and the rest of the field by dominating the exchanges (landing over 100 more significant strikes than Aldana) and taking the fight to the ground whenever she felt like it.

Though her performance wasn’t all that surprising, what she did right after was. With her child in the cage with her, Nunes laid down her two belts and her gloves on Saturday night and announced her retirement. Much like Georges St-Pierre, who walked away from the UFC at the top of the game, Nunes, who is 35, became one of the rare champions who decided to get out while still at the peak of their powers.

What did that mean in the short term? Well, it meant that two highly invested spectators sitting cage-side at UFC 289 in Vancouver had to take a hard swallow. Julianna Peña, who momentarily took Nunes’s belt in 2021 only to lose it to Nunes seven months later, will never get that rubber match (which is particularly tough given that it was supposed to be Peña facing Nunes on Saturday night before a rib injury forced Peña out). Former flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko also won’t get a trilogy fight with Nunes, to whom she lost a pair of fights a few years back.

Yet that’s just the immediate fallout. Nunes has solidified herself as the undisputed queen of women’s MMA, and it’ll be hard for anybody to top her run. She went 16-2 since coming over from Strikeforce a full decade ago. She won both the bantamweight and featherweight titles, beating every champion and contender who might’ve wandered into the GOAT conversation at their best. Ronda Rousey. Holly Holm. Cris Cyborg. Shevchenko. She went through all of them.

Which brings us to this month’s rankings.

The panel of Chuck Mindenhall, Ariel Helwani, Petesy Carroll, and producer Troy Farkas—known as 3PAC on The Ringer MMA Show—have ranked both the men’s and women’s P4P best, one through 10.

Our only criterion for these monthly rankings is that a fighter has competed within at least a calendar year of the publication date, or has at least had a fight booked within that window. That is why you will not see Cris Cyborg (who last fought in April 2022) or Taila Santos (who last fought in June 2022) on this latest women’s P4P list.

Though most of the best fighters are currently in the UFC, these rankings are not UFC exclusive. We take into consideration all the major promotions, from Bellator to ONE Championship to the PFL.

Without further ado, the Ringer MMA P4P Rankings for June.

Men’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Jon Jones

UFC Heavyweight Champion
Last month: no. 1

Jones is once again in the catbird seat, and he’s enjoying the hell out of his newfound status as the baddest man on the planet. While Dana White insists that erstwhile UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou would stand little chance against a colossus like Jones, shouting matches have ensued about who the baddest man on the planet really is. Jones is naturally at the center of all these arguments. Can the UFC actually coax boxing’s own Tyson Fury into the Octagon for a shot at Jones, as Dana White mentioned at a recent media conference? Lol. That ain’t gonna happen, but who needs Fury when you’ve got Stipe Miocic out there?

2A. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC Featherweight Champion
Last month: no. 2A

If anything, Volkanovski is enjoying this little period before his July 8 unification title bout against Yair Rodríguez. For starters, his Denver Nuggets (and good friend Jamal Murray) just won the NBA Finals, which is a nice development. Better yet, he’s getting closer to eliminating the bad taste left in his mouth after he lost his historic bid for a second title against Islam Makhachev. The nice thing for Volk is that if retains his featherweight title, there are plenty of big fights out there for him. Every contender within earshot of 145 pounds wants to test themselves against Alexander the Great.

2B. Islam Makhachev

UFC Lightweight Champion
Last month: no. 2B

With Dana White’s vagueness heading in, UFC 289 was set up as a kind of abstract lottery to see who might challenge Makhachev next for the lightweight title. Charles Oliveira, who lost that title to Makhachev last October in Abu Dhabi, made his case for a rematch by wrecking Beneil Dariush in the first round. With that performance, it looks like the rematch could return to the scene of the crime—Abu Dhabi. Once again in October. What does Makhachev think about having to beat Oliveira again? Eh. He tweeted, “Congrats Charles. But still there’s levels in this game,” with a little smiling emoji in sunglasses right after UFC 289. In other words, he seems confident.

4. Israel Adesanya

UFC Middleweight Champion
Last month: no. 4

Life has been eventful for Adesanya since he recaptured his middleweight title against archnemesis Alex Pereira. Not only has he slipped comfortably back into kingpin status as one of the greatest middleweights of all time, but a new documentary about his life called Stylebender just debuted this week at the Tribeca Film Festival to favorable reviews. Nobody is as equipped to handle success as Izzy. Even better, it looks like he’ll know who his next opponent will be soon, as Dana White has dubbed the Robert Whittaker–Dricus du Plessis fight at UFC 290 in July a title eliminator. Progress!

5. Leon Edwards

UFC Welterweight Champion
Last month: no. 5

Belal Muhammad did the UFC a solid by stepping up on short notice to fight Gilbert Burns at UFC 288, hoping to solidify himself as the next contender for Edwards’s welterweight title. He won the fight, upping his unbeaten streak to 10. There is some talk about Edwards defending the welterweight title in Abu Dhabi in October, yet—unless the UFC is swayed by the Muhammad camp, which is lobbying for him to receive the next shot—the sharp money says Colby Covington will be the guy. Covington has the credentials, going 2-2 in his last four fights, with his last two victories coming against now-retired fighters, and … actually, sorry, Colby doesn’t have the credentials at all. But the UFC loves him. And so the guess here is that he’ll face Edwards this fall.

6. Aljamain Sterling

UFC Bantamweight Champion
Last month: no. 6

Sterling is quietly going about his business and defending the bantamweight title against divisional monsters (Petr Yan), former champions (T.J. Dillashaw), and a two-division champion (Henry Cejudo). Does he get the respect he deserves? Hell no. If Conor McGregor had the exact same credentials, MMA fans would be in the Black Hills of South Dakota chipping away at Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore to make room for his Irish mug. Sterling has learned to harness the power of that chip on his shoulder, which promises to get only heavier as he heads into his next title defense at UFC 292 against Sean O’Malley in Boston. The discrepancy in respect here will be laughable. O’Malley has been a UFC darling for the last few years, and Sterling is the thriving stepchild.

7A. Kamaru Usman

Former UFC Welterweight Champion
Last month: no. 7A

What’s out there for Usman, the longtime welterweight king who has back-to-back losses against Leon Edwards? Well, as a guest star in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, he’s got some hookups in Hollywood. But the competitor in him is just as alive as it has always been, as evidenced by his recent callout of Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev is the one dude nobody wants to face, which tells me that Usman has zero fucks left to give. Other names Usman has mentioned as possible opponents are Stephen Thompson and Conor McGregor. Hey, dream big or go home.

7B. Charles Oliveira

Former UFC Lightweight Champion
Last month: no. 7B

Just when you think Oliveira might be hitting the downslope in his career, he shows up and smokes a contender on an eight-fight win streak. Oliveira submitted Beneil Dariush in the first round at UFC 289 for his record 20th UFC finish and then proceeded to celebrate for the next 15 minutes like a man exonerated from a damning crime. After losing a match for the vacated lightweight title to Islam Makhachev last October, you had to wonder what form he would return in, and to see him flash his vintage self yet again was all Dana White and Co. needed to give him the pole position for the rematch. The end result? Oliveira’s perseverance has turned him into one of the biggest stars in the UFC. Did you see that pop he received in Canada? He is MMA’s folk hero.

9. Demetrious Johnson

ONE Championship Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 9

Johnson has always been more of a combat delicacy, the kind of fighter whom snobs, hipsters, and aficionados like to talk about over a couple of craft beers. For the casual audience, it’s been a little more of a slog to enjoy what Johnson does. Nothing’s really changed with Mighty Mouse now that he’s kicking ass with ONE Championship, but it was cool to see him compete in the promotion’s first big stateside affair last month in Colorado. DJ did what he always does: He made the guy in front of him look outwitted and overmatched. By defeating Adriano Moraes via unanimous decision, Johnson put an exclamation mark on the rubber match, and now—with thoughts of retirement floating around in his head—it’s a game of wait-and-see-what-happens-next.

10. Brandon Moreno

UFC Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 10

As one of Mexico’s best and most celebrated stars fighting in the UFC, it’s only fitting that Moreno gets a showcase at this year’s International Fight Week in July. It’s not all that common for a champion to seek revenge against a challenger who beat him in the past, but that’s where we are at heading into UFC 290. Alexandre Pantoja beat Moreno on the scorecards five years ago when both guys were trying to make a name for themselves. This time, the stakes are far bigger, and Moreno’s fan base has multiplied a dozen times.

Others receiving votes: Alex Pereira, Max Holloway

Voting Results

Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
1. Jon Jones 1. Jon Jones 1. Jon Jones 1. Jon Jones
2. Islam Makhachev 2. Alexander Volkanovski 2. Islam Makhachev 2. Alexander Volkanovski
3. Alexander Volkanovski 3. Islam Makhachev 3. Alexander Volkanovski 3. Islam Makhachev
4. Israel Adesanya 4. Leon Edwards 4. Israel Adesanya 4. Israel Adesanya
5. Leon Edwards 5. Israel Adesanya 5. Aljamain Sterling 5. Aljamain Sterling
6. Aljamain Sterling 6. Aljamain Sterling 6. Leon Edwards 6. Leon Edwards
7. Charles Oliveira 7. Demetrious Johnson 7. Charles Oliveira 7. Kamaru Usman
8. Kamaru Usman 8. Kamaru Usman 8. Kamaru Usman 8. Demetrious Johnson
9. Brandon Moreno 9. Max Holloway 9. Alex Pereira 9. Charles Oliveira
10. Demetrious Johnson 10. Charles Oliveira 10. Brandon Moreno 10. Brandon Moreno

Women’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion
Last month: no. 1

It was the great “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler who said, “It’s tough to get out of bed and do roadwork at 5 a.m. when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas,” and honestly, that was the only reason to doubt Nunes heading into UFC 289. She had been on top so long, absorbing every superlative lobbed her way, winning every belt she’d been eligible to fight for, and waltzing through the most prominent names across the women’s division. How can she stay hungry? The desire to go out on top must’ve been the motivation. She beat Irene Aldana so impressively that it was hard for the most active imaginations to sense any danger coming her way. It was one hell of a career, and she remains the gold standard to which all others will compare themselves.

2. Zhang Weili

UFC Strawweight Champion
Last month: no. 2

With Amanda Nunes retiring this weekend, an interesting question was brought up on The Ringer MMA Show: With Nunes out of the picture, who will be the face of women’s MMA? That question is a valid one. With Valentina Shevchenko losing her belt to Alexa Grasso, some of the shine has come off of the Bullet. Ronda Rousey? Long gone. Holly Holm? Too far along. Rose Namajunas was tabbed as the next big thing back in the day, but with her indefinite leave, that feels like a long shot. The answer might be China’s own Zhang Weili. There are a billion reasons to believe it, and if she gets by Amanda Lemos at UFC 292 in August out in Boston, that’ll make it a billion and one.

3. Alexa Grasso

UFC Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 3

You beat a long-standing champion, and the burden immediately becomes the need to do it again. Grasso’s shocking victory over Valentina Shevchenko can’t be considered a fluke; she had her way early in the fight before getting the submission later in the fourth round. If history has shown us anything in the UFC, it’s that tenured champions who have attempted to get their belts back have failed to do so more often than not. Is this a true sea change at flyweight? If so, Grasso is 29 years old and in her prime, so it’s best to expect that she’s capable of big, big things.

4. Valentina Shevchenko

Former UFC Flyweight Champion
Last month: no. 4

Shevchenko was in Vancouver to watch Nunes do her business, and the crowd let out a tremendous roar when they showed Shevchenko on the jumbotron. Fanfare isn’t a problem for her, but—at 35—age just might be an issue, especially when you consider that Shevchenko has been competing since she was a child. And even if age isn’t a problem, Grasso certainly is. It wasn’t a one-sided fight from the jump for Shevchenko. Grasso was very competitive early and (especially) late. If there was an ounce of complacency for Shevchenko heading into the first fight, there won’t be in the rematch.

5. Carla Esparza

Former UFC Strawweight Champion
Last month: no. 5

Losing her title to Zhang Weili hurt, but Esparza—a veteran of the game —didn’t get too down. In fact, life has swooped in to put her focus in a different direction. Esparza announced in March that she’s expecting her first child, and she won’t make a return to MMA until sometime in 2024. When she does come back, it’s guaranteed the landscape will have changed enough for her to jump right back in as a contender.

6. Erin Blanchfield

UFC Flyweight Contender
Last month: no. 6B

These are exciting times to be a blazing-hot 24-year-old upstart in the UFC. After Blanchfield beat a dangerous eleventh-hour replacement in Jéssica Andrade with relative ease, the question was no longer whether Blanchfield would fight for a title, but when. With Shevchenko and Grasso set to rematch, it wouldn’t be surprising for Blanchfield to enter that scenario as the emergency backup. Nor would it be altogether surprising if Blanchfield decided to make a move up to bantamweight, especially if the UFC was interested in having her fight for the vacant title against Julianna Peña. Even if she needs to fight a name like Manon Fiorot to stay busy, you get the feeling Blanchfield would look at it as a lion would look at a cut of steak.

7. Julianna Peña

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion
Last month: no. 6A

Nobody outside of Irene Aldana lost more in the UFC 289 main event than Peña, who was supposed to have—and was still hoping for—a trilogy fight with Amanda Nunes. It’s unfortunate luck for the Venezuelan Vixen. The last couple of years for Peña have been dedicated to that rivalry. After all, she demanded the fight in the first place as a top-five contender and—while pundits snickered at her chances—pulled off the upset of 2021. The victory lap Peña took was epic; she showed up at everything from red-carpet events to the front row of every UFC event in the U.S., smiling for cameras with her belt. Then she lost it back to Nunes, who retired as champion. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that the UFC loves Peña, and she’s the most obvious bantamweight to plug into a fight for the vacant title.

8. Yan Xiaonan

UFC Strawweight Contender
Last month: no. 8

There was a quick minute there, right after Xiaonan blasted through Jéssica Andrade, when every armchair matchmaker across the globe started penciling her in for a strawweight title fight against her Chinese counterpart, Zhang Weili, preferably in a big city in mainland China like Beijing. Dana White and the actual UFC matchmakers let all of that go in one ear and out the other, instead awarding a very credible Amanda Lemos the title shot. Where does that leave Xiaonan? It would seem smart to wait out the winner, given the magnitude of a potential all-China battle. But if the UFC comes at her with an offer to fight a beast like Tatiana Suarez, she should run the other way.

9. Manon Fiorot

UFC Flyweight Contender
Last month: no. 9

You’ve got to hand it to Fiorot. Earlier this spring, she started poking the bear a little bit, tossing Erin Blanchfield’s name out there as a possible opponent. Some might see that as a bad decision, but the French fighter just wants to make herself undeniable for a title shot. Why not? She has won all five of her fights in the UFC and hasn’t lost overall since her MMA debut back in 2018. The only problem is that Grasso and Shevchenko will fight again, meaning—unless circumstances break in unforeseen ways—she might need to go through one last person before she gets there. Taila Santos may be a good option for a title eliminator.

10. Larissa Pacheco

PFL Featherweight Contender
Last month: Not ranked

People scoffed at Pacheco’s chances when she was booked for the third time against the juggernaut judoka Kayla Harrison in the 2022 lightweight tourney. And, to be fair, after she lost twice to Harrison in particularly uninspiring ways in 2019, who could’ve foreseen that the Brazilian would show up for the trilogy like a gunslinging banshee last November? Harrison’s first loss in MMA was revelatory (not to mention extra painful for television executives working with the PFL), but it was also a good reminder not to take anything for granted in a sport that deals in chaos. If people weren’t talking about Pacheco before, they should be now.

Others receiving votes: Jéssica Andrade, Amanda Lemos

Voting Results

Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
Troy Farkas Ariel Helwani Petesy Carroll Chuck Mindenhall
1. Amanda Nunes 1. Amanda Nunes 1. Amanda Nunes 1. Amanda Nunes
2. Valentina Shevchenko 2. Zhang Weili 2. Zhang Weili 2. Zhang Weili
3. Zhang Weili 3. Alexa Grasso 3. Alexa Grasso 3. Alexa Grasso
4. Alexa Grasso 4. Valentina Shevchenko 4. Valentina Shevchenko 4. Valentina Shevchenko
5. Julianna Peña 5. Carla Esparza 5. Carla Esparza 5. Erin Blanchfield
6. Carla Esparza 6. Erin Blanchfield 6. Julianna Peña 6. Carla Esparza
7. Erin Blanchfield 7. Julianna Peña 7. Manon Fiorot 7. Yan Xiaonan
8. Yan Xiaonan 8. Yan Xiaonan 8. Erin Blanchfield 8. Manon Fiorot
9. Manon Fiorot 9. Jéssica Andrade 9. Yan Xiaonan 9. Julianna Peña
10. Larissa Pacheco 10. Larissa Pacheco 10. Amanda Lemos 10. Larissa Pacheco