Anytime the UFC comes to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, fighting fans around the world know that they are in for a wild night. UFC 276 saw two bonafide superstars in Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski defend their crowns, and the rise of a formidable middleweight contender in Alex Pereira.
Adesanya and Volkanovski are at the top of the food chain. “The Last Stylebender” proved in a decisive victory against Jared Cannonier that he is the best in the world at what he does, even if his calculated approach does not wow and amaze. And “The Great” featherweight champion picked apart the venerable Max Holloway for 25 minutes, staking his claim in fighting immortality.
With UFC’s biggest event of the summer in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the best men’s pound-for-pound fighters in the Octagon.
1. Israel Adesanya – Middleweight champion (23-1)
Whether you like him or you hate him, there is no denying Israel Adesanya’s brilliance in the Octagon.
The middleweight champion is one of the UFC’s mainstay attractions and a singular personality that deserves to be in the main event spotlight for future title defenses. No one in the middleweight division has proven that they can come close to taking the title away from him.
Fans may not appreciate Adesanya’s stalking nature in the Octagon, but until someone can give him a competitive fight, he remains on top.
2. Alexander Volkanovski – Featherweight champion (24-1)
When you leave Max Holloway with a crimson mask, you know you have turned in a stunning performance. Volkanovski was faster, sharper, and just flat out better than one of the most talented boxers in the UFC. “The Great” has turned in four straight title defenses and is riding a 12-fight win streak. There is no doubt that he can break Jose Aldo’s division record of seven title defenses
3. Kamaru Usman – Welterweight champion (20-1)
The top three are pretty interchangeable. Adesanya, Volkanovski, and Usman are all in a different stratosphere. They are the yardsticks in the UFC.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” is an all-time great. He has not lost in the UFC and may never go down. Usman has beaten Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington twice, and Gilbert Burns. Next up is Leon Edwards to challenge for the welterweight belt at UFC 278 in August.
4. Charles Oliveira – Lightweight (33-8)
If a fighter was to be sculpted out of granite, he would look like Oliveira. The former lightweight champion destroyed Justin Gaethje, submitted Dustin Poirier, and shut down Michael Chandler within the past year. He has the most submission wins in UFC history (16) and the most finishes (19). Does a bout with Conor McGregor loom in the distance?
5. Francis Ngannou – Heavyweight champion (16-3)
Ngannou is not a friendly human being. He is a straight-up killer, the most dominant force in a division filled with brutes and bashers. “The Predator” overcame a debilitating knee injury and defeated rising star Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, but the wear and tear on his body may be catching up.
6. Deiveson Figueiredo – Flyweight champion (21-2-1)
The flyweight champion is 34, but age is no match. Figueirdo looked spectacular in his trilogy fight against Brandon Moreno to win back the belt, reminding fighting fans that he is here to stay. Hand injuries have kept the champion out, so it remains to be seen who he will face next.
7. Aljamain Sterling – Bantamweight champion (21-3)
Sterling is the best bantamweight in the world. Petr Yan damaged the “Funk Master,” but his otherworldly wrestling put him over the top.