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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: Alex Pereira cracks Top 10 as Israel Adesanya's slide continues

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 11:  Alex Pereira of Brazil looks on prior to facing Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Newly crowned UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira has claimed Israel Adesanya's spot in the Yahoo Sports MMA pound-for-pound rankings. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Chris Unger via Getty Images)

There are so many good fighters in mixed martial arts right now that it’s hard to stop at 10 when making a pound-for-pound list. And because MMA long ago established that the best will almost always fight the best, one loss shouldn’t be a knockout.

And so I struggled with what to do with my final spot in the men’s Top 10. The choice came down to UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira, former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya — who has been a mainstay in the Yahoo Sports ranking of the world’s 10 best mixed martial artists — or Bellator bantamweight champion Patchy Mix.

Adesanya has lost two of his past three fights and three of his past seven, including his most recent one, when he was routed by Sean Strickland in a middleweight title bout at UFC 293 on Sept. 9. Mix has won six in a row to raise his career record to 19-1, but the most recent was the most impressive.

Mix won the bantamweight belt at Bellator 301 on Nov. 17, submitting Sergio Pettis at 1:51 of the second. Beating Pettis is a big deal and means something in this sport.

That win was Mix's sixth in a row since his only loss, to Juan Archuleta on Sept. 12, 2020, at Bellator 246. Since then, he has defeated Albert Morales, James Gallagher, Kyoji Horiguchi, Magomed Magomedov, Raufeon Stots and Pettis.

The wins over Stots and Pettis came in Bellator title fights.

Mix is a dynamic fighter who is at the peak of his career. He might well be the No. 1 bantamweight in the world, though UFC champion Sean O’Malley, among others, might have something to say about that.

And Pereira won his second UFC world title in just his seventh UFC bout. He defeated Adesanya at UFC 281 for the middleweight title, and then, after surrendering it back, he moved up to light heavyweight and defeated Jiri Prochazka for the belt at UFC 295 on Nov. 11 in New York.

In his seven UFC fights, he has four wins over former and future UFC champions: Adesanya, Sean Strickland, Jan Blachowicz and Prochazka.

It was difficult to drop Adesanya out of the rankings given his record, which includes victories over Pereira, Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum, Jared Cannonier, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva. It’s quite a record.

It was hard to bypass Mix, but then I checked Bellator’s own rankings, and he’s just ninth there. So I passed on Mix for the Top 10 and gave the final position to Pereira.

Men’s MMA pound-for-pound rankings as of Nov 27

1. Jon Jones (27-1), UFC heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 1.

2. Islam Makhachev (25-1), UFC lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 2.

3. Alexander Volkanovski (25-3), UFC featherweight champion. Previous Ranking: 3.

4. Leon Edwards (21-3), UFC welterweight champion. Previous Ranking: 4.

5. Khamzat Chimaev (13-0), UFC middleweight contender. Previous Ranking: 5.

6. Sean O’Malley (17-1), UFC bantamweight champion. Previous Ranking: 6.

7. Charles Oliveira (33-9), former UFC lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 7.

8. Kamaru Usman (20-4), former UFC welterweight champion. Previous Ranking: 8.

9. Justin Gaethje (25-4), UFC lightweight contender. Previous Ranking: 9.

10. Alex Pereira (9-2), UFC light heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: NR.

Women’s MMA pound-for-pound rankings as of Nov. 27

1. Julianna Peña (12-5), UFC bantamweight contender. Previous Ranking: 1.

2. Alexa Grasso (16-3), UFC flyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 2.

3. Valentina Shevchenko (23-4), former UFC flyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 3.

4. Zhang Weili (24-3), UFC strawweight champion. Previous Ranking: 4.

5. Cris "Cyborg" Justino (27-2), Bellator featherweight champion. Previous Ranking: 5.

6. Erin Blanchfield (11-1), UFC flyweight contender. Previous Ranking: 6.

7. Manon Fiorot (11-1), UFC flyweight contender. Previous Ranking: 7.

8. Tatiana Suarez (10-0), UFC strawweight contender. Previous Ranking: 8.

9. Raquel Pennington (15-8), UFC bantamweight contender. Previous Ranking: 9.

10. Larissa Pacheco (23-4), 2023 PFL lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 10.