MMA rankings are a constantly shifting landscape, as hot new fighters rise and aging legends retire. Fighters can put together nearly unstoppable win streaks, then seemingly never recover from a devastating loss – or spend a long time-fighting in the mid-cards, then be suddenly propelled into stardom in a few high-profile victories.
It’s a bit like playing the It’s Time!!! MMA-inspired online slot machine (available on Casumo, which you can click here to check out) – a fighter’s win or loss streak can be changed in just a few (gloved) hands. So let’s take a look at some of the current top fighters, and where they stand in the all-time rankings.
Jon Jones’s career has been one mired in controversies and legal matters, which splits fan opinions over his all-time ranking. Some would say he is, in fact, the GOAT or has shown GOAT potential, while others point at the three separate suspensions throughout his career, two of those involving USADA violations.
Since returning in 2018, Jon Jones has put together an impressive three victories and two title defenses over Alexander Gustaffson, Anthony Smith, and Thiago Santos. The UFC has Jon Jones as their current pound-for-pound #1 fighter, which some say should belong to the next person on this list.
If Jon Jones continues testing clean and putting together victories, it could be difficult to deny him the pound-for-pound GOAT status, though he’s one of the all-time greats.
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov currently holds 28 wins and 0 losses, which gives him the current record of the longest active win-streak in MMA. With a strong wrestling style and quiet personality, he remained somewhat unknown to more casual, mainstream MMA fans, until he certifiably mauled Conor McGregor at UFC 229 for the lightweight championship. The UFC currently ranks him as the #2 pound-for-pound fighter.
Based on win/loss record alone, many claim Khabib should hold the pound-for-pound #1 ranking, but others point to his wrestling style and “humble” pre-fight personality as holding him back from true mainstream appeal. However, he certainly caught attention defeating McGregor and then leaping off the octagon cage to brawl with McGregor’s cornerman Dillon Danis, which erupted into a brawl between both fighter’s corner teams.
Khabib will face Tony Ferguson in a long-awaited matchup at UFC 249 in April 2020, and if Khabib wins a matchup of this calibre, he argues for replacing Jones as the pound-for-pound #1 fighter.
Jose Aldo was once called the “greatest featherweight in MMA history” by Sherdog, after an 18-fight win streak and 9 title defenses. However, after losing the belt to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in 2015, José Aldo has hardly bounced back from that defeat. He’s won only three of his last 7 fights after McGregor, though Aldo himself claims he has seven years of fighting left in his career.
For his 10-year win streak, many fans still place him on their personal GOAT lists, alongside other fighters who had amazing careers that eventually declined, like Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva.
While many credit Ronda Rousey with taking women’s MMA to the mainstream level, there are two names in female MMA that were on everybody’s lips as possible GOAT contenders in the female division – Amanda Nunes and Cris ‘Cyborg’. Amanda Nunes put that debate to rest with a stunning first-round KO win over Cyborg at UFC 232.
This propelled her into current GOAT-status for the female division in many minds, which the UFC agrees with. Since defeating Cyborg, she has defended her title against Holly Holmes and Germaine de Randamie, and so she seems pretty unstoppable for the foreseeable future. Some say a rematch with Cyborg could go differently, but wouldn’t bet their house on it.
The rankings of all-time heavyweight greats are hotly debatable, but most would agree that Stipe Miocic deserves to be in the list of top-5 heavyweight GOAT contenders. With victories over legends like Overeem, Junior Dos Santos, and Daniel Cormier, he’s certainly high on the list.
It’s a widely-held opinion that the UFC’s heavyweight division has had a very thin roster for some years, so it may be difficult to consider Stipe Miocic as the absolute GOAT of the MMA heavyweight world unless the UFC acquires more heavyweight talent for Stipe to defeat.
Currently ranked #3 in the UFC welterweight rankings, Masvidal holds the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history, putting down Ben Askren with a flying knee only 5 seconds into their UFC 239 matchup. He then defeated Nate Diaz after a somewhat controversial doctor stoppage.
Since the ship seems to have ultimately sailed for a Diaz – McGregor trilogy fight, many are wondering if Masvidal could fight McGregor next. McGregor has been out of the octagon since his loss to Khabib in 2018, but a return fight against Masvidal could make sense. A rematch with Diaz also makes sense, as does a title fight against current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Any way you slice it, Masvidal certainly has his options for high-profile fights, and he’s in a position to cement his current status as one of the best welterweights in the UFC.