Pound-for-pound rankings are always contentious. We have to consider how well a fighter would do if there were no weight classes, so pound-for-pound rankings are often judged on skill and strength of schedule. Long-time pound-for-pound kings include Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva.
In recent times MMA has gone back on the road and the UFC especially have visited the UK twice, both times with great success. Firstly, in March, headlined by Tom Aspinall and Alexander Volkov. With nine finishes, all of which secured performance of the night bonuses, the UFC had to return later in the year. July’s card was certainly a slower burner, however. Aspinall again headlined, however, this time he lost in just 15 seconds due to a knee injury. Fan favourites, Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett did pick up big wins, which were arguably the highlight of the card.
We can expect the UFC to return to the UK and can hope that Bellator and maybe even the PFL return to London again in the near future. We take a look at the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters from the UK.
Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Fighters from the UK
10 – Paul Craig
Scotland’s ‘Bearjew’, Paul Craig is not only a fan favourite but is also a dangerous fighter in the cage. With a record of 16-5, Craig is yet to win a decision during his career. All 16 of his wins have come via finish, 13 of which have come via submission. He’s a modern-day phenom as he constantly attempts to pull guard, unlike the majority of the UFC roster. At light heavyweight, Craig appeared to be on the cusp of a title eliminator last time out, however, he wasn’t able to get past former title challenger, Volkan Oezdimir. With that being said, there’s still one more run in the Scot yet.
9 – Michael Venom Page
The only Bellator fighter to feature on our pound-for-pound list is Michael Venom Page (MVP). The two-time Bellator title challenger has an incredible record of 20-2, with both of those losses coming in title fights. The karate style of Page isn’t often seen in MMA today due to its unusual nature and difficulty to perfect. But perfect is just what Page has achieved. Page holds 15 finish victories, including big wins over Douglas Lima and Paul Daley. He’s exciting, devastating and without a doubt, deserving of a place on our pound-for-pound list.
8 – Molly McCann
‘Meatball’ Molly McCann has had somewhat of a career resurgence in recent times. The ‘Next Generation MMA’ poster girl and poster girl for all things British MMA in recent times holds a UFC record of 6-3. Importantly, however, she’s enjoying a string of three victories, including (amazingly) two, back-to-back spinning back elbow finishes, both in London and both earning her a $50k bonus!
McCann is the former CageWarriors flyweight champion and is set to make her Madison Square Garden debut in November when she takes on a fellow prospect, Erin Blanchfield.
7 – Casey O’Neill
‘King’ Casey O’Neill is the second Scot and highest woman ranked on our pound-for-pound list. The undefeated Scot, who now fights out of Las Vegas via Australia is a dangerous prospect at 125lbs. The former Eternal MMA strawweight champion suffered a bad injury, keeping her out of action since February, however, prior to this, she dominated four straight fights. O’Neill finished three of her first three fights and then went the distance with the legendary, experienced, Roxanne Modafferi. As per her Instagram, O’Neill is targeting a March return.
6 – Darren Till
One of only two fighters on our pound-for-pound list who has competed at two-weights in the UFC, Darren Till has to make our list. Unfortunately for Till, he hasn’t been in good form. He hasn’t managed to stay injury free in recent years and therefore his career has become a little stagnant.
Prior to this, however, after an impressive run at welterweight, which saw him realise not only a title opportunity but also three main event slots. Following two finish losses back-to-back, Till moved up to middleweight and dispute winning his 185lbs debut, he has since suffered back-to-back losses to Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson. Against Brunson in particular, Till didn’t give a good showing of his true ability. He was injured going into that fight, however, and we hope that he can get fully fighting fit before his upcoming fight with Dricus Du Plessis.
5 – Nathaniel Wood
The other fighter to compete across two weight classes is Nathaniel Wood. The former bantamweight had a strong start to his UFC career, going 3-0 with three finishes. He entered the promotion with a lot of hype as he was the CageWarriors bantamweight champion, making two defences. Falling on slightly hard times in the UFC, Wood moved up to featherweight in July.
It was a brilliant career move for the London-based man. He fought Charles Rosa, who he dominated. His speed was simply too much, his skills were too sharp and his fight IQ was far higher than that of Rosa’s. He then returned a little over a month later to face the game, Charles Jourdain. Yet again, Wood was far too good for Jourdain and progressed to 2-0 in the UFC’s featherweight division. He’s one to keep an eye on at 145lbs.
4 – Brendan Loughnane
The PFL’s Brendan Loughnane has the chance in November to become the PFL 2022 featherweight champion and a millionaire. The Manchester-born featherweight was unable to gain a contract on the Contender Series, despite dominating, however, signed for the PFL and hasn’t looked back since. He’s gone 7-1 and entertained fans throughout his time under the PFL banner.
He’s got a tough test against Bubba Jenkins in November, however, he could potentially become one of Britain’s biggest names if he managed to pull off the victory.
3 – Arnold Allen
Arnold Allen isn’t spoken about enough as a top British fighter. Holding a phenomenal record of 18-1, Allen is enjoying an 11 fight winning run, including big wins over Gilbert Melendez, Sodiq Yusuff and most recently, Dan Hooker. Hooker was easily the biggest test of his career and he passed it with flying colours. Throwing caution to the wing (and throwing a number of huge shots), he TKO’d Hooker in just 2:33.
Allen is scheduled to clash with Calvin Kattar in his first main event on October 29th. A win over Kattar will certainly lead to either a title shot or at least a title eliminator.
2 – Tom Aspinall
Despite suffering his first UFC loss last time out, don’t let this take away from what Aspinall has already achieved in his short UFC career. Making his debut in July 2020, the Wigan-born man quickly progressed to 4-0 before main eventing for the first time. All of these wins came via finish and included names such as Jake Collier, Andrei Arlovski and Sergey Spivak.
His first main event came against the experienced, Alexander Volkov and many expected it to be a huge test for Aspinall. What played out, however, was pure dominance from the Brit. On the feet, in the clinch and on the ground, Aspinall was too much for the Russian and finished the fight in the first round.
Despite losing last time out, he hasn’t taken a huge step backwards in the rankings due to the nature of the loss. Hopefully, we’ll see Aspinall back soon and back in the title picture.
1 – Leon Edwards
‘Pound-for-pound, headshot, dead’. The words that were screamed by Leon Edwards moments after he knocked out the reigning UFC pound-for-pound king, Kamaru Usman. Edwards pulled off the biggest comeback of the year and arguably the biggest comeback in title fight history. After a strong showing in the first round, Usman dominated the Birmingham-based man for the middle three rounds and was seemingly cruising to victory. That was until Leon Edwards landed the head kick heard around the world, knocking Usman out instantly and bringing the belt back to the UK.
‘Rocky’ will inevitably rematch Usman again next and if he gets his hand raised again, there can be no doubting his pound-for-pound ranking.
Let us know who you think could be the next UK based MMA champion and of course, get the latest odds at Mr Spin Casino!