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Ranking the World’s Greatest Fighters: Biggest Storylines from the MMA Fighting Global Rankings

Discover the biggest storylines from the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, including a new middleweight powerhouse, flyweights chaos, and the dawn of a new women’s bantamweight era.

Topic Summary
Middleweight division Dricus Du Plessis emerges as a force to be reckoned with at 185 pounds after defeating Robert Whittaker
Flyweights division Alexandre Pantoja’s win over Brandon Moreno leads to another change in the 125-pound title, with Demetrious Johnson reclaiming the top spot
Women’s bantamweight division Retirement of Amanda Nunes leaves the division in disarray, with Julianna Pena, Holly Holm, and Raquel Pennington contending for the crown

In the ever-shifting MMA landscape, ranking the world’s greatest fighters might seem like a fool’s errand, but that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do with the MMA Fighting Global Rankings. Here, our esteemed panel sorts out the movers and shakers from every division to provide you with the most definitive list of the best fighters on the planet. Let’s take a look at the biggest rankings storylines from this past cycle (May 8 – July 9).

A new middleweight powerhouse

The 185-pound division suddenly looks very, very different. More than half of MMA Fighting’s middleweight top 15 was active over the past two months, but no result was more consequential than the stunner that went down at UFC 290. By becoming the first middleweight not named Israel Adesanya to defeat Robert Whittaker since 2014 (and doing so in thunderous, absurdly decisive fashion), Dricus Du Plessis officially announced that he is a force to be reckoned with at 185 pounds. The South African fighter made one of the biggest leaps of this past rankings cycle, vaulting all the way up from No. 8 to No. 2. A showdown with Adesanya now awaits — and if UFC 290’s post-fight faceoff was any indication, this is a rivalry that could get very, very ugly.

Flyweights chaos

No men’s division over the past few years has been more volatile than the flyweights, and that held true once again. Alexandre Pantoja’s electrifying win over Brandon Moreno at UFC 290 marked the fourth consecutive time the UFC’s 125-pound title has changed hands without a single successful title defense, headlining a cycle of upheaval that also saw Amir Albazi shoot to contention with a controversial win over Kai Kara-France and UFC newcomer Stephen Erceg topple longtime veteran David Dvorak out of the rankings entirely. So where did all that chaos leave us? Yes, old faithful Demetrious Johnson once again claimed the top spot, reclaiming his crown as MMA Fighting’s No. 1 flyweight in light of Moreno’s loss. How long can “Mighty Mouse” hold the throne this time around?

Dawn of a new women’s bantamweight era

The retirement of the women’s GOAT has left the 135-pound division in a state of disarray. With Amanda Nunes sipping Mai Tais and counting her titles out there on some Florida beach, none among our eight-person voting panel seemingly knew what to do with women’s bantamweight. That led to three different contenders drawing consideration for the new crown: Former champs Julianna Pena (5 votes) and Holly Holm (2 votes), and one-time title challenger Raquel Pennington (1 vote) all received first-place ballots. When will that change? Until the UFC plots it out its next move for its inaugural female division, we may just be staring at the new normal in this strange post-Nunes world. Check out the complete July rankings update below.

Rank Fighter
1 Demetrious Johnson
2 Dricus Du Plessis
3 Israel Adesanya