MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Sean O’Malley vaults into elite company after UFC 299 win

Welcome to the latest update to the MMA Fighting pound-for-pound rankings, where every month our esteemed panel sort through the noise to answer one question: Who are the best overall male and female MMA fighters in the world?

Following a wild night at UFC 299, how have the rankings shaken up? Let’s take a look.

UFC 299: O’Malley v Vera 2

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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Is Sean O’Malley a top-10 fighter in the world?

That’s the question our team faced after the UFC bantamweight champion notched his first defense of the belt by racking up historic striking stats in a rout of Marlon Vera at UFC 299. O’Malley has been a curious case since his abrupt ascent because of the lack of top names on his résumé, but with a trio of impressive wins over Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Vera now lining his record, it appears he’s starting to turn our eight-person panel into believers.

Following his takeover of Miami this past Saturday, “The Sugar Show” vaulted into elite company, jumping into the pound-for-pound top 10 by settling into a tie at No. 9 with fellow UFC champion Dricus du Plessis. But how high can O’Malley climb? Whether he gets his wish and challenges Ilia Topuria (No. 5) or has to settle for Merab Dvalishvili (No. 18T), O’Malley’s next bout will come against another man ranked on the pound-for-pound list. That fight, more than any other, is likely to determine if O’Malley is here to stay as one of MMA’s top fighters or whether his time in the rankings will be a fleeting one.

As for what’s next, all eyes now turn to the UFC’s blockbuster tricentennial show on April 13. UFC 300’s lineup may have left some fans disappointed, but there’s no doubting the talent throughout the bill — a whooping five of our top-20 male fighters are set to compete, including No. 4 ranked Alex Pereira, who faces Jamahal Hill in the high-stakes main event.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 11 Sean O’Malley def. Marlon Vera

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 4 Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill (UFC 300, April 13), No. 6 Charles Oliveira vs. Arman Tsarukyan (UFC 300, April 13), No. 14T Justin Gaethje vs. No. 18T Max Holloway (UFC 300, April 13), No. 18T Aljamain Sterling vs. Calvin Kattar (UFC 300, April 13)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Kamaru Usman (4), Dustin Poirier (3), Johnny Eblen (3), Shavkat Rakhmonov (3), Patricio Pitbull (2), Jiri Prochazka (1), Brandon Moreno (1), Jan Blachowicz (1), Jamahal Hill (1), A.J. McKee (1), Belal Muhammad (1), Usman Nurmagomedov (1), Robert Whittaker (1), Vadim Nemkov (1), Arman Tsarukyan (1)

UFC 289 Ceremonial Weigh-in

Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

MMA Fighting

This month’s update of the women’s pound-for-pound ranks is more notable for who’s not here rather than who is. Yes, by surpassing the 18-month threshold for inactivity, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion and current No. 1 bantamweight contender Julianna Peña is no longer eligible to be ranked, thus forfeiting her No. 15 perch on the list.

Peña will surely reclaim her spot whenever she heals from her injuries and faces No. 9 ranked UFC champ Raquel Pennington in a grudge match that dates back to The Ultimate Fighter 18, but for now, our focus shifts forward to a loaded slate that sees a staggering eight of the top-20 women in MMA returning to the cage over the next four weeks.

Included among that group is pound-for-pound No. 1 Zhang Weili, who defends her UFC strawweight title in a historic battle against her Chinese countrywoman, No. 10 Yan Xiaonan, in the co-main event of UFC 300.

Recent results for ranked fighters (previous ranking shown): No. 20T Amanda Lemos def. Mackenzie Dern, No. 15 Julianna Peña removed for inactivity

Upcoming bouts featuring ranked fighters: No. 1 Zhang Weili vs. No. 10 Yan Xiaonan (UFC 300, April 13), No. 5 Erin Blanchfield vs. No. 8 Manon Fiorot (UFC Atlantic City, March 30), No. 14 Rose Namajunas vs. Amanda Ribas (UFC Vegas 88, March 23), No. 15 Jessica Andrade vs. Marina Rodriguez (UFC 300, April 13), No. 19 Kayla Harrison vs. No. 20T Holly Holm (UFC 300, April 13)

Fighters also receiving votes (number of ballot appearances shown): Maycee Barber (4),, Lauren Murphy (2), Ketlen Vieira (1), Natalia Silva (1), Irene Aldana (1), Virna Jandiroba (1), Marina Rodriguez (1), Josiane Nunes (1)

Lastly, a refresher on some ground rules:

  • The eight-person voting panel consists of MMA Fighting staffers Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Guilherme Cruz, Mike Heck, E. Casey Leydon, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin and Jed Meshew.
  • Updates to the rankings will be completed following every UFC pay-per-view. Fighters will be removed from the rankings if they do not compete within 18 months of their most recent bout.
  • Should a fighter announce their retirement, our panel will decide whether that fighter should immediately be removed from the rankings or maintain their position until further notice (let’s put it this way: we’d have taken Khabib Nurmagomedov out of our rankings a lot quicker than the UFC did).

As a reminder, the notion of pound-for-pound supremacy is always going to inherently be subjective. When you’re debating whether someone like Justin Gaethje should be ranked above someone like Max Holloway, there is no true right answer. In other words: It’s not serious business, folks.

Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Make your voice heard in the comments below.


Where should Sean O’Malley rank on the P4P list after UFC 299?

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