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What Do “Pound-for-Pound” Rankings Mean in the UFC? FAQ

Credit: UFC

As an MMA fan, you can often hear people using the term “pound-for-pound” rankings (also commonly referred to as P4P) and how important this list is to fighters as it defines their careers and legacies. But what do the UFC pound-for-pound rankings actually mean, and why do UFC fighters strive to be ranked on them?

UFC Pound-for-Pound Ranking (P4P) is a list of the 15 best overall fighters in the UFC who are currently active, regardless of their weight class.

P4P ranking takes into account different factors such as their records, accomplishments, and overall dominance in their respective weight divisions. Even if a fighter is not currently a champion, he or she can be on the P4P because the UFC recognizes them as one of the best in the UFC.

And there is so much to learn about this unique UFC ranking system. So keep reading because this article will explain everything you need to know about the P4P rankings and how this system works.

What Is the UFC Pound-for-Pound rankings?

UFC Pound-for-Pound (P4P) rankings list the current top 15 fighters regardless of their weight class, with the number one rank awarded to the best overall fighter.

P4P ranking system is a list that ranks the best fighters in the UFC based on subjective criteria. The fighters on the P4P list do not compete against each other to move up in the ranking, as they all compete in their respective weight divisions only. There are different P4P lists for men and women.

It is important to note that a fighter does not necessarily have to be a champion to be on the P4P ranking since the UFC considers the overall achievement of a fighter.

P4P rankings are determined by the panel of journalists and experts who use different criteria to vote and create the P4P list, and these criteria primarily focus on their individual accomplishments. This includes fighters’ win/lose record, finishing rate, quality of opponents, title defenses, and many others.

However, please keep in mind that this is only a general assumption. There are no strict criteria or rules the voting panel must adhere to, which is why the P4P system is often viewed as subjective and not absolute.

Still, the P4P list is important and has a big impact on fighters’ legacies because every UFC fighter wants to be recognized as the best, which is why every single athlete who wins the championship also sets their eye on taking the P4P number one spot.

When Did the UFC Start Using Pound-for-Pound Rankings?

The UFC officially introduced P4P rankings in its organization in July 2013. The initial version included a list of the top 10 fighters for each weight class and a pound-for-pound list of the top fighters regardless of their weight. But the list was expanded to the top 15 shortly after.

Beginning of July 2013, the very first UFC pound-for-pound list looked like this:

  • Anderson Silva
  • Jon Jones
  • Georges St-Pierre
  • Jose Aldo
  • Benson Henderson
  • Cain Velasquez
  • Dominick Cruz
  • Demetrious Johnson
  • Frankie Edgar
  • Dan Henderson

Other big MMA promotions would follow UFC’s examples and introduce their versions of rankings years later. ONE FC started ranking its fighters in 2020, while Bellator did it a year later, in 2021.

In the present day, credible media outlets such as ESPN, Sherdog, Fight Matrix, MMA Fighting, and Tapology also maintain their unofficial UFC P4P rankings.

It is worth mentioning that the concept of ranking the fighters first appeared in boxing when the famous “The Ring” magazine began naming the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers in 1989. The very first official pound-for-pound boxer was heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

Who Votes for UFC Pound-for-Pound Rankings?

The UFC P4P rankings are known to be determined by a panel of media members, experts, and analysts who cover the sport of MMA. This includes more than 20 journalists from countries where the sport of MMA is well-developed, such as the US, Russia, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Mexico. They work independently, meaning that the UFC is not allowed to influence their votes by any means.

Each member relies on their experience and knowledge to form an opinion on who they see as the best fighter of each division and P4P best fighters, and they have to provide their votes each week regardless if there was an event on Saturday or not. The UFC will then sum up all the votes and update the rankings each week.

Back in the day, the UFC was more transparent about the rankings, and you could find the names of people who had the right to vote on their official website. However, this is no longer the case, and no one really knows who these people are or exactly how many of them have the right to vote.

The panel is believed to include between 20 and 30 members from the MMA media, but the public doesn’t know what makes them qualified to vote.

The only information you can find on their website is the following statement:

The rankings panel is comprised of media members from the following outlets: KHON Honolulu, MMA Oddsbreaker, CFMU 93.3,, FightNews, Fight Network, Gazeta Esportiva, Cherokee Scout, Burbank Leader, MMA Weekly, KIOZ 105.3,, Wrestling Observer, Top Turtle Podcast, MMA Fight Radio, BoxeoMundial,, MMA Soldier, MMA NYTT, Blood & Sweat, Inside Fighting Radio

courtesy of UFC

Why Do Some Critics Have Problems with UFC P4P Rankings?

The UFC’s ranking system has faced some criticism over the years due to the following potential issues:.

Lack of Transparency

The process for selecting the panel of media members who vote in the rankings is not always transparent. Some critics believe that the lack of transparency can lead to questionable or biased votes and that outside influences can affect their decision-making.

The company was more transparent about the rankings back when the system was introduced in 2013, as you could see the most updated panelists’ names on their website. But this is no longer the case, and apart from the general statement, fans do not know exactly who the voting panelists actually are.

Lack of criteria

Another issue with the UFC ranking system is the lack of clear and consistent criteria for how panel members should rank fighters and deal with specific situations, as the system hasn’t really changed much since its introduction.

This lack of standardized criteria can lead to confusion and inconsistency in how fighters are ranked, which may result in unfair matchups or give fans wrong information on the fighters’ standings.

Fighters and fans may not always clearly understand why one fighter is ranked higher or lower than another, and the absence of specific guidelines can make the rankings seem irrelevant at times.

Critics argue that having well-defined and transparent criteria for evaluating fighters’ performances and achievements would go a long way in addressing this concern and improving the overall credibility of the ranking system. This would help panel members make more informed decisions, reduce subjectivity, and provide fighters and fans with a better understanding of how rankings are determined.

Lack of accountability

There is currently no established process for holding panel members accountable for their decisions, which is problematic for rankings. No independent oversight or governing body that monitors or reviews the decisions made by panel members, which means there is no way to address inconsistencies, biases, or errors in the rankings.

In cases where panel members make inaccurate or questionable rankings, there is no formal process for correcting or revising these rankings. This means that they can continue to make mistakes, which may have a big impact on fighters’ careers, without any consequences.

In an ideal ranking system, there would be mechanisms for accountability, such as regular reviews, standardized criteria, guidelines, or an independent body overseeing the process. These measures could help ensure that rankings are fair, accurate, and in the best interest of the sport and fighters.

What Is the Difference Between UFC P4P and UFC Ranking?

The UFC pound-for-pound rankings (P4P) and the official UFC rankings are two different ways of ranking fighters within the organization.

Only two separate pound-for-pound (P4P) rankings exist for men and women in the UFC. P4P ranking lists the top 15 active fighters in the UFC, regardless of their weight class. Fighters are ranked based on their dominance of their performance, title defenses, and records they hold rather than their success within a specific weight division. This means that P4P rankings do not reflect fighters’ current rankings within their respective weight classes.

On the other hand, the UFC official rankings are specific to each weight class. The UFC official rankings present the top 15 fighters in every weight class, from flyweight to heavyweight. The official rankings play a more direct role in matchmaking and title-shot opportunities. Fighters in higher positions in the official rankings are more likely to get title shots or face other top contenders in their weight division.

What Is the Difference Between P4P and GOAT?

“Pound-for-pound” (P4P) and “Greatest oAll Time” (G.O.A.T) are related concepts but have distinct meanings.

Former UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov is considered one of the G.O.A.T.
Credit: UFC

Pound-for-pound is a subjective ranking system that lists the best fighters at the moment, regardless of weight class. Several key factors determining the best P4P fighters are based on the fighter’s dominance, accomplishments, and records.

The term “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT) is more about a fighter’s historical significance and legacy. It aims to identify the most accomplished and influential fighter in the sport’s history.

The GOAT status is based on similar factors used in P4P, including accomplishments, titles, and dominance. But it also adds other factors such as popularity, their contribution to the sport, and cultural significance that extends beyond the fighter’s active career. This is why GOAT status is one of the most intensely debated topics among fans, pundits, and experts.

Is Fedor Emelianenko the MMA Heavyweight GOAT?

Who Are the Best P4P Fighters of All Time in UFC?

There have been many incredible fighters throughout the history of the UFC, each with their own unique accomplishments and contributions to the sport. When it comes to the best P4P list, the following fighters are considered amongst the greatest who have been on the P4P list.

  • Anderson Silva – held the UFC Middleweight Championship for a record-breaking 2,457 days and had a long reign as one of the most dominant fighters in the sport’s history.
  • Georges St-Pierre – is a two-division champion (welterweight and middleweight) and is known for his well-rounded skills and consistent success in the octagon.
  • Jon Jones – is considered one of the most talented fighters in MMA history. He is the former light heavyweight and heavyweight UFC champion with 11 successful title defenses. He also holds many other records, such as for the longest unbeaten streak, which stands at 19. 
  • Demetrious Johnson – is a former UFC and ONE FC Flyweight Champion and is widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters due to his exceptional technical skills and years of dominance. 
  • Amanda Nunes – is widely regarded as one of the greatest female fighters in MMA history. She is a two-division champion, holding titles in both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. Nunes is known for her striking power, technical skills, and her ability to finish fights. She has successfully defended her titles against some of the toughest opponents in women’s MMA and holds a record for most UFC wins in women’s history, most finishes, and for the longest combined title reign (3755 days). All of this makes her the greatest female UFC fighter of all time.

It’s important to note that opinions on the best pound-for-pound fighter may vary, and many other fighters have left their mark on the sport.