USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, March 31: Is lightweight getting a new look?

Pound For Pound Rankings

Jones is one of the greatest fighters of all time, and though he was pushed to the limit by Dominick Reyes, he retained his belt and now returns to the top of MMA Junkie’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Cormier admits he shied from the gameplan at UFC 241, and it cost him dearly in a loss to Stipe Miocic. Now, at age 41, Cormier has decided to give it one more go against Miocic before calling it a career.

Adesanya got to add Yoel Romero to his list of career victories, even if it wasn’t exactly a thrilling affair, and it appears the undefeated Paulo Costa is up next.

Bader’s heavyweight title defense with Cheick Kongo ended in rather odd fashion, but now it’s back to light heavyweight to defend that belt.

Miocic had to wait more than a year to get his rematch with Daniel Cormier, but he made the opportunity count, gutting through some tough rounds early to score a late knockout and reclaim the UFC title.

Following an emotional build-up to a grudge match with Colby Covington, Usman was brilliant, notching the first defense of his UFC welterweight title.

Volkanovski has said from the beginning that he deserved to be considered among the world’s best, and now he is, cracking the pound-for-pound list for the first time.

Holloway is considered an all-time great, but a pair of losses in 2019 leaves ‘Blessed’ in a position to think about exactly what he wants to do next.

Whittaker’s recent journey has been full of challenges, but at just 29, he promises there are still plenty of good days ahead.

Woodley saw his title taken from Kamaru Usman in what was an admittedly bad performance but hopes to work his way back to another shot at the belt.

Honorable Mentions

USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, March 31: Is lightweight getting a new look?

If one thing is certain right now, it’s that nothing is certain.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on every aspect of the world’s global operations, and the sporting world is no different. Both the UFC and Bellator have canceled events, and the PFL has been forced to delay its 2020 season. Next up on the chopping block is a long-awaited UFC lightweight title fight between current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson.

Ranked in the top two slots of the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA lightweight rankings, the two were expected to face off at UFC 249 on April 18, but that card taking place anywhere in the world seems like anything but a guarantee, even as UFC president Dana White does his best to try and keep it together. Nurmagomedov is currently in Russia, where he faces an international travel ban that could keep him in the country.

And, of course, White hasn’t even announced if he has a location for the card secured.

No. 4 Justin Gaethje has been mentioned as a possible replacement opponent for Ferguson, but “The Highlight” has often mentioned his disdain for taking short-notice fights, and he’s been linked to a summer fight with No. 5 Conor McGregor, as well.

No. 3 Dustin Poirier has also mentioned his willingness to step up on short notice, but he’s been expected to face No. 7 Dan Hooker on May 16 in California – of course, assuming that fight card still takes place, as well.

In the meantime, No. 6 Charles Oliveira is due for a big fight after his recent win over Kevin Lee – the main event of a March 14 card in Brasilia that, right now registers “Do Bronx” as the last UFC fighter to pick up a win in the octagon.

And, of course, if there was ever a fighter that would be willing to fight during a global pandemic, perhaps on an aircraft carrier out in international waters or maybe in a C-17 flying a few miles up over the Earth’s surface, No. 7 Donald Cerrone probably knows a guy.

In other words, much like everything else in our world, who really knows what’s going to happen next? While we wait, check out the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, which, for now, look a lot like last week’s rankings, as well.

Ranking Criteria

The rankings take into account a fighter’s wins/losses, quality of competition, finishing rate/dominance and frequency of fights.

Fighters are no longer eligible to be ranked after they’ve been inactive for 24 months, either due to injuries, drug/conduct suspensions, contract disputes or self-imposed hiatuses.

Fighters serving drug/conduct suspensions are eligible to be ranked, so long as they’re not inactive for more than 24 months.

To the best of our ability, fighters will be ranked in their primary weight class. Catchweight fights and bouts outside the fighter’s primary weight class can have a positive or negative impact on the ranking. However, non-titleholders can be ranked in only one weight class at a given time, and in most cases, they won’t be ranked in a new weight class until they’ve had their first fight at that weight.