Few things lead to a more volatile conversation than discussing pound-for-pound rankings in combat sports.
For years, fanatics of the more seasoned combative sport — boxing — went back and forth on whether Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao was more deserving of the dignified list’s top spot. Twelve rounds of action (or lack thereof) showed us it belonged to “Money” and nobody else.
Around that same timeframe, mixed martial arts fans took to have a similar discussion, only they used names like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Fedor Emelianenko to make their arguments. Neither of those men squared off in any capacity, leaving fight fans stuck in yesteryear to go back and forth for the rest of their days.
But as careers begin to fade, the list changes. Neither Silva nor St-Pierre are anywhere near the UFC’s list these days. Champions like Jose Aldo, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Chris Weidman make up the top three. Until Jon Jones is officially reinstated to his throne, those three belong there.
Official UFC Pound-for-Pound Rankings
|1||Jose Aldo||9||Rafael dos Anjos|
|2||Demetrious Johnson||10||Cain Velasquez|
|3||Chris Weidman||11||Conor McGregor|
|4||Ronda Rousey||12||Frankie Edgar|
|5||T.J. Dillashaw||13||Anthony Pettis|
|6||Robbie Lawler||14||Joanna Jedrzejczyk|
|7||Daniel Cormier||15||Renan Barao|
Where we start having some serious contentions is at No. 4, as none other than UFC 193 headliner and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey makes her appearance on the list. Relatively speaking, the “Rowdy” one is one of the very best fighters in the world. But that relativity is hinged upon the fighters she shares the cage with, specifically — and unfortunately — the gender of fighters.
Offensive as it may be, the females of the sport are a ways away from matching the general level of talent that belongs to the men. Only that shouldn’t insight anger from any of you. Facts shouldn’t prompt yelling.
And listen, I enjoy Rousey’s dominance as much as the next fight fan; she’s a phenomenal talent to watch, and she’s bringing the sport to a level Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White could only dream of when they first entered discussions to purchase the Ultimate Fighting Championship over 20 years ago. But if you honestly believe she could defeat UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw — coincidentally the same weight as Rousey — inside the Octagon, you’re not being honest with yourself.
It isn’t fair to compare the most dominant females to the most dominant males in combat sports.
Mind you, this argument only employs the same logic that trumps scenarios pitting Mayweather and Rousey in a hypothetical matchup. It’s also the same mentality that undermines Fallon Fox — a transgender female — from competing in mixed martial arts against other female-born fighters. Men should not fight women, regardless of how much of how profitable an immoral venture it would prove to be between Rousey and Mayweather.
Separated by gender in competition, the same should be done on the pound-for-pound list.
Now, if you want to compare females of a different weight class on a hypothetical “official” pound-for-pound list, that’s fine. With that, we can finally reach our second contention with the list — a contention that can very easily insight argument.
Though her dominance has been short-lived in comparison to her bantamweight counterpart’s, Jedrzejczyk — pound-for-pound — is a better fighter than Rousey. The longer-reigning champion has more dominant performances against arguably better talent, but Jedrzejczyk has showcased a more dynamic skillset from day one.
From a striking standpoint, the two are incomparable as they come.
The stark differences may not have been prevalent to the mind’s eye considering Rousey’s last three outings lasted a combined 64 seconds, but she’s been known to get caught more often that she dodges punches. Again, Rousey’s a phenomenal athlete and stands as good of a chance as any fighter in history to have an undefeated career, but her footwork and basic boxing or kickboxing skills are nowhere near those of Jedrzejczyk.
Keen to a more vicious striking attack, herself, Jedrzejczyk boasts some of the best Muay Thai you’ll see in the Octagon these days. A former world kickboxing champion, Joanna Champion is poised to retain her surname so long as she retains her ability to keep the fight standing and unleash a world of hurt onto any woman brave enough to share a 750-square foot cage with her.
You may use Jedrzejczyk’s razor-thin victory over Claudia Gadelha at UFC on FOX 13 as a reason to doubt the strawweight’s claim to the female pound-for-pound throne, but you could also argue that none of the fighters inside Rousey’s bantamweight division possess the sort of dangers belonging to the Nova Uniao fighter.
With 20 pounds to hold her over Jedrzejczyk, Rousey is obviously more capable of landing the one-punch knockout, much like she did against Alexis Davis or Bethe Correia at UFC 175 and UFC 184, respectively. But when it comes to putting punches together and keeping your feet in position to create some forcefully damaging blows? Well, as Joanna Champion says it, she’s simply the best.
Obviously that only focuses on one aspect of the sport. The only other martial art we’re capable of considering (thanks to Rousey’s Instagram-worthy performances) is grappling, and you should be supremely confident in picking Rousey to win a hypothetical, but entirely implausible matchup if the two were to get tied up in any sort of manner.
But when it comes to closing the gap that exists between the male and female fighters of the sport, the latter should look no further than Jedrzejczyk as a prime example of what can be accomplished.
Jedrzejczyk’s proven herself capable of defending takedowns and even getting back up and fighting on her feet; Rousey’s yet to show us (to no fault of her own) what happens when the confidence of a guaranteed hip toss is no longer at her disposal. Because the everlasting fear of being put on one’s back and having their arm ripped off goes a long way in impairing a fighter’s ability to properly defend themselves while standing on two feet.
Two fighters of a different division boasting a variety of skills, fingers crossed we get more tape to work with come UFC 193, when Rousey defends her title against Holly Holm and Jedrzejczyk does the same against Valerie Letourneau.