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Ilia Topuria upsets balance of power in UFC's featherweight division

Ilia Topuria, right, found his target at UFC 298: Alexander Volkanovski's chin and the featherweight title. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Alexander Volkanovski had held his UFC championship through more than twice as many title defenses as any other current champ. His reign at men's featherweight extended all the way back to 2019, when he dethroned Max Holloway. Volkanovski went on to defeat Holloway, an all-time great, two more times, and he fended off challenges by Yair Rodriguez, Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung.

Over time, it began to appear that Volkanovski was unbeatable at 145 pounds.

Then, at UFC 298 last weekend, Ilia Topuria didn't merely beat Volkanovski, he knocked him out in the second round to take away the title.

The undefeated 27-year-old from Spain now sits atop the men's featherweight top 10 in the latest ESPN divisional rankings.

That is the only major change in the latest update to Brett Okamoto's rankings. There's a small flip-flop at light heavyweight, and a new entry at the bottom of the middleweight top 10. But the story of these rankings is the change in power at 145 pounds.

For the ESPN pound-for-pound MMA rankings, click here. For a list of current UFC champions in all weight classes, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Feb. 21. To be eligible for the rankings, a fighter must have competed over the past 12 months or must have an upcoming fight booked. Fighters who have been dropped for inactivity can be reinstated only after they compete.

Heavyweight - Light heavyweight - Middleweight - Welterweight
Lightweight - Men's featherweight - Men's bantamweight
Men's flyweight - Women's bantamweight - Women's flyweight - Strawweight

HEAVYWEIGHT (up to 265 pounds)

1. Tom Aspinall

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-3
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Sergei Pavlovich, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Jon Jones

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 27-1, 1 NC
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Ciryl Gane, March 4, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Sergei Pavlovich

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-2
Last: L (TKO1) vs. Tom Aspinall, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Ciryl Gane

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Serghei Spivac, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Curtis Blaydes

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4, 1 NC
Last: L (TKO1) vs. Sergei Pavlovich, April 22, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Jailton Almeida


6. Alexander Volkov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 37-10
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Tai Tuivasa, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Tai Tuivasa

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-6
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Alexander Volkov, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: March 16 vs. Marcin Tybura


8. Jailton Almeida

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Derrick Lewis, Nov. 4, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Curtis Blaydes


9. Serghei Spivac

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-4
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Ciryl Gane, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Ryan Bader

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 31-7, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Fedor Emelianenko, Feb. 4, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Renan Ferreira


LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (up to 205 pounds)

1. Alex Pereira

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 9-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Jirí Procházka, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Jamahal Hill


2. Jirí Procházka

Promotion: UFC
Record: 29-4-1
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Alex Pereira, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Aleksandar Rakic


3. Magomed Ankalaev

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 19-1-1
Last: W (KO2) vs. Johnny Walker, Jan. 13, 2024
Next: TBD


4. Jan Blachowicz

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 29-10-1
Last: L (SD) vs. Alex Pereira, July 29, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Vadim Nemkov

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 17-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Yoel Romero, June 16, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Bruno Cappelozza


6. Corey Anderson

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 17-6, 1 NC
Last: W (SD) vs. Phil Davis, June 16, 2023
Next: March 22 vs. Karl Moore


7. Nikita Krylov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 30-9
Last: W (Sub1) vs. Ryan Spann, March 11, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Khalil Rountree Jr.

Promotion: UFC
Record: 37-19
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Anthony Smith, Dec. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Johnny Walker

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-8
Last: L (KO2) vs. Magomed Ankalaev, Jan. 13, 2024
Next: TBD


10. Anthony Smith

Promotion: UFC
Record: 37-19
Last: L (TKO3) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr., Dec. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


MIDDLEWEIGHT (up to 185 pounds)

1. Dricus du Plessis

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 21-2
Last: W (SD) vs. Sean Strickland, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


2. Israel Adesanya

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-3
Last: L (UD) vs. Sean Strickland, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Robert Whittaker

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-7
Last: W (UD) vs. Paulo Costa, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


4. Jared Cannonier

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-6
Last: W (UD) vs. Marvin Vettori, June 17, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Sean Strickland

Promotion: UFC
Record: 28-6
Last: L (SD) vs. Dricus Du Plessis, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


6. Marvin Vettori

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-7-1
Last: L (UD) vs. Jared Cannonier, June 17, 2023
Next: April 6 vs. Brendan Allen


7. Johnny Eblen

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 14-0
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Fabian Edwards, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Impa Kasanganay


8. Khamzat Chimaev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-0
Last: W (MD) vs. Kamaru Usman, Oct. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Brendan Allen

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-5
Last: W (Sub3) vs. Paul Craig, Nov. 18, 2023
Next: April 6 vs. Marvin Vettori


10. Jack Hermansson

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 24-8
Last: W (UD) vs. Joe Pyfer, Feb. 10, 2024
Next: TBD


WELTERWEIGHT (up to 170 pounds)

1. Leon Edwards

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 22-3, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Colby Covington, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Kamaru Usman

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-4
Last: L (MD) vs. Khamzat Chimaev, Oct. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Belal Muhammad

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-3, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) vs. Gilbert Burns, May 6, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-0
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Stephen Thompson, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Khamzat Chimaev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-0
Last: W (MD) vs. Kamaru Usman, Oct. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Gilbert Burns

Promotion: UFC
Record: 22-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Belal Muhammad, May 6, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Jack Della Maddalena


7. Colby Covington

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4
Last: L (UD) vs. Leon Edwards, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Jason Jackson

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 17-4
Last: W (KO3) vs. Yaroslav Amosov, Nov. 17, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Ray Cooper III


9. Stephen Thompson

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-6-1
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Geoff Neal

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-6
Last: L (SD) vs. Ian Garry, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


LIGHTWEIGHT (up to 155 pounds)

1. Islam Makhachev

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 25-1
Last: W (KO1) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, Oct. 21, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Charles Oliveira

Promotion: UFC
Record: 34-9, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO1) vs. Beneil Dariush, June 10, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Arman Tsarukyan


3. Justin Gaethje

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-4
Last: W (KO2) vs. Dustin Poirier, July 29, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Max Holloway


4. Arman Tsarukyan

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-3
Last: W (KO1) vs. Beneil Dariush, Dec. 2, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Charles Oliveira


5. Dustin Poirier

Promotion: UFC
Record: 29-8, 1 NC
Last: L (KO2) vs. Justin Gaethje, July 29, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Benoit Saint Denis


6. Beneil Dariush

Promotion: UFC
Record: 22-6-1
Last: L (KO1) vs. Arman Tsarukyan, Dec. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Mateusz Gamrot

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-2, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Rafael Fiziev, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Rafael Dos Anjos


8. Rafael Fiziev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 26-8
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Mateusz Gamrot, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Dan Hooker

Promotion: UFC
Record: 29-12
Last: W (SD) vs. Jalin Turner, July 8, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Jalin Turner

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-7
Last: W (KO1) vs. Bobby Green, Dec. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


MEN'S FEATHERWEIGHT (up to 145 pounds)

1. Ilia Topuria

Promotion: UFC champion
Previous ranking: 5
Record: 15-0
Last: W (KO2) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


2. Alexander Volkanovski

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 1
Record: 26-4
Last: L (KO2) vs. Ilia Topuria, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


3. Max Holloway

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 2
Record: 25-7
Last: W (KO3) vs. Chan Sung Jung, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Justin Gaethje


4. Yair Rodriguez

Promotion: UFC
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 15-4, 1 NC
Last: L (TKO3) vs. Alexander Volkanovski, July 8, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Brian Ortega


5. Patricio Freire

Promotion: Bellator champion
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 35-7
Last: L (KO1) vs. Chihiro Suzuki, July 30, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Jesus Pinedo


6. Josh Emmett

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-4
Last: W (KO1) vs. Bryce Mitchell, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Movsar Evloev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 18-0
Last: W (UD) vs. Arnold Allen, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


8. Arnold Allen

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-3
Last: L (UD) vs. Movsar Evloev, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


9. Giga Chikadze

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Alex Caceres, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Bryce Mitchell

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-2
Last: L (KO1) Josh Emmett, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


MEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT (up to 135 pounds)

1. Sean O'Malley

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 17-1, 1 NC
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Aljamain Sterling, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Marlon Vera


2. Aljamain Sterling

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-4
Last: L (TKO2) vs. Sean O'Malley, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Calvin Kattar


3. Merab Dvalishvili

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4
Last: W (UD) vs. Henry Cejudo, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


4. Henry Cejudo

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-4
Last: L (UD) vs. Merab Dvalishvili, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


5. Cory Sandhagen

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-4
Last: W (UD) vs. Rob Font, Aug. 5, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Petr Yan

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Merab Dvalishvili, March 11, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Song Yadong


7. Patchy Mix

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 19-1
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Sergio Pettis, Nov. 17, 2023
Next: TBD


8. Marlon Vera

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-8-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Pedro Munhoz, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Sean O'Malley


9. Sergio Pettis

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 23-6
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Patchy Mix, Nov. 17, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Deiveson Figueiredo

Promotion: UFC
Record: 22-3-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Rob Font, Dec. 2, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Cody Garbrandt


MEN'S FLYWEIGHT (up to 125 pounds)

1. Alexandre Pantoja

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 27-5
Last: W (UD) vs. Brandon Royval, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Brandon Moreno

Promotion: UFC
Record: 21-7-2
Last: L (SD) vs. Alexandre Pantoja, July 8, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs.Brandon Royval


3. Demetrious Johnson

Promotion: One Championship champion
Record: 25-4-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Adriano Moraes, May 5, 2023
Next: TBD


4. Amir Albazi

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-1
Last: W (SD) vs. Kai Kara-France, June 3, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Kai Kara-France

Promotion: UFC
Record: 24-11, 1 NC
Last: L (SD) vs. Amir Albazi, June 3, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Adriano Moraes

Promotion: One Championship
Record: 20-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Demetrious Johnson, May 5, 2023
Next: TBD


7. Brandon Royval

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-7
Last: L (UD) vs. Alexandre Pantoja, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: Feb. 24 vs. Brandon Moreno


8. Matheus Nicolau

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-3-1
Last: L (KO1) vs. Brandon Royval, April 15, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Manel Kape

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-6
Last: W (UD) vs. Felipe dos Santos, Sept. 9, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Muhammad Mokaev

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-0
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Tim Elliott, Dec. 3, 2022
Next: March 2 vs. Alex Perez


WOMEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT (up to 135 pounds)

1. Raquel Pennington

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 16-8
Last: W (UD) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, Jan. 20, 2024
Next: TBD


2. Ketlen Vieira

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Pannie Kianzad, July 22, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Holly Holm

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-7
Last: L (Sub2) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, July 15, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Kayla Harrison


4. Irene Aldana

Promotion: UFC
Record: 15-7
Last: W (UD) vs. Karol Rosa, Dec.16, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Sara McMann

Promotion: Bellator
Record: 14-7
Last: L (TKO1) vs. Leah McCourt, Oct. 7, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Norma Dumont

Promotion: UFC
Record: 10-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Chelsea Chandler, July 15, 2023
Next: April 6 vs. Germaine de Randamie


7. Pannie Kianzad

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-7
Last: L (UD) vs. Ketlen Vieira, July 22, 2023
Next: March 16 vs. Macy Chiasson


8. Karol Rosa

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Irene Aldana, Dec. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


9. Yana Santos

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-8, 1 NC
Last: L (SD) vs. Karol Rosa, July 1, 2023
Next: TBD


10. Miesha Tate

Promotion: UFC
Record: 20-9
Last: W (Sub3) vs. Julia Avila, Dec. 2, 2023
Next: TBD


WOMEN'S FLYWEIGHT (up to 125 pounds)

1. Alexa Grasso

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 16-3-1
Last: Split draw vs. Valentina Shevchenko, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


2. Valentina Shevchenko

Promotion: UFC
Record: 23-4-1
Last: Split draw vs. Alexa Grasso, Sept. 16, 2023
Next: TBD


3. Manon Fiorot

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Rose Namajunas, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: March 30 vs. Erin Blanchfield


4. Erin Blanchfield

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Taila Santos, Aug. 26, 2023
Next: March 30 vs. Manon Fiorot


5. Liz Carmouche

Promotion: Bellator champion
Record: 20-7
Last: W (TKO5) vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Oct. 7, 2023
Next: TBD


6. Jessica Andrade

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-12
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Mackenzie Dern, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Marina Rodriguez


7. Rose Namajunas

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Manon Fiorot, Sept. 2, 2023
Next: March 23 vs. Amanda Ribas


8. Lauren Murphy

Promotion: UFC
Record: 16-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Jessica Andrade, Jan. 21, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Karine Silva


9. Maycee Barber

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Amanda Ribas, June 24, 2023
Next: March 9 vs. Katlyn Chookagian


10. Viviane Araujo

Promotion: UFC
Record: 12-6
Last: L (UD) vs. Natalia Silva, Feb. 3, 2024
Next: TBD


STRAWWEIGHT (up to 115 pounds)

1. Zhang Weili

Promotion: UFC champion
Record: 24-2
Last: W (UD) vs. Amanda Lemos, Aug. 19, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Yan Xiaonan


2. Amanda Lemos

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-3-1
Last: W (UD) vs. Mackenzie Dern, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


3. Yan Xiaonan

Promotion: UFC
Record: 14-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO1) vs. Jessica Andrade, May 6, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Zhang Weili


4. Tatiana Suarez

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-0
Last: W (Sub2) vs. Jessica Andrade, August 5, 2023
Next: TBD


5. Virna Jandiroba

Promotion: UFC
Record: 19-3
Last: W (UD) vs. Marina Rodriguez, May 6, 2023
Next: March 30 vs. Loopy Godínez


6. Marina Rodriguez

Promotion: UFC
Record: 17-3-2
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez, Sept. 23, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Jessica Andrade


7. Jessica Andrade

Promotion: UFC
Record: 25-12
Last: W (TKO2) vs. Mackenzie Dern, Nov. 11, 2023
Next: April 13 vs. Marina Rodriguez


8. Mackenzie Dern

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-5
Last: L (UD) vs. Amanda Lemos, Feb. 17, 2024
Next: TBD


9. Amanda Ribas

Promotion: UFC
Record: 13-4
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Luana Pinheiro, Nov. 18, 2023
Next: March 23 vs. Rose Namajunas


10. Luana Pinheiro

Promotion: UFC
Record: 11-2
Last: W (TKO3) vs. Amanda Ribas, Nov. 18, 2023
Next: TBD