UFC 215 certainly did not go according to plan, with the slated flyweight title headliner between champion Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg getting nixed when the challenger fell ill two days before the event. Nonetheless, the event saw several fighters -- champions, former champions and prospects -- gain measures of redemption that have them on the move in our latest rankings.
In the ad hoc main event, the two top 135-pound women in the world -- champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko -- squared off. Nunes sought not just to retain her crown but to prove she was no longer a frontrunner and would not fade down the stretch, as she did in her first encounter with Shevchenko. It was not without controversy, but Nunes, courtesy of taking the fifth and final round, eked out a split decision over Shevchenko, cementing both women in their rankings positions for the time being.
With Nunes now 2-0 on Shevchenko, “The Lioness” needs future challengers, and the UFC 215 undercard gave us a glimpse at a woman that is likely going to vie for the title someday soon. Ketlen Vieira was stymied early by Olympic silver medal-winning wrestler and former UFC title challenger Sara McMann. However, she got McMann down and quickly locked up an arm-triangle choke in the second round. The 26-year-old “Fenomeno” is now 3-0 in the UFC, and after the most impressive win of her career, she rises from No. 10 to the eighth spot on our 135-pound list. McMann, previously stationed at No. 7, falls to ninth.
No longer a prospect nor a champion, Rafael dos Anjos has also reinserted himself into our rankings in his brand new weight class. The former UFC champion exited the lightweight division after losing his crown to Eddie Alvarez and underperforming in a 25-minute bout with Tony Ferguson. The Brazilian felt that depleting himself to make the 155-pound limit was hindering his performance, and he was right. In his divisional debut in June, dos Anjos was rock-solid in taking apart former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine. At UFC 215, however, dos Anjos was simply sublime, destroying Neil Magny in the first round. Just two fights deep into his welterweight tenure, dos Anjos is on the 170-pound map in a major way, jumping from our contenders list to No. 7. Meanwhile, Magny drops one spot to 10th.
Also making his debut in this edition of the rankings is longtime bubble list entrant Ilir Latifi, who recorded a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten prospect Tyson Pedro and makes the leap into the 10 spot at 205 pounds. Latifi, a fan favorite for his cartoonish physique and heavy punching, replaces another sentimental hardcore MMA fan favorite, usurping Ukraine's Nikita Krylov, who falls to the contenders list with the addition of “The Sledgehammer.”
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