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MMA pound-for-pound rankings: After shocking stumble, where does Harrison land?

Kayla Harrison stumbled for the first time in her career but still is a top-10 fighter. Cooper Neill/PFL

Kayla Harrison's loss to Larissa Pacheco at the 2022 PFL Championships last Friday was a stunner. It was her first career defeat, and it came against a fighter she had beaten twice before -- and against whom she was an 8-1 betting favorite.

Aside from sending shockwaves through the PFL and women's MMA in general, the result also shined a light on how much of an enigma Harrison has been during her MMA career.

She won her first 15 fights in dominant performances, making great use of the judo skills that had won her two Olympic gold medals. She quickly became the biggest star in the PFL. But Harrison was aiming higher than that. "I am the queen of women's MMA!" Harrison proclaimed on more than one occasion.

The ESPN panel that votes on our pound-for-pound rankings didn't go quite that far, but Harrison did find her way into our women's top 10.

Why not at the very top, a place more befitting a queen?

Because it was tough to gauge just how good Harrison was, considering her level of competition in the PFL. Most of the other fighters in our men's and women's top 10s were constantly being tested at an elite level in UFC fights, or had established their legitimacy in other high-level contests.

Much of our pound-for-pound panel, like observers across the sport, were waiting for Harrison to prove herself more conclusively to be the queen she claimed to be.

Then she lost to Pacheco, and the implications of that stunning result are being felt in our latest women's top 10.

How divided was our panel on Harrison? Prior to the Pacheco fight, she was in the top 10 of all six of our voters; one had her as high as No. 4. But in the wake of Friday's loss, Harrison appears on only two ballots. That's not to say the others are disregarding her, just that they considered at least 10 other fighters to be better than her. However, Harrison ranked highly enough on those two ballots where she did appear, that she retains a spot in our top 10, just one spot lower than before.

But now comes the test MMA fans have been waiting for. Does Kayla Harrison have it in her to rise from the ashes of defeat? In MMA, losing is not the end of the world. But some fighters respond better than others. Those who overcome their first career stumble have the opportunity to establish themselves as MMA royalty.

For the ESPN divisional MMA rankings, click here.

Note: Results are current; rankings as of Nov. 30.


Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Amanda Nunes

UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion
Record: 22-5
Last: W (UD) Julianna Peña, July 30
Next: TBD


2. Valentina Shevchenko

UFC flyweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (SD) Taila Santos, June 11
Next: TBD


3. Zhang Weili

UFC strawweight champion
Record: 23-3
Last: W (Sub2) Carla Esparza, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


4. Cris Cyborg

Bellator featherweight champion
Record: 26-2, 1 NC
Last: W (UD) Arlene Blencowe, April 23
Next: TBD


5. Julianna Peña

UFC bantamweight
Record: 11-5
Last: L (UD) Amanda Nunes, July 30
Next: TBD


6. Rose Namajunas

UFC strawweight
Record: 11-5
Last: L (SD) Carla Esparza, May 7
Next: TBD


7. Carla Esparza

UFC strawweight
Record: 19-7
Last: L (Sub2) Zhang Weili, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


8. Jessica Andrade

UFC flyweight
Previous ranking: 9
Record: 23-9
Last: W (Sub1) Amanda Lemos, April 23
Next: Jan. 21 vs. Lauren Murphy


9. Kayla Harrison

PFL lightweight
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 15-1
Last: L (UD) Larissa Pacheco, Nov. 25, 2022
Next: TBD


10. Amanda Lemos

UFC strawweight
Previous ranking: Unranked
Record: 13-2-1
Last: W (TKO3) Marina Rodriguez, Nov. 5, 2022
Next: TBD


Other fighters receiving votes: Larissa Pacheco, Ketlen Vieira, Manon Fiorot and Seika Izawa.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Amanda Nunes; 2. Valentina Shevchenko; 3. Zhang Weili; 4. Cris Cyborg; 5. Rose Namajunas; 6. Julianna Peña; 7. Kayla Harrison; 8. Jessica Andrade; 9. Larissa Pacheco; 10. Carla Esparza.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Cyborg; 4. Zhang; 5. Peña; 6. Namajunas; 7. Esparza; 8. Andrade; 9. Amanda Lemos; 10. Seika Izawa.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Peña; 6. Harrison; 7. Esparza; 8. Pacheco; 9. Namajunas; 10. Andrade.

Megan Anderson: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Namajunas; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Ketlen Vieira; 9. Lemos; 10. Peña.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Peña; 5. Cyborg; 6. Esparza; 7. Andrade; 8. Namajunas; 9. Lemos; 10. Pacheco.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Nunes; 2. Shevchenko; 3. Zhang; 4. Cyborg; 5. Andrade; 6. Peña; 7. Esparza; 8. Namajunas; 9. Fiorot; 10. Lemos.


Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Alexander Volkanovski

UFC featherweight champion
Record: 25-1
Last: W (UD) Max Holloway, July 2, 2022
Next: Feb. 11 vs. Islam Makhachev


2. Islam Makhachev

UFC lightweight champion
Record: 23-1
Last: W (Sub2) Charles Oliveira, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: Feb. 11 vs. Alexander Volkanovski


3. Kamaru Usman

UFC welterweight
Record: 20-2
Last: L (KO5) Leon Edwards, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


T-4. Israel Adesanya

UFC middleweight
Record: 23-2
Last: L (TKO5) Alex Pereira, Nov. 12, 2022
Next: TBD


T-4. Francis Ngannou

UFC heavyweight champion
Record: 17-3
Last: W (UD) Ciryl Gane, Jan. 22
Next: TBD


6. Charles Oliveira

UFC lightweight
Record: 33-9, 1 NC
Last: L (Sub2) Islam Makhachev, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


7. Leon Edwards

UFC welterweight champion
Record: 20-3, 1 NC
Last: W (KO5) Kamaru Usman, Aug. 20
Next: TBD


8. Aljamain Sterling

UFC bantamweight champion
Record: 22-3
Last: W (TKO2) TJ Dillashaw, Oct. 22, 2022
Next: TBD


9. Jiri Prochazka

UFC light heavyweight
Record: 29-3-1
Last: W (Sub5) Glover Teixeira, June 11
Next: TBD


10. Robert Whittaker

UFC middleweight
Record: 24-6
Last: W (UD) Marvin Vettori, Sept. 3, 2022
Next: Feb. 12 vs. Paulo Costa


Other fighters receiving votes: Deiveson Figueiredo, Alex Pereira, Dustin Poirier, Ciryl Gane and Brandon Moreno.


How our panel voted

Brett Okamoto: 1. Alexander Volkanovski; 2. Islam Makhachev; 3. Israel Adesanya; 4. Kamaru Usman; 5. Robert Whittaker; 6. Charles Oliveira; 7. Aljamain Sterling; 8. Francis Ngannou; 9. Deiveson Figueiredo; 10. Brandon Moreno.

Marc Raimondi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Usman; 4. Oliveira; 5. Ngannou; 6. Adesanya; 7. Sterling; 8. Edwards; 9. Alex Pereira; 10. Ciryl Gane.

Carlos Contreras Legaspi: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Usman; 4. Ngannou; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Jiri Prochazka; 9. Sterling; 10. Pereira.

Megan Anderson: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Adesanya; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Ngannou; 7. Edwards; 8. Prochazka; 9. Whittaker; 10. Figueiredo.

Eddie Maisonet III: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Makhachev; 3. Ngannou; 4. Adesanya; 5. Usman; 6. Oliveira; 7. Dustin Poirier; 8. Figueiredo; 9. Sterling; 10. Prochazka.

Jeff Wagenheim: 1. Volkanovski; 2. Ngannou; 3. Makhachev; 4. Usman; 5. Oliveira; 6. Adesanya; 7. Edwards; 8. Pereira; 9. Prochazka; 10. Sterling.