The Origin of ‘Pound-For-Pound’
Pound-for-pound (p4p) was brought about so that boxing enthusiasts could talk about 72kg Sugar Ray Leonard in the same vein as 100kg+ Mike Tyson. Could a smaller, more skilled boxer hang in their with a much heavier opponent? No. But “pound for pound” they’re better. As in, per pound of bodyweight, they’re a better boxer than their heavier contemporaries.
UFC 284 brought about the debate of ‘who is the true UFC p4p king?’. Is it Alexander Volkanovski? Or Islam Makhachev? Well, let’s have them fight, and the winner takes the #1 spot. Unfortunately that’s not how it works!
Alexander Volkanovski is still P4P #1
Volkanovski fought a great fight, but unfortunately didn’t secure enough rounds and lost a razor thin decision. As per the UFC, this makes Islam Makhachev the new P4P #1. But should it?
Volkanovski came up a weight class to fight an opponent 5 inches taller, and much heavier. Islam Makhachev’s in-cage weight is welterweight (79kg) and higher, whilst Volkanovski had to bulk to make the lightweight limit (70kg). His performance against Makhachev was lightyears more impressive than Makhachev stealing some rounds with takedowns and back control.
You can’t struggle and scrape a win against a smaller, light opponent and claim the P4P #1 spot, that would contradict the ‘pound for pound’ element of the argument. The fact that the smaller Volkanovski gave Makhachev the toughest fight in his career and almost won speaks volumes to his skill, and bolsters his position as the P4P best talent in the UFC. It’s a rare case where the loser’s stock grew more than the victor by a huge margin.
Volkanovski is still the best fighter in the UFC pound-for-pound.
Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
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