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There will come a day, long after heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has retired from mixed martial arts and his ongoing contract feud with UFC is behind him, that the impact of just how impressive his UFC 270 win truly was will be celebrated.

Ngannou revealed after his unanimous decision win over his former teammate Ciryl Gane that he still fought despite a serious knee injury suffered during training camp that doctors feared might cause permanent damage.  

No, Ngannou wasn't the same ferocious striker and one-punch knockout artist against Gane that fans had come to know him to be. But he showcased just how much of a true champion he truly is by making the mid-fight adjustment to a surprisingly effective wrestling base to rally past the previously unbeaten interim titleholder.  

The fact that Ngannou did all this entering the final fight of his UFC contract, with the promotion entrenched firmly against him, is mind boggling. Not only did UFC president Dana White no show the post-fight press conference, he also chose not to enter the Octagon after the bout to present Ngannou with the undisputed title.

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To add even more drama to the proceedings, Ngannou revealed Monday on "The MMA Hour" that his manager, Marquel Martin, received an email while on the drive to the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on Saturday that the UFC threatened to sue him for allegedly discussing a boxing opportunity with Jake Paul business partner Nakisa Bidarian, the promotion's former CFO, while still under UFC contract.

Not only did Ngannou deny the talks took place, he added that he has no idea who Bidarian even is.  

Regardless of the dispute and whether UFC and its defending heavyweight champion ever get back on the same page again, the mental toughness shown by Ngannou throughout this entire process is nothing short of remarkable. And for anyone wondering about Ngannou's true pound-for-pound value, his ability to adjust under pressure showed just how smart and adaptive he truly is.  

Ngannou has used the past few years of inactivity caused largely by his ongoing soap opera with his employer to constantly evolve from the fighter he once was, who lost his first title shot against Stipe Miocic in 2018 by such a wide margin. As he proved against Miocic in their 2021 rematch, Ngannou has become nothing short of a frightening force in multiple categories thanks to the survival intangibles acquired throughout his remarkable journey to this point.  

The knee injury likely means surgery for Ngannou, which further puts his UFC future in question considering his contract expires for good in December. Either way, it will be difficult to bet against Ngannou again, even if he comes back for a superfight against former light heavyweight king Jon Jones, which would be among the most anticipated bouts in company history.  

For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings, click here.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Kamaru Usman -- Welterweight champion (20-1)

Previous ranking: No. 1

Fresh off a Fighter of the Year campaign in 2021, Usman seems to be closing in on becoming one of the all-time greats. Usman is unbeaten in 15 UFC bouts and has won 19 straight fights overall. At 34, the only question remains how much longer he wants to compete.

2. Israel Adesanya -- Middleweight champion (21-1)

Previous ranking: No. 2

A hiccup at light heavyweight did nothing to question whether Adesanya is still the best 185-pound fighter in the world. But a February return in a rematch against Robert Whittaker could be the toughest defense, on paper, that Adesanya has had given the former champion's impressive win streak.

3. Alexander Volkanovski -- Featherweight champion (23-1)

Previous ranking: No. 3

The wizard of 145 pounds appeared to quiet any remaining skeptics by how fiercely he defended his title against Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Unbeaten in 10 trips to the Octagon, Volkanovski is on his way toward creating a historically relevant career resume at featherweight.

4. Francis Ngannou -- Heavyweight champion (16-3)

Previous ranking: No. 5

Despite suffering a serious knee injury during training camp amid a very public contract battle with UFC brass, Ngannou gutted out a unification win against former teammate, and unbeaten interim champion, Ciryl Gane. Adding wrestling to his game only makes "The Predator" even more scary.

5. Charles Oliveira -- Lightweight champion (32-8, 1 NC)

Previous ranking: No. 4 

Oliveira's 10th straight victory was his most impressive to date in surviving a wild first round to wear down and finish Dustin Poirier in his first title defense. No longer can anyone call "Do Bronx" anything but the best 155-pound fighter in the world.

6. Petr Yan -- Interim bantamweight champion (16-2)

Previous ranking: No. 6

Yan outpointed a game Cory Sandhagen in a thriller to capture the interim title, setting up a much-needed rematch against Aljamain Sterling in April for the undisputed crown. The native of Russia will get a chance to finally put his disqualification defeat behind him.

7. Max Holloway -- Featherweight (23-6)

Previous ranking: No. 7

The former champion showcased everything that makes him great in a thrilling five-round win over Yair Rodriguez in November. Holloway was expected to face Volkanovski a third time in March until a lingering injury forced him to pull out.

8. Robert Whittaker -- Middleweight (23-5)

Previous ranking: No. 8

A three-fight win streak, all against elite competition, has the former middleweight champion set for an early 2022 rematch against Adesanya. Whittaker has used the time since his 2019 TKO loss to rebuild himself from a technical standpoint and appears as dangerous as ever. 

9. Justin Gaethje -- Lightweight (23-3)

Previous ranking: No. 9

The former interim lightweight champion might have secured a second shot at the lightweight title following his UFC 268 win over Michael Chandler. Gaethje is 5-1 since altering his style just a bit from full-time brawler to tactical finisher.

10. Deiveson Figueiredo -- Flyweight champion (21-2-1)

Previous ranking: Unranked

Just how impressive was Figueiredo's UFC 270 win over Brandon Moreno in their trilogy fight? At 34, Figueiredo not only rebounded from a stoppage loss to regain his 125-pound title, he showed the kind of poise and patience under new coaches Henry Cejudo and Eric Albarracin he had been lacking.

Dropped out: Brandon Moreno

Just missed: Dustin Poirier, Glover Teixeira, Aljamain Sterling, TJ Dillashaw, Moreno

Women's pound-for-pound rankings

1. Valentina Shevchenko -- Flyweight champion (22-3)

Previous ranking: No. 1

A move down to her natural weight of 125 pounds has allowed Shevchenko to go on a run of dominance rarely seen at this level atop the sport. Her TKO of Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 made it six defenses of her flyweight title. 

2. Rose Namajunas -- Strawweight champion (11-4)

Previous ranking: No. 2

A split-decision win over former champion Weili Zhang in their UFC 268 rematch has Namajunas one step closer to cementing status as the greatest female 115-pound fighter in UFC history. Up next is likely yet another rematch against inaugural titleholder Carla Esparza.

3. Amanda Nunes -- Featherweight champion (20-4)

Previous ranking: No. 3

The G.O.A.T.'s implosion against Julianna Pena at UFC 269 was the most stunning moment of 2021 and possibly the biggest upset in MMA history. Although she's still armed with the 145-pound title, news of Nunes' leaving American Top Team to start her own camp leaves many questions.

4. Carla Esparza -- Strawweight (18-6)

Previous ranking: No. 4

Five straight wins and a dominant finish of contender Yan Xiaonan has the UFC's first women's champion at 115 pounds on the verge of a possible shot at regaining her crown. "The Cookie Monster" is currently the most dangerous and confident version of herself to date at 33 and riding a ton of momentum. 

5. Julianna Pena -- Bantamweight champion (11-4)

Previous ranking: No. 5

This is what the power of the human spirit looks like. Pena turned in the performance of a lifetime by disarming Amanda Nunes and submitting her to capture the 135-pound crown. Pena has never looked this good before and still has a ton of work left to fully convince her skeptical critics.

Dropped out: None

Just missed: Weili Zhang, Marina Rodriguez, Jessica Andrade, Germaine de Randamie, Holly Holm