In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
What Are Ultra Beasts?
Introduced in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, Ultra Beasts are mysterious extradimensional creatures that blur the line between Pokémon and monster. They're not technically legendary, making them legal in some competitive events, but they're nearly as strong, limited in number, and can't breed.
Ultra Beasts all carry the ability Beast Boost, which increases their highest stat when they KO an opponent. They also share an impressive 570 stat total (except Naganadel), although they allocate these points differently; which aliens reign supreme? Not counting Necrozma (who is often mistaken as an UB), these are the ten strongest Ultra Beasts in Pokémon!
As much as I love Guzzlord's design, his stats and typing just don't blend well. His highlight is an outstanding HP score, which could make an effective tank—except for his poor defense stats and unfortunate quad weakness to Fairy. He's also weak to common Ice and Fighting moves, so he just doesn't absorb hits like you want him to.
Both Guzzlord's attack stats are good but not exceptional; coupled with his terrible speed, he's a poor man's sweeper. Average at both offense and defense, Guzzlord's an awkward mix best left in his own dimension.
Naganadel has two distinctions among UBs: he's the only one part of an evolutionary tree (evolving from Poipole), and his base stat total is slightly lower at 540. However, he has a clear role as an indirect sweeper, favoring special attack and speed.
Unfortunately, Poison and Dragon disappoint on offense, limiting the usefulness of your STABs (same-type attack bonuses). But they're a decent defensive pair; while weak to abundant Ice and Ground techniques, Naganadel has more resistances than vulnerabilities (7 compared to 4) and no quadruple weaknesses.
Nihelgo provides an indirect sweeper as well as tank, carrying impressive scores in special attack, special defense, and speed. Her terrible attack probably won't matter since you'll stick to ranged maneuvers, and her pitiful defense is somewhat made up for by a strong HP score.
Rock/Poison is an interesting mix that has more resistances than weaknesses. That said, it suffers a double weakness to Ground (one of the most common attackers), and while Rock itself excels offensively (and thus offers a useful STAB), many of the best Rock attacks are physical, limiting your ability to utilize Nihilego's special attack.
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Stakataka makes a prime tank—if you can avoid his weaknesses. I love his stat distribution, forgoing special attack and especially speed—you're almost sure to attack second without Trick Room. However, Stakataka wields great attack and phenomenal defense that's second only to Shuckle (excluding mega evolutions). Special defense is also above-average—what's not to like?
Well, Stakataka takes quadruple damage against often-seen Fighting and Ground moves, limiting his tanking capacities. That said, these tend to be contact moves, mitigated by Stakataka's amazing defense, and his typing is otherwise strong, carrying eight resistances plus a Poison immunity.
Blacephalon offers an interesting glass cannon. Her speed is above average, hopefully giving you the first hit. You might even one-shot your target thanks to a strong attack and daunting special attack, which let Blacephalon strike from either angle. Fire and Ghost also provide good coverage and useful STABs.
However, Blacephalon has bad HP and physical defense, plus a mediocre special defense, so she herself can get insta-killed with the wrong matchup. While her typing has almost twice as many resistances/immunities as weaknesses and no quads, three of her failings stem from copious Ground, Rock, and Ghost moves, and she's also weak to Dark's meta-dominating Fake Out move.
Buzzwole carries an average speed stat of 80, making it anyone's guess whether he'll strike first. Thankfully, he has great physical attack and defense, giving a clear focus as a physical duo, supplemented by a strong HP stat. Bug and Fighting also provide useful STABs, especially since most of their attacks are physical and utilize Buzzwole's best score.
However, Buzzwole has poor special attack and special defense, making him vulnerable to ranged sweepers, especially ones that out-speed him. Plus, his typing suffers a quad weakness to Flying (which thankfully isn't the most common attacker) and doesn't resist enough elements to effectively wall most foes. Buzzwole's a risk, but one that can certainly pay off, and you can always retreat with U-turn—assuming you manage to attack first.
Pheromosa is the glass cannon of the Ultra Beasts. Sharing Buzzwole's typing, her unholy speed outmatches even most Mega Pokemon—you're attacking first unless your foe uses a priority move (or another Pheromosa). From there, you have amazing attack and special attack plus two helpful STABs, very possibly one-shotting your target.
But if they live (watch out for Focus Sash held items), you're in trouble—Pheromosa's medicore HP and terrible defenses leave her wide open for a rebuttal, and like Buzzwole, she's especially vulnerable to Flying. However, you can nullify these issues with the Bug-type U-turn attack, which switches out after dealing damage, safely nestling Pheromosa away.
Circuitry, excuse me, Xurkitree spreads his stats pretty evenly, having an average score in everything except special attack—where he wields an amazing 173 total. His defenses aren't great, but they're far from terrible, can be increased with the right natures, and are supported by his strong type—Electric is only weak to Ground (and has three resistances).
Xurkitree won't outspeed most sweepers, but he's fast enough to outmaneuver some support units. And with that insane special attack, you'll be dishing out loads of pain, fainting all but the sturdiest special walls.
Kartana moves quickly, likely gaining the first hit, and her enormous attack strength might not give foes a chance to counter. She's also got great defense, tanking physical attacks with ease, and she's further supported by ten resistances/immunities against just two weaknesses.
That said, one of those is a quad weakness to Fire, and even if your foe can't type-trump Kartana, they might take advantage of her pitifully-low special defense. Still, she's amazing against physical sweepers who lack indirect moves, and her numerous resistances provide a decent chance of withstanding a counterattack.
Just note Grass and Steel aren't great aggro elements, so you'll often have to choose between type-trumping your victim or scoring extra damage with Kartana's STAB.
I love Celesteel's typing; Steel resists many elements and its weakness to Ground is negated when paired with Flying. This means Celesteela is only weak to Fire and Electric, yet immune to two types and resistant to eight (including quad resistances to Bug and Grass)!
Coupled with Celesteel's impressive defenses, you've got a sturdy wall few foes can break. Her biggest failing is speed, but it's not the worst and allows room for above-average stats in everything else. And thanks to equally-proficient attack and special attack, Celesteela's an unpredictable fighter who can strike from either range with hard-to-guess movesets.
How to Catch the Ultra Beasts
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon offer more of the UBs to catch; you can find most in Ultra Wormholes (which you'll unlock after a scripted encounter with Necrozma). The remaining few unlock at Poni Grove after you become the champion. In the original games, you can undertake a series of missions to catch the Beasts after becoming champion, but note they're not all available.
With their formidable yet often-legal powers and wacky stat distributions, Ultra Beasts are an interesting bunch that most fans either love or hate. But for now, as we await Nintendo's next batch of top-tier warriors, vote for your favorite UB and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Aiden on July 26, 2020:
Ash beat proffeser kukui mostly because of naganadel
Ozzie on May 21, 2020:
I think kartana is the best, sure his defense and his quad to ground are bad, but he's very good at sweeping because, of his speed and attack power
charles on May 08, 2020:
Kartana is good at doing hair styles lol
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 10, 2020:
True. That quad weakness to Ground and low defense are risky, but he's still a unique and powerful sweeper.
Anonymous on March 10, 2020:
Nihilego is really slept on as a fast sweeper. It knows exactly what it wants to do. It hits a great speed tier, it hits quite hard, and it’s made to take a physical hit.
Gekkogahara on January 12, 2020:
126 sp attact 126 attack 252 speed
Ice beam , u-turn , throat chop , jump kick/high jump kick
252 sp attack and speed
Thunderbolt , fire blast , shadow ball , HA(fighting)
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 29, 2019:
Thanks for the analysis; I'll take your points into consideration if I update the rankings.
Unknown on October 29, 2019:
Naganadel should be 2 or 3, its a great sweeper. I agree that celesteela must be 1 but Blachephelon is better than Buzzwole cuz of Mind Blown