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Keep in mind that this list does not represent the definitive ranking of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Rather, it focuses on the best fighters that the UFC has ever had. These exceptional individuals have achieved remarkable success within the UFC and have showcased their greatness in the organization.
These fighters have played a pivotal role in bringing the company into the mainstream and have contributed significantly to making it one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
The criteria for their inclusion are as follows:
By considering these factors, we can recognize the exceptional contributions of these fighters to the sport of MMA and their undeniable impact on the UFC.
Evan Tanner was an exceptionally skilled stand-up fighter with a versatile set of skills. He competed in both the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight divisions, showcasing his prowess in the ring. Notably, he fought for the championship title in both weight classes, demonstrating his determination and talent.
Throughout his career, Evan Tanner achieved victories against formidable opponents such as Elvis Sinosic, Phil Baroni (twice), Robbie Lawler, and David Terrell. These triumphs solidified his status as a top-tier competitor.
Sadly, this remarkable champion’s life was tragically cut short. Evan Tanner’s untimely passing on September 5, 2008, at the young age of 37, left a void in the world of mixed martial arts. His legacy, however, lives on through his remarkable career and contributions to the sport.
Notable moments in Evan Tanner’s journey include his fight for the Light Heavyweight Title against Tito Ortiz on February 23, 2001, where he fell short of victory. On February 5, 2005, he emerged triumphant, capturing the Middleweight Title.
Evan Tanner’s impact on the sport and the memories he left behind will forever be cherished.
Despite the polarizing opinions surrounding him, he undeniably holds a revered status as one of the most esteemed heavyweights in UFC history.
Tim boasts an impressive record of claiming the UFC Heavyweight championship twice, cherishing the title as if it were his own child.
He has showcased his skills by triumphing over notable opponents, including Andrei Arlovski (two victories), Brandon Vera, Ricco Rodriguez, and Jeff Monson.
Sylvia’s striking power is a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by his impressive track record. While he may be most remembered for his defeats, his accomplishments have warranted his inclusion in this esteemed list.
One of the veterans who made it to the list, Dan had a prosperous career in the UFC, built on the tournaments the organization used to host. Notably, he secured victories against Oleg Taktarov (twice), Ken Shamrock, and Tank Abbott.
When it comes to achievements in the UFC, Dan’s rank is undeniably high. He emerged victorious in two tournaments and claimed the prestigious Superfight Championship. Let’s take a look at his notable feats:
Jens Pulver, the former UFC lightweight champion of the world, holds an impressive record of victories against notable fighters such as BJ Penn, Dennis Hallman, and Caol Uno. During his time in the UFC, he achieved a remarkable six-fight win streak, culminating in him claiming the Lightweight Championship.
Pulver holds the distinction of being the very first Lightweight Champion in the UFC, earning the title with his triumphant bout against Caol Uno. He joins a prestigious group of only four fighters who have ever held the lightweight championship.
Notably, Pulver successfully defended the title twice, falling just behind BJ Penn in terms of the most defenses by a lightweight champion.
It is worth mentioning that Pulver never lost the title; it was unfortunately stripped from him due to a contract dispute. In my opinion, his accomplishments certainly warrant his inclusion in the number 12 spot on this list.
Another accomplished veteran of the sport, with impressive achievements in the UFC. While some may disagree with his ranking at 15, I firmly believe it’s the most fitting position for him. His UFC career lacked the impact needed to compete in the top ten.
Early on, he made a significant impact in Pancrase. Let me be clear, he is an exceptional athlete and has proven himself in the UFC. Ken holds notable wins over Dan Severn, Kimo (twice), and Patrick Smith.
Another contender, poised to break into the top ten, continues to vie for the Heavyweight Title. Mir, had he successfully defended the title in his initial victory over Tim Sylvia, would have already secured his place among the elite. Frank has faced off against the crème de la crème inside the Octagon, triumphing over the likes of Big Nog, Brock Lesnar, and Tim Sylvia. Let’s delve into some pivotal milestones in Mir’s illustrious career:
Don Frye burst onto the MMA scene with his UFC debut, showcasing an awe-inspiring streak of six consecutive victories. His unparalleled success in the octagon solidified his status as a true force to be reckoned with. Notably, he secured significant wins against renowned opponents such as Gary Goodridge (twice) and Tank Abbott.
Although Don Frye is widely recognized for his legendary slugfest with Takayama, it’s important to note that this particular match did not take place in the UFC. Nonetheless, Frye’s accomplishments within the UFC are numerous, solidifying his reputation as one of the toughest fighters in the sport.
Despite being a relatively smaller heavyweight, standing at 6.1 and weighing around 220 lbs, Frye consistently demonstrates exceptional performance. Reviewing his extensive list of achievements, it becomes evident that his success is well-deserved.
Here are some of Don Frye’s notable accomplishments:
Frank Shamrock had the potential to be a formidable top-ten fighter, but his UFC career was limited to just five fights. However, those five fights showcased his exceptional skills and achievements. He started off by winning the Light Heavyweight title, which he never lost. Along the way, he defeated notable opponents such as Tito Ortiz, Jeremy Horn, and Kevin Jackson.
What sets Frank Shamrock apart is his remarkable record – he never lost a title fight, never lost any fight, and successfully defended his belt four times. His dominance was unquestionable. However, despite his immense talent, he made the decision to retire and ultimately forfeited his title (although he did come back briefly).
Let’s take a look at some key moments in his career:
Frank Shamrock’s legacy as a fighter is undeniably impressive, and although he could have achieved even greater heights, his impact on the sport is still recognized and celebrated.
Just missing out on the top ten is the remarkable Rich Franklin, whose journey from a math teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio to one of the greatest middleweight MMA in fighters of all time is legendary.
He has faced and triumphed over the best in the game, proving his dominance. If you’re not beaten by him, you must be an exceptional fighter yourself.
Among Franklin’s victories are notable names such as Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, Evan Tanner (twice), Yushin Okami, and Ken Shamrock. Although he won his title in the Middleweight division, he has showcased his skills as a formidable light heavyweight fighter.
Even now, as he competes in the Light Heavyweight division, there is still a glimmer of hope for Franklin to break into the top ten, if not surpass it.
BJ Penn is considered one of the most talented fighters in history, with exceptional skills that have unfortunately been overshadowed by his cardio issues on multiple occasions. Despite this setback, Penn stands out as one of the few fighters to have captured titles in two different weight classes.
Throughout his career, Penn has defeated numerous renowned opponents, including Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver, and Kenny Florian. Let’s take a look at some key moments:
Despite the ups and downs, BJ Penn’s remarkable talent and accomplishments remain a testament to his enduring legacy in the world of mixed martial arts.
Nicknamed “The Hammer” and “The King Of Ground n Pound”, he is undoubtedly deserving of a top ten spot. With an impressive track record in the UFC, he has defeated some of the most formidable fighters in the game, including Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Dan Severn, and Stephan Bonnar.
Mark Coleman’s exceptional strength and powerful wrestling skills have earned him the ground-and-pound nickname. His contributions to the company and remarkable talent make him a worthy addition to this list.
The founder of the esteemed Miletich camp, which has now evolved into HIT Squad, is a highly skilled fighter renowned for his prowess inside the cage. Notable victories include triumphs over formidable opponents such as Clayton Miller, Shonie Carter, and John Alessio.
Over time, Miletich has honed his skills as a fighter, although he no longer participates in MMA competitions. His most recent bout took place in 2008, culminating in a resounding knockout victory. Pat Miletich’s contributions to the sport are remarkable, solidifying his rightful place among the top ten greatest ufc fighters of all time.
He could have achieved a higher rank based on his accomplishments at 205, but when you avoid facing the top contender, your ranking tends to drop. Tito Ortiz is an exceptional wrestler with decent striking skills. He has displayed impressive control over his opponents while on top and has inflicted punishment on them.
Ortiz boasts an impressive list of victories against notable names such as Ken Shamrock (three times), Forrest Griffin, Evan Tanner, Wanderlei Silva, and Guy Mezger. Despite not having his hand raised in victory since 2006, Tito is still striving to reclaim his position at the top. He continues to compete in the UFC, working tirelessly to improve his standing and rise through the ranks. Currently, he is scheduled to face his friend, Matt Hamill.
Here are some key moments in Tito’s career:
Despite lacking collegiate wrestling experience, this man is celebrated as the epitome of greatness in UFC history—an extraordinary feat, to say the least.
He possesses an unrivaled force, and could easily stake claim to the title of the best ever in the UFC if he could find more ways to finish fights.
Georges boasts an impressive record of victories over the finest fighters in the game, including notable names like Matt Hughes (twice), BJ Penn (twice), Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Karo Parisyan, and Frank Trigg.
Currently, St. Pierre is serving as a coach on the newest Ultimate Fighter season, where he competes against Josh Koscheck for the second time.
Key milestones in his career include:
The timeless individual remains an incredibly formidable adversary, a characteristic that has been consistent throughout. Couture, who is currently in his forties at the age of 47, possesses an impressive array of achievements.
While he has suffered defeats in several high-profile bouts (Liddell II, Liddell III, Big Nog, Brock Lesnar, and Ricco Rodriguez), Couture has also achieved remarkable victories over Liddell I, Tito Ortiz, and Vitor Belfort.
Currently, Couture enjoys his downtime at home, supporting his son’s budding MMA career. If Couture were to retire today, he would undoubtedly leave behind one of the most illustrious careers in MMA history.
He is the Brett Favre of MMA, defying expectations and continually improving. Admittedly, his victory over Toney did not significantly contribute to his legacy. Hopefully, he will soon return to the octagon to face a worthy contender, allowing us to witness his mettle once again.
Chuck Liddell, an undeniable force in his division, dominated his opponents with both victories and knockouts. It became expected that he would triumph, often ending his fights with a knockout. Many consider Liddell to be the greatest light-heavyweight fighter in UFC history.
Liddell’s title reign and successful four title defenses showcased his prowess in the octagon. However, had he faced Tito as planned, Liddell could have defended his title more times than any other fighter. Notable victories include Randy Couture (twice), Tito Ortiz (twice), Wanderlei Silva, Renato Sobral (twice), Jeremy Horn, and Vitor Belfort.
Recent losses, including a devastating first-round knockout to Rich Franklin, have led Liddell to contemplate retirement. Despite these setbacks, Liddell displayed skill in his fight against Rich until he was caught off guard. We eagerly await Chuck’s future plans in the coming months.
Key moments in Liddell’s career:
Chuck Liddell’s legacy as a dominant fighter remains intact, despite recent challenges.
He is synonymous with the UFC, having laid the foundation for the sport as we know it today with his exceptional jiu-jitsu skills, which continue to captivate audiences.
Royce Gracie’s victories over formidable opponents like Ken Shamrock, Kimo, Dan Severn, and Patrick Smith are legendary. Despite fighting light heavyweights and Heavyweights, he effortlessly submitted them all.
His accomplishments deserve a well-deserved spot in the top five, considering the size of the opponents he faced. Royce is not only a remarkable fighter but also one of the pioneers who helped shape the UFC.
Let’s not forget his notable achievements:
This man truly dominated his division, defeating the world’s best fighters with an unmatched ferocity. His list of victories surpasses that of any other fighter in the history of MMA. While some recent fights may not have been as thrilling (against Demian Maia and Thiago Leites), he has managed to overcome adversity in his bout against Chael Sonnen. Anderson Silva has defeated every contender in his division and even ventured into two weight classes in the Light Heavyweight category to vanquish some of their top fighters.
Silva’s most notable wins include devastating knockouts against Rich Franklin (twice), a second-round submission against Dan Henderson, a humiliating first-round knockout of Forrest Griffin in the Light Heavyweight division, a first-round TKO of Nate Marquardt, and a first-round KO of Chris Leben.
In a recent fight, Silva exhibited his resilience by submitting Chael Sonnen in the fifth round, despite being dominated throughout the match. The UFC has now decided to arrange another title match between these two fighters, promising an intriguing battle that will test Chael’s control and Anderson Silva’s continued improvement.
In my humble opinion, there is no match for the unparalleled dominance of this extraordinary individual. He emerged victorious over every adversary, defeating some even on multiple occasions. This remarkable man embodies the collective excellence of Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and Randy Couture.
He possesses the finishing ability of Chuck Liddell, stands second in the record for consecutive title defenses (Anderson Silva holds the first place), and despite nearing his late thirties, he continues to find ways to win and conclude fights, akin to Randy Couture.
Hughes has emerged victorious against esteemed adversaries such as Carlos Newton (twice), Frank Trigg (twice), Joe Riggs, Royce Gracie, BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, and Sean Sherk.
With an enhanced stand-up game, this remarkable fighter may even have some fuel left in the tank to achieve twenty triumphs in the UFC.
Matt Hughes holds the record for the longest title reign and most wins in UFC history. He is one of two fighters to achieve a six-fight win streak or more. Additionally, he is tied for first place for the most consecutive wins and total bouts in UFC history and shares the record for most title wins with Randy Couture, both having secured nine victories. Moreover, he ranks second for the most title fights with 12.
After securing a submission victory over Ricardo Almeida, Hughes has chosen to take a brief sabbatical and indulge in hunting. He intends to make a comeback to the Octagon after the hunting season, allowing us to witness more greatness from the unparalleled UFC fighter, Matt Hughes.
Without USADA and drug testing, it’s undeniable that there would be a compelling case for ranking Jon Jones at the top of this list.
After all, he has been a part of the UFC for well over a decade, with his only loss coming from a disqualification. Throughout his time with the promotion, he has defeated a long list of legendary fighters in a devastating fashion.
However, it is important to acknowledge that his positive drug tests, including the incident with cocaine in 2015 and the peculiar ‘pulsing’ incident in 2018, have cast a shadow over his entire career. While he remains a great fighter, it becomes difficult to rank him any higher in light of these circumstances.
Nevertheless, ‘Bones’ has undeniably had an incredible career. He burst onto the scene in 2008 as a highly touted prospect and swiftly dominated his early opponents, establishing himself as a title contender by the latter part of 2010. His victory over Ryan Bader in February 2011 demonstrated that he was ready for a shot at the top.
Jones went on to dismantle light-heavyweight champion ‘Shogun’ Rua to claim the gold, and from there, he continued to defeat virtually every other top fighter in the 205-pound division. Notable names such as ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Alexander Gustafsson, and Daniel Cormier all fell victim to his prowess, with Jones emerging largely unscathed.
However, things took a peculiar turn for Jones after 2015. While he managed to win all of his fights, his performances against Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos were not as exceptional as his previous victories. Additionally, his multiple suspensions due to positive drug tests between 2017 and 2018 further complicated his career.
Nevertheless, this year marked Jones’ return from a three-year hiatus, during which he defeated Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight title, joining the elite group of fighters who have held championships in different weight classes.
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