One considered a niche only followed by mixed martial arts lovers, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts have clearly entered the domain of mainstream sports and entertainment. Above all other factors responsible for this the mind-boggling, blood-curdling battles fought inside the octagon by valiant UFC fighters deserve the most appreciation.
Right from grappling and submission tactics, to Muay Thai clinches and feisty take downs, the great UFC champions have executed it all right before our eyes. To celebrate their bravery and behind-the-scenes effort that goes into this, we list down top 10 all-time UFC greats.
10. Brock Lesnar
Though this American monster had much bigger achievements outside of the UFC, he still stamped his authority inside the octagon when he was at his peak. Recall the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout against the mighty legend Randy Couture in 2008 where he emerged victorious. Fans would have certainly loved to watch him win more but repeated occurrences of diverticulitis marred his UFC stint. Arguably the heftiest to hit the UFC ring!
9. Conor McGregor
This Irish striker par excellence has been credited, rightly so, for achieving so much despite not having trained in many MMA arts, such as wrestling, submission defense and clinch. The Notorious, as his fans call him, is the current UFC Lightweight Champion and former UFC Featherweight Champion. He also holds the distinction of being the first fighter to have held 2 weight division titles simultaneously. What apparently comes to mind is his 13-second knockout of Aldo, the fastest victory ever in UFC title fight history.
8. Royce Gracie
This Brazilian is not only one of the best UFC fighters ever but also considered by MMA lovers to arguably be one of most influential ambassadors of this sport. He authoritatively came out a winner of the UFC 1, UFC 2 and UFC 4 tournaments between 1993 and 1994; credited with most consecutive submission victories (11) during this period. One of his fiercest battles was against Ken Shamrock in the championship match at UFC 5, which ended in a draw. Gracie became the one of the two earliest inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame.
7. B.J. Penn
This American, nicknamed ‘The Prodigy’, proudly stands as only one of the 3 UFC champions to have won championship titles in 2 separate divisions (Lightweight and Welterweight). Penn was also the only one to have remained unbeaten in the Lightweight division for more than 8 years. His most notable feat has to be when he submitted long-reigning former champion Matt Hughes (when everyone thought he was unbeatable) to clinch the Welterweight title. In 2015, he was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame.
6. Matt Hughes
It wouldn’t be wrong to term this American as the most difficult Welterweight opponent to beat. Not only does he have 2 UFC Welterweight Championship to his name, he holds the proud distinction of having defeated all available opponents in the UFC Welterweight division and of having second most defenses in the UFC Welterweight division (7). Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2010.
5. Randy Couture
Recognized as one of the best ground-and-pound and clinch fighters among the top UFC heavyweight rankings, this American is credited with having the most title reigns (5) in the UFC. Lovingly called ‘The Natural’ by his fans, he has won the UFC Heavyweight title thrice and the UFC Light Heavyweight title twice. Couture is also honored for being one of the only three UFC fighters to have held titles in 2 different divisions. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2006.
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4. Chuck Liddell
This American was extensively trained in Kickboxing, Kempo, and Koei-Kan Karate, among other MMAs and it showed in the octagon. He fought 23 fights in the UFC and holds the distinction of having the most wins in UFC Light Heavyweight division. The most valuable win for him was the 2005 UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout against Randy Couture, where ‘The Iceman’ knocked his opponent out cold to clinch the title. Liddell was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame In 2009.
3. Jon Jones
This American is appreciated by the MMA community and fans worldwide for having accomplished so much at such young age. Nicknamed ‘Bones’, he has won the UFC Light Heavyweight title twice and also holds the record of winning the most fights in the same division (16). In addition, Jones holds the distinction of winning the highest number of fights (13) back to back and the one who has forced most victories by submission in UFC Light Heavyweight History.
2. Georges St-Pierre
Considered as one of the most consistent UFC champions, this Canadian has won the UFC Welterweight title thrice. Not only that, he has the highest number of wins in title bouts (12) and second most wins in UFC history (19). Nicknamed ‘Rush’, St-Pierre also boasts of the most successful title defenses in the UFC welterweight division (9) but comes in second when we consider the longest combined title streak in UFC history (2,204 days).
1. Anderson Silva
At number one of our all-time great UFC fighters list stands the smooth and elusive striker from Brazil, Anderson Silva. A lethal combination of gliding movement, surgical strikes and brutal Muay Thai clinch made him the most difficult fighter in the octagon to fight against let alone win. The Brazilian is honored to have 16 successive wins, 10 title defenses, and the longest winning streak (16) and title reign in UFC history (2,457 days). Mixed martial artist extraordinaire to grace the UFC!