Top-20 Best MMA Fighters Of All-Time In UFC History

Best MMA Fighters Of All-Time In UFC History
Photo: USA TODAY Sports / SB Nation / Reuters

Who is the best MMA fighter of all time?

Who is the best UFC fighter ever? Read on the find out.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) had become one of the major sports that has won the hearts of many. The MMA came into limelight during the days of “the underground” where there were basically no rules and sanctioned fighters were allowed to do all sorts of moves, including hair pulling and groin strikes. 

To determine who the best fighters are, among the numerous fighters to have graced the MMA, we have considered factors such as their dominance in the game, their skills, and their peaks. Yet, it still boils down to endless debate when trying to determine who the greatest fighters of all-time are.

This article gives insight into the top-20 of the best MMA fighters ever. History will never forget their contributions and how they have been able to gain the hearts of fans in the MMA space.

Here are the Best MMA Fighters of All-Time in UFC History

* Pro MMA record are in Win-Loss-Draw and No Contest formats.

20. Quinton Jackson “Rampage”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 38-14-0

There are different tactics and fighting styles in the MMA, and each fighter is usually known for a particular skill or tactic. For Jackson, (also known as Rampage) his spectacular tactics were to carry his opponent over his head and give them great slams. He was popularly known for his move and it also helped to save him on several occasions. An instance was when he was stuck in Ricardo Arona’s triangle submission. Surprisingly, he delivered himself – using this spectacular move. 

19. Amanda Nunes “The Lioness”

  • Country: Brazil
  • Record: 20-4-0

This is one of the greatest female fighters ever to grace the MMA and the UFC. After her great defeat at the UFC 178, she was able to turn things around. Shortly after the loss, she bounced back and became an animal, defeating many of her mates including the notorious Cyborg. Amanda Nunes is gradually becoming one of the biggest names in the industry. 

18. Wanderlei Silva “The Axe Murderer”

  • Country: Brazil
  • Record: 35-14-1, 1 NC

Nicknamed ‘The Axe Murderer’, Silva gained his nickname by how he fights. Going back to the days when he was in his prime, only a few other fighters had the courage to face him. How he would stare at his opponent and wring their hands was one of the things the world will never forget about him. What many liked about Silva was how he would chase his opponents, as he moved forward forcing his opponent to move backwards in response to the deadly pressure being mounted. 

17. Randy Couture “The Natural”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 19-11-0

To become the UFC champion on two different occasions in one’s career as a fighter in the MMA is not easy to achieve. Randy Couture is one of the few fighters who has been able to achieve this, thus, joining the ranks of the best UFC fighters ever. Randy was popularly known for his “dirty boxing’ tactics, which have earned him victory over his opponents on several occasions.  

16. Frankie Edgar “The Answer”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 23-8-1

Edgar became popular when he had a remarkable victory over B. J. Penn. Prior to the fight, Penn had smashed Diego Sanchez, and fans were expecting Penn to at least keep the momentum going for a short while. Surprisingly, Edgar had a fantastic victory over him. What surprised fans most was how he was able to prove himself as he did in several consecutive challenges after beating Penn. 

15. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira “Minotauro”

  • Country: Brazil
  • Record: 34-10-1, 1 NC

To win the UFC Heavyweight title is no easy feat. However, Antonio Rodrigo is one of the rare fighters to earn this through his fights and victories over many big names in the industry. He was known for not wasting time in going for the submission. Unlike other fighters who will hold their opponent closely and wait for the referee to come to stand them back up, Rodrigo had spectacular moves he used in getting his opponents stuck in his trap.  

14. Mauricio Rua “Shogun”

  • Country: Brazil
  • Record: 26-11-1

Nicknamed as Shogun, Rua is popularly known for his superior striking skills. He is also known for not rushing to go for the submission. He would make sure he satisfies his appetite by dishing out some heavy hammer fists on his opponents before going for the submission. Shogun had his training with a few other fighters at the famous Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil. Coming out of such an academy, Rua’s moves came as no surprise to fans.

13. Dan Henderson “Hendo”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 32-15-0

Nicknamed Hendo, Dan Henderson was popular for his overhand right tactics. With the power in his right hand, he was able to defeat many of his opponents. Another thing that has helped Henderson survive the heavy impacts of his opponents’ blows was his iron chin. With this chin, he was able to withstand heavy blows that might have finished other fighters.  

12. Dominick Cruz “The Dominator”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 22-3-0

Cruz is popularly known for his superb movements, which made it hard for his opponents to predict what his next move would be. The number one item on his priority list was to not get hit. Although he is not one of the best when it comes to submission and knockout, he is able to comfortably evade many of his opponents’ hits.

11. Daniel Cormier “DC”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 22-2-0, 1 NC

This is one of the few fighters to have gained success in both heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. Cormier was able to defeat many of his opponents who would stand on his way of maintaining his position as light heavyweight champion. However, he was stopped by Jon Jones.

10. Conor McGregor “The Notorious”

  • Country: Ireland
  • Record: 22-4-0

Conor McGregor is one of the biggest names in the industry right now who is popularly known for his frequent trash talks. Ranked #4 in the UFC lightweight rankings and #8 in the UFC Men’s pound for pound rankings as of June 2020, McGregor is also one of the rare fighters who have been able to hold the UFC featherweight and lightweight titles two times. His left punch is one of his most favourite weapons and he uses it to have his way with his opponents. He is still young in the game and more is expected from him.

9. B.J. Penn “The Prodigy”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 16-14-2

Penn is one of the few great fighters the MMA can boast of. He is one of the fastest fighters to earn the Jiu-Jitsu and the first American to bag the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. Penn was able to defeat many of his opponents with his grappling skills. One event that fans will never forget was when he was seen licking the blood on his gloves after his victory over Joe Stevenson. “The Prodigy” deserves to be among the list of the best MMA fighters of all-time.

8. Chuck Liddell “The Iceman”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 21-9-0

Chuck may not have the fancy striking skills, but his vicious hands and granite chin were two of his deadliest weapons. He has been able to deceive his opponents with his deadly striking only to surprised them with his kicks. All these have made him stand out among many of his counterparts. 

7. Matt Hughes

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 45-9-0

Matt was known for how he would carry his opponents and smash them down, sending them into a great defeat. He had many skills in his arsenal to defeat his opponents. Matt is one of the scariest and toughest fighters in the industry. He was never satisfied with just taking his opponents down, he would always follow with a great punch, which also contributed to his reputation. 

6. Demetrius Johnson “Mighty Mouse”

  • Country: United States
  • Record: 30-3-1

Demetrius Johnson is not only the first fighter to earn UFC flyweight championship, but he is also the only fighter to hold the record. He is holding the title and on his mission to break Anderson Silva’s record of defending the title consecutively. What makes him stand out among other fighters is his high IQ, speed, and footwork, which has made it difficult for his opponents to defeat him.

5. Fedor Emelianenko “The Last Emperor”

  • Country: Russia
  • Record: 39-6-0, 1 NC

Before Fedor Emelianenko came to MMA, he was a Combat Sambo champion, and this has helped him blend him succeed in the MMA. At first glance, you may write him off as unfit for a fight. But as the fight goes on, you become convinced that he is one of the best fighters the MMA has been blessed with in UFC history.

4. Khabib Nurmagomedov “The Eagle”

  • Country: Russia
  • Record: 28-0-0

If we are to mention a few fighters who will never be forgotten in the world of MMA, Khabib is one name that will never be left out. He does not only win his fights, he wins most of them hands-down. Fans even regard him as an animal as a result of his great moves and performances.

What makes Nurmagomedov truly remarkable is the fact that his opponents usually know his next moves, yet they still lack what it takes to stop him. You may want to ask why he is not the first on the list? He is not making it to the first position because he hasn’t had the chance perhaps after he has had the time to defend his titles consistently as a few others have.

3. Jon Jones “Bones”

Jon Jones
Photo: Reuters/Stephen R. Sylvanie
  • Country: United States
  • Record: 26-1-0, 1 NC

In his early career, Jones was able to defeat Mauricio Rua to earn the UFC youngest champion when he was just 23. He had a rapid rise in his career and is not showing any sign of slowing down. He is always remembered for his great victory over Reyes, which was his 14th title defence. Jon Jones is simply a legend. He is often revered by pundits as one of the best fighters ever. All eyes are on Jones for what his performances will be in his next fights.

2. Anderson Silva “The Spider”

Anderson Silva
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  • Country: Brazil
  • Record: 34-10-0, 1 NC

Though he is known for his great performance in the Jiu-Jitsu, what makes Anderson Silva stand out among other fighters in the UFC is his great striking skills. He has been able to deceive his opponents with his smooth and harmless looks, through which he is able to defeat many of his opponents. Silva was able to set his opponents into a trap by mocking them of their actions and moves. When this happens, opponents become frustrated and try to bring him down, and that is when Silva would have his way. Anderson Silva is a major contender of the title of the greatest in the UFC.

1. George St. Pierre “Rush”

George St Pierre – Best UFC Fighter ever
Photo: SB Nation/MMA Fighting
  • Country: Canada
  • Record: 26-2-0

George St. Pierre is the best MMA fighter of all-time. Yes, he was not the best at knockouts, but his strong will was too much for many fighters to break. One thing that surprised all was that he did not have any wrestling background before launching into MMA. Yet, he was always in the best position to put his opponents down. Pierre’s reputation was further heightened when he had a great victory over Michael Bisping at UFC 217.

Final Words

Regardless of the sport, the ‘best-ever’ topic is always a controversial matter. Aside from Wayne Gretzky, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and perhaps Serena Williams who are unarguably the best in their sport, there are rarely a few sports where it might be obvious who the title of the greatest of all time should be bestowed.

What are your thoughts on our top-20 best MMA fighters of all-time? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

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