Famous Fighters

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.

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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.

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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”

Famous Fighters By Wayne L Johnson

  • 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.

Famous Fighters 2020

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”

  • 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”

  • 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.

Famous Fighters In History

1. George St. Pierre “Rush”

  • 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.

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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.

Muhammad Ali (1942)
Famous For:Being widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time.
The Greatest, “The People’s Champion,” these are nicknames given to one of the most famous athletes in the world, Muhammad Ali. He has born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. before he converted to Islam in 1964. Before turning professional, Ali won a gold medal at the Olympics in Rome in 1960 as a light heavyweight. As a professional heavyweight, we won fifty-six, 37 by knockout. Some of his fights have been given titles, most famous include, “Rumble in the Jungle,” in Kinshasa, Zaire against George Foreman and “The Thrilla in Manila,” in Manila, Philippines against Joe Frazier. Ali was a multiple heavyweight champion during his career as a boxer.
Manny Pacquiao (1978)
Famous For:World champion in eight weight divisions
Eight division world champion, the first to ever accomplish the feat, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao was named “Fighter of the Decade” in 2009. A southpaw, Pacquiao’s record is an impressive 54-5 with 2 draws. This is one fighter who has received more than his share of nicknames that include: Pac Man, The Nation’s Fist, Destroyer, Mexicutioner and the list goes on.
Mike Tyson (1966)
Famous For:Unified the heavyweight titles under the WBA, WBC, & IBF
At twenty years old, Mike Tyson became the undisputed heavyweight champion, unifying the WBA (World Boxing Association), WBC (World Boxing Council), and the IBF (International Boxing Federation) heavyweight titles. “The Baddest Man on the Planet”, as Tyson was known, won 44 of his fifty fights by knockout. He is also known as Iron Mike and Kid Dynamite for his hard hitting punches.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (1977)
Famous For:Undefeated record
Rated as the best pound for pound fighter today, Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains undefeated. He is a world champion in five divisions beginning with the Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Light Welterweight, and Light Middleweight, divisions. As an amateur, he had an 84-6 record, as a professional, he is 45-0. He has two nicknames to date, “Money” & “Pretty Boy.”
Jack Johnson (1878-1946)
Famous For:Galveston Giant
The “Galveston Giant” or John Arthur Johnson became the first Black American world boxing heavyweight (179 lbs not more than 201) champion. His reign as champion lasted for seven years. He had a total of 114 fights, he won eighty fights, forty-five by knockouts; twelve draws, fourteen no-contest, and 13 losses. Johnson was an “orthodox” style of boxer.
George Foreman (1949)
Famous For:Rumble in the Jungle
Two time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman was one of the most famous boxers of his time that go with his epic battles against the likes of Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, and Muhammad Ali. In 1968, he won the gold medal at summer Olympics in Mexico City. In his storied boxing career, Foreman compiled seventy-six wins. He was the oldest, at age 45, Heavyweight champion to win the title. His nicknames include, “The Heywood Giant, Big George, and the Punching Preacher.”
Roy Jones Jr. (1969)
Famous For:1990s Fighter of the Decade
After starting as a boxer in the light middleweight division, Roy Jones Jr. eventually found himself winning the heavyweight title. During the 1990s, Jones received the recognition for being the “Fighter of the Decade.” He garnered a total of 56 wins during his professional career, receiving the title Champion as a Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight. He was known as “RJ, Captain Hook, Superman, and Junior.”
Rocky Marciano (1923-1969)
Famous For:Undefeated Heavyweight boxer
Untied and undefeated in his professional boxing career, former World Heavyweight champion Rocky (Rocco Francis Marchegiano) Marciano, is the only boxer to hold this distinction. He had forty-nine fights, lost none, won 43 by knockout. Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, he has been given the alias “Rock from Brockton” and “Brockton Blockbuster.”
Julio César Chávez, Jr. (1986)
Famous For:WBC Middleweight champion in 2011
Following in the footsteps of his father, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has a record of 47 wins and 1 loss. He won the WBC middleweight title in 2011. He has been rated to fight in two weight classes, Middleweight and Light Heavyweight.
Joe Frazier (1944-2011)
Famous For:Thrilla in Manila
Joseph William “Smokin Joe” Frazier was proclaimed the “undisputed World Heavyweight Champion” in boxing in 1970. In the 1964 Tokyo summer Olympics, Frazier won the gold medal in the heavyweight division. As a professional, Smokin Joe had 32 wins and 4 losses, twice each to Ali and Foreman.
Evander Holyfield (1962)
Famous For:Holyfield vs. Tyson, the Bite
With a nickname “The Real Deal”, Evander Holyfield proved that he was just that, the real deal as a boxer. Of his 44 wins, he won 29 by knockout. Some of those wins were at the expense of the likes of Foreman, Holmes, and Mike Tyson, to name a few. Another nickname given to Holyfield was “The Warrior.”
Julio César Chávez (1962)
Famous For:The Great Mexican Champion
Considered as Mexico’s greatest fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez is remembered for his punching power, relentless attack against his opponents, and his ability to take the punches. As a Chavez had 107 wins to go with being crowned six times as world champion in the Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Light Welterweight divisions.
Lennox Lewis (1965)
Famous For:Undisputed Champion in 2000
British/Canadian Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is viewed by many as one of the greatest fighters of all time. He received a gold medal during the 1988 Seoul summer Olympics. He turned professional in 1989 in which he won forty-one times. At six feet five inches, he had a reach of 84 inches. He has been given the nickname “The Lion” and “Lenny”, though he viewed himself as “the pugilist specialist.”
Victor Ortiz (1987)
Famous For:WBC Welterweight champion in 2011
Another southpaw, Victor Ortiz’s fighting record is 29 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws. In 2011, he won the WBC welterweight title against Andre Berto. He us rated eligible to fight in the welterweight, light welterweight, and light middleweight divisions.
Sugar Ray Leonard (1956)
Famous For:The Super Fight vs. Hagler
In the 1980s, Sugar Ray Leonard received the recognition for being the “Boxer of the Decade”. Although he only figured in 40 fights, he won 36 of them, the men he fought against were equally legendary. Representing the USA at the summer Olympics in 1976, we won gold in the light welterweight division. He fought in five divisions, moving up from Welterweight to Light Heavyweight. His battles against fellow Hall of Famers were epic, these include the likes of Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, and Marvin Hagler.
Timothy Bradley (1983)
Famous For:World champion in welterweight division
Current WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley is just getting started in his boxing career. To date, he has won 31 fights with no losses. He won the welterweight title against then champion Manny Pacquiao.
Jack Dempsey (1895-1983)
Famous For:Boxing World Heavyweight Champion 1919-1926
Jack Dempsey held boxing’s World Heavyweight Championship belt for seven years, from 1919 to 1926. Because of his aggressive power, Dempsey was one of the most popular boxers in his time. Of the 83 fights he fought in, Dempsey won 65, winning 51 of those by knock-out. He only lost six of the 83. His nicknames include “Manassa Mauler” and “Kid Blackie.”
Joe Louis (1914-1981)
Famous For:Brown Bomber & Boxing World Heavyweight Champion 1937-1949
As boxing’s World Heavyweight champion for twelve years, of the 70 fights Joe Louis fought, he only experienced three losses, winning 66. Of that victories, he won 52 by knockout. He is viewed as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. He had reach of 76″. He was nicknamed the Brown Bomber.
Sugar Ray Robinson (1921-1989)
Famous For:best pound for pound boxer
The title of the “greatest boxer” of all time may be given to Sugar Ray Robinson, as an amateur, he had a record of 85-0, 69 won by knockout, forty of those in the first round. Robinson had an “orthodox” style as a boxer. He fought in the welterweight (140 pounds not more than 147) and middleweight (152 pounds not more than 165) divisions of boxing.
Sonny Liston (unknown-1970)
Famous For:1964 rematch against Muhammad Ali
One of the most controversial boxers of his time, Sonny Liston had a record of 50 wins and four losses. He was in the heavyweight division and in 1962 was crowned the World Heavyweight Champion. His most memorable fights were those against Floyd Patterson and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), whom he each fought two times.
Rubin Carter (1937)
Famous For:his nickname, the Hurricane
The Hurricane, this was the nickname given to middleweight boxer Rubin Carter. He was not tall for a middleweight fighter, but he did have a total of forty fights in which he won 27 of those, 19 by knockout.
Jake Lamotta (1921)
Famous For:Raging Bull
LaMotta has been given the nickname of “Raging Bull” and “Bronx Bull” for his bully style of fighting in the ring. As a middleweight and light heavyweight boxer, Jake fought a total of 106 times, winning 93 of those. His storied rivalry against Sugar Ray Robinson, they fought six times, the last had been labeled as boxings version of the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” in which LaMotta was out-boxed, out punched by Robinson, but never knocked down.
Roberto Durán (1951)
Famous For:“No Mas, No Mas”
One of the best fighters to step into the wrong was Panamanian Roberto Duran, the man who had been given the nickname “Manos de Piedra or Hands of Stone.” He fought in five different weight classes, Lightweight, Welterweight, Light and Super Middleweight, and Middleweight. He won 103 times and 70 of those by knockout.
Shane Mosley (1971)
Famous For:Sugar Shane Mosley
As a professional boxer, Shane Mosley has a record of 47 wins and 8 losses. 39 of those wins came via knockout. He held world titles as a Lightweight, Welterweight, and Light Middleweight. As an amateur, Mosley’s official record was 230 wins and twelve losses.
Oscar De La Hoya (1973)
Famous For:Golden Boy
Golden Boy Oscar dela Hoya has won ten world boxing titles in different weight classes beginning in the Super featherweight all the way up to Middleweight, six in all. He won a gold medal at the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain in the lightweight division. His professional boxing record is a respectable 39-6.
Larry Holmes (1949)
Famous For:Easton Assassin
The Easton Assassin, this was how former WBC Heavyweight champion was known. He grew up in the city of Easton in Pennsylvania. He reigned as boxing champion from 1978 through 1983. His record as a professional boxer was 69-6.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler (1954)
Famous For:Marvelous Marvin Hagler
Marvelous, that is what Marvin Hagler is known as. He is a southpaw (left-handed) boxer that fought in the Middleweight division, he has hailed the undisputed World Middleweight Champion over a seven year period, 1980 to 1987. He was involved in 67 fights and won 62. His knockout percentage is the highest among middleweight champions, of the 62 fights he won, he knocked out 52 of his opponents, giving him a 78% knockouts.