Jon Jones defeats Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 and becomes the new UFC heavyweight champion (Zuffa LLC)

In the ever-evolving world of mixed martial arts, greatness can be fleeting. A single punch or submission can change the course of a fight, a career, or a legacy. Yet, there are those who have managed to make a lasting impact on the sport, leaving fans and critics in awe. The journey to find the best MMA fighters of all time takes us down a winding road of iconic moments, heart-stopping victories, and the indomitable spirit of true champions.

Here, we present our own rankings of the top 10 greatest MMA fighters, a list that not only celebrates their achievements but dives into the very essence of what makes these athletes exceptional.

Before we reveal our top 10, let us first pay homage to those who narrowly missed the cut. These honorable mentions deserve their due for the ways in which they’ve shaped and captivated the sport with their unforgettable fights and undeniable talent:

  • Henry Cejudo: The Messenger, an Olympic gold medalist turned MMA savant, delivered a masterclass in determination and skill, dismantling doubters and etching his name among the pantheon of dual-division champions.
  • Stipe Miocic: The blue-collar heavyweight, a firefighter by trade, extinguished the flames of his competition with a stoicism that belied his immense power.
  • BJ Penn: The Prodigy, a pioneer for lighter weight classes, showcased Hawaiian grit and an insatiable appetite for greatness throughout his storied career.
  • Conor McGregor: The Irish tornado, with his bombastic persona and thunderous left hand, swept through the MMA world and left it forever changed.
  • Randy Couture: The Natural’s age-defying exploits and strategic cunning made him an enduring legend in a sport that chews up and spits out so many.
  • Matt Hughes: The Illinois farm boy, with an unbreakable spirit and unyielding strength, planted his rivals in the canvas as if they were crops in his field.

Now, with anticipation building, we kick off our countdown of the best UFC fighters at number 10, with a fighter who has dominated two UFC divisions for many years already.

#10 – Amanda Nunes

The trailblazers of any sport carry the weight of expectation on their shoulders, and Amanda Nunes, a dynamo from Brazil, has done so with grace and ferocity. Nunes lands at number 10 in our list of best UFC fighters of all time, not just for her dominance in two weight classes, but for the impact she’s had on the sport.

Nunes boasts an impressive record of 22 wins and 5 losses, with a list of vanquished foes that reads like a who’s who of the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions. From Ronda Rousey to Cris Cyborg to Valentina Shevchenko, no opponent has been able to resist the force that is Nunes. As the first woman to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, her achievements have set the benchmark for female fighters worldwide.

Amanda Nunes’ best UFC highlights (ESPN MMA)

A powerful striker with a keen submission game, Nunes has refined her craft throughout her career. Her Muay Thai roots blend seamlessly with her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, creating a formidable style that has left her adversaries floundering. The ferocity with which she dismantles her opponents is a testament to the depth of her skill set.

Nunes’ impact on the sport extends beyond her accolades, as she’s broken barriers and shattered expectations. As the first openly LGBTQ+ UFC champion, her legacy is one of perseverance, inclusivity, and inspiration for the next generation of fighters.

Her iconic moments, such as the swift dismantling of Ronda Rousey and the electrifying knockout of Cris Cyborg, will forever be etched into the annals of MMA history. Amanda Nunes has undoubtedly earned her place among the greatest UFC fighters ever.

#9 – Alexander Volkvanovski

The ninth-ranked fighter in our enumeration of the top 10 best UFC fighters, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski, has forged a career that’s a mosaic of tenacity, skill, and heart. The Australian featherweight sensation’s journey from rugby league front-rower to UFC gold speaks volumes of his indomitable spirit and the relentless drive that resonates with hardcore mixed martial arts fans.

In a career glittered with achievements, Volkanovski’s record speaks volumes about his dedication and skill. Boasting a 25-2 win-loss record, he’s a champion that never shies away from challenges. He dethroned the legendary Max Holloway to claim the featherweight title and then defended it four times, proving his reign was no fluke.

On the hunt for new challenges, the pound-for-pound best moved up and faced the dominant Islam Makhachev for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Against all odds, Volkanovski exceeded expectations with an all-time performance and — according to some fans — was unlucky not to walk away the victor once the scorecards were read.

Alexander Volkanovski’s ten-fight win streak to start his UFC career (UFC)

These iconic moments are etched into Volkanovski’s career like the tattoos on his skin. His victories over Holloway, Jose Aldo, and Chad Mendes, together with his complete dominance of the featherweight division earn him a spot in our rankings.

But what truly sets Volkanovski apart is his unyielding resolve in the face of adversity. Case in point: his title defense against Brian Ortega, where he weathered a guillotine choke and a triangle attempt before regaining control and sealing the win.

Alexander Volkanovski’s meteoric rise to the apex of the featherweight division was nothing short of inspiring. His unwavering commitment to self-improvement, combined with his well-rounded skill set, cements him as the ninth-best UFC fighter on our list for now. His story is a testament to the power of perseverance, and his legacy will no doubt continue to reverberate through the MMA world for generations to come.

#8 – Jose Aldo

There are those who wear their heart on their sleeve and give everything they have to the sport they love. For Jose Aldo, a boy from Manaus, Brazil, who dared to dream, this love for MMA manifested into an incredible career. Our #8 greatest UFC fighter has left an indelible mark on the featherweight division with a reign that spanned nearly a decade.

Aldo’s record of 30 wins and 8 losses is impressive, but it’s the names on his hit list that truly illustrate his greatness. From Frankie Edgar to Chad Mendes, the Brazilian has faced the best and emerged victorious. With a WEC title and seven UFC title defenses under his belt, Aldo’s era of dominance remains unparalleled in the division.

Jose Aldo’s incredible WEC and UFC Championship Run (UFC)

With a fighting style that melds precision striking, devastating leg kicks, and a granite chin, Aldo has long been a conundrum for his opponents. His Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background coalesce into an explosive and technical approach, leaving fans in awe of his prowess inside the cage.

Though his iconic moments are numerous, it’s impossible to ignore the dramatic loss to Conor McGregor. Yet, in the face of adversity, Aldo has shown time and again that true greatness lies in the ability to rise above setbacks and continue chasing victory. As we move forward in our journey through the best UFC fighters of all time, Aldo’s name will forever hold its rightful place.

#7 – Daniel Cormier

A tapestry woven from resilience and determination, the story of Daniel Cormier exemplifies the spirit of a true champion. As we continue our journey through the best UFC fighters of all time, Cormier takes the #7 spot, earning his place through an illustrious career that saw him capture gold in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

With a record of 22 wins and 3 losses, Cormier’s resume is a testament to his prowess inside the Octagon. His notable victories over the likes of Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Stipe Miocic speak volumes about his ability to rise to the occasion. With two UFC titles to his name, Cormier is one of the rare few to find success in multiple weight classes.

Daniel Cormier’s best finishes – a showcase of one of the greatest UFC fighters (UFC)

Cormier’s fighting style is an artful blend of Olympic-level wrestling and ever-improving striking skills. Over the years, his striking evolved to complement his wrestling pedigree, making him a well-rounded and dangerous opponent. The versatility of his game has been the bane of many a challenger.

The impact Cormier has had on the sport is immense, both inside and outside the cage. And now, as a commentator and analyst, he’s helped educate fans and elevate the understanding of MMA. His legacy is a tale of perseverance, with his hard-fought rise to the top serving as an inspiration for countless fighters.

From his memorable battles with Jon Jones to his triumphant victory over Stipe Miocic, Cormier has provided no shortage of iconic moments and his journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit of a true competitor.

#6 – Fedor Emelianenko

As we venture further into the realm of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, we stumble upon the enigmatic Fedor Emelianenko, ranked at #6. Fedor’s dominance in the heavyweight division during the Pride era remains the stuff of legends.

Fedor’s career achievements are staggering. With a record of 40 wins, 7 losses, and 1 no-contest, his conquests of giants such as Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira stand as a testament to his place among the best MMA fighters ever.

Fedor Emelianenko’s most brutal knockouts (VoteSport)

The Last Emperor’s fighting style is characterized by his blend of sambo and judo, complemented by crisp striking, and deceptive speed. His evolution as a fighter saw him transition from a grappling-heavy approach to incorporating devastating punches, making him a formidable force in the heavyweight division.

Fedor’s impact on the sport is undeniable. He introduced the world to the power and grace of Russian sambo, opening doors for future generations of fighters. His stoic demeanor and unwavering focus have made him an icon in the MMA community.

#5 – Demetrious Johnson

As we wade through the pantheon of the best MMA fighters of all time, we are greeted by the #5 ranked Demetrious Johnson, a man whose mastery of movement and technique has earned him the moniker “Mighty Mouse.” A force to be reckoned with in the flyweight division, Johnson’s reign was nothing short of spectacular.

Johnson’s career achievements paint an impressive portrait. With a record of 31 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw, his dominance in the flyweight division is undeniable. He holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history (11), a feat that encapsulates his reign of terror over the 125-pound weight class.

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson: The man the UFC erased (Patrick Givia)

Renowned for his striking precision and grappling acumen, Johnson’s fighting style is an amalgamation of finely tuned skills. His ability to transition seamlessly between striking and grappling, along with his knack for creating angles and exploiting openings, has left many opponents bewildered and defeated.

Johnson’s impact on the sport is unmistakable. His reign as flyweight champion helped establish the division and brought attention to the smaller weight classes, proving that size is not the sole determinant of greatness.

Mighty Mouse’s most iconic moment, a mid-air armbar submission of Ray Borg, remains etched in the minds of MMA enthusiasts.

Demetrious Johnson’s “Mighty Wiz Bar” is arguably the greatest submission in MMA history

And many fans will be unable to forget the competitive back-and-forth battle with Henry Cejudo — a fight that many thought Johnson won.

Since moving to ONE Championship in 2019, Johnson has continued to impress, winning the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix and capturing the ONE Flyweight Championship by avenging his defeat to Adriano Moraes in a rematch in 2022.

#4 – Khabib Nurmagomedov

In the landscape of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov stands as a towering figure, commanding the #4 spot with an undefeated record and an aura of invincibility. From the mountains of Dagestan, Khabib’s journey is one of unyielding determination, culminating in his reign as the undisputed lightweight champion.

With an immaculate record of 29-0, Khabib’s dominance in the lightweight division is unparalleled. His list of conquests includes the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje, each falling prey to his relentless grappling and smothering pressure.

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s best UFC fights – a compilation of fights from one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time (ESPN MMA)

Khabib’s fighting style is a masterclass in grappling and ground control. With his roots in sambo and wrestling, he’s crafted an approach that leaves opponents gasping for air and desperate for reprieve. The suffocating pressure of his ground game has become synonymous with his name, a testament to his mastery of the art.

Khabib’s most iconic moment, the submission of Conor McGregor, solidified his place among the greatest UFC fighters of all time. And although the post-fight melee may have damaged his reputation monetarily, Nurmagomedov still remains a role model for many who appreciate his dedication to his craft, respect for his opponents, and unwavering loyalty to his family and team.

As we prepare to enter the top 3 fighters on our list of best UFC fighters, we brace ourselves for a dive into the Matrix, a world where the impossible is made possible. The story of the #3 ranked Anderson Silva awaits.

#3 – Anderson Silva

In our quest to reveal the best MMA fighters of all time, we have arrived at a true enigma, a man who walked the line between art and violence, painting masterpieces with his limbs. At #3, we present Anderson Silva, an extraordinary talent who once reigned supreme in the middleweight division.

Silva’s career achievements are nothing short of legendary. With a record of 34 wins, 11 losses, and 1 no-contest, he captivated fans with his unmatched prowess. He held the UFC Middleweight Championship for an astounding 2,457 days, with 10 successful title defenses during that time, making him one of the best UFC fighters ever.

A collection of Anderson Silva’s best UFC moments (ESPN MMA)

Silva’s fighting style is a dazzling display of fluidity, creativity, and precision. Known for his striking, particularly his Muay Thai skills, Silva often toyed with his opponents, baiting them into making mistakes before unleashing devastating counterattacks. His uncanny ability to anticipate and evade strikes earned him the nickname “The Spider.”

Silva’s impact on the sport is immense. He has inspired a generation of fighters, demonstrating that martial arts is more than brute forceā€”it is a symphony of movement, timing, and finesse. His reign as middleweight champion solidified the division’s place in the MMA world.

Iconic moments in Silva’s career abound, with his front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort perhaps the most emblematic of his genius. However, Silva’s career was not without controversy, including a positive test for performance-enhancing substances and a bizarre fight against Demian Maia in which he was criticized for his lack of engagement.

Nevertheless, Anderson Silva’s artistry and dominance remain a cornerstone of MMA history. As we shift our gaze to the #2 ranked fighter, Georges St-Pierre, we will explore another facet of greatness, a story of relentless determination and the pursuit of perfection.

#2 – Georges St-Pierre

As we near the summit of our list of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, we find a man whose very name embodies the pursuit of excellence. At #2, we celebrate Georges St-Pierre, a Canadian phenom whose legacy echoes throughout the annals of MMA history.

GSP’s career achievements are staggering, a testament to his dedication and skill. With a record of 26 wins and 2 losses, he dominated the UFC welterweight division for over seven years. He captured the UFC Welterweight Championship twice and later returned to the Octagon to win the Middleweight Championship, showcasing his remarkable versatility. To this day, St-Pierre holds the record for most wins in UFC welterweight title fights (14).

Georges St-Pierre’s greatest moments in the UFC (UFC)

St-Pierre’s fighting style is a seamless blend of striking and grappling, honed through years of relentless training. Adept in Kyokushin karate, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, GSP dismantled his opponents with surgical precision. His superb wrestling skills and takedown accuracy proved invaluable in his bouts, allowing him to dictate the pace and control his adversaries.

Georges St-Pierre’s impact on the sport is profound. Beyond his numerous records and titles, he was a true ambassador for MMA, embodying sportsmanship and humility both inside and outside the Octagon. His dedication to constant improvement and evolution inspired countless fighters and elevated the sport to new heights.

GSP’s career is filled with iconic moments, from avenging his loss to Matt Hughes by capturing the Welterweight Championship to his thrilling return against Michael Bisping, winning the Middleweight title after a four-year hiatus. While critics often cited his lack of finishes in later fights, his tenacity, skill, and grace under pressure remain the hallmarks of his legacy.

Georges St-Pierre is thoroughly deserving of a top spot in our list of the best UFC fighters of all time.

#1 – Jon Jones

At the apex of our top 10 greatest UFC fighters of all time, we find a man whose name is synonymous with unparalleled talent, yet undeniably marred by controversy. Jon Jones, the enigmatic prodigy who has reigned over the light heavyweight division like a specter, casting a long shadow on the sport itself.

Jones’ career achievements are nothing short of legendary. With a record of 27 wins, 1 loss, and 1 no-contest, he dominated the UFC light heavyweight division like no other. His unmatched finishing ability — especially earlier in his career — and propensity for producing highlight-reel moments have cemented his status as the best UFC fighter in the eyes of many.

Jones added to his legacy by stepping up to the heavyweight division and capturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2023 following a three-year layoff.

Jon Jones’ best UFC highlights (ESPN MMA)

As an MMA virtuoso, Jones’ fighting style is a potent mix of unpredictability and raw athleticism. With a diverse striking arsenal and an uncanny ability to adapt, he has continually evolved throughout his career. Coupling his striking prowess with a strong wrestling foundation, Jones has proven time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with inside the Octagon.

Jon Jones’ impact on the sport is undeniably profound, yet deeply divisive. As one of the most dominant champions in UFC history, his prowess in the cage is indisputable. But his turbulent journey outside the Octagon has left an indelible mark on his legacy. Despite the controversies surrounding him, there is no denying the sheer talent and skill that has propelled him to the pinnacle of our rankings.

Among the many iconic moments that define Jones’ career, his early demolition of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to capture the light heavyweight title, his epic wars with Daniel Cormier, and a classic title fight against Alexander Gustafsson stand out. Yet, his storied career has been punctuated by numerous controversies, from failed drug tests to legal issues that have threatened to overshadow his greatness.

In the end, Jon Jones stands alone atop our list of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, a testament to the undeniable power of raw talent, and a reminder of the complexities of human nature.

Jon Jones should be considered the greatest UFC fighter of all time after his convincing heavyweight title victory (Zuffa LLC)
We’ve ranked Jon Jones as the greatest UFC fighter of all time after his convincing heavyweight title victory (Zuffa LLC)

As we close the book on our journey through the best UFC fighters ever, we ask for your opinions. Do you agree with our rankings of the greatest MMA fighters? Is Jon Jones deserving of the top spot? Who was snubbed? Let us know in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *