With UFC 200 fast approaching; We decided to do a countdown of the top 20 fighters in UFC History. The criteria is intentionally left to the voters interpretation, some counted Pride, some counted WEC, some threw that out all together. I do want to mention that Fedor is not ranked, having never fought for the UFC at all, even though he did get a Zuffa check as a member of Strikeforce.
David(15):Holy crap was I glad to see Chuck go. Starting when he fought Rampage for the UFC title, Chuck went 1-5. The lone win was Wandy. His only losses before then? Gumby- Avenged, Randy Couture, Avenged twice, and Rampage, someone he just couldn’t get past. Chuck beat everyone else. Had Chuck left after the second Rampage fight, or fought Wandy right after Rampage and quit, then he’s looking at the top 3 and making that a top 4 that everyone is looking at.
Joao(13): The Iceman was, for many years, the face of the UFC, its most marketable fighter. He established himself as a top contender for many years and, even though he lost his first fight for the title against Randy Couture, he was able to rebound and win the title. He kept the title for 2 years in what is usually one of the most competitive weight classes in the UFC. Along the way, while sprawling and working his arsenal of strikes, he was able to beat Randy Couture (twice), Tito Ortiz (twice), Babalu (twice), Wanderlei Silva, Vítor Belfort and Kevin Randleman. His highlight reel is one of the sport’s best.
Roni(9): Chuck is a legend and carried UFC’s torch into Pride.
Joao(16): There is a reason why he is called “The Prodigy”. His climb through the BJJ ranks was staggering and he was somehow able to pair that with some of the best pure boxing the UFC has ever seen. BJ first shocked the world when upset Matt Hughes in 2004 to win the Welterweight title and he later had a highly dominant run as Lightweight champion, dispatching top contenders such as Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez in the process. His dedication to training was always a question mark but his overall talent has always been undeniable.
David(13): Penn is hard to rank. He should have stayed at 155, and the UFC saw that too late to really push him as a champion. Penn spent way too long at 170 for a challenge instead of just beating the best 155er the UFC could find for him. Maybe it was Penn pushing for bigger fights or better paydays, but I wonder if Penn wouldn’t have been better off taking on lightweights from Pride every three months. Lets look at the guys that beat him that are not on my list. Jens Pulver, Lyoto, Frankie Edgar, Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald. Only natural lightweight on that list? Frankie.
Roni(13): IMHO the most gifted fighter of all. A pity was never motivated enough to take his career seriously.
Joao(17): Matt ruled the welterweight division with an iron fist for many years. His raw strength and wrestling background made viewers cringe as he slammed opponent after opponent. Even though Matt was relatively one dimensional (his striking did improve over the years though) his wrestling and ground ‘n pound, plus underrated submissions, carried him to victory after victory. He was the welterweight champion for 5 years (2001-06), being only interrupted for 5 months in 2004.
David(14):Matt Hughes should have left after that rubber match with GSP. For some reason he wanted to be a standup fighter. I used to write that Hughes was wanting to get that walkoff KO to retire on, and never could get it. His last 3 losses were just awful knockouts. But Hughes does pass the test. He beat who he should have beaten (in his prime), other than Dennis Hallman for some reason.
Roni(14): Before GSP beat him at the tail end of his career, he was a monster.
David(20): Undefeated. Much like PrideFedor, the only blemish on his record is crapola. Of course, there was no chance Matt Hammil was going to give Jones a rematch, and this loss is even more egregous than Fedor’s. Jon Jones has not only beaten those in front of him, he made them look horrible. I hope he stays at 205 for the next half dozen fights, clears it out before he moves on. I do not want to see him bounce back and forth.
Roni(19):Absolute genius. Would be top if not for some controversial moves “i.e. eye-pokes” and issues with the law.
Joao(15): Even though “Bones” is still an active fighter it is hard to leave him off the top of the list. If anything, his outside distractions basically make him lose a couple of positions on the list. Jones’ athleticism and length is second to none and he has made a habit of making great fighters look like amateurs. His Light Heavyweight run to the title and title defenses are impressive when taking a look at the opponents he has taken out – Machida, Rampage, Rashad Evans, Shogun, Gustafsson. Jones is still only 28 and if he can get his act together there is no doubt that he will give the sport many further highlights.
David(19):You can’t go wrong with GSP or Jones at 1-2 or 2-1. I give GSP the second spot, simply because he’s the only one with a legitamate loss on his resume. That loss to Matt Serra was his only major dent in perfection, no shame in losing to Matt Hughes when you beat him back twice over.
Joao(19): Before GSP established himself as the most important welterweight fighter in the history of the UFC, Matt Hughes was widely considered as the most dominant welterweight the sport had ever seen. But the Canadian took the belt from him and never looked back. An upset loss to Matt Serra only made him come back stronger and his unique blend of takedowns, submission skills and crisp striking are second to none. That loss to Matt Serra also made him become a more intelligent fighter and cautious fighter but his dominance cannot be disputed. His somewhat shocking retirement robbed us of further battles but his legacy is as solid as it comes.
Roni(18): I think he was the best athlete to fight MMA. But not the most gifted. Did not climb the top because he was content to win by decision.
Roni(20): Simply beat ll the records, and gave us most highlight endings
Joao(20): The most dominant pound for pound fighter in the history of the UFC. Before finally losing his Middleweight crown to Chris Weidman, The Spider beat 16 straight opponents in over 6 years, delivering some of the most brutal KOs and showing that there are different levels when it comes to striking. Some of his main victims include Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Chris Leben, Yushin Okami, Vítor Belfort and Demian Maia. His run in the UFC is unprecedented and as dominant as it can be.
David(18): Draw a line for these three guys, Jones, GSP and Silva is one that is in danger of losing his spot. The PEDs, the injuries, the uninspiring fights, I wonder how much damage Anderson is going to do going forward? For the record, his UFC losses: Bisping, Weidman (x2). Before that you can look at his 16 fight winning streak. Considering quite a few fighters ran to 170 and 205 to avoid him, that’s an impressive feat.
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