UFC has graced our television screens for nearly three decades. However, as time has progressed the sport has entered the mainstream and its popularity has increased. As a result, the number of competitors to have increased leading to events being held weekly. However, only a few fighters can legitimately term themselves as the greatest of all time.
In judging the greatest, fans will always be divided on history, charisma, fight style, and records. Whilst a fighter may have a spotless record over a long period of time, they may be what is labeled as boring to a certain section of fans. However, other fighters may have relatively short careers but made a long-lasting impact.
Here are some of the fighters who have a claim at being the greatest in the UFC.
‘The Natural’ can be seen as a pioneer of the sport. He was synonymous with mixed martial arts throughout the 2000s and became the first fighter to win a championship in 2 weight divisions. Six others have emulated ‘The Natural’, but none of them have reclaimed both belts after losing them.
Randy Couture first competed in the UFC in 1997. He fought twice on one night UFC 13 to claim the top spot in the Heavyweight tournament. Later that year he claimed the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He had a 14-year career as a professional fighter and won 15 out of 24 fights in the UFC. He holds records such as most UFC Heavyweight Championship wins, as well as most title fights, competed in. In addition, he remains the only fighter to have won a championship after crossing the age of 40.
The fighter along with the likes of Chuck Liddell is one of the reasons the UFC is what it is today.
Whilst he may not be a popular choice amongst newer fans, ‘The Spider’ has had a massive influence in the first decade of the new millennium. He won 16 fights in a row which is the longest win streak in UFC history. Furthermore, he held the UFC Middleweight Championship for 7 years from 2006 to 2013.
The reign is the longest in UFC history. ‘The Spider’ defended his belt 10 times and won a via KO on a record 7 occasions. However, he hasn’t been the same since falling to Chris Weidman and cobbled up an uncharacteristic record of 1 win, 1 no contest, and 6 losses in his last 8 fights.
‘The Spider’ had such a great start to his career, that he is still someone who would fill up arenas should he decide to fight again. And fans would absolutely love to see one of his tremendous front kick KOs one more time.
The current UFC top-ranked pound for pound fighter has competed for a dozen years. However, he is yet to taste defeat via decision or submission. ‘Bones’ lost a fight in 2009 due to illegal downward elbow strikes. He became the youngest UFC Champion aged just 23 when he beat Mauricio Rua at UFC 128.
‘Bones’ has cleaned out the Light Heavyweight division beating names such as Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans, Daniel Cormier, and Lyoto Machida. Should he successfully put away his troubles with the UFC, he will be able to resume and march closer to breaking the record of Randy Couture for most UFC title fights. He currently sits at 12 and counting.
‘The Lioness’ has been unstoppable and is the only UFC fighter to defend a title whilst still being Champion in another division. She achieved the feat after beating Felicia Spencer to retain her Featherweight title at UFC 250.
The win was her 11th in a row and 8th in a Championship fight. Given the names she has taken down and the fact that she has cleaned up 2 divisions. ‘The Lioness’ holds wins over Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Holly Holm.
Due to her phenomenal accomplishments, Nunes has one of the strongest claims to the best UFC fighter of all time. UFC President Dana White too named ‘The Lioness’ as part of his MMA Mount Rushmore.
‘The Eagle’ makes the list for his dominance and astounding record at Lightweight. He has won 12 fights in the UFC in a dominant manner. However, he has just 2 title wins and at 31 he will have a lot of time ahead of him to blow away the entire division. Should ‘The Eagle’ win his next 5 fights he will replace Anderson Silva atop the list of fighters with the most consecutive wins in the company.
The battle with Conor McGregor at UFC 229 put him into the eyes of the casual fans too which highlighted his popularity immensely.
‘Rowdy’ had a short but powerful stay in the UFC. She popularized women’s MMA to such an extent and inspired a whole host of girls to take up the sport. The judoka introduced trash-talking and backed it up with lighting quick finishes inside the Octagon. She participated in the first women’s fight in UFC history against Liz Carmouche which served as the main event of UFC 157.
Rousey fought 8 times in the company and defined the early years of the last decade. The Bantamweight fighter was awarded the belt in the UFC and won her first 6 fights in a row. 5 of these came via first-round finishes with only Miesha Tate managing to pull the fight to the 3rd round before submitting.
As fans’ choices are diverse, we obviously will have missed a few top-notch fighters on this list. Who do you think can claim the title of the greatest UFC fighter of all time?
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