Before the likes of Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Israel Adesanya came along, there were other UFC greats who not only paved the way for them but also helped bring MMA to the mainstream of the sporting world and bring even more fun to the UFC betting fans.
Here are the Top 10 UFC fighters:
10. Chuck Liddell
Chuck Liddell is considered one of the best pure strikers in the history of MMA. When he fought inside the octagon, he was there to put up a firefight. Liddell was a crowd pleaser because of his fighting style. It was either he knocked his opponent out or he got knocked out.
Known as the Iceman, Liddell won the UFC light heavyweight title by halting Randy Couture at UFC 52 in what was the 2005 Knockout of the Year. Liddell would go on to defend the title four straight times, all by knockout, before losing it to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 71. Lidell is most famous for his 2007 Fight of the Year brawl against Wanderlei Silva, a bloody bout he won by decision.
This 2009 UFC Hall of Fame inductee was a former NCAA Division I wrestler at Cal Poly. Known as the Iceman, Liddell fought 23 times under the UFC promotion and is considered one of the fighters who helped bring MMA into the mainstream of American sports and entertainment.
Royce Gracie was one of the pioneers of the UFC. He was supposedly sent by his family to represent their brand of martial arts in the MMA scene. At a time when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was unknown an unknown discipline, Gracie bested three opponents in a combined 299 seconds to win the UFC 1 Tournament.
Gracie’s victory shook the fight world and it would forever redefine mixed martian arts. In the aftermath of Royce’s win, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms appeared all over the country and today, most UFC fighters have BJJ background. Gracie would go on to compete at UFC 2 and win the tournament again, this time around, beating four opponents in a single night of MMA action.
Gracie won his first 11 bouts in the UFC, a record at that time. His rivalry with fellow UFC pioneer Ken Shamrock is considered as one of the most important rivalries in MMA history. At UFC 1, Gracie Beat Shamrock and the two rematched at UFC 5 in the first Super Fight in UFC history. Their rematch was one of the UFC’s first pay per view hits with 260K PPV buys, a record during that time.
8. Randy Couture
Randy Couture started his MMA career at an age when most fighters would already be past their primes. For a decade, Couture would build a career that made him the fighter with the most championship reigns. The Natural was a three-time UFC heavyweight champion, a two-time UFC light heavyweight titleholder and an interim light heavyweight champion once.
Couture was involved in a record 16 title fights. He also holds the UFC record for most wins in the heavyweight division at six victories. He is the oldest champion in MMA history and the only fighter to win a championship after his induction to the UFC Hall of Fame. Couture is also the only fighter to have won a championship fight at the age of 40 or older, doing so a total of four times.
Couture became the first fighter in UFC history to win world titles in two different weight classes when he defeated Chuck Liddell in their first encounter. Couture’s victory over Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 made Couture the oldest champion in the history of the UFC at age 43 years and 255 days old. That record still stands today.
7. Jose Aldo
Most young fans know Jose Aldo as the man whom Conor McGregor knocked out in 13 seconds at UFC 194 to win the featherweight belt. But for those who have followed the UFC since its beginning, they know that the Brazilian is more than just a KO in Conor’s resume.
Aldo began his career in the UFC’s sister company, the WEC. He was the fourth and final WEC featherweight title and was promoted as the inaugural UFC champion after the UFC/WEC merger. Jose Aldo was undefeated for a decade from November 2005 to December 2015.
Junior was Sherdog’s 2009 Fighter of the Year is considered the best featherweight in the history of the UFC. His featherweight title reign of 1,848 days is the fourth-longest in the history of the promotion while his seven consecutive title defenses are the fifth most in UFC history.
6. B.J. Penn
B.J. Penn was one of the first complete fighters to set foot in the UFC. Penn arrived in 2001 and displayed a game that had excellent submission skills and elite striking. He earned the nickname “The Prodigy” because he earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in only three years.
Penn was the first American to win a gold medal in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. He is one of only five fighters in the UFC to win world titles in two different weight classes. He competed in four different divisions in the UFC. Penn fought at featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight during his storied career.
Considered an icon of the sport, Penn took on every challenge that was presented in front of him and had no fear of losing. After winning the lightweight title, he set the record for most successful title defenses and they moved up to welterweight to stun Matt Huges to win a second weight class.
5. Demetrious Johnson
Known as Mighty Mouse, Demetrious Johnson is proof that big things come in small packages. DJ is known for his elusive movement, quick striking, and his cat-quick reflexes. He was the inaugural UFC flyweight champion after winning the UFC flyweight tournament and would go on to establish one of the most dominant title reigns in UFC history.
Johnson defended the flyweight title a record 11 consecutive times. He also holds the record for the latest stoppage in UFC history when he submitted Kyoji Horiguchi at the 4:59 mark of Round 5. DJ holds the record for most takedowns landed in the flyweight division and he is the only fighter to land ten takedowns in three different bouts.
Widely regarded as the best flyweight in the history of the sport, Johnson was also one of the top pounds for pound fighters in the UFC during his prime years. He was traded by the UFC to the ONE Championships last year. Mighty Mouse won the ONE Championship Flyweight Grand Prix last October 12, 2019.
4. Jon Jones
You can only imagine what Jon Jones would have been had he not spend all those time away from the Octagon because of his legal and personal issues. If we take away all the controversies, the failed drug tests, and his legal woes, there is no question Jon Jones would rank higher in this list.
Bones is the youngest fighter to win a UFC title, winning the UFC light heavyweight belt at the age of 23. The older brother of NFL player Chandler Jones, Jon is a two-time light heavyweight champion. The only loss in his UFC career was a disqualification against Matt Hamill in 2009, about he lost due to illegal elbows. Other than that, his MMA career has been spotless. Except for Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, no one has even come close to challenging Jones in a fight.
Jones owns two wins over former double champion Daniel Cormier although one of those was overturned. Many have urged Jones to move up to heavyweight and win a second weight class but he is more concerned about becoming the GOAT of the light heavyweight division.
3. Daniel Cormier
The Champ-Champ or the Double Champ as what he likes to be called has two losses against Jon Jones. However, there is no question that he ranks as one of the best UFC fighters of all-time. Now 40, Cormier is closer to retirement than ever but many expect him to fight Stipe Miocic next year to complete their trilogy.
DC never got the respect he deserved because he won his first 205-pound title after Jon Jones got stripped and captured his second after he was reinstated as champion after Jones failed a drug test. But after his stunning knockout win of Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title, DC suddenly finds himself in the company of the all-time greats.
He is one of five fighters to win world titles in two different weight classes and the fourth to hold two at the same time. But Cormier is the only one to defend both titles. He was stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title when Jones rematched Gustaffson and was knocked out by Miocic in their rematch. Despite that, he’s done what most can only dream of.
2. Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva has been hailed as the Greatest of All-Time. The Spider reigned as UFC middleweight champion for a period of 2,457 days from 2006 to 2013, a record that still stands today. During that period, Silva won a record 16 straight UFC bouts and did not suffer a defeat until Chris Weidman knocked him out in 2013.
Silva’s front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort was one of the most spectacular knockouts we’ve ever seen. His fifth-round submission win over Chael Sonnen still ranks as one of the most dramatic comebacks in UFC history. The Spider provided us with so many memorable fights, we would fill up this entire article if we listed them down.
His career has been tainted with drug issues and he has been suspended before. Despite that, no one will argue that Silva was the UFC’s top showman after Chuck Lidell’s retirement and before Conor McGregor arrived. There is no question that the UFC wouldn’t be what it is today had it not been for Anderson Silva.
1. Georges St. Pierre
Georges St. Pierre didn’t need any spectacular knockouts nor technical submissions to make his mark. He would just take his opponents down to the ground and then outwrestle them to victory. Some call him boring but boring or not, he was the most dominant UFC fighter ever.
Being from Canada made him the UFC’s biggest PPV star before Conor McGregor arrived. He held the UFC welterweight title for 2,204 days, the second-longest streak in UFC history. He made nine successful title defenses and after his retirement, he made a comeback at UFC 217 and defeated Michael Bisping to win the UFC middleweight title and become the promotion’s fourth double champion.
GSP won 20 of 22 bouts and has defeated every man he has faced. He has one of the highest winning percentages in the history of the UFC and his two losses were both avenged impressively. St. Pierre has talked about coming back again to face Khabib Nurmagomedov but right now, he is on a hiatus.