The debate over who is the greatest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter of all time has been raging for decades. The answer to this question is highly subjective and depends on a variety of measurable factors such as won/loss records, dominance in competition, number of championships held and maybe even total cash winnings. There are also unmeasurable considerations like toughness, quickness, endurance and stamina, power and speed.
The greatest MMA fighter of all time could be any one from a long list of fighters who have excelled in the sport. Some contenders include legends like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Royce Gracie, Ronda Rousey, Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko. All of these fighters have achieved success through their combination of grappling and striking skills, physical abilities, mental toughness and technique combined into one powerful package that enables them to dominate their opponents in the ring.
This list is only a starting point, any of your personal favourites who do not appear are guaranteed to be considered “greats”. If you have any suggestions for athletes that fit into spots 6 to 10, feel free to suggest them as there may be a follow up article. In any event, here goes with the Top Five Greatest MMA Fighters of all time:
NUMBER 5: KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a former MMA UFC champion, and the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight champion of all time, with an undefeated record of 28 wins and 0 losses. He was born in Dagestan, Russia, and started practicing martial arts at a young age, his background includes Sambo, Judo and Wrestling. In March 2021, Khabib announced his retirement from MMA after defending his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Khabib was known for his aggressive style of fighting which has earned him the nickname “The Eagle”, his mauling of Conor McGregor in October 2018 made him even more famous for his antagonistic style. Khabib is also the first Muslim to become a UFC World Champion and has won multiple championships in various organizations. Outside of the octagon, Khabib is renowned for being an excellent MMA coach and cornerman who can motivate fighters to perform their best.
NUMBER 4: DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON
Demetrious Johnson, the inaugural UFC flyweight champion, is now competing in ONE Championship, known for his lightning strikes and elusive moves that have earned him the nickname “Mighty Mouse”. Johnson had a harsh childhood growing up in Washington and Kentucky, where he competed in cross country, track & field and wrestling. Johnson was able to overcome his struggles and become one of the most successful mixed martial artists of all time.
He holds a record 10 takedowns in 3 different fights and was named the fastest fighter in 2007 by knocking out Brandon Fields in 0:17 of the first round. With Johnson’s impressive background, it’s no surprise that he exacted revenge against Adriano Moraes to regain the ONE Flyweight Championship.
NUMBER 3: ANDERSON SILVA
“The Spider” Anderson Silva is a legendary fighter and former middleweight UFC champion who has earned his place in history as one of the best fighters of all time. He was born in São Paulo, Brazil and began training in martial arts at the age of 14, including taekwondo, capoeira and muay thai. He also competed as a boxer, Silva is known for his stand-up fighting ability and has won many matches with his superior skills and striking accuracy of 60%.
Throughout his career, Silva has been known for his most famous fights, including wins against stars like Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort. He holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history with 16 consecutive wins from 2006 to 2013. Silva has recently faced some tough losses to Daniel Cormier, Uriah Hall and Michael Bisping but remains one of the most respected fighters in the UFC today.
NUMBER 2: JON JONES
Jon “Bones” Jones is regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters ever, current or retired. He has achieved success in NJCAA Wrestling, in Gaidojutsu, and was the UFC light heavyweight champion. Despite his success, he has had some troubles due to a hit-and-run incident and a suspension with the USADA for testing positive for Turinabol. However, these issues have not stopped him from achieving greatness in the octagon.
Jones is known for his powerful front kicks, oblique kicks and clinch techniques from Muay Thai. An “alleged” ability credited to “Bones” is the unique aptness to poke the eyes of opponents without detection by the referee. His sponsorships with Nike and Gatorade have also helped him become one of the most recognizable faces in MMA today.
NUMBER 1: GEORGES ST. PIERRE
Georges St. Pierre is arguably regarded as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all time. He has been a dominant force in the UFC, having won titles in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. His impressive technique, which includes takedowns, karate strikes, and his trademark Superman punch, have made him one of the most feared fighters in MMA history.
In addition to his UFC success, St. Pierre has also achieved great success in other disciplines such as wrestling, boxing and Muay Thai. His mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has made him a formidable opponent for any fighter that steps into the octagon with him. Georges St. Pierre is truly a living legend and will remain one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time for years to come.
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Written by: Jack Cameron @TheBrysh