MMA or Mixed Martial Arts, a full-contact combat sport, has an enormous fan base across the world. MMA fighters use a combination of martial art disciplines such as Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling, Boxing, and Karate to tackle the opponent.
In the modern world, Bruce Lee is considered the guru of Mixed Martial Arts. He felt that the traditional rules and regulations binding Martial Arts were of no use in real-life fights.
He used his knowledge and training in the martial art forms such as Kung-Fu, Western Fencing, and Boxing to devise a new martial art form known as Jun Fan Gung Fu.
His concept inspired many people to learn and incorporate different martial arts and develop their own style of fighting.
The Ultimate Fight Championship or UFC is credited with introducing MMA to the common man in a big way.
In this article, we will list the Top Fighters MMA has ever seen.
10 Best Fighters in the MMA World
1. Jon Jones:
Jones is unequivocally counted as the best MMA fighter the world has ever seen, with many publications naming him the top MMA fighter of all times.
He is also the best-undisputed 205-pounder in the MMA world.
Jon Jones was one of the youngest fighters to join UFC in his time. Despite his age, he showed stunning performances against the then famous opponents, including Jake O’Brien and Stephen Bonnar, proving his mettle as a strong contender for years to come.
With UFC, Jones competes in the Light Heavyweight division and is a two-time champion in the category. He held the title between March 2011 to April 2015 and December 2018 to August 2020.
He is currently ranked No. 2 in the UFC Men’s pound-for-pound ranking.
Throughout his career, Jones has held multiple fight records, including the highest number of wins, longest winning streaks, most title defenses, and most submission victories.
Despite his involvement in a couple of controversies, Jon Jones emerged victorious after every comeback, a testimony to his technique and his talent as one of the best MMA fighters.
2. Georges St-Pierre:
GSP is counted as one of the greatest MMA fighters. This Canadian-based MMA artist has trained in multiple martial arts forms like Kyoshin karate, Wrestling, BJJ, and Boxing. He trained under many teachers, including the famous Renzo Gracie, before starting his career as an MMA fighter.
He won UFC championships in two divisions — welterweight and middleweight, and is a three-time UFC Welterweight champion.
GSP made his UFC debut during UFC 46 and continued playing till UFC 68 when he suffered an injury, and took a break from the fight. He lost one match during this period to Matt Hughes.
He suffered his second and only other career loss during UFC 69 to Matt Serra. In 2013, GSP announced a temporary break from MMA fights and returned in 2016 after signing a multi-fight contract with UFC.
GSP announced his retirement from MMA in February 2019 and 2020, UFC announced his induction into the UFC Hall of fame.
He also appeared on Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter 4 as a trainer.
His illustrious career and wins peg him among the top MMA fighters, and he is an inspiration to many aspiring MMA fighters.
3. Anderson Silva:
Anderson da Silva is a Brazilian-American MMA fighter with a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, and Capoeira. He started his career very young, training in BJJ with friends.
Silva made his professional debut in 2002 by joining the Pride Fighting Championships and began his winning streak at Pride 26 by defeating the former Welterweight champion Carlos Newton.
He continued to play in other championships across the world. In 2004, he joined the Cage Rage and made his debut, and defeated his opponent, the famous Lee Murray.
After his win, he returned to Pride and continued fighting.
In 2006, UFC signed Silva for a multi-fight contract, and he made his UFC debut with Ultimate Fight Night in 2006. He is one of the famous UFC middleweight champions and is one of the best MMA fighters of all time.
Silva has the record of holding the most titles. He also recorded the longest winning streak between 2006 and 2013, winning 16 times during this period.
4. Amanda Nunes:
Amanda Lorence Nunes is a Brazilian MMA fighter and is counted among the best women MMA fighters of all times.
As a kid, Nunes trained in Karate and took up boxing at the age of 15. She trained at the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey and continued her training with MMA masters.
Nunes made her MMA debut in 2008 at the Prime MMA Championship. In 2001, she joined Strikeforce, then Invicta FC, and UFC.
At UFC, Nunes is the current reigning champion in two divisions — women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight. With this, she is the first woman to win titles in two divisions and the third overall fighter to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously.
Nunes is currently the No.1 female MMA fighter in the UFC. She was named the Female Fighter of the Year at the 12th edition of the Fighter Only MMA awards.
With so many accomplishments to her credit, Nunes finds a place as one of the best MMA fighters.
5. Daniel Cormier:
Daniel Ryan Cormier is an American MMA fighter with a background in wrestling. He is one of the four fighters to have held the title in two categories — light heavyweight and heavyweight. He participated in and won many championships, including the Olympics and Pan-American Games as an international wrestler.
After the 2008 Olympics, Cormier decided to enter the world of MMA and trained with the American Kickboxing Academy.
This helped hone his skills as a submission wrestler and a striker.
He debuted at the Xtreme MMA and won the XMMA Heavyweight Championship in 2010.
Later he joined Strikeforce and won titles, including the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship and the King of Cage Heavyweight Championship. Cormier holds the credit of winning every title in every match he played for.
Cormier made his UFC debut in April 2013 and won unanimously. After a couple of more bouts, which he won, he moved to the light heavyweight division and continued to win and retain titles.
In August, after a successful stint with UFC, Cormier announced his retirement from MMA. He presently holds the post of commentator and analyst for UFC.
His successful stint throughout his career makes him one of the best MMA fighters of all time.
Also Read: Best Punching Bags for MMA
6. Ronda Rousey:
Ronda Jean Rousey is an American MMA fighter with a background in wrestling and judoka. She is credited with being the first person to bring women’s MMA fighters into the mainstream tournaments.
This pioneer has many firsts to her credit. Rousey had a brilliant start to her career. She was the first American woman to win a medal in the martial art Judo during the 2008 summer Olympics.
She began her MMA career in 2010 by joining the Glendale Fighting Club. In 2012, Rousey became the first woman fighter to be signed by UFC.
She became the first woman Bantamweight champion in both UFC and Strikeforce. Throughout her career she continued to stay on top of her game, winning bouts and retaining her titles.
Later, she announced her joining the WWE in a surprise move, and this signaled the end of her tryst with MMA. She won the RAW Women’s Championship in August 2018 and continued to hold the title in April 2019 when she lost to Becky Lynch.
Her net worth is stated to be nearly $12 million, making her one of the richest MMA fighters.
In 2018, UFC made an announcement inducting Rousey into the UFC Hall of Fame, and she was the first female MMA inductee.
After her April 2019 loss, Rousey quit WWE to focus on her personal life.
Also Read: Best UFC Women Fighters
7. Henry Cejudo:
Henry Carlos Cejudo is an American MMA fighter with a background in freestyle wrestling. He was famous even before he hit the MMA circuit, having won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He also won other noteworthy titles as a wrestler.
Cejudo made his MMA debut in 2013 and then subsequently signed a contract with UFC. He received his first title after just four fights, but later lost.
He later returned in 2016 with full force and began his winning streak. The following two years proved to be the greatest period where he won multiple tournaments.
Cejudo has the credit of being a Flyweight champion and a Bantamweight Champion as well. His reign continued through UFC 238. In 2020, Henry Cejudo announced his retirement.
Some people feel that Henry’s streak didn’t last long enough to categorize him as the best MMA fighter of his time. Nevertheless, his technique, strength, and winning streak put him among one of the best fighters MMA has ever seen.
8. Khabib Nurmagomedev:
He is a Russian MMA fighter and holds a unique record as the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight champion. He is also one of the rare fighters who hasn’t lost a single bout in his career with 29 wins and no losses.
This MMA fighter is trained in judo, wrestling, and sambo, a Soviet martial art similar to wrestling.
Fight Matrix, an independent MMA ranking system, ranks him as the No. 1 lightweight MMA champion of all time.
His winning point is his unique grappling style, which helped him win many tournaments.
Khabib made his MMA debut in September 2008 and won four tournaments within a month.
He signed a contract with UFC in 2011 and debuted in 2012. He competed in multiple tournaments, winning every time. He is considered one of the best MMA fighters of his time and finds a place in our list of the best fighters in the MMA world.
9. Matt Hughes:
Another UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Matthew Allen Hughes, is an American MMA fighter with a wrestling background.
During his time, Hughes was considered one of the best MMA fighters. Many media houses pegged him as one of the best Welterweight and pound-for-pound champions.
Hughes has the unique credit of winning Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against practitioners such as Royce Gracie and Renzo Gracie, earning him the title “Gracie Killer”.
He made his promotional debut with UFC during its 26th season and won against Bulgarian fighter Valeri Ignatov. Since then, this Welterweight champion has never looked back. He continued to participate in UFCs’ various seasons, emerging as the winner in most fights.
Hughes went on to participate as a coach in Spike Television’s reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, participating in various seasons.
He retired in 2013 and was announced Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations by UFC, putting an end to an illustrious career.
10. B.J. Penn:
B.J. Penn is a professional MMA fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He is considered one of the best players of modern MMA.
He took part in UFC and K1 championships and was quite successful with both organizations, while many consider him a UFC prodigy. He managed to win many key fights in MMA and K1.
Penn is credited with bringing lower weight divisions into the MMA mainstream. He is one of the few fighters to compete and win in multiple weight divisions like Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight categories.
In his early career, Penn is considered as one of the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists. He holds victories against many famous fighters, including Matt Sera, Paul Creighton, and Din Thomas.
He was one of the few fighters to win MMA fight titles under multiple weight classes.
In recognition of his contributions to the world of mixed martial arts, Penn was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in its inaugural edition.
This brings us to the end of our list of the best fighters in the MMA world. Each fighter is a winner in their own right. They will forever be remembered as some of the greatest fighters the world has ever seen.