Since MMA fighting gained worldwide recognition, a raft of great fighters have come and gone, but there is no denying the fact that some of them stand above the remainders. In this regard, here we have narrowed down the list of The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time.
With the emergence of UFC in 1993 and as the fighting league began to become popular in 2001, UFC established supremacy over the other top combat sports likeboxing
Yet a number of The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time, are considered to be the best Boxers in MMA fighting as well.
While it is less than 30 years that UFC has been around, many great fighters have entered the Octagon not only to prove themselves to the world but also tried their utmost to etch their names in history.
Thereby, more than 100 fighters have been succeeded to anchor the title of UFC champion to their names. So it would be a herculean task to nail down their greatest ones in a list that already contains many giant champions.
Yet with taking a variety of criteria into consideration like the pound for pound ranking, the fighters achievements and overall ability, their performance in their prime, their grabbing multiple triumphs, and even their participation in a bigger number of bouts, we have come up with the list of 15 greatest MMA fighters of all time.
However, in Ranking the 15 best MMA fighters, there might be many other underestimated factors that would make The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time, so in case we excluded any fighters who you might think should have been on the list, your comments below would be appreciated.
Here you would get to know the 15 greatest MMA fighters of all time who more than the other are deserved to be on the list.
: Gracie Hunter
15 wins- 4 losses- 2 draws
: Welterweight, Middleweight, Light heavyweight
: 1993–1995, 2000–2003, 2006–2007, 2015 (MMA)
It is not quite logical to leave out one of the most influential figures like Royce Gracie in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA) from the list of
the 15 greatest MMA fighters of all time.
He is considered to be the father of the sport since he started it when it has not been categorized in weight classes, and there was not any particular time limits or regulations in it.
Notwithstanding his slim body frame, he proved that he can make the cut in his bouts against some of the best fighters in the world.
He took part in the first UFC evens so as to enlighten the world with the fact that the smaller fighter with good jiu-jitsu techniques would be potent to handle the bigger fighter.
Hopefully, he depicted it very exquisitely as he won three of the first four UFC Championship Tournaments, while he earned the score of 11 wins and 0 losses and more incredibly of all, he ended all of his 11 fights with a submission.
The audiences had never observed such a fluid and unassuming style that would be extremely effective as well. Because regardless of the fact that who would hit harder or who had supremacy in wrestling or striking, Royce was the one who would beat all of them.
While among many other honours, he is the record holder for the longest UFC fight in history, he is the main reason why Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA have thrived until now.
: The Iceman
: 21 wins- 9 losses
: Light Heavyweight (1998–2010), Heavyweight (2018)
: 1998–2010, 2018 (MMA)
Being widely known as The Iceman, he had complete dominance in the light heavyweight division of the MMA league. Since he was mastered in kickboxing, with his vicious hands he knew exactly how to take a punch, to such an extent that with his aggressive style and ferocious knockouts, he literally put UFC on the map.
Thus, it is no surprise to see him be the old school fans first unforgettable favourite as watching his fights was a true joy to behold. At the same time, he is widely revered as the prospect who brought MMA into the mainstream of American sports and entertainment.
Being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July 2009, amazingly he got involved in particularly memorable fights as he edged out some of the biggest names like Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture.
While in his 23 appearances in the UFC, he successfully defended his title four times, he is still the record holder for the most knockouts in the history of the UFC light heavyweight division.
: 22 wins- 3 losses- 1 No contests
: Heavyweight (2009–2013, 2018–2020), Light Heavyweight (2014–2018)
: 2009–2020 (MMA), 2002–2008 (freestyle wrestling)
Not only Daniel Cormier is considered to be one of
The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time
, but also he is among the best wrestlers in the world that have the standup game to go toe-to-toe with great legends in the world.
He grabbed triumph in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions to such an extent that he was a champion in both.
While he is honoured to be the second fighter of UFC to ever defend titles in two different divisions as he is the first one to do it, he is considered to be the fifth multi-divisional champion in UFC history as well.
As he conquered many top fighters in both divisions across Strikeforce and UFC, he defended the light heavyweight title three times and the heavyweight belt once.
In an illustrious career that took long for about 11 years, he achieved dominance over almost every fighter he came up against and he was beaten just by Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic while his capability of hanging with the best strikers on the feet is the reason why he was a huge fan favourite.
While he succeeded to win a world championship in every promotion that he has fought in, his victories over Josh Barnett, Alexander Gustafsson, and Dan Henderson are some of the most notable fights of his career.
: 21 wins- 3 losses
: Bantamweight (MMA), Flyweight (MMA), Lightweight (Muay Thai)
As a devastatingly intimidating and perhaps the best female striker the MMA has ever observed, she is regarded to be among
The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time
She has a rich pedigree in grabbing multiple triumphs in world championships in the sport of Muay Thai as she collected 8 gold medals and one silver representing both Kyrgyzstan and Peru.
She is immensely popular for her extraordinary skill of gauging the distance of an opponent's attack, and then in a fraction of a second retaliating with a myriad of counterattacks.
Although she has domination in the UFC Flyweight division, she has earned the second spot in the UFC pound-for-pound female fighter ranking.
With her MMA record of 20 wins and 3 losses, she was only beaten by the one and only Amanda Nunes who has a special place in Ranking the 15 best MMA fighters of all time so one could cut Valentina some slack.
But that is on the ground of her size as she was never a true 135-pounder, and this was noticeable in some of her bouts, as it signifies the greatness of her skills, in as much as she had toppled fighters that are often larger than her.
As one of the most elite female strikers in the history of MMA, she prevailed in the competitions against the likes of Holly Holm, Julianna Pena, and Jessica Eye in a rather ruthless and dominant fashion.
The Natural, Captain America
: 19 wins- 11 losses
: Heavyweight (1997–2003; 2007–2009; 2010), Light Heavyweight (2003–2006; 2009–2011)
: 1997–2006; 2007–2011 (MMA)
Couture is honoured to be a six-time UFC Champion and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament winner since he became a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, two-time UFC Light heavyweight Champion, and an interim UFC Light heavyweight Champion as well.
Likewise, he turned out to be the first of seven fighters who are the holders of two UFC championship titles in two different weight classes. Not to mention that he is tied for most UFC heavyweight championship fights with the heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
While he is widely revered as a clinch and ground-and-pound fighter who is benefited from his wrestling skill in executing takedowns, establishing top position and sequentially striking the opponent on the bottom, he turned out to be a big-time fan favourite whose inclusion on the list of
The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time
With his proficiency inboxing
and catch wrestling, it's no wonder to see him became the only UFC fighter to win a championship after he became a Hall-of-Famer while he is considered to be the oldest champion in MMA history as well.
: Cardio Cain
: 14 wins- 3 losses
He came to the spotlight when he fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and succeeded to become a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Likewise, he anchored the titles of Knockout of the Night, and Performance of the Night to his name while he did the former not for once but for three times.
Not to mention that he is the record holder of the second most knockout wins in UFC Heavyweight history (10) and the highest significant strike percentage in the heavyweight division (57.62%).
Among his other honours, one can suggest that he made most takedowns (34) in UFC heavyweight history and most total strikes (1464) landed in heavyweight history as well.
Velasquez is widely revered as Cardio Cain for his cardiovascular training as he has enormous endurance which enables him to continue his aggressive battle even after the exhaustion of his opponents.
This provides him with the opportunity of throwing more strikes as well while he earned the spot Number 1 for landing the most strikes per minute in the UFC as of July 2013.
Besides he has a swarming style in which with swinging powerful and excessively swift punches he continuously moves forward so as to give his opponents very little chance to throw clean strikes.
He is also very strong in the clinch as his throwing long combinations, would often lead to takedowns and as a result, these are enough to include him on the list of The 15 greatest MMA fighters of all time.
: 21 wins- 4 losses
: Bantamweight (2011–present), Featherweight (2008–2011, 2018–present)
: 2008–present (MMA)
As the first woman who is honoured to become champion at the two divisions of Bantamweight and Featherweight, she is the third fighter in all of UFC history to hold this record along with Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier, while she is the only fighter in the UFC to ever defend two titles when she actively holds them.
With such remarkable achievements, it is no wonder to see her among The Greatest MMA Fighters of all Time specifically when she carved grabbing triumph over a total of six former UFC champions in her rich pedigree.
That is to say, if you just consider all the greatest female MMA fighters of all time, the fighters like Valentina Shevchenko, Holly Holm, Cristiane Justino, and Ronda Rousey; you would see that they were beaten by Nunes in a quite spectacular fashion.
Moreover, it seems her knockout power is also terribly striking as more than half of her victories have been by knockout.
: Mighty Mouse
: 30 wins- 4 losses- 1 draw
: Bantamweight (2007–2012), Flyweight (2012–Present)
He is considered to be the only flyweight champion that the UFC has observed as of March 2021. Ever since he won the inaugural UFC flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 in 2012, he defended the title 11 successive times tieing for first all-time with Jon Jones and is on the verge of smashing the record for most consecutive title defences.
While he landed the most ever takedowns in the UFC flyweight, there is no question who was the best in the world in his bouts, as he dominated each opponent in all sense of MMA.
With his quick counter-striking and elusive movement, he succeeded to topple fighters like Henry Cejudo, Miguel Torres, and Joseph Benavidez whereas he is yet to go up a higher division following clearing out flyweight.
Although initially he was reproached for being rather a dull fighter, after a while, he mollified his critics when he started to finish a raft of his opponents.
Besides, he is widely regarded as the prospect who put the Flyweight division on the map making it one of the most exciting weight classes in the UFC.
Although this weight class is not that much a popular division in comparison to the others, he might perhaps fail to draw the attention of the casual fans, but there is no dispute over adding him in our
Ranking the 15 best MMA fighters
of all times.
: Cro Cop
: 38 wins- 11 losses- 2 draw- 1 no contests
: 1996–2003, 2012–2014 (Kickboxing), 2001–2019 (MMA)
As one of the deadliest fighters in the history of MMA and undoubtedly as the most intimidating kicker to ever step into the Octagon, he became the only fighter to compete in almost all the biggest MMA and Kickboxing promotions, being the second fighter in the world to win both of the mixed martial arts and kickboxing championships and tournaments.
But you don't have to go very far to figure out what has made him such a vicious monster, it might be simply something in his disastrous fights and destructive stopping power.
What is quite impressive is the fact he was not the kind of fighter to gain the palm with killing time or even catching his opponents with well set up combinations. Instead, one kick was all it took.
Cro Cop's famous signature move was notoriously described as “right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery". Their description very exquisitely deserved him a lot, since while his Kick has the power to topple down trained MMA beasts, just imagine what would happen had he kicked in a street fight; murder for sure.
In his illustrious career, he put a chunk of his opponents to sleep with the use of his head kick skills. But it is quite wonderful how the hell, his foot was not broken from such a precise and devastating kick.
But much to many people consternation, unfortunately, he was knocked out by his own trademark technique of the left high kick. Then his landing on his left leg that incurred him severe ligament damage terribly added fuel to the fire to such an extent that he never returned to his prime again.
: 20 wins- 4 losses
As a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, he is widely revered as the greatest UFC heavyweight fighter of all time. As one of the 15 Best Boxers in MMA, he competes in the Heavyweight division that bounces around more often than any other categories and that's due to its knockout power in which the bouts might reach to its ends at any second of the game.
In his glorious MMA career, he succeeded to defend his title four times while in his two title reigns, he has kept the record for the most victories in heavyweight title fights as well, which is the longest title defending streak in his weight class, at three successive defences.
Likewise, he is the record holder for winning nine fight-night bonus awards, which is the most in the UFC heavyweight division's history.
Although he has some heavy losses in his pedigree, he turned it around and continued to take out Hall of Famers like Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos.
Not to mention that he made his resume as illustrious as possible when he grabbed two triumphs over Daniel Cormier in an epic trilogy.
Being among the
Best Boxers in MMA
sport, he is a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and NCAA Division I wrestler, at Cleveland State University as well.
Thereby it is of little surprise to see him achieve such a wonderful mastery in MMA by using a combination of high-levelboxing
skills and advanced wrestling techniques.
: The Eagle
: 29 wins- 0 loss
: Lightweight (2008–2010, 2012–2020), Welterweight (2009–2011)
As one of the most dominant contenders to ever step into the octagon, amazingly he is the longest-reigning UFC lightweight division champion.
Although he has been retired just recently, he managed to etch his name in history as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time who remained unbeaten during the whole span of his MMA career.
While his offensive grappling is terrifically unmatched, he is that much skilful in the sport of wrestling, that even high profile elite wrestlers proved to be just novices against him.
The underlying reason why Khabib is arguably the greatest of all time is that he fought against some immense talents like Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier, Khabib Nurmagomedov and still was never edged out in the Octagon.
That is to say, in a quite dominating fashion, he managed to win all the 29 bouts he participated in. After he beat Justin Gaethje earlier in October, although he hung up his gloves; his shadow continues to loom large over the UFC Lightweight category.
With his being absent at least for several years, if anybody comes in his replacement, would not be quite the same as The Eagle.
: The Spider
: 34 wins- 11 losses- 1 No contests
: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight
: 1997–2020 (MMA);1998, 2005, 2021–present (Boxing)
As one of the most dominant forces in UFC history, The Spider turned out to be the best during his prime. He is the record holder of the longest title in the UFC for 2,457 days and grabbed 16 consecutive triumphs in his reign as well.
It is beyond dispute that he is regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time especially when he devastatingly tended to destroy his opponents in the bouts.
In fact, he is a specialist in capoeira, taekwondo, Muay Thai and boxing to such an extent that he gained the ability to revolutionize the sport of MMA with his insane knockouts and that is the main reason why he is considered to be among
the 15 Best Boxers in MMA
When he put his hands down and defended himself with his movement, everybody knew what would come next, a knockout. Moreover, with having one of the best counter-attacking games ever observed in MMA, his bouts turned out to be a true joy to behold for a disproportionate number of fans.
As one of the Best Boxers in MMA, it is of little surprise to see him beat some of the talented opponents like Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin, and Dan Henderson in his illustrious career.
: The Last Emperor
: 39 wins- 6 losses- 1 No contests
: 2000–2012, 2015–present (MMA)
Arguably as the best MMA fighter who never fought inside the UFC, he is widely revered as the greatest heavyweight of all time.
As far as his whole career pedigree is concerned, in his prime heyday that coincided with an aura of dominance from 2000-2009; he claimed the most invincible streak in MMA history with 28 successive victories.
While he has a speciality in the sport of combat samba and judoka, he spectacularly managed to nose out seven former UFC champions which often drew the attention of a huge fan crowd.
Even once, the UFC President Dana White in 2020 expressed his regret over not organizing the bout between Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar who was the UFC heavyweight champion.
After all, if there were a mere fighter who could topple any contender in his era, then it would be Fedor Emelianenko. Of course, there is tangible evidence to back this claim as he took out some of the great MMA dominants like Mark Coleman (twice), Kevin Randleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt.
Therefore it is crystal clear that his impressive feats in the most dangerous division of the bouts cemented his spot among the greatest prospects to ever do it in the MMA fights.
: 26 wins- 2 losses
: Welterweight (2002–2013), Middleweight (2017)
: 2002–2013, 2017 (MMA)
Being a two-division champion in the UFC, he has anchored the titles of welterweight and middleweight divisions to his name. While he has the most all-around skills in comparison to any other MMA fighter ever, many consider him to be among The 15 Best Boxers in MMA history.
Likewise, as the greatest welterweight of all time, he has won the UFC welterweight title twice and made nine successful title defences as well.
It is to be said that he tended to stick to his game plan until he gained domination in the fight. Not to mention that he was capable of playing to his opponent’s strengths and overshadow them at their own game.
In his glorious career, he spectacularly prevailed the MMA competition as he dominated a raft of giant fighters as the likes of Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Jake Fields, Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz at the pick of their legacy.
He was only toppled down by Hughes and Serra while the sport of MMA observed just very few moments of his weakness before he became retired following an insane and controversial victory over Johny Hendricks.
: 26 wins- 1 loss- 1 no contests
: Light heavyweight
: 2008–present (MMA)
After he became honoured to be the youngest UFC champion at the age of 23, he managed to defend his Light-heavyweight title 11 times.
While having dominance in the light heavyweight division for over a decade, apart from his title defences, he also kept many records in the division like the longest win streak, most submission triumphs, and most victories in UFC history as well.
Following smashing almost all the giant figures in that weight class during his prime heyday, as the likes of Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Daniel Cormier, he has moved up to the Heavyweight division.
At the time of writing, in his illustrious career, he has a total of 28 MMA fights, consisting of 26 wins, 1 loss, and 1 no contest as his only loss was a controversial disqualification against Matt Hamill.
While his top-shelf wrestling and his dynamic striking are specifically notable, he is adept enough to make in-flight calculations and adjustments better than any other fighter in the sport.
As he is currently active as of March 2021, if he becomes a heavyweight champion, nobody would defy the logic that he is the greatest of all time.