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Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever

Tue 21 September 2021 | 19:29

As the popularity of the sport of MMA is ever more growing, the debate over which fighter is better than the other has being heated. So what better than to compile a list of the Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever, to at least provide a snapshot of the sport's true global landscape.

While there is a raft of immense talents to ever compete in the sport of MMA, exactly picking out the

greatest fighters of all time

would be undoubtedly a herculean task.

In this regard categorizing the bests according to each weight division, would certainly give us a better insight into the matter. But still, we have to consider that this is the list of the bests across multiple organizations in the world in the history of the sport.

That is when the organizations like the UFC and Bellator employ their own media-generated rankings, it is improbable to assess fighters ruled over a particular time with their competitions being weaker in various promotions. So for example the fighters would not have the opportunity to evaluate themselves against the others.

Yet we have come up with a list which is comprised of the fighters that are more deserved than the others to take a spot on the list, based on their overall career pedigree and multiple victories, their performance in their grand heydays and how they handled their own competitions.

So far you might have taken the hint that this All-Time MMA Rankings is not the

UFC Rankings

by any sense of the words in as much as the organization has its own media-generated rankings and the active status of the fighters is the matter of utmost importance for them. Yet soon we would cover up this rankings in our series of Sportmob's MMA articles as well.

Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever

Here we would get to know the Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever.

All-Time Women (Open)

When it comes to the Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever, women's ranking should not be excluded from our list.

But because there is a limited number of divisions in their competitions in comparison to weight categories that male fighters are competing in, we would suffice to just categorize them in a single open rank. After all, it is not a long time that women's MMA fights gained recognition across the world.

Amanda Nunes

Being widely revered as the greatest women's mixed martial artist of all time, she is an indispensable part of our list of the

Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever

.

Aren't you curious to know more about who else is the greatest ever, let's check in to

The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time

. Currently competing in UFC, she is the reigning champion of the women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight category.

As the first woman to become a two-division UFC champion, she is the third fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time, just after Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier. Not to mention that she is the first and the sole fighter in UFC to ever defend two titles as she actively holds them.

In her glorious career, she has toppled many giants as the likes of Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko (twice), taking the first spot in the UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings as of June 2, 2020.

Cris Cyborg

Cristiane Justino Venâncio who is mostly recognized by her ring name of Cris Cyborg is currently competing in Bellator MMA as of January 2021, where not only she is their Women's Featherweight Champion, as she holds the title since January 2020; but also she earned the first position in Bellator Women's pound-for-pound Rankings as of March 29, 2021.

What makes her be enlisted among the

best MMA fighters in each weight class ever

, is her being formerly the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC World Featherweight Champion.

Above all, she is the only MMA fighter male or female, to ever become a Grand Slam Champion, as she holds world championships across four major mixed martial arts promotions.

While she is held in the highest esteem as one of the greatest female mixed martial artists of all time, for the first time she gained worldwide recognition when she won the Strikeforce title on August 15, 2009, beating Gina Carano via first-round technical knock-out (TKO).

Valentina Shevchenko

Being the current UFC Women's Flyweight Champion, she earned the title during the UFC 231 when she toppled the great Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She also earned the second spot in UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings as of November 23, 2020.

In her illustrate UFC career, she was only beaten by Amanda Nunes twice, while many speculated that she must be the winner in their rematch as their second fight was that much jaw-dropping and controversial that is considered to be among

The Best Women's Fights in UFC History

. You can check out the full account of their fight with the link above.

All-Time Strawweight

One of the categories of the All-Time MMA Rankings is the strawweight division in which fighters must weigh between 106 and 115 lb (48 to 52 kg).

It is located somewhere between the lighter atom weight category and the heavier flyweight division. Undoubtedly some of the best MMA fighters in each weight class ever has competed in this division.

Rambaa Somdet

As a former Thai mixed martial artist and Muay Thai fighter, he has fought for the organizations like K-1, Shooto, DEEP and Palace Fighting Championship.

While he fought in the flyweight and strawweight divisions, he was honoured to become Shooto World Flyweight (114 lb) Champion.

What landed him a spot in our list of the best MMA fighters in each weight class ever, is the fact that many consider him the greatest strawweight in mixed martial arts history.

It is notable to suggest that his mixed martial arts debut was against Takumi Yano that occurred in 2001 during Deep 3 Impact as he earned the victory by a unanimous decision. He also set a record career of 13 wins and  3 losses.

Yoshitaka Naito

As a Japanese mixed martial artist, he is currently competing in ONE Championship while he succeeded to be a former two-time ONE Strawweight World Champion.

With 15 wins and 4 losses in his record career, he is is a former Shooto World Flyweight (114 lb) Champion as well, where he is the record holder of flyweight title defences, as he was voted Fighter of the Year for two successive years.

Therefore it is no wonder to see him among the best strawweights in the world, as he has earned the second all-time strawweight by Fight Matrix, being currently ranked #2 in the ONE Championship strawweight rankings as well.

Mitsuhisa Sunabe

As a Japanese mixed martial artist, he is the current Pancrase Flyweight Champion so as to be included in our list of The 30 Greatest Fighters of All-Time.

While he competed for the Pancrase promotion in most of his career, he managed to be a former Pancrase Super Flyweight Champion in addition to his current Flyweight Champion, setting a record career of 29 wins and 8 losses.

All-Time Flyweight

Although the flyweight division in mixed martial arts is consisted of multiple weight classes in different organizations, it has ranged from 125 lb (57 kg) and below, somewhere between Strawweight (106 lb-115 lb) and Bantamweight (126 lb-135lb).

Demetrious Johnson

As an American mixed martial artist, he is competing in ONE Championship while he is honoured to be the inaugural and former UFC Flyweight Champion.

Being recognized for his rapid striking and elusive movement, he has managed to land the most takedowns in UFC flyweight history. That is to say, he is the only UFC fighter who succeeded to record more than 10 takedowns in three various bouts.

Not to mention that he is the record holder for the most finishes in UFC flyweight history with 7 and is also the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion.

Being currently ranked #1 in the ONE Championship flyweight rankings, in his glorious career, he toppled giants like Joseph Benavidez (twice), John Dodson (twice), Kyoji Horiguchi, Miguel Torres, and Norifumi Yamamoto.

Henry Cejudo

As an American former professional mixed martial artist, he is assumed to be one of the greatest combat athletes of all time in the light of his astonishing feats in MMA and freestyle wrestling.

Being the former UFC Flyweight Champion and Bantamweight Champion, he is among one of the few UFC fighters who hold titles in two varied divisions at the same time.

Likewise, he is honoured to be the second fighter to defend titles in two different weight categories, while being one and the only person to ever compile an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title n his career.

It goes without saying that he made the whole world mesmerized with his triumph over Demetrious Johnson in their tight competitive rematch. Besides, on May 9, 2020, he succeeded to defend his UFC bantamweight title by TKO over Dominick Cruz in the second round.

Mamoru Yamaguchi

As a Japanese mixed martial artist, he is competing in Pancrase, while he is honoured to be the former Shooto Bantamweight (123 lb) Champion, former Shooto Featherweight (132 lb) Champion, former Pancrase Flyweight Champion, as well as a former King of the Cage Junior Flyweight Champion.

These multiple championships speak volumes about her glorious career, as he turned out to be a true shining light when he coped with the former Shooto Bantamweight Champion Shinichi Kojima in their spectacular trilogy.

Moreover, Sherdog's Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings announced him to be one of the top flyweights in the world several times.

All-Time Bantamweight

Aside from some of MMA's most glamorous weight categories, bantamweight has not a very rich pedigree in terms of containing scintillating fights in the sport.

Yet, there are a number of fighters who have competed in this category and still managed to carve their names in history books.

Although weight classes in the bantamweight division in mixed martial are different in various organizations, it is located between the lighter flyweight (116–125 lb) division and the heavier featherweight division (136–145 lb).

Dominick Cruz

As an American professional mixed martial artist, who is competing in the UFC, he is standing out strikingly above the rest of the fighters in the bantamweight division.

While he is a two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion, he was the final bantamweight titleholder of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).

As his unorthodox movement, powerful wrestling background and rushing striking is extremely noticeable, he is inclined to attack from angles in a fashion all of his own far apart from any other fighter on the UFC roster.

T.J. Dillashaw

As an American professional mixed martial artist, he is competing in the UFC while he is their former two-time  Bantamweight Champion.

As one of

The 30 Greatest Fighters of All-Time

, he has earned the second spot in UFC bantamweight rankings as of July 26, 2021.

Although in 2014, he earned the UFC Bantamweight Championship as he uncrowned Renan Barão, who was on a 32-fight win streak, he was beaten by Dominick Cruz with a split decision in 2016.

Renan Barao

As a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, he is the former UFC Bantamweight Champion. What made him an indispensable member of the

Best MMA Fighters in each weight class ever

is his holding one of the longest undefeated streaks in MMA history, when after a defeat in his professional debut, he set 32 straight fights without any loss (31 victories and 1 no contest) in a long period of 9 years.

In his prime heyday, he was ranked among the top 3 pound for pound fighters and is widely revered as one of the best mixed martial artists in the world.

All-Time Featherweight

The weight category of competitors who fight in the featherweight division varies in different organizations, as in UFC it is limited to 145 lb (66 kg) while in Shooto's it refers to 135 lb (61.2 kg).

Nowadays, this division has turned into one of MMA's premier divisions. But it was not until 2010, that the UFC included the 145-pound division, providing the fighters who already made their names in promotions like Shooto and WEC, with the opportunity of starring before the world's biggest MMA stage.

Jose Aldo

As a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, he is competing in UFC while he was honoured to be the fourth and final WEC Featherweight Champion, so as to then become the first UFC Featherweight Champion following the UFC/WEC merger.

Totally being a former three-time UFC featherweight champion, he was the undisputed champion twice and the interim champion once.

Following the first defeat of his MMA career in November 2005, he incredibly managed to remain unbeaten for more than a decade, as he won 18 straight fights until UFC 194 in December 2015.

As per the Sherdog's April 2017 pound-for-pound ranking, he was dubbed "the greatest featherweight in mixed martial arts history ." It goes without saying that he earned the fifth spot in the UFC bantamweight rankings as of July 26, 2021.

Max Holloway

As an American MMA fighter, at the moment he competes in the featherweight category of the UFC. When he beat José Aldo on June 3, 2017, he earned the UFC Featherweight Champion and then went on to defend his title three times.

Being included in our list of 30 greatest MMA fighters of All-Time, he has also grabbed the first spot in the UFC featherweight rankings and the ninth position in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings.

Urijah Faber

While he is an American mixed martial artist and actor that currently competes in the bantamweight division of UFC, he formerly fought in the category of featherweight.

As he managed to gain the WEC Featherweight Championship at WEC 19 on March 17, 2006, he held the title for more than two years until he was beaten by Mike Brown at WEC 36 on November 5, 2008.

He is held in greatest esteem as one of MMA's pioneers who established legitimacy to lighter-weight categories, to such an extent that following his retirement on July 6, 2017, he was honoured to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the Modern-era wing.

All-Time Lightweight

While the lightweight division in MMA arts includes a range of different weight classes from 146 to 169.8 lb (65 to 77 kg) in various organizations, it has turned out to be a prosperous division recently due to the dominance established by Conor MacGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

As a Russian retired MMA fighter, he contested in the lightweight division of the UFC. He has a special place in our list of The 30 Greatest Fighters of All-Time in as much as he was the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, holding the title from April 2018 to March 2021.

In his glorious career, he won 29 times without any defeat so as to be retired with an unbeaten record, being included in the list of

the

UFC fighters who retired as champions

.

Although he coped with many giants as the likes of Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, he conquered them quite easily, utterly proving that he is undoubtedly one of the Greatest fighters of all time.

B.J. Penn

As an American professional MMA fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, he fought in the UFC and K-1, being a former UFC Lightweight Champion and UFC Welterweight Champion as well.

With his participation at Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight and even Openweight competitions, he became honoured to be amazingly the second of the few fighters in UFC to ever grab titles in numerous divisions.

After his span with K-1, he came back to the UFC and won the UFC Lightweight Championship, and then defended this title three times successively until he relinquished it to Frankie Edgar. 

As one of the greatest fighters of all time, he edged out the long-reigning then-champion Matt Hughes to the end of grabbing the UFC Welterweight Championship.

Therefore, it is of little surprise to see him as the inaugural inductee into the Modern-era wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015.

Frankie Edgar

As an American MMA fighter, he is competing in the bantamweight division of the UFC, while he is the former UFC lightweight champion as well.

When he earned the lightweight title, he incredibly managed to defend it several times and afterwards tried his luck at featherweight division as he challenged for the UFC Featherweight Championship on three occasions. Yet he gained the eighth position in the UFC bantamweight rankings.

All-Time Welterweight

While the fighters in the welterweight division of UFC weigh within 156 to 170 lb (71 to 77 kg), in ONE Championship, contenders with the upper limit at 84 kg (185.2 lb) fight in this division.

Georges St. Pierre

The Canadian former mixed martial artist is unquestionably the most technically talented MMA fighter to ever step into the Octagon.

In his illustrious career, he nosed out the giants like Nick Diaz, Matt Hughes, Carlos Conduit, Jake Fields, Carlos Condit, BJ Penn, and Dan Hardy while they were in their prime heydays in order to grab titles in both the welterweight and light heavyweight divisions.

He became retired with an impressive record career of 26 wins, and 2 losses as he holds the record of the second-longest combined title streak in UFC history (2,204 days), setting it when he defended his title in nine successive fights.

Capturing one of the top positions almost in any list of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, he utterly deserved to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Matt Hughes

As an American MMA fighter who has his base in wrestling, he succeeded to be a two-time UFC Welterweight Champion, UFC Hall of Fame inductee as well as the NJCAA Hall of Fame inductee.

In his span at the UFC, he amassed two separate six-fight winning streaks, as he swept the board in the welterweight division and amazingly managed to defend the title seven times.

At the time of his reign, he was revered as the #1 pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, cementing his place in our 

All-Time MMA Rankings

.

Kamaru Usman

As a Nigerian-American professional MMA fighter and the former freestyle wrestler, he competes in the welterweight category of the UFC, being their reigning Welterweight Champion.

Likewise, he was The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner and has grabbed the second position in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings as of March 23 2021, having the most successive victories (14) in the welterweight division.

While he is honoured to be the first Nigerian-born UFC champion, he has also four successful title defences in his career, earning four Performance of the Night and one Fight of the Night award as well.

All-Time Middleweight

While the middleweight division groups fighters within the weight categories of 171 to 185 lb (77.5 to 84 kg) in UFC and the upper limit of 93 kg (205 lb) in The Road FC, the presence of many giants who made their names in this division has made selecting a few of them as the bests a rather difficult task. But Anderson Silva undoubtedly stands alone at the top of the list.

Anderson Silva

As a Brazilian-American MMA fighter and a former UFC Middleweight Champion, he incredibly holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history at 2,457 days as he defended his title ten times successfully.

That is to say in this period that was started from 2006 until 2013, he astonishingly set a UFC record of 16 successive triumphs as well. But Silva left the UFC in November 2020 and returned to boxing.

In such a stellar career, he managed to win five Fight of the Night awards as well as seven Knockout of the Night which is considered to be the most "Knockout of the Night" awards in UFC history.

Not to mention that he is the record holder of the most UFC middleweight title fights (13) coupled with the most victories in UFC middleweight title fights (11).

Dan Henderson

As an American retired MMA fighter and Olympic wrestler, he lastly fought in the middleweight division of UFC. He was honoured to be the last Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and the last Welterweight (83 kg (183.0 lb)) and Middleweight (93 kg (205.0 lb)) champion of Pride Fighting Championships as well.

He managed to earn championships in Tournaments of Brazil Open '97, the UFC 17 Middleweight, the Rings: King of Kings 1999 along with the Pride Welterweight Grand Prix.

Among his honours, one can point out that he became the first MMA fighter to hold two titles in two divisions at the same time in a major MMA promotion.

Michael Bisping

While he is a British sports analyst, actor and commentator he was an MMA fighter too when he competed in the UFC divisions of Middleweight and Light Heavyweight.

As he was formerly the UFC Middleweight Champion, he was Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion as well as The Ultimate Fighter 3 Light Heavyweight tournament winner.

With his participation at UFC 78, he was honoured to be the first British fighter to fight in a UFC main event.

Then as he went on to grab a UFC Championship at UFC 199, he became the first British fighter who won a UFC Championship and he is still the only British winner of a UFC title.

Back then he held the record of the most victories (20) in UFC history, therefore it is no wonder to see him being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on 5 July 2019.

All-Time LightHeavyweight

The light heavyweight division in MMA, categorizes contenders between the weights of 186 and 205 lb (84 to 93 kg) as it is situatend between the lighter middleweight category and the heavyweight division.

Many of the biggest shining lights in MMA history made their names fighting in this division, let's who are their top three bests.

Jon Jones

As an American professional MMA fighter, while he competes in UFC, he succeeded to be a former two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in the organization as he successfully defended his title totally eleven times, which is the most successful title defences in the UFC light heavyweight division.

That is to say, he held the title from March 2011 to April 2015 and then from December 2018 to August 2020, holding the interim UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in 2016 as well.

In these years, he set the record of most wins in UFC title fights (14), most UFC light heavyweight title fights (15), most wins in UFC light heavyweight title fights (14) and most wins in UFC light heavyweight division (20).

As he is considered to have the longest Light Heavyweight champion reign in UFC history (1501 days) and longest undefeated streak in UFC history (18), he has proven himself the best MMA has ever seen, being #1 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings as of March 23, 2021.

It is notable to suggest that he tends to use a variety of kicking techniques including a controversial "oblique kick" that targets his opponent's knee which is the most popular one.

Chuck Liddell

As a retired American MMA fighter, he is the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion who once had an overwhelming dominance in the division.

With his vicious hands and excellent punch skills, his fights are among the most unforgettable bouts that old school fans would always cherish remembering them especially when he edged out the giants like Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, and Randy Couture.

As he defended his title four times successfully, two times won the Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night and had the most knockouts in UFC light heavyweight division history (10), he was truly qualified to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July 2009.

Wanderlei Silva

As a brilliant Brazilian-American MMA fighter, he has fought in Japan's Pride Fighting Championships and the UFC, holding the record of the most wins (22), knockouts (15), title defences, and longest unbeaten streak (20) in PRIDE history as well.

That is to say, formerly he was the PRIDE Middleweight Champion, as well as the 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion. But his most recent fights were in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions of Bellator MMA.

All-Time Heavyweight

While the heavyweight division in mixed martial arts commonly classifies fighters in the weights of 206–265 lb (93.4–120.2 kg), it has undoubtedly a special place at the heart of combat sports, being regarded as the most dangerous division in the games.

Not to mention that the champions of this division, would anchor the title of "the worst man on the planet" to their names.

Fedor Emelianenko

As a Russian heavyweight MMA fighter who currently competes for Rizin Fighting Federation and Bellator MMA, he has earned a chunk of championships and awards in several organizations as the likes of MMA Pride Fighting Championship, FIAS World Combat Sambo Championship and Russian Judo Federation National Championship between the years of 1998 and 2007.

While he claimed the most impressive streak in MMA history with 27 successive victories against some of the all-time greats as the likes of Mark Coleman (twice), Kevin Randleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt, not any UFC champion was able to even come close to him at his prime heyday.

Although his invincible dominance was smashed by Fabricio Werdum in 2010, there is not any dispute over the fact that he is a lot more than the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Stipe Miocic

As an American MMA fighter who currently fights in the UFC division of heavyweight, he was honoured to be a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion.

Being widely regarded as the greatest UFC heavyweight fighter of all time, he earned the second spot in the UFC heavyweight rankings, also being the #8 fighter in UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings as of August 9, 2021.

Setting the record of the most wins in heavyweight title fights as well as the longest title defence streak in the heavyweight division, at three successive defences, he spectacularly won the most fight-night bonus awards (9) in the UFC heavyweight division's history.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

As a retired Brazilian MMA fighter who is also recognized by his name of Minotauro or Big Nog, he fought in the heavyweight division of the UFC, being the former Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion.

He gained his prominence in the Japanese promotion Pride Fighting Championships, as he became the first Pride Heavyweight Champion from November 2001 to March 2003, along with the 2004 PRIDE FC Heavyweight Grand Prix Finalist.

It goes without saying that he was honoured to be one of only three men to ever hold championship titles in both Pride Fighting Championships and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

 

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