Throughout its short but rich history, the sport of mixed martial arts has had many individuals that can be regarded as the best MMA fighters of all time. We might say that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the GOAT when we discuss his dominance in the octagon. Still, we cannot neglect athletes such as Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre, who have proved they can dominate a division for quite a long time. Another group of fighters includes those who have achieved title glory in multiple weight classes, such as Daniel Cormier, Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, Henry Cejudo, and Georges St-Pierre. This article aims to analyze the careers and achievements of the greatest MMA fighters and rank them accordingly.
Ranking the Best MMA Fighters of All Time
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best MMA fighter ever. Among these are things such as the best MMA record, the number of title defenses, PPV buys, the most entertaining fights, etc. All of these factors will be taken into account when ranking the fighters for our list. In addition, at the end of our article, we will have a couple of honorable mentions that did not make it into the top ten. Without further ado, here is our list!
Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes
We will start our list with the current UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight women’s champion Amanda Nunes. Amanda is undoubtedly the greatest female MMA fighter of all time, and in her career, she has managed to conquer two weight divisions and defend both titles simultaneously. In addition, she has defeated the best female fighters of her generation, such as Ronda Rousey, Chris Cyborg, Holly Holm, Valentina Shevchenko, and Miesha Tate. Although she recently lost her bantamweight championship in a submission loss to Juliana Pena, she managed to win the rematch and regain her title. Amanda currently has an MMA record of 22-5 and is regarded as the best women’s pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor
It’s impossible to compile a list of this kind without including Conor McGregor, arguably the most influential MMA fighter ever. In his coveted career, Conor became both the UFC Featherweight and Lightweight champion, accumulating the most PPV buys in history. Conor became the UFC Featherweight champion of the world with a historic 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo. After that fight, Conor fought Nate Diaz in one of the most exciting rivalries the sport has ever seen. In addition, Conor won the UFC Lightweight championship at UFC 205 and became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously. After becoming the biggest superstar in the sport, Conor ventured into boxing and fought Floyd Mayweather, who is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. In recent years, Conor’s career has taken a path downward, with him losing fights against Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nonetheless, Conor McGregor’s impact on the world of MMA is undeniable, and he will always be considered one of the greatest ever to do it.
Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo
Another athlete that managed to become a champion in two weight classes is Henry Cejudo. Cejudo also won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Because of this, he is often called “Triple C,” meaning he has won three different championships. The biggest accomplishment of Cejudo’s MMA career is his victory against Demetrious Johnson, which made him the UFC Flyweight champion. After that, Henry won matches against T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz; both regarded as the greatest bantamweights ever. Henry Cejudo is retired at the moment, but he is considering a comeback and a fight against Aljamain Sterling.
Daniel “DC” Cormier
Daniel Cormier is one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time and is a former Olympian. Throughout his career, DC used to dominate almost every fighter he fought, losing only to Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic. After becoming the UFC Light Heavyweight champion of the world, Cormier managed to defend his title a couple of times against the likes of Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Volkan Oezdemir. He eventually lost the title to Jon Jones, but the bout was declared no contest since Jones tested positive for turinabol. The most significant victory of his career is undoubtedly his victory against Stipe Miocic, which made him the UFC Heavyweight champion. Daniel Cormier will always be remembered for his dominance inside the octagon and entertaining fights. He is a Hall of Famer and is currently working as a commentator for the UFC.
Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko
Before the UFC became the biggest international MMA organization, Pride FC was prevalent and had the best fighters. Among those were Alistair Overeem, Mirko Cro Cop, Mauricio Rua, Dan Henderson, and many more. One fighter that stood above everyone else was Fedor Emelianenko. During the Pride FC era, Fedor was the best fighter on the planet and the heavyweight champion of the world. He had some of the greatest MMA fights ever against superstars like Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira, Mark Hunt, and Mark Coleman. Fedor’s downfall started in Strikeforce when he lost to Fabricio Werdum. Since then, his career has declined, and he has not returned to his former glory. When it comes to Fedor’s career, there is a big “what if” because he never competed in the UFC. Nevertheless, in his best days, Fedor showed some incredible MMA skills and will always be remembered as one of the best MMA fighters of all time. Fedor currently fights in Bellator FC and has an MMA record of 40 wins and 6 losses.
Anderson “The Spider” Silva
The legend of mixed martial arts and one of the most entertaining fighters to ever step foot in the octagon is none other than Anderson Silva. Anderson Silva is, without a doubt, the greatest middleweight champ of all time and was regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter for some time. In his long career, he defended his UFC Middleweight championship ten times, which was a record back then. After losing to Chris Weidman at UFC 162, Silva’s career started to decline, and since then, he has had some losses. Recently, Anderson Silva ventured into professional boxing, facing the famous Youtuber and boxer Jake Paul. Unfortunately, he lost the fight by a unanimous decision. It is impossible to forget the legacy of Anderson Silva in mixed martial arts, as he will always be considered one of the greatest ever.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson
One fighter that is regarded by many as the greatest of all time is Demetrious Johnson. Mighty mouse was the king of the UFC’s flyweight division for a long time, and he even managed to defend his UFC Flyweight championship for a record 11 times. He fought the best opponents of his generation and dominated most of them to defend his championship. Unfortunately, after his split decision loss to Henry Cejudo, he was traded to ONE FC for Ben Askren. Demetrious Johnson continued his career in ONE FC, where he is currently the ONE FC Flyweight champion. Mighty is now in his prime and is still winning against top competition, which makes it quite sad that we will not see him in the UFC octagon anymore.
The next three fighters of this list can all be considered the greatest MMA fighters of all time. However, we have to rank them, and at number three is the one and only Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov
Khabib holds the best MMA record of all time with 29 wins and 0 losses and is considered the best lightweight ever. To make this even more impressive, he hardly lost any rounds during his UFC career. Coming from Dagestan, he is well-known for his high-level wrestling and grappling skills, and he managed to submit many of his opponents. His most notable victory was against Conor McGregor, which made him a superstar and one of the most popular combat athletes in the world. Khabib retired after his father passed away, and his last match was a submission victory against Justin Gaethje.
Nevertheless, he is now a coach and has a couple of fighters in the UFC. His protégé Islam Makhachev is his successor and recently won the UFC Lightweight championship. Whether Khabib will return to the octagon is unknown, but his legacy and dominance in the sport of MMA will be hard to match.
Jon “Bones” Jones
Jon Jones is the best light heavyweight fighter ever, and he is, by many, considered the greatest fighter of all time. During his career, he lost only one time, and that was because he was disqualified for 12-6 elbows. Jon Jones has fought some of the best fighters to enter the octagon, defeating them all. He fought legends like Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, and more. Jon is also the youngest-ever UFC world champion, winning the championship at 23. Although this all places Jon Jones at the top of our list, he has been involved in several scandals outside the octagon. In his second fight with Daniel Cormier, he tested positive for turinabol, which made the fight a no-contest even though he won. Recently, Jon Jones has stayed out of trouble for some time, and we might see him fight for the UFC Heavyweight championship. There have been talks of him fighting Francis Ngannou, but nothing has been confirmed. For now, Jon Jones holds an MMA record of 26 wins and 1 loss and has 11 overall title defenses.
Georges “Rush” St-Pierre
At the top of our list is undeniably the greatest welterweight of all time and the best MMA fighter ever, Georges St-Pierre. Georges was the most innovative and tactical fighter we have seen in the octagon. Throughout his career, he won against some of the best fighters of that time, such as Nick Diaz, Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, and more. He defended the UFC Welterweight championship nine times, a record in that division. The only two losses in St-Pierre’s MMA career are to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes. However, he rematched both of them and won dominantly. After his fight against Johnny Hendricks in 2013, he moved away from the sport and didn’t return until 2017. In 2017, he challenged Michael Bisping for the UFC Middleweight championship. Georges St-Pierre submitted Bisping with a rear-naked choke in the third round and became the UFC Middleweight champion. Georges St-Pierre has since retired, and in 2020 he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. By many, he is a true definition of a martial artist, and his fighting legacy will never be forgotten.
Many more fighters can be on this list, but they did not make it. It was difficult to pick only ten MMA’s greatest fighters, and each honorable mention could have a place on this list. Here are our honorable mentions:
- Jose Aldo
- Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman
- Stipe Miocic
- BJ Penn
- Matt Hughes
- Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
- Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya
- Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey
- Chris Cyborg
In this article, we discussed the greatest MMA fighters of all time. We made a list of the ten best fighters ever and managed to rank them. The top three fighters on our list are Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, and Georges St-Pierre, which many people view as the best fighters ever.