Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre and the 12 Biggest Draws in MMA
Georges St-Pierre/ photo cred: Scott Petersen for MMAWeekly.com
Mixed martial arts has become the fastest-growing sport in the world.
With the ascension of the sport, many athletes have become prominent and viable figures in popular culture today, with many gaining loyal fan followings in the process.
Guys like Georges St-Pierre have solely relied on their endeavors in the MMA world to endear themselves to the masses and as a result have become some of the biggest draws in the sport.
[Georges St-Pierre/ photo cred: Scott Petersen for MMAWeekly.com]
Fedor Emelianenko/ photo cred: Ken Pishna for MMAWeekly.com
The former consensus No. 1 heavyweight fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko became the most notable fighter in his division thanks to his fan-friendly style of fighting, which victimized many of the sport's best fighters on the planet.
Former UFC champions Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski entered the long list of accolades for "The Last Emperor," who finished all those men in the opening round.
After cultivating his legend in Japan, Emelianenko brought that same excitement here to the States, though it lasted only for a short while after the Russian incurred a string of losses.
Brock Lesnar/ photo cred: Ken Pishna for MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar used his star power from his WWE days and successfully brought over a whole new fanbase into the mixed martial arts fold.
Loud, boisterous and unapologetic, Lesnar became both endeared and hated by most fans, which made him arguably the most exciting inclusion in the sport's history.
Victories over Frank Mir, Randy Couture and Shane Carwin anchor some of the hefty accomplishments that the big man garnered in his short time in the sport.
BJ Penn/ photo cred: MMAWeekly.com
The manic Hawaiian is one of only two men in the UFC to become a world champion in two different weight classes.
"The Prodigy" entered the sport with a bang, going 3-0 in his first three outings inside the Octagon, which included knockout victories over veterans Caol Uno and Din Thomas to boot.
Now, after his legacy has been secured, Penn finds himself a two-time champ having found success both in the lightweight and welterweight class.
Nick and Nate Diaz
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Arguably the two most enigmatic fighters in the sport also happen to be two of the world's best fighters in their respective weight classes.
While the controversial Nick Diaz has taken the reins of the welterweight class, his younger brother Nate has been on a path of destruction in the lightweight division, recently notching up a two-fight win streak with victories over former Pride champ Takanori Gomi and contender Donald Cerrone.
Both men may not be the most eloquent on the mic, but their fighting speaks volumes.
Georges St-Pierre/ photo cred: Scott Petersen for MMAWeekly.com
Canada's own Georges St-Pierre has quickly ascended the mixed martial arts world with the technical approach he brings to the fight game.
St-Pierre first earned the welterweight crown with a dominant TKO victory over Matt Hughes, cinching the crown again in his rematch with rival Matt Serra, making GSP only the second man in the division to become a two-time champ.
Since then, "Rush" has defended his crown a record six times, making him far and above the best in the 170-pound class, and he is well-regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best in the world.
Anderson Silva/ photo cred: Ken Pishna for MMAWeekly.com
Anderson Silva's UFC career started out much faster than most.
After an emphatic knockout victory over then-top contender Chris Leben, Silva was matched up against then-champion Rich Franklin. Silva wasted little time in dispatching the 185-pound kingpin, knocking him out in the first round.
Since then, Silva has defended his title a UFC record-setting nine times and has found success also in the light heavyweight division, where first-round knockouts over James Irvin and former champion Forrest Griffin have ensued.
Silva, rightfully so, is the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Former Pride veteran Quinton Jackson has quickly made a home for himself in the UFC.
A decisive victory over rival Marvin Eastman helped kick off his career inside the Octagon, which was catapulted later when Jackson knocked out then-champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 71.
Since then, victories over Keith Jardine, Matt Hamill and Dan Henderson have ensued, while Jackson also served two stints as coach on The Ultimate Fighter and turned in a "Fight of the Year" candidate against Forrest Griffin at UFC 86.
Cung Le/ photo cred: Scott Petersen for MMAWeekly.com
A permanent fixture of the Pride circuit, the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba is regarded as one of the early pioneers of the sport.
The submission wrestler has competed with some of the best fighters in the world, having competed as high as heavyweight, though he now finds himself in his natural weight class in the welterweight division.
Rivalries with the Gracie clan have defined his career, as Sakuraba has scored victories over Royce, Renzo, Royler and Ryan Gracie over the years and earned the nickname of "The Gracie Hunter."
Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images
Much like Sakuraba, Ikuhisa Minowa has relied on a shtick to remain a viable figure in Japan.
A professional wrestler by trade, "Minowman" has become one of the sport's most coveted legends, making a career of defeating men much larger in stature.
In the past, Minowa has defeated such behemoths as Hong-Man Choi, Bob Sapp and "Giant" Silva—all men well over the 300-pound mark, a far cry from Minowa's usual 190-pound frame.
Forrest Griffin (top)/ photo cred: Scott Petersen for MMAWeekly.com
Since his stint on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin has become one of the biggest stars in the UFC today.
The grizzled veteran is among one of the few men who has used his stint on TUF to become a world champion. An upset victory over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua helped catapult Griffin into the upper echelon of the division, challenging then-champion Quinton Jackson for the light heavyweight title.
In a five-round thriller, Griffin bested Jackson to secure the light heavyweight crown, making him at the time the sport's No. 1 fighter in his division.
Jon Jones/ photo cred: Ken Pishna for MMAWeekly.com
His fanbase may not be at its height, but Jon Jones is slowly matriculating himself into the sport's most exciting fighter.
Entering the UFC with less than one year's experience, Jones quickly ascended the ranks when he defeated Season 1 finalist of The Ultimate Fighter Stephan Bonnar.
In that lone bout, Jones showed spinning back-elbows, lateral drops and suplexes galore, making him the sport's biggest prospect.
It didn't take long for Jones to reach the top of his division, as a submission victory over Ryan Bader pitted him in a championship tilt against Pride vet Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, whom he stopped in the third round due to strikes.
Since then, Jones has defended his title twice, submitting both Lyoto Machida and Quinton Jackson in succession and solidifying his place as one of the sport's top pound-for-pound fighters.