Power Ranking the 50 Best Fighters in MMA and UFC History

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterMay 23, 2012

Power Ranking the 50 Best Fighters in MMA and UFC History

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    Legacy is important to all athletes, especially in the combat sports. Ask any two boxing fans who the best fighter of all time was, and more likely than not, an argument is about to begin.

    The same applies to MMA, despite a short history of just 19 years. Using the power of math, we've broken down the best fighter debate into six categories. In addition to these statistical rankings, we've asked resident MMA historian Jonathan Snowden to create a panel and a set of rankings of his own.

    Combining the objective and the subjective, we've narrowed down 50 of the best. Bleacher Report presents the 50 greatest fighters of all time.

Breaking Down the Categories

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    Wins: Just like it sounds. The raw number of wins the fighter earned in his career. Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Dan Severn (100)
    2. Jeremy Horn (89)
    3. Igor Vovchancyn (55)
    4. Matt Hughes (45)
    5. Dave Menne (45)

    Winning Percentage: What percentage of a fighter's bouts did he win during his career? This includes all bouts, whether taking on the world champion or a local scrub. Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Jose Aldo (.95)
    2. Dominick Cruz (.95)
    3. Jon Jones (.94)
    4. Junior dos Santos (.93)
    5. Georges St-Pierre (.92)

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: This separates the men from the boys. When you matched up with a top 20 caliber opponent, how did you do? Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Jose Aldo (1.00)
    2. Junior dos Santos (1.00)
    3. Anderson Silva (.888)
    4. Jon Jones (.888)
    5. Georges St-Pierre (.875)

    Quality Wins: Number of wins in your career against a top 20 caliber opponent. An opponent's current ranking is taken into consideration. For example, beating Dan Severn in 1995 is considered a quality win. Beating Dan Severn tonight is not. Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Dan Henderson (19)
    2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (17)
    3. Anderson Silva (16)
    4. Matt Hughes (16)
    5. Wanderlei Silva; Chuck Liddell (15)

    Finishing Percentage: Calculates the percentage of your wins that come by way of knockout or submission. Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Masakatsu Funaki (.97)
    2. Alistair Overeem (.94)
    3. Andrei Arlovski (.94)
    4. Carlos Condit (.93)
    5. Evan Tanner (.91)

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: Winning or defending a title that can seriously make you a claimant as "best in the world. Winning a UFC, Pride, or other major world level tournament. Top 5 among fighters considered:

    1. Anderson Silva (12)
    2. Randy Couture (9)
    3. Matt Hughes (9)
    4. Georges St-Pierre (9)
    5. Fedor Emelianenko (7)

    Statistical Ranking: A combination of the above factors.

    Expert Ranking: The average ranking of our expert panel.

    With the categories explained, let's move on to the list. Special thanks to Rob Tatum for his help conceptualizing the statistical methods used in these tabulations.

50. Nick Diaz

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    Wins: 26

    Winning Percentage: .760

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .555

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .81

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 0

    Statistical Ranking: 50

    Expert Ranking: 50

    Analysis: An exciting but troubled fighter, Diaz has created almost as many headlines outside the cage as he has in it. A two time drug test failure—for marijuana of all things—Diaz is also the long time Strikeforce champion at welterweight. 

    Both the experts and the numbers had Diaz as the 50th best fighter of all time. Diaz is held back by a lack of top flight opponents. Only five of his 26 career wins have come against top fighters. His recent drug suspension puts his place in jeopardy. Alistair Overeem, his brother Nate Diaz, Jon Fitch, and Diego Sanchez are all hot on his heels.

49. Jake Shields

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    Wins: 27

    Winning Percentage: .820

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .750

    Quality Wins: 9

    Finishing Percentage: .48

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 36

    Expert Ranking: 58

    Analysis: One of Diaz's top training partners, Shields has split time between welterweight and middleweight. Shields, who first made a name overseas in Japan, is best remembered for his upset win over Dan Henderson in Strikeforce and a title loss to Georges St-Pierre in the UFC.

    Shields has struggled since coming to the Octagon. To get back on track, and to move up this list, he needs to start finishing opponents. Less than half of his wins come from submission or knockout.

48. Frankie Edgar

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    Wins: 14

    Winning Percentage: .88

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .714

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .43

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 50

    Expert Ranking: 41

    Analysis: The consummate underdog—even as the UFC lightweight champion he was usually expected to lose—Edgar is known for his never say die attitude. Winning the title from the legendary B.J. Penn gave his reign instant credibility.

    The main thing holding Edgar back is time. He's new to the sport and hasn't had time to amass the statistics he needs to hold his own with the best ever.

47. Norifumi Yamamoto

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    Wins: 18

    Winning Percentage: .75

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .625

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .83

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 50

    Expert Ranking: 40

    Analysis: The darling of teen girls all over Japan, Yamamoto was a fierce competitor. Often in trouble outside the cage, he missed out on the chance to cement his name in history due to various shenanigans and injuries.

    It looks like Kid's competitive days are past. In his prime, he was one of the best ever, often competing with men 20 pounds heavier. He packed a big punch in a small package. The 135 pounder finished 83 percent of his victories.

46. Tito Ortiz

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    Wins: 16

    Winning Percentage: .61

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .473

    Quality Wins: 9

    Finishing Percentage: .69

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 54

    Expert Ranking: 36

    Analysis: Ortiz is one of the most important fighters in UFC history. An enormous drawing card, he was the face of the company in the early years of Zuffa ownership.

    Long holdouts in his prime and a rash of injuries kept Tito from being an all-time great. He just didn't get in enough work to be considered with his peers. Ortiz also struggled against top ranked opponents, especially in later years, winning less than half his fights against quality foes.

45. Evan Tanner

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    Wins: 32

    Winning Percentage: .80

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .416

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .91

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 42

    Expert Ranking: 47

    Analysis: The late Evan Tanner was an iconoclast, a true one of the kind personality. Alternatingly dazzling and depressed, Tanner was a favorite of fans and insiders alike.

    In the cage, the former Pancrase star was an amazing finisher. If he was winning, it was going to be by knockout or submission. Like Tito Ortiz, Tanner was great against subpar foes, but struggled against the best.

44. Mark Coleman

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    Wins: 16

    Winning Percentage: .62

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .400

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .75

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 59

    Expert Ranking: 25

    Analysis: An Octagon trendsetter, Coleman took what Dan Severn had already done in the cage to the next level. Coleman and his proteges made ground and pound a catch phrase—and a viable fighting style.

    For a moment in time, Coleman looked like the best ever. But he never adapted to modern MMA and was a one trick pony for his entire career, relying only on his superlative wrestling game.

43. Lyoto Machida

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    Wins: 17

    Winning Percentage: .85

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .727

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .47

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 42

    Expert Ranking: 35

    Analysis: Machida brought the traditional martial arts back to the cage, representing karate with pride. Elusive and lighting quick, he often made opponents look foolish en route to victory,

    Machida hasn't stayed very busy in his career. That, and a poor finishing percentage, keeps him behind rivals like Rashad Evans on this list.

41 (tie). Gilbert Melendez

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    Wins: 20

    Winning Percentage: .91

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .750

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .60

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 55

    Analysis: Melendez, the long time Strikeforce champion at lightweight, is one of the sport's great mysteries. Just how good is he? It's an open question.

    A huge gulf here between the experts and the statistics. Melendez, courtesy of his raw numbers, is one of the greats. The human experts would probably like to see him prove it in the UFC before ranking him too high.

41 (tie). Rashad Evans

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    Wins: 17

    Winning Percentage: .89

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .800

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .47

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 36

    Expert Ranking: 39

    Analysis: The former Ultimate Fighter winner is one of the most complex and controversial figures in the entire sport. A former UFC light heavyweight champion, Evans has been in the featured fight of several mega pay per views.

    Like the song says, all Evans does is win. To advance, he's going to need to start finishing people. His 47 percent finishing percentage won't cut it at the upper tier of this list.

40. Vitor Belfort

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    Wins: 21

    Winning Percentage: .70

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .526

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .81

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 36

    Expert Ranking: 38

    Analysis: Exploding onto the scene as a teenager, greatness seemed like an obvious destination for Belfort. A wrestler named Randy Couture stopped that hype train in its tracks. Ever since, Belfort has been looking to get his groove back.

    Forget the "old Vitor" and the "new Vitor." Both versions of Belfort are powerful strikers who finish fights. A solid run at middleweight will secure his place among the greats for years to come.

39. Frank Mir

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    Wins: 16

    Winning Percentage: .76

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .636

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .75

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 42

    Expert Ranking: 29

    Analysis: Cocky? Yes Brash? Of course. For good reason? You bet. Mir has twice carried UFC heavyweight gold and his submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira shocked the world.

    A broken leg that almost cost him his career also cost Mir nearly two years of his fighting prime. That will all be forgotten if he adds another title reign to his resume.

38. Tim Sylvia

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    Wins: 30

    Winning Percentage: .81

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .583

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .77

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 5

    Statistical Ranking: 16

    Expert Ranking: 54

    Analysis: A victim of dull, plodding fights with Andrei Arlovski, the former UFC star has struggled to get the respect he deserves. A string of losses since leaving the company have done little to help.

    Statistics love Sylvia. He won a lot of fights and was a long running champion. If he gets the late career UFC run he wants, however, he might fight his way right off this list.

37. Shinya Aoki

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    Wins: 30

    Winning Percentage: .83

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .666

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .67

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 49

    Analysis: Shinya Aoki was, arguably, the top lightweight of his era. A submission expert with a decided mean streak, Aoki actually tried to hurt opponents in the ring.

    Recent losses have cost Aoki with the human panel of voters. The numbers don't lie though. When he was in his prime, Aoki was one of the best.

36. Don Frye

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    Wins: 20

    Winning Percentage: .69

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .625

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .90

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 42

    Expert Ranking: 26

    Analysis: Famous for his mustache as much as his free wheeling fighting style, Frye is an old school legend. The former UFC tournament champion is best known for a slugfest with Japanese wrestler Takayama and a grueling war of attrition with megastar Ken Shamrock.

    Frye abandoned fighting in his prime to become a pro wrestler in Japan. When he returned, he was still awesome to watch, but no longer great.

35. Miguel Torres

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    Wins: 40

    Winning Percentage: .89

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .555

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .80

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 11

    Expert Ranking: 56

    Analysis: A veteran of MMA's early days, Torres is one of the few active fighters who competed in the bad old days of no weight classes and bar brawls. He graduated from the minor leagues to the WEC where he was bantamweight champion.

    Again, fickle human voters have punished Torres for recent losses. But he has had a long, tremendously fruitful career.

34. Hayato Sakurai

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    Wins: 36

    Winning Percentage: .75

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .555

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .58

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 36

    Expert Ranking: 30

    Analysis: Known as "Mach",  Sakurai was arguably the best welterweight in the world at one point. Matt Hughes settled that argument once and for all in the cage.

    Sakurai went on to reinvent himself as a top lightweight. Once considered one of the best pound for pound, Sakurai is finishing up a superlative career.

33. Carlos Condit

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    Wins: 28

    Winning Percentage: .85

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .700

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .93

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 11

    Expert Ranking: 53

    Analysis: Condit is a former WEC champion who defied the odds and delivered the same amazing results in the UFC.

    A real sleeper. Condit's 28 wins and high level of success against top opponents earned him eleventh in the statistical rankings. His finishing percentage of 93 percent is one of the highest of all time. Condit simply doesn't allow opponents to survive.

32. Ken Shamrock

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    Wins: 28

    Winning Percentage: .65

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .440

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .89

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 36

    Expert Ranking: 22

    Analysis: Shamrock's career actually predates the UFC. He fought in the Japanese Pancrase promotion before ever stepping in the Octagon. There's no denying he's a pioneer and legend, one of the biggest drawing cards in the sport's history.

    The world's most dangerous man was a tremendous finisher in his Pancrase prime. Struggles after his return from the WWF have cost him what was once a top 10 spot.

30 (tie). Junior Dos Santos

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    Wins: 14

    Winning Percentage: .93

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: 1.00

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .86

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 11

    Expert Ranking: 43

    Analysis: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's protege has brought boxing back to the UFC's heavyweight division. After a string of grapplers, a striker once again sits on top as champion.

    Dos Santos is on the precipice of greatness. He holds this elevated position thanks to batting a thousand against quality opponents. He could drop from the list entirely if he falls short just a couple of times.

30 (tie). Pat Miletich

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    Wins: 29

    Winning Percentage: .81

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .461

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .79

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 33

    Expert Ranking: 21

    Analysis: A triple threat: Miletich was a tremendous fighter, a better coach, and a solid broadcaster. He failed against the best of the best, but his reputation as a decision machine is a lie. When he won, it was by submission or knockout.

27 (tie). Jeremy Horn

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    Wins: 89

    Winning Percentage: .81

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .384

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .87

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 0

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 33

    Analysis: Called "Gumby" for his elastic limbs, Horn is the only man to submit the great Chuck Liddell. Frank Shamrock was almost another victim. At his best, Horn was capable of beating anyone.

    Horn is an amazing submission artist. He's won an incredible 89 fights—almost 90 percent of them by submission. Against the elite though, the Miletich fighter has failed, causing some panelists to leave him off their list all together.

27 (tie). Dominick Cruz

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    Wins: 19

    Winning Percentage: .95

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .857

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .37

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 5

    Statistical Ranking: 16

    Expert Ranking: 37

    Analysis: The UFC bantamweight champion, Cruz exists in a state of perpetual motion. Like a hummingbird—if hummingbirds could face punch—no one has solved the Cruz puzzle at 135 pounds.

    The injured bantamweight champion has had quite an impact since stepping onto the world stage in the WEC. He needs to start finishing fights though. It's the one metric slowing down his meteoric rise.

27 (tie). Kazushi Sakuraba

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    Wins: 26

    Winning Percentage: .62

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .500

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .88

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 42

    Expert Ranking: 11

    Analysis: Sakuraba became Japan's MMA icon by challenging, and beating, members of the legendary Gracie family. Later he would fight the world's best, often giving up dozens of pounds to do so.

    Our expert panel is prepared to forgive Sakuraba's later shenanigans. The computer statistics don't care if his fights are a farce. A loss is a loss.

25 (tie). Sean Sherk

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    Wins: 36

    Winning Percentage: .90

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .666

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .58

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 32

    Analysis: The "Muscle Shark" paid the price for a contract dispute with the UFC, spending many of his best years on the independent scene.

    One of the most underrated fighters ever, Sherk is looking to pad his record with a UFC return.

25 (tie). Randy Couture

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    Wins: 19

    Winning Percentage: .63

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .608

    Quality Wins: 14

    Finishing Percentage: .58

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 9

    Statistical Ranking: 33

    Expert Ranking: 19

    Analysis: What can you say about Couture that hasn't been said? So good he needs two nicknames (Captain America and the Natural) Couture was a multiple time champion at heavyweight and light heavyweight.

    Couture fought only the best. That helps him tremendously in the quality wins department, but has hampered his case when looking at the percentages. Combined with a mediocre finishing ability, and you have a very big name stuck in the middle of the list.

24. Takanori Gomi

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    Wins: 33

    Winning Percentage: .80

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .642

    Quality Wins: 9

    Finishing Percentage: .58

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 33

    Expert Ranking: 16

    Analysis: A former Shooto champion, Pride swiped him to headline their Bushido events.

    Panelists obviously remember his Pride run fondly. The computer, unfortunately for the "Fireball Kid" is also factoring his failed stint in the UFC. They meet in the middle here at 24.

23. Igor Vovchancyn

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    Wins: 55

    Winning Percentage: .85

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .500

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .85

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 0

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 28

    Analysis: The explosive, compact Vovchancyn is an MMA legend. Few in history struck faster or hit harder.

    One of the most fearsome fighters of all time, Vovchancyn was a great can crusher. Against top opponents, however, his record was only average.

22. Quinton Jackson

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    Wins: 32

    Winning Percentage: .76

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .619

    Quality Wins: 13

    Finishing Percentage: .66

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 28

    Expert Ranking: 18

    Analysis: Jackson is best known for his iconic howl, his incomprehensible and hilarious interviews, and his epic meltdowns whenever he loses.

    His refusal to train hard consistently cost the former UFC champion and Pride star.

21. Urijah Faber

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    Wins: 26

    Winning Percentage: .84

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .636

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .81

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 11

    Expert Ranking: 34

    Analysis: The WEC's posterboy, Faber owned the promotion's featherweight division. He was a pay per view draw waiting to happen. But by the time he got to the big leagues, his star had dimmed somewhat in the cage.

    The former champion is looking to impress the panelists going forward and there's still hope for a resurgence. He's winning, and finishing, fights.  A bantamweight interim title reign would be a nifty resume builder.

20. Josh Barnett

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    Wins: 31

    Winning Percentage: .86

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .642

    Quality Wins: 9

    Finishing Percentage: .84

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 16

    Expert Ranking: 24

    Analysis: Unfortunately for Barnett and his supporters, MMA fans are incapable of mentioning the former champion's name without also mentioning PED's.

    Nearing the end of a great career, Barnett has been a finisher and winner for years.

19. Royce Gracie

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    Wins: 14

    Winning Percentage: .88

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .714

    Quality Wins: 5

    Finishing Percentage: .86

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 3

    Statistical Ranking: 28

    Expert Ranking: 13

    Analysis: The sport's founding champion and a martial arts icon, Gracie just doesn't have enough fights to warrant a higher ranking. He won three UFC tournaments and helped make a star of Kazushi Sakuraba. But, with the exception of an embarrassing loss to Matt Hughes, Gracie and his brother Rickson both disappeared without challenging the next generation of stars.

18. B.J. Penn

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    Wins: 16

    Winning Percentage: .67

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .600

    Quality Wins: 12

    Finishing Percentage: .81

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 5

    Statistical Ranking: 28

    Expert Ranking: 12

    Analysis: Penn was a star in hardcore MMA circles before he ever stepped into the cage. A champion at both lightweight and welterweight, he's dominant when interested. But when bored, he can fall off the tracks quickly.

    Penn had more potential than almost any other fighter on this list. But inconsistent effort cost him the chance to be one of the elite. A spirited return from retirement could help the Hawaiian into the top 10.

17. Rich Franklin

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    Wins: 28

    Winning Percentage: .82

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .625

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .89

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 3

    Statistical Ranking: 11

    Expert Ranking: 27

    Analysis: The former school teacher was an Anderson Silva away from being the best middleweight fighter of all time. Franklin has excellent all around tools and a pretty remarkable record of success.

    But the panel is human—and the lasting memory of Rich Franklin is the utter annihilation he suffered at Silva's hands (and knees).

15 (tie). Mirko Filopovic

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    Wins: 27

    Winning Percentage: .73

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .608

    Quality Wins: 14

    Finishing Percentage: .89

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 1

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 17

    Analysis: His high kick was legendary. The right leg would send you to the hospital. The left leg? The cemetery.

    Cro Cop was one of the best heavyweight fighters ever. Unfortunately for him, he was stuck in Pride when Nogueira and Fedor ruled the roost.

15 (tie). Frank Shamrock

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    Wins: 23

    Winning Percentage: .70

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .588

    Quality Wins: 10

    Finishing Percentage: .74

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 28

    Expert Ranking: 9

    Analysis: Frank Shamrock walked away from his adopted brother Ken's Lion's Den training camp—and right into fighting immortality, becoming the UFC's first and arguably best light heavyweight champion.

    Shamrock's shocking retirement—while he was the reigning UFC champion—cost him his prime years and kept him from being the top fighter of all time. Early struggles in Pancrase, when he was first learning the sport, also cost him dearly statistically.

14. Jose Aldo

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    Wins: 21

    Winning Percentage: .95

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: 1.00

    Quality Wins: 7

    Finishing Percentage: .71

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 5

    Expert Ranking: 31

    Analysis: Aldo packs dynamite in his hands, knees, and feet. Also capable of holding his own on the ground, he has the potential for greatness.

    There's a huge divide here between the panelists and the statistics. According to the numbers, Aldo is a top five of all time. That will be true if he keeps his win streak going. A couple of losses and the percentages, which he is riding to statistical success, will plummet and he will sink to the middle of the pack.

12 (tie). Mauricio Rua

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    Wins: 20

    Winning Percentage: .77

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .600

    Quality Wins: 9

    Finishing Percentage: .90

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 15

    Analysis: A product of the famed Chute Box Academy, Rua struck fear into the hearts of Pride's top light heavyweights.  Some consider his 2005, which included winning the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, one of the best years in MMA history.

    Crippling injuries have kept Rua from reaching his potential. What he managed to accomplish was still pretty darn good.

12 (tie). Dan Henderson

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    Wins: 29

    Winning Percentage: .78

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .703

    Quality Wins: 19

    Finishing Percentage: .52

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 3

    Statistical Ranking: 28

    Expert Ranking: 7

    Analysis: Henderson, part of the original Team Quest crew of greco roman wrestling standouts, has stood the test of time. Career highlights include a Rings tournament win, a knockout of Wanderlei Silva, and an upset win over Fedor Emelianenko.

    Hendo's lackluster finishing percentage and lack of a long title reign kept him out of the top ten.

11. Masakatsu Funaki

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    Wins: 39

    Winning Percentage: .75

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .521

    Quality Wins: 12

    Finishing Percentage: .97

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 2

    Statistical Ranking: 9

    Expert Ranking: 23

    Analysis: Funaki helped reinvent professional wrestling in Japan, creating a promotion that featured matches without predetermined endings. A student of the great Karl Gotch, Funaki's Pancrase was named after the ancient Greek Olympic sport pankration.

    The Pancrase submission expert was the most dangerous finisher of all time. Holds wins over Bas Rutten, Guy Mezger, and both Shamrocks.

10. Dan Severn

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    Wins: 100

    Winning Percentage: .85

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .545

    Quality Wins: 6

    Finishing Percentage: .77

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 3

    Statistical Ranking: 16

    Expert Ranking: 14

    Analysis: Known as the "Beast," Severn's most famous win was an abomination of a match with Ken Shamrock. The two stood staring at each other for the duration,and fans lustily booed what was called "the Dance in Detroit."

    Severn has seen a lot of success in his career. But only a handful of his wins have come against quality opposition.

9. Chuck Liddell

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    Wins: 21

    Winning Percentage: .72

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .652

    Quality Wins: 15

    Finishing Percentage: .67

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 5

    Statistical Ranking: 20

    Expert Ranking: 8

    Analysis: With his trademark mohawk and head tat, Liddell has one of the most iconic visages in all of MMA. An innovator who used his wrestling skill to stay standing and deliver knockout blows, Liddell was the UFC's top star in the early years of the Spike TV era.

    Experts rewarded his long title reign and wrecking ball prime. Struggles in his later years cost him statistically however. The numbers will even out when some of the younger fighters on the list start to struggle with age and injury.

8. Jon Jones

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    Wins: 16

    Winning Percentage: .94

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .888

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .81

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 5

    Expert Ranking: 20

    Analysis: There hasn't been a prodigy like Jones in MMA since—well, ever. Already the light heavyweight champion, his potential seems limitless.

    Jones is on pace to be the best fighter ever. He is a wonder, combining other worldly athletic gifts with sharp strategy and innovative techniques.

7. Bas Rutten

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    Wins: 28

    Winning Percentage: .88

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .666

    Quality Wins: 8

    Finishing Percentage: .89

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 8

    Expert Ranking: 10

    Analysis: The charismatic Dutch kickboxer became a star in Pancrase, winning the King of Pancrase title all the while supplementing his brutal kickboxing with sharp submissions.

    Rutten backed up his Pancrase success by winning the UFC title. Injuries forced a retirement and kept him from challenging for the top spot.

6. Wanderlei Silva

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    Wins: 34

    Winning Percentage: .76

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .625

    Quality Wins: 15

    Finishing Percentage: .70

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 6

    Statistical Ranking: 9

    Expert Ranking: 6

    Analysis: One of the scariest looking human beings alive, Silva backed up his fierce glares with even fiercer fighting. He was a wrecking machine who came forward until his opponent couldn't continue. His strategy was "smash."

    Silva ranks ahead of his rival Liddell because he simply fought more frequently.

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    Wins: 33

    Winning Percentage: .83

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .708

    Quality Wins: 17

    Finishing Percentage: .70

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 4

    Statistical Ranking: 7

    Expert Ranking: 5

    Analysis: The greatest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu based fighter of all time. Nogueira was a great warrior, successful despite being undersized. His twin brother, after all, competes as a light heavyweight.

    Nogueira found some success in the UFC after coming over from Pride, where he built his legend. The years, and the wars, have seemingly slowed him down, but it's never smart to count him out.

4. Georges St-Pierre

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    Wins: 22

    Winning Percentage: .92

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .875

    Quality Wins: 14

    Finishing Percentage: .59

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 9

    Statistical Ranking: 4

    Expert Ranking: 3

    Analysis: This Canadian kareteka has become the best wrestler in all of MMA—despite not having any formal wrestling background. Few, however, can match the welterweight champion's speed and strength when he shoots in for a quick double leg takedown.

    His ever shrinking finishing percentage, product of a cautious approach since being upset by the unheralded Matt Serra, ended up costing the long time welterweight champion. But if he returns from injury with his athleticism mostly intact, St-Pierre could challenge for the top of the chart.

3. Matt Hughes

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    Wins: 45

    Winning Percentage: .83

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .695

    Quality Wins: 16

    Finishing Percentage: .78

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 9

    Statistical Ranking: 2

    Expert Ranking: 4

    Analysis: Unlike Mark Coleman, Hughes added Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to his amazing wrestling. The rest was history, and the Eastern Illinois wrestler became the UFC's most accomplished fighter of the first half of the 2000's.

    Hughes nosed ahead of St-Pierre thanks to a whopping 45 career wins.

2. Fedor Emelianenko

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    Wins: 33

    Winning Percentage: .89

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .764

    Quality Wins: 13

    Finishing Percentage: .76

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 7

    Statistical Ranking: 2

    Expert Ranking: 2

    Analysis: Before he was famous mostly for not signing with the UFC, hardocre fans worshiped the Russian heavyweight as the best fighter in the game.

    As his amazing career comes to a close, Fedor maintains his position as the best heavyweight fighter of all time.

1. Anderson Silva

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    Wins: 31

    Winning Percentage: .89

    Winning Percentage Against Quality Opponents: .888

    Quality Wins: 16

    Finishing Percentage: .77

    Wins in Title Fights/Tournaments: 12

    Statistical Ranking: 1

    Expert Ranking: 1

    Analysis: Middleweight champion Anderson Silva does things you aren't supposed to be able to do. He seems to know exactly what his opponent intends to do—and react in a way intended both to embarrass and dismantle his foes.

    The experts and the numbers agree—Silva is the best fighter of all time. He has demolished both quality and average opponents alike. His record 12 wins in championship fights looks like it could be safe for some time. Simply the best fighter ever.