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20 MMA Fighters Who Are Better Than Their Record

Craig AmosFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2017

20 MMA Fighters Who Are Better Than Their Record

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    They say that it isn't how many beat, it's who you beat. This little slice of wisdom is perhaps nowhere more applicable than to MMA.

    After all, who is the better fighter: B.J. Penn (16-8-2) or Nick Thompson (38-14-1)?

    With all due respect to the Goat, I rest my case.

    Here, we will take a look at 20 mixed martial artists whose professional records do no justice to what they have accomplished, or how skilled they are.

    Some criteria for the list:

    First, to be included a fighter must have a sub-.750 winning percentage.

    Second, the fighter must be active.

    Third, draws are not factored into a fighter's winning percentage for the purpose of this list.

    Fourth, and this is a bit of a gray area, the fighter must not have accumulated most of his losses near the end of his career when he was/is a husk of his former self (you won't find Wanderlei Silva here).

    Let's get started.

Vitor Belfort

2 of 22

    Record: 21-9

    Winning Percentage: 70%

    The trajectory of a typical career looks like a lower case 'n.' A fighter starts out inexperienced, possibly accumulating losses here and there, then peaks and rides the wave for a bit before sliding down the other side.

    Belfort, on the other hand, flipped this path on its head, making his career more of a 'U.' The Phenom came into the sport like a terror before slipping into mediocrity, only to have a late career revival.

    The Dark Ages of Belfort—2002-2006—did a number on his record. While the losses he racked up during that period shall always remain, they do not accurately portray the type of talent that he really is.

Jonathan Brookins

3 of 22

    Record: 13-5

    Winning Percentage: 72%

    Brookins is a very talented kid who has lost to some really tough opponents. Among those contributing to his five losses are Charles Oliveira, Erik Koch and Jose Aldo.

    While Brookins is an imperfect fighter with a limited standup game, he is better than his record and winning percentage suggests.

    At only 26 years old, the Ultimate Fighter champ has plenty of time to pad his resume and the skill to do it. Consequently, his record may ultimately adjust to his talent level in the end.

Matt Brown

4 of 22

    Record: 14-11

    Winning Percentage: 56%

    Matt Brown is a grinder that makes any opponent sweat. While his record is almost by definition mediocre, he is a competitor who exceeds his own statistics in the Octagon.

    Brown will never be a UFC champion and it is unlikely that he will ever get close, but the guy comes out to fight every time and may have some surprises left in him before he bows out of the game.

    Brown will take on Luis Ramos at UFC on FX 4, June 22, and will have the opportunity to put a little more distance between his wins and losses.

Patrick Cote

5 of 22

    Record: 17-7

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Patrick Cote is a perfect 13-0 outside the UFC. Inside? 4-7.

    While some may interpret this data as a sign that Cote is good enough to succeed in smaller promotions, but not on the big stage, those who do are overlooking his talent.

    The Canadian is a talented striker with a granite chin, and has serviceable submission skills too.

    Though it isn't saying a whole lot, Cote is by far the best 4-7 UFC vet of all time. It is also worth noting that he was on a roll before an injury, suffered during his bout with Anderson Silva, sidelined him for a time.

    Cote will get the chance to better his promotional mark this July when he takes on Cung Le at UFC 148.

Paul Daley

6 of 22

    Record: 29-12

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Daley began stockpiling losses early in his career and hasn't hesitated to add one here or there, even since he began putting it all together.

    The Brit showed the type of talent he has during his brief stint in the UFC, but has been continually victimized by strong wrestlers since then.

    In addition to wrestler troubles, Daley also owns post-UFC losses to Nick Diaz and Kazuo Misaki.

    Despite the mediocre record, Daley is one of the most explosive strikers on the planet. He hits hard, strikes quick and is a natural finisher.

    At this point it seems unlikely that he will ever reach that elite level, but Daley is a dangerous fighter—more dangerous than his record implies.

John Dodson

7 of 22

    Record: 13-5

    Winning Percentage: 72%

    Few knew about Dodson prior to his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and when he showed up to tryout with an 11-5 record, even fewer were impressed.

    Then he fought. And people were impressed.

    Dodson has accumulated losses throughout his career, but those losses in no way represent his level of talent. In fact, many consider Dodson to be one of the top flyweights on the planet. 

Nate Diaz

8 of 22

    Record: 16-7

    Winning Percentage: 70%

    The younger Diaz brother has had some ups and downs in his career, but he seems to have really hit his stride.

    After an ill-advised foray into the welterweight division, Diaz has returned to 155 pounds and has been dominant, scoring recent wins over Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller.

    Before his current win streak, Diaz had dropped five of eight—which explains why his record is nothing to write home about. But despite those troubles, Diaz has recuperated and currently sits on the cusp of fighting for the UFC lightweight championship.

Tim Elliott

9 of 22

    Record: 8-3

    Winning Percentage: 73%

    Elliott recently debuted in the UFC to the tune of a decision loss at the hand of John Dodson. Though he was outmatched, Elliott managed to keep the fight somewhat competitive.

    Elliott is a well-rounded combatant who is certainly far from done in the UFC. He is an exciting guy and should prove to be a valuable commodity for an organization looking to launch a new weight class.

    Prior to the Dodson loss, Elliott had eight straight wins—a streak that came on the heels of two consecutive losses with which he began his career. 

Forrest Griffin

10 of 22

    Record: 18-7

    Winning Percentage: 72%

    There is a prevailing myth regarding Griffin that sometimes sweeps through MMA fan circles. For one reason or another, a whole lot of people seem to think he just isn't that good.

    While his record doesn't decisively combat that point of view, Griffin only has one loss that is inexcusable—I'm looking at you, Keith Jardine.

    Otherwise, Forrest has spent the past six years fighting nothing but top competitors, and he has done very well. 

    He may sometimes be considered lucky, overrated, over-hyped, etc., but he also earns the more flattering distinction of being one of the most unappreciated UFC fighters (in terms of skill, not publicity) around.

Clay Guida

11 of 22

    Record: 29-12

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Guida has had two bad stretches in his career. First, he started his career 3-3. Then, he went 5-6 between 2006 and 2007.

    Outside of those stretches, however, Guida has done some real damage.

    Before losing to Ben Henderson last November, Guida was on the precipice of scoring a UFC title shot on the strength of a four-fight win streak.

    Though he came up a bit short in his championship bid, Guida is a horror in the lightweight division—and a tough test for any lightweight out there.

    It is also worth noting that a few of Guida's losses have come via the dreaded "controversial decision."

Joachim Hansen

12 of 22

    Record: 22-11

    Winning Percentage: 67%

    You just don't know what you are going to get with Hansen. Sometimes he looks like one of the best fighters on the planet, while other times he looks like he is actually very lucky to have a record above .500.

    But for all the inconsistency, Hansen is, without a doubt, a fighter that is better than his record suggests. For years he has taken on the top competition in Japan and has come up big several times.

    He may not be an elite fighter, but he is certainly better than two-thirds of mixed martial artists, a ratio implied by his winning percentage.

Mark Hominick

13 of 22

    Record: 20-11

    Winning Percentage: 65%

    Hominick hasn't been doing himself any favors lately. Since putting together a five-fight win streak, the Ontario native has dropped three straight contests, including a failed title shot against Jose Aldo.

    Still, Hominick is a terrific striker and has cardio for days. Although his submission defense is subpar, he is quite apt at scoring stoppages of that variety himself.

    Hominick is a good (not great) fighter, but he is without a doubt better than his 65 percent win rate would have you believe.

Michael Johnson

14 of 22

    Record: 11-6

    Winning Percentage: 65%

    Johnson experienced something of a rocky start to begin his career, but has developed into a solid fighter over the past couple of years.

    Johnson is a terrific athlete who is just beginning to tap his potential. He may never be a UFC champion, but he will be able to hold his own against some very tough lightweights going forward.

    His 11-6 record is deceiving indeed.

Cheick Kongo

15 of 22

    Record: 17-7

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Is he better than the record implies? An argument could be made either way, but I'm going to go with "yes"—if only slightly.

    Kongo has his fair share of losses, but since 2006 none of them have come against anyone lacking the "decent" label.

    Kongo is a deadly striker who has compiled an impressive hit-list, and he is more skilled than his record suggests.

    Just give him another win or two and his record will be a more accurate representation of his ability. 

Josh Koscheck

16 of 22

    Record: 17-6

    Winning Percentage: 74%

    Since his days as an Ultimate Fighter participant, Josh Koscheck has been a mainstay near the top of the welterweight ladder.

    He has accumulated some losses during that time, but this is what happens when you fight nothing but top contenders.

    Koscheck seems to be at a crossroads in his career right now—he has lost twice to current champion Georges St-Pierre, and his bid to garner an interim title shot was thwarted by Johny Hendricks. Consequently, Koscheck is in real danger of becoming a gatekeeper rather than a contender.

    But regardless of the unofficial title he wields, Koscheck is a very good welterweight, and though not terrible, his 17-6 record does not do justice to just how good he is.

Chris Leben

17 of 22

    Record: 22-8

    Winning Percentage: 73%

    Chris Leben may not be championship material, but the guy can fight. Considering he has had the mixed blessing of fighting no one but top contenders for almost the entirety of his UFC career, he has made out fairly well.

    While 22-8 is a solid record, it falls shy of reflecting how good a fighter Leben has been since joing the UFC roster.

    I mean, he may be a "B" fighter, but he is no "B-".

Frank Mir

18 of 22

    Record: 16-6

    Winning Percentage: 73%

    Frank Mir has seen it all. He has been on top of the world, he has hit rock bottom and he has been oh-so-close to recapturing glory without actually doing it.

    Through all the trials and tribulations, Mir has made it through. He has amassed a 16-6 record—not something to be ashamed of, but not a mark befitting someone so talented.

B.J. Penn

19 of 22

    Record: 16-8

    Winning Percentage: 67%

    It doesn't help that Penn has gone 1-3-1 over his last five fights, but then again, his record has never been all that stellar.

    At one point, Penn had nine wins to go along with just one loss, but since 2005 he is a .500 fighter (7-7-1). That is not to say Penn peaked before 2005—just that his statistics went south at that time.

    Regardless of whether Penn's record stands as it is because he has been fighting past his prime for awhile, because he has fought extremely tough competition his whole career or because he has fought opponents much bigger than him his entire career, Penn's record is in no way an accurate indicator of the type of fighter he really is.

Dennis Siver

20 of 22

    Record: 20-8

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Siver garnered prospect status early in his career, but faltered after finding some initial success in MMA. Since October, 2008, Siver has turned it up a notch, going 9-2.

    Recent wins over George Sotiropoulos, Matt Wiman and Diego Nunes more accurately convey Siver's talent than his 20-8 record does. 

    It is also worth mentioning that Siver recently made the drop to featherweight where he debuted in winning fashion.

Chael Sonnen

21 of 22

    Record: 27-11

    Winning Percentage: 71%

    Sonnen is a guy who really figured things out about midway through his career. He got off to a quick start, dominating hapless opponents with superior wrestling, before he ran into tougher competition that regularly set off the tapping reflex in his wrist.

    But after time spent wallowing in mediocrity, Sonnen has emerged as one of the best middleweights in the world and is ready to make a second run at Anderson Silva's title.

    Though submission defense remains Sonnen's largest flaw, he has spent the better part of the last three years terrorizing the UFC's best 185-pounders, an accomplishment not done justice by a career 27-11 mark.

Honorable Mention: Kenny Florian

22 of 22

    Record: 14-6

    Winning Percentage: 70%

    After starting his career at 2-2, Florian hardly ever lost—except in title fights.

    That he was able to garner three title opportunities speaks to the type of successful career he had, even if his inability to capture gold will in large part define his legacy.

    Now retired, Florian's record will forever stay at 14-6. Unfortunately, that mark provides no semblance of just how good Florian actually was.

    Feel free to add any snubs in the comments section below.

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