The 25 Pound-for-Pound Hardest Hitters in MMA Today

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJuly 14, 2012

The 25 Pound-for-Pound Hardest Hitters in MMA Today

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    You can't just line up every MMA fighter on the ocean boardwalk, let them hit the Punch-O-Meter a couple of times and then tabulate the results. Well, you could, but the scheduling would be a killer.

    Absent that, ranking the sport's hardest hitters will always be an inexact science. Luckily for all involved, then, that I'm not a scientist.

    But in compiling this list of the 25 heaviest pairs of fists in the game, I didn't just throw darts at a wiki page or make presumptions based on conventional wisdom, either. I've based this list on a fighter's overall wins and percentage of wins by striking-related stoppage—KO, TKO, submission due to strikes or an injury stoppage related to strikes.

    That's more comprehensive than just KO and TKO. For convenience, I'll collectively call these SRS.

    Since this is a list of hardest hitters, punching power takes precedence. Additionally, fighters can receive extra credit for experience, number of true knockouts and quality of opposition. They can also lose points for lacking such.

    Finally, there's the undeniable human element. If a guy has the "wow" factor in his punches, that's a plus in the equation. 

25. Daniel Cormier

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    Record: 10-0
    KOs: Two
    SRS total: Four
    SRS percentage: 40 percent

    Cormier's world-class wrestling got him started in MMA, but it's those heavy hands (though I hate that phrase) that keep him there.

24. Mark Munoz

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    Record: 12-3
    KOs: Two
    SRS total: Six
    SRS percentage: 50 percent

    "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" has some of the heaviest ground and pound in the game. 

23. Johny Hendricks

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    Record: 13-1 
    KOs: Four
    SRS total: Seven
    SRS percentage: 54 percent

    Johny Hendricks is a cult hero on the Internets for his effervescence and ever-present grin.

    But don't let the sweetness fool you; he can turn out the lights with either hand. I would tell you to ask Jon Fitch about that, but I don't think he remembers.

22. Alistair Overeem

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    Record: 36-11 (1) 
    KOs: Five
    SRS total: 17  
    SRS percentage: 47 percent

    He's a fearsome and powerful striker to be sure, but The 'Reem gets it done with technique and precision as much, if not more so, than with pure power.

    He also loses points for a relatively low number of straight knockouts and a surprisingly (to me, anyway) low number of KOs from punches. If preference was going to kicks and knees, he'd be higher.

    There's also the matter of that widely dissected Achilles'  heel on Reem's resume: a relatively low level of competition, especially earlier in his career. 

21. Glover Teixeira

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    Record: 18-2
    KOs: Three
    SRS total: 12
    SRS percentage: 67 percent

    Taking up the mantle of retired training partners Chuck Liddell and the criminally underrated Marco Ruas, Glover Teixeira is one hellacious hitter.

    If Teixeira, who made his Octagon debut at UFC 146 and faces Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in his next engagement, can keep doing it in a UFC context, he could stand to move farther up this list. 

20. Mark Hunt

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    Record: 8-7
    KOs: Two
    SRS total: Five 
    SRS percentage: 63 percent


    Mark Hunt is an extremely hard hitter. Everybody knows that. My question for the K-1 kick boxer: what happened in those other three wins? 

19. Evangelista Santos

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    Record: 18-15 
    KOs: Four
    SRS total: 13
    SRS percentage: 72 percent

    Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos may not be the most famous fighter on this list. He's not even the most famous fighter in his own family (for now, anyway).

    Nevertheless, the welterweight has nasty power in his hands; three of his four pure knockouts required only one punch.

18. James Te Huna

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    Record: 15-5 
    KOs: Four
    SRS total: Nine
    SRS percentage: 60 percent

    In the case of this Mark Hunt prodigy, the student has surpassed the teacher, at least in an MMA context.

    Anyone who saw James Te Huna's performance on Fuel TV earlier this week against Joey Beltran saw the kind of power he's capable of pouring on his opponents.

    I still don't know how Beltran stayed upright. He must have had a lot of sand in his base.  

17. Chris Leben

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    Record: 22-8
    KOs: Seven
    SRS total: 12
    SRS percentage: 55 percent

    Leben has had dynamite in his fists for a long time now, a fact to which those seven pure knockouts in 30 fights can attest.

16. Roy Nelson

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    Record: 17-7
    KOs: Three
    SRS total: 11
    SRS percentage: 65 percent

    These totals don't include his two TKO wins on The Ultimate Fighter, which would make it even more impressive. 

    My personal favorite among Roy Nelson's greatest hits was that lawn-chairing of Stefan Struve back in 2010, which earned him one of his three career Knockout of the Night bonuses.

15. Antonio Silva

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    Record: 16-4
    KOs: One
    SRS total: 12
    SRS percentage: 75 percent


    Whenever you have a TKO of Wesley "Cabbage" Correira on your record, you deserve a spot on this list. There's also the small matter of that time Silva used some of the biggest fists in MMA to pound out Fedor Emelianenko.

    Seriously, look at those hands. They make that microphone look like a Tootsie Roll Pop. The truly scary part is that if "Bigfoot" had hauled off and taken a bite out of it, I don't think anyone in the audience would have batted an eyebrow.

14. Norifumi Yamamoto

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    Record: 18-6 (1) 
    KOs: Five
    SRS total: 13
    SRS percentage: 72 percent

    Since taking his talents to North America in 2011, fabled Japanese bantamweight Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto has been unable to find his groove.

    But when you've got his combination of unbridled aggression and raw knockout power, you're never completely out of things.

    He's got a pretty impressive victims list, too. Royler Gracie, Rani Yahya, Genki Sudo and Caol Uno have all fallen under his fists. 

13. Jeremy Stephens

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    Record: 20-8 
    KOs: Two
    SRS total: 15
    SRS percentage: 75 percent

    The whooping Jeremy Stephens deposited on Danny Downes in 2011 remains, to my mind, one of the most lopsided unanimous decisions of all time.

    Stephens' lack of success against top opponents is more a testament to a lack of tact than of power. In that department, I'd put him up against any other lightweight. 

12. Lavar Johnson

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    Record: 17-6
    KOs: Six
    SRS total: 16
    SRS percentage: 94 percent

    Probably the fastest-rising fighter on the list.

    To this point in his career, Lavar Johnson has been crushing cans like he was hoping more for a job at the recycling center than the UFC.

    But thus far, Johnson has made the most of his time in the Octagon, earning Knockout of the Night bonuses in each of his two wins there. 

    Regardless of the caliber of opponent, when you've earned a striking-related stoppage against all but one of the 17 pro fighters you've faced, you are capable of hitting very hard. End of story. 

11. Hector Lombard

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    Record: 31-2-1 (1) 
    KOs: 11
    SRS total: 16
    SRS percentage: 52

    His level of opposition has not been the best. But still: the guy has 31 wins. He hasn't lost in five years. He has 11 pure knockouts.

    Am I ready to call him the next UFC champ? No I am not. Is he a formidable foe for any middleweight right now? Yes, he is. 

    Many observers think Lombard needs to set off some big fireworks against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149 if he wants to make any kind of case for getting the next title shot over runaway freight train Chris Weidman.

    Call me nuts, but I think that might be something he's capable of doing.

10. Melvin Guillard

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    Record: 30-10-2 (1) 
    KOs: Eight
    SRS total: 19 
    SRS percentage: 63 percent

    Bonus stat: four of Guillard's knockouts were of the one-punch variety. The most vicious of those came all the way back at UFC 63, when he crumpled Gabe Ruediger with a good, old-fashioned straight right to the gut. It still hurts to think about that one. 

9. Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson

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    Record: 32-10 
    KOs: Five
    SRS total: 14
    SRS percentage: 44 percent

    He may be losing his fastball these days, and his stats may not be as gaudy as others, but who else still out there has consistently done it against the very best in the sport? The answer is: not very many.

    The guy has cinderblocks in his gloves; no two ways about it.

8. Jake Ellenberger

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    Record: 27-6
    KOs: Six
    SRS total: 19
    SRS percentage: 73 percent

    Ellenberger is probably the hardest-hitting welterweight in the world today. And it's probably not especially close.

7. Paul Daley

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    Record: 29-12-2 
    KOs: Nine
    SRS total: 22
    SRS percentage: 76 percent

    Oh, wait...except for this guy.

    Of his nine KOs, four were one-punchers. He can also boast (and I'm sure he does) of three wins via taps from strikes, a relative high number for modern times. 

6. Robbie Lawler

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    Record: 19-8 (1) 
    KOs: 10 
    SRS total: 16
    SRS percentage: 84 percent

    Savage middleweight Robbie Lawler has more straight knockouts than TKOs. In MMA parlance, that's known as "crazy."

    Of all those SRS victories, 12 came by punches. His killer instinct seems to come and go in the cage, but when the switch is on, watch out.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when he takes on undefeated Lorenz Larkin in tonight's Strikeforce card.   

5. Cain Velasquez

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    Record: 10-1 
    KOs: One
    SRS total: Eight
    SRS percentage: 80 percent

    The former heavyweight champ has the most underrated striking power in MMA today.

    Ask Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira if the reputation is justified. Ask Brock Lesnar. Ask Antonio Silva. Or just consult the record books; no other MMA fighter (that I could find, anyway) started his career with five consecutive TKOs (and all by punches at that).

    Not Chuck, not Junior, not Anderson, not Kimo Leopoldo, not Travis Fulton. Nobody.

    I realize he's not quite the thunder-fisted dynamo that some of these other guys are. But the notion that Cain has below-average power is laughable. And that's no hyperbole. I laugh at people who think that.

4. Dan Henderson

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    Record: 29-8
    KOs: Six
    SRS total: 14
    SRS percentage: 48 percent

    Dan Henderson's overhand right is so well known that it has its own nickname: The H Bomb.

    Hendo gets graded on a major curve here because of the sheer degree of difficulty he's consistently faced throughout his career. You know the hit list, so I won't repeat it verbatim here.

    But it's worth a reminder that the opponents he has knocked cold in the ring or cage include prime Wanderlei Silva and Babalu Sobral. He is also the only man to ever knock out Renzo Gracie.

3. Shane Carwin

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    Record: 12-2 
    KOs: Four
    SRS total: Eight
    SRS percentage: 67 percent

    The largest fists in MMA history are attached to a fairly large and irritable fighter.

    When he and Roy Nelson lock horns following their coaching stints on TUF 16, I imagine that fight might be something that might contain some punching.

    That's my Magic Johnson Big-Time Signature Prediction of the Week.

2. Junior Dos Santos

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    Record: 15-1 
    KOs: Five
    SRS total: 12
    SRS percentage: 80 percent

    Much of the heavyweight champ's power is generated by speed and technique. In addition, much of it is generated by power.

    I love this photo of dos Santos after his fight with Carwin. "Here, brother. Let me help you. It's brutal what a bloody mess that gang of thugs made out of you. Wait, that was me." 

1. Melvin Manhoef

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    Record: 24-9-1 (1) 
    KOs: 11
    SRS total: 23
    SRS percentage: 96 percent

    If some of these other guys have dynamite in their fists, Melvin Manhoef has daisy cutters.

    He came out of retirement (again) in 2012 to sign with One FC. A freak injury led to a no contest ruling and left Manhoef winless in his last four bouts.

    Here's hoping he keeps fighting as long as he's healthy. The MMA world is a better place with Melvin Manhoef in it. If he had ever developed a ground game, or any endurance, or anything else besides those daisy cutters, he might have been a contender.

    Respect the king. And enjoy this video montage.

    Scott Harris is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. He also has a new and, so far, reasonably entertaining Twitter feed. Follow along @ScottHarrisMMA.