As a fighter, one might not necessarily consider it a good thing to be known for having a sturdy chin.
Still, it is worth celebrating those fighters who seem to be able to absorb more punishment than Rocky Balboa on a high dose of lidocaine.
I have no doubt there will be some bickering over my choices. I expect the omission of Chris “The Crippler” Leben to be a particularly sore point for some of you. That is why I would invite you to vent your frustrations in the comments section, and I will attempt to ease your concerns.
Let me be clear from the outset that there are many, many fighters who possess a great chin. However, such a short list necessitates that I be ruthless in my choices.
As a result, I will not be selecting fighters who, whilst durable, have been knocked out on multiple occasions.
So without further delay, I present you with the top five chins in the UFC today.
Nick Diaz’s relentless style demands a granite chin.
Many have lauded Nick’s boxing skills, but Freddie Roach correctly pointed out that there is a difference between being good with your hands and being a good boxer.
In other words, Diaz lacks footwork and generally fights flat-footed. As a result, he takes a lot of punishment while he dishes out a beating to his foes. Therefore, Nick demonstrates his robustness in almost every fight.
If you need an example of the former Strikeforce champ’s figurative Roy Nelson-esque beard, go back and watch his bout with Paul “Semtex” Daley, the notoriously murderous British knock-out artist.
Daley repeatedly blasted Diaz with his trademark left hook yet had very little success, only knocking down his foe briefly. Nick, in his usual fashion, shook off the punishment and walked down “Semtex” like a trash-talking Terminator and proceeded to overwhelm him with strikes.
Anyone who wishes to knock out Diaz these days had better bring a sledgehammer to the party.
Diego “The Dream” Sanchez seems to simply walk through whatever is thrown at him. In fact, one wonders whether the punishment he has absorbed over a long career is responsible for his hilariously bizarre personality.
Over the course of said career, the man formerly known as “The Nightmare” has been involved in many wars, yet rarely has he ever been in danger of being knocked out.
Even when B.J. Penn briefly rocked Sanchez at UFC 107, there was never a point where Diego looked defenceless. He continued to move and defend, even as punishment rained down on him.
It’s fair to say that the vast majority of fighters probably wouldn’t have survived the first Penn salvo, let alone defend against the subsequent onslaught.
Consider also Sanchez’s bout with John Hathaway, during which Diego received a hellish knee to the jaw.
Most fighters would have been stretchered out after absorbing such a blow, but the original TUF winner looked completely unperturbed, as though someone had merely tickled his chin with a feather.
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida has been on the receiving end of an obscene amount of punishment over the years yet always seems utterly unfazed.
Even on the rare occasion that he gets knocked down, the Animal-esque fighter appears to be spring-loaded, popping back up to his feet like one of those frustratingly resilient punching clowns.
Need evidence of this? Rewatch “The Carpenter’s” fight with Diego Sanchez and marvel as he soaks up strike after strike. Pay particular attention to the head kick he absorbs, which should certainly put you in mind of the aforementioned punching clowns.
If only Guida had put a little more faith in his whiskers against Gray Maynard, perhaps we wouldn’t also remember him for his Benny Hill-like qualities.
Dan Henderson is old school. From his removable teeth to his rugged features, the former Pride champion looks like a man who has been through a couple of wars.
I mean that quite literally. Hendo looks like a grenade once detonated in front of his face while he served in 'Nam.
In 37 mixed martial arts bouts, the Team Quest pioneer has never been knocked out. That includes toe-to-toe contests with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, “Rampage” Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, “Shogun” Rua and Vitor Belfort.
One need only look at Hendo’s last fight, against “Shogun”, for a demonstration of his durability.
In the last two rounds alone, Henderson received more abuse than some fighters would expect to receive over their entire careers.
If Jon “Bones” Jones can somehow manage to do what no one else has been able to do when he competes against Hendo later this year, he may very well vault over Anderson Silva to the top of the pound-for-pound list.
Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar is, for whatever reason, often overlooked on these lists, and it is tough to figure out why.
In his entire career, I have never witnessed the former TUF finalist be so much as rocked in a fight.
Go back and view any of his fights, and you will see “The American Psycho” endure a ridiculous amount of abuse, while never taking a step back.
Watch his first bout with Forrest Griffin, or his fight with Jon “Bones” Jones. In fact, Jones is quoted as saying that Bonnar is the toughest opponent he has ever faced.
Going back and watching Bonnar absorb that highlight-reel spinning elbow, it is easy to understand exactly where the current light heavyweight king is coming from.
If there is a more robust fighter in the UFC, I have yet to see him.