The most feared fighters in MMA history all have three things in common: gruesome stoppages, a highlight reel for the ages and an indescribable aura.
In other words, when you get in the ring with a fighter such as Anderson Silva, you know you're but a strike away from going unconscious.
What's more frightening than that? Going to sleep in front of thousands of people isn't exactly how one would choose to spend their Saturday night.
But every professional MMA fighter is dangerous in their own right. So what makes certain fighters more frightening than others?
Gruesome stoppages is a good place to start in finding the most feared fighters of all time.
Has any other man had a more vicious highlight reel of knockouts than Mauricio "Shogun" Rua?
Back in the days of Pride Fighting Championships, Rua was a knockout artist. He still is in the UFC, but while his violence might be rated "PG-13" in the UFC, it undoubtedly deserved an "R" rating in Pride.
With soccer kicks and foot stomps galore, Rua had four stoppages against Akihiro Gono, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Hiromitsu Kanehara and Cyrille Diabate that weren't for the faint of heart.
Violence has never been portrayed so beautifully.
Anderson Silva has perfected a ballet of violence like none other. If you stand with Silva in the middle of the Octagon, chances are you will fall before Silva.
Of Silva's 16 UFC victories, 11 of them have come by knockout. Oh, and the fight before he entered the UFC (against Tony Fryklund) happened to be his greatest knockout ever.
Every fighter (except for Jon Jones) wants to be the man that gives Silva his first UFC loss, but do they truly want that cage door to shut behind them with Silva staring across the Octagon?
"Right leg hospital, left leg cemetery."
It's hard to imagine a more chilling phrase than those words describing the Croatian Sensation's kicks.
Mirko Cro Cop had a knack for kicking people in the head and dropping them in Pride. In the UFC, it wasn't the same, but because of his legend, it still had to be frightening to stand in the Octagon with him.
After all, we're talking about a man who finished eight opponents in Pride with a kick of some sorts.
If you have no interest in getting into a brawl, don't sign up to fight Wanderlei Silva.
For his push-the-pace mentality, Silva's fights have always entertained and left a lasting feeling of satisfaction.
The feeling is different for his opponent, however. Silva has knocked out his opponent in half of his fights (24-of-48).
Who wants to step in the Octagon with someone with that resume? What's even scarier is his intensity during the staredowns. His staredowns, as well as his fighting style, are nothing short of legendary.
Fedor Emelianenko is controversial, but he is universally respected.
Emelinanenko's legacy will always be questioned because he never fought in the ultimate proving ground, the UFC.
However, his 34-4-1 record and one no-contest—against the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira—speaks for itself.
And when it comes to auras, only Anderson Silva challenges the cold demeanor of the feared Russian.
Admittedly, Jon Jones isn't very scary at first glance.
At times, Jones looks more like a fashion model than a fighter. With his bony structure and easygoing mannerisms, you would have to follow the sport to suspect Jones fights.
But then you look up his highlights on YouTube, and the way you felt about him three minutes ago suddenly changes.
With razor-sharp elbows and pinpoint striking, Jones has become notorious for beating opponents and making it look easy. Be careful what you wish for, Chael Sonnen, a fight with Jones may not end well.
No one wanted to fight Chuck Liddell in his prime.
Liddell was a brawler that had knockout power like none other.
As he was backing away and throwing strikes from awkward angles, Liddell was able to drop foes such as Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Randy Couture, Vernon White and Tito Ortiz.
Liddell is an icon for his fighting style, and in his prime, his Mohawk struck fear in the heart of his opponents.
In today's world, Royce Gracie is barely intimidating.
But back in the day, when he held a distinct Brazilian jiu-jitsu advantage over all of his opponents, fighters feared for their limbs.
Though the rear-naked choke was Gracie's preferred finishing method in the UFC, he still possessed the skills to snap an arm with a Kimura or armbar.
People fear the unknown, and when the ground game was but an afterthought in 1993, Gracie was the most feared competitor around.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson could intimidate opponents with his staredowns, but it was his power that put fear in them.
Jackson has knockout power in both hands, and when he was a lion roaming around in Pride, his slams became world famous.
Take his slam against Ricardo Arona for instance. Jackson lifted Arona over his head and rendered him unconscious with one of the more brutal slams in MMA history.
Of Jackson's 32 victories, 14 of them have come by knockout. Simply put, every time Jackson's music hits and he starts howling, his opponents know they're but a power shot away from experiencing a devastating knockout.
Fear the H-Bomb.
Seriously, fear the overhand right of Dan Henderson. Heck, fear his left hook too, right, Wanderlei?
One of Mike Goldberg's favorite phrases, "that guy has some serious power," has never been more fitting for an MMA fighter.
Henderson has dynamite in his hands, and if he connects, he can force your muscles to contract in such a way that only Michael Bisping can relate to.