15 Most Athletic Fighters in Today's MMA Game

Dwight Wakabayashi@WakafightermmaCorrespondent IINovember 28, 2012

15 Most Athletic Fighters in Today's MMA Game

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    We all know that there are many MMA fighters that are overall accomplished athletes. Most of them are in other combat sports such as wrestling or karate or bjj or "other" sports like that. This list is not about that.

    This list does not take the MMA fighters who were the most accomplished wrestlers in college or led the high school football team to the state title.

    This list is about the most athletic fighters in MMA today, meaning who can do the most athletic things, during a fight, inside the cage and who uses diverse athletic traits. Chuck Liddell was a great, accomplished fighter but he wouldn't be called the most athletic in the cage would he? 

    Here are the 15 most athletic fighters in today's game.

15. Mike Easton

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    They don't call him "The Hulk" for nothing, and for a man that packs a lot of density and muscle on his 135 pound frame, he can sure move around and execute like lightning.

    His striking, athleticism and conditioning have carried him to three wins in a row in the UFC with victories over Byron Bloodworth, Jared Papazian and Ivan Menjivar.

14. Rafael Dos Anjos

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    Rafael Dos Anjos has never looked better than he did in his last fight against Mark Bocek at UFC 154 in Montreal. His takedown defense and offensive attack is smooth and explosive at the same time.

    At the end of the day, it is Dos Anjos' athleticism and strength for his size that separates him from many other fighters in the lightweight division. 

13. Carlos Condit

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    It takes a very good athlete to execute some of the kicks that welterweight contender Carlos Condit can, but it is mostly the timing and accuracy of his flying knee that lands him on this list.

    He is a big man for 170 pounds and his agility and flexibility on the ground is also at the very elite level. Condit attacks from all angles with unpredictable athleticism.

12. Renan Barao

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    Like many on this list, Renan Barao can do it all with a seamless transition. It's mostly his balance in his attack that lands him on this list. Barao throws with power and speed without ever looking outstretched or off balance.

    He has ridden this game all the way up to the interim bantamweight title, and I can't wait to see his athleticism put to the ultimate test against real champion Dominick Cruz. 

11. Rashad Evans

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    For a light heavyweight, Rashad Evans always seems to be floating and light on his feet when he is in the cage. The way he has developed and evolved his game from a wrestler to an all around contender is mostly due to his natural athleticism.

    Evans is quicker for his size than many of his peers, and that is what has led him to the top of the game. 

10. Junior Dos Santos

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    If you want to see a big man move with the speed and grace of someone much, much smaller, just watch heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos box and fight.

    Dos Santos has made the likes of Shane Carwin and Frank Mir look way out of their league with his speed and fluent movement. He has the distinction of being the only heavyweight on this list.

9. Chris Weidman

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    Chris Weidman has burst on to the MMA scene in the last two years going 5-0 in the UFC and keeping undefeated 9-0 record intact. He has really shown how athletic his game is in his last two fights in particular, with wins over elite fighters Demian Maia and Mark Munoz.

    Weidman's athleticism helps him execute his read and react game, better than many fighters in the middleweight division and he will use it to get right to the very top. 

8. Edson Barbosa

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    Obviously Barbosa has an ever evolving and extremely athletic game, but he mostly makes this list due to his spinning kick to the Terry Etim's jaw.

    Barbosa has very long limbs and he is athletic enough to use them in the most effective way.

7. Jon Jones

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    With spinning elbows and suplexes in his arsenal, there is no way that Jon Jones can be left off this list. Jones' attack is one of the most unorthodox and athletic offensive attacks of all time.

    Mixing in the fact that he does it all at 6'4" and 205 pounds, only makes it more impressive. He continues to dominate and walk through some of the best and most accomplished fighters the world has ever seen.

6. Anthony Pettis

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    It is pure electricity when Anthony Pettis steps inside the cage and his athletic legs certainly lead the way. Pettis is so quick and explosive that his kicks seem to land quicker than other fighters' punches.

    Pettis sealed his place on this list with his kick off the cage against current lightweight champion Benson Henderson, and it can be argued that he should be up higher. His speed and athleticism will get him past Donald Cerrone.

5. John Dodson

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    I don't know if it is the sheer entertaining speed that Dodson brings to the cage or the running cage flip he does after he seals the deal but either way Dodson is on this list.

    He has only really begun to scratch the surface in his career and his upcoming title fight against Mighty Mouse will look like two athletes in super fast motion.

4. Anderson Silva

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    We have all witnessed the greatness of Anderson Silva on many levels in the realm of combat sports and his pure fighting ability puts him on top of all fighting skill lists.

    The examples are endless from him moving effortlessly away from a Bonnar spinning back kick, to bobbing and weaving with his hands down against Forrest Griffin, to the front kick to the chops of Vitor Belfort.

    If you have ever seen Silva emulate and imitate other fighters and athletes, it is further undisputed proof of his overall athletic abilities

3. Demetrious Johnson

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    Demetrious Johnson is simply the fastest athlete in the game today and his speed and agility have led him to being the first flyweight champion in the history of the UFC.

    Johnson is almost impossible to track down and get a hold of in the cage, just ask Joseph Benavidez, and he can also use his athleticism to score offense at will.

2. Benson Henderson

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    Benson Henderson's athleticism will be put to the ultimate test against a much bigger foe in Nate Diaz on Dec. 8 in Seattle. Henderson's wins and title are well earned but he will need a little bit more to get past Diaz.

    Henderson can throw kicks from everywhere, and even throw them effectively off his back and on one leg as he proved against Frankie Edgar. His athleticism brought him through some very tough fights in his early career until his all around skill caught up.

1. Georges St-Pierre

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    It was very telling to listen to Georges St-Pierre speak at the UFC 154 press conference.

    "I don't have the wrestling of a Chael Sonnen, I don't have the accuracy of Anderson Silva but I use my body and the tools that I have to the best of my ability and that is why I win fights," he stated in response to a question about his ability to finish.

    GSP takes the best aspects of many different athletic disciplines, including gymnastics, and incorporates whatever he can into his game. He may not be the best pure "fighter" the UFC has ever seen, but his athleticism is unmatched.


    Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca UFC. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

    Catch him on Facebook and Twitter @wakafightermma.