While there is a great deal of justifiable pride to be found in the fact that MMA is the safest combative sport on the planet, when the core of our attraction to the sport is uncovered, we cannot deny the truth.
MMA is a violent world, and violent men take it by force, and that speaks to us on many levels.
No matter how fluid the fighters become in all aspects of the game, no matter how artistic their performances, this is still nothing more than legalized assault, no matter how celebrated or endorsed it becomes.
And when it really boils down to it, we love that.
There is something about a fighter who is so violent in a specific realm of MMA that he or she sets themselves apart from the rest of the pack—and all of the pack are carnivores in a violent jungle.
If we take this a step further, if we are being honest, we can understand why fans of the sport still cheer the loudest when a fist fight breaks out in the middle of a grappling match.
As beautiful and fluid and cringe-inducing as the world of submissions can be, there is still something absolute and total to be found in the striking world; the ultimate imposition of will that speaks to the purity of motive and clarity of intent found only in combative sports.
Submissions speak to the cerebral; we understand what happened and why because our sense of empathy demands we realize a dangerous situation…say when Frank Mir was cranking that kimura on Antonio Nogueira in their rematch.
Striking speaks to the gut; when we see a man stunned and out of time, his situation is alarming because everything else around him is moving with a speed and rhythm appropriate to the moment, while he is suddenly victim to the moment.
And that is why, for many, the difference between submissions and striking is much like the difference found when an acrobat does their business with a net below as opposed to the times they go without.
So in the spirit of restrained admiration, this list of violent strikers is offered, because of how they exist and attack—without restraint.