There are many factors that go into being a good or exciting fighter in mixed martial arts, but one natural ability that fans can respect and get behind is having a granite chin. In fact, it sets apart the men from the boys, as fighters with great chins can often recover and always be dangerous in a fight.
You can throw all sorts of strikes and be successful, but if you can't take a punch, all it takes is one to end your night abruptly. A chin can't be learned, but comes from naturally having a hard head.
Here are the best chins by each current UFC division.
The only women's division in the UFC is currently the 135-pound bantamweight division. There are only 12 women under contract right now, so the pickings are slim.
Long-time MMA veteran Julie Kedzie takes the cake here, as she is hands-down the toughest chick in the division. In 27 career bouts against top competition, she has never been finished by strikes despite the fact she has been in some absolute wars.
Kedzie takes bombs and keeps moving forward. Without her outstanding chin, she may have a sub-.500 record.
Ian McCall may have fallen on hard times recently, but "Uncle Creepy" surely cannot blame his chin for his recent struggles. In fact, McCall's ability to take power shots to the head has kept him in fights he probably could have been out of.
McCall's fights with Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson both tested his jaw on multiple occasions, landing huge shots consistently in their scraps. However, like a tank deflecting bullets, McCall ate the shots and came back for seconds.
His combination of reckless abandon and cranial fortitude have made him a fan favorite.
Bantamweight was a tossup between Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland, but the fact Wineland has never been knocked out (his one TKO loss was via injury) in some of the nasty firefights (pun intended) he has been in is far too impressive to snub him here.
Wineland relies heavily on his boxing to tag opponents, but usually has to take some shots to get his own. Wineland's bouts with Brad Pickett, Scott Jorgensen and Faber all tested his chin, and he passed with flying colors.
The man simply is gifted with a chin of steel; I have a suspicious feeling opponents hurt their hands more than hurt his face.
The featherweight division is impossible to pick for three reasons: Chan Sung Jung, Clay Guida and Leonard Garcia.
Literally all three men have withstood sickening amounts of punishment throughout their careers. It's almost as if they aren't even conscious for half their fights and they scrap purely on instinct.
Guida has taken a beating throughout the years, but watching his first-round beatdown at the hands of Diego Sanchez made tons of people fans. Between the vicious uppercuts, hooks and high kick that put Guida on his butt, it looked as if Guida would die before he took a knockout loss.
The only memory of Chan Sung Jung showing weakness of chin came from a bomb of a head kick he suffered against George Roop. Other than that, he has lived up to his "Korean Zombie" nickname, as he has taken shots that would knock out a shark on a consistent basis.
Garcia may not be long for the UFC with his five-fight skid, but he is still on the roster and considered one of the toughest dudes around. Game plans are usually thrown out the window with Leonard, who elects to have sloppy brawls that entail knockout punches only and massive amounts of punishment absorbed.
Speaking of Diego Sanchez, the wild man from Greg Jackson's camp has proven to have one of the pound-for-pound sturdiest chins in MMA. He is another guy who throws with reckless abandon and gets caught on the chin quite a bit.
His only TKO loss is from a cut against BJ Penn, however his bouts against Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger are recent examples of how the granite-chinned Sanchez is such a tough out. Both Kampmann and Ellenberger bloodied and battered Sanchez, but couldn't finish him despite the punishment he took.
He may be a weird guy, but he is also tough guy too.
The image of Nick Diaz headbutting BJ Penn's fist in the middle of a fist fight will forever grace my memory. It shows how crazy the man from Stockton, California truly is.
Diaz banks on his boxing to batter and wear out opponents, but the man takes a punch with the best of them. In fact, this is quite the honor for Diaz, as he edged out fellow iron-chinned warriors BJ Penn and Patrick Cote to take this honor.
Just watch any of his fights and watch him take numerous power shots to the head. It's almost as if he has no brain to be injured because he takes those shots better than most.
The long-standing, undisputed champion of taking copious amounts of pain and punishment to the dome is still Chris Leben. He has held this honor for some time now.
Leben is at his most dangerous when he is out on his feet and in survival mode. If you don't believe me, watch his drubbing of Terry Martin, where he was on the brink of defeat and proceeded to put the former UFC employee into a slumber.
With the force that is usually exerted by opponents looking to take Leben's head off, you would think his head would have been knocked into the fifth row by now.
If there was any doubt who I was going with here, just remember that Dan Henderson has taken more cranial punishment in his career than Mauricio Rua has, so that's why he gets the slight edge.
Henderson may have the best chin in the history of MMA. In 38 pro fights, "Hendo" has never been put away with strikes despite fighting men like Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Fedor Emelianenko and Rua.
Impressive, to say the least.
The man that I have affectionately called the portly powerhouse, the rotund romper, the flabby finisher, the beer-bellied bruiser and pear-shaped pain dispenser is famous for several things, but the most notable is his ability to take massive amounts of damage to his jaw.
Nelson has one-punch knockout ability, but he is privileged to display that for us courtesy of his god-like chin. I am suspicious that if Nelson boxed a prime Mike Tyson with 4-oz. gloves, Tyson would give up from Nelson's ability to eat punches like the Las Vegas buffets he likely frequents on a daily basis.
All hail "Big Country," master of taking a punch!