One is unofficially retired, one is persona non grata with the UFC, one is a UFC executive and one is in a kind of limbo right now. Oh, and three of them are enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame, with the fourth sure to follow as soon as he hangs up his gloves. Who are these men, you ask? They are the four fighters that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva considers the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
Silva, recognized by many as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history, named the following fighters as his top four: “In my opinion, B.J. Penn is No. 1 and then Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and then Royce Gracie.”
Couture, Liddell and Gracie are the three current Hall of Famers, and I’d be surprised if the UFC didn’t already have Penn's plaque made up and ready to go; he’s a lock for enshrinement.
The four fighters have a combined MMA record of 70-30-5, and their names are all over the UFC record book, alongside the man that named them the greatest of all time.
One could make a solid argument that without these four fighters, the UFC would not be what it is today. The same argument could be made in favor of Silva. If it weren’t for Silva, it’s hard to say what the future crop of MMA talent would look like.
All five fighters changed the game, and in the case of Silva, he’s still changing the game, 37 fights into a career that began in 1997.
Silva will next fight at UFC 162. The July 6 contest will see Silva put his middleweight crown on the line against Chris Weidman on July 6 in Las Vegas.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.