The 3 Deadliest Strikers in Each UFC Weight Class

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

The 3 Deadliest Strikers in Each UFC Weight Class

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Deadly strikers haunt every inch of the Octagon like dark banshees on a cold night.

    Equipped with world-class precision, scintillating power, tumultuous timing and extraordinary technique, they're downright terrifying for any opponent brave enough to step inside the cage.

    Whether it's devastating spinning back kicks, decapitating uppercuts or destructive body shots, these UFC nightmares encompass it all.

    Here are the three deadliest strikers in each UFC weight class.

Women's Bantamweight

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    Cat Zingano: With her bloodying of Miesha Tate back in April, Zingano has to be considered one of the best strikers in the division. But what makes her dangerous is her strong base and murderous knees. She has the ability to absorb damage while inflicting massive amounts of pain.

    Jessica Eye: Eye may not possess the most calculated technique out of the bunch, but she connects more often than not when she's swinging for the fences. Her tenacity and eagerness to fight through pain make her look like a female version of Diego Sanchez.

    Amanda Nunes: With eight of her nine career victories coming by way of knockout or TKO, Nunes has quickly become one of the most consistent finishers in the division. The Brazilian's ability to close distance on bigger opponents and use more than her hands has catapulted her to the forefront of future title contenders.

    Honorable mentions: Tate; Sarah Kaufman; Liz Carmouche; Germaine de Randamie; Raquel Pennington


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    Demetrious Johnson: Being a deadly striker doesn't mean you need to be a yoked-out gym rat with Popeye biceps. This is never more true when it comes to flyweight phenom Demetrious Johnson, who instead bewilders opponents with mind-boggling speed, unexpected power and precise timing.

    John Dodson: Dodson is the byproduct of power meeting athleticism. Equipped with tanks for hands, even at 125 pounds, "The Magician" is capable of pulling juggernaut knockouts out of his hat, not just rabbits.

    John Lineker: Many people overlook Lineker because of the top-heavy division he sits in and the fact that he's missed the 126-pound limit at three of his last five weigh-ins. But three straight victories by way of TKO should put any concerns to rest. The 24-year-old is blessed with some of the heaviest hands around.

    Honorable mentions: Joseph Benavidez; Brad Pickett; Tim Elliot; Justin Scoggins


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    Renan Barao: The champ is undefeated in his last 21 fights for a reason: He's lethal on his feet. Capable of pulling off spinning back kicks, flying knees to the chest and smoldering superman punches, Barao is in a class of his own.

    Michael McDonald: As one of the youngest fighters in the UFC, McDonald is constantly improving his game. But with the hardest-hitting mitts in the division, "Mayday" doesn't need to develop the ability to strike with vicious intent. He has that part of the fight game down.

    Eddie Wineland: Wineland's success as a deadly striker is fueled by his unorthodox tendencies. Whether it's his flick punches or powerful looping hooks, the veteran is one scary dude.

    Honorable mentions: Mike Easton; Erik Perez; Francisco Rivera; Sergio Pettis


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    Jose Aldo: Capable of kicking the paint off a house, Jose Aldo encompasses the deadly effort that only champions possess. While he's had cardio problems in the past, with his cage-jumping, Octagon-defying excellence behind him, the featherweight prince can end anyone's night early.

    Cub Swanson: Some people might slot Chad Mendes in this spot, but the fact remains that Swanson is the more complete fighter on his feet. Blessed with superior dexterity and athleticism, the 30-year-old aims to impress with unorthodox kicks, overhand power shots and ultra-sharp timing.

    Conor McGregor: Twelve finishes by knockout or TKO in 14 victories lands the Irishman on this list. For McGregor, a southpaw who loves to hit hard and disrupt an opponent's equilibrium, those twelve wins have come much easier than most at the professional level. He's so good and dangerous that it's only a matter of time before he fights for the title.

    Honorable mentions: Mendes; Ricardo Lamas; Dennis Siver; Chan Sung Jung; Jeremy Stephens


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    Anthony Pettis: The division's newly crowned king is truly from a different planet. Powered by athleticism and versatility, Pettis is able to do anything inside of a chain-linked fence. This includes fight-ending liver shots, neck-snapping head kicks and spine-tingling superkicks off the cage wall.

    Nate Diaz: Always open for action, Diaz is as hard-nosed as they come. His precision is leaps and bounds beyond most of the other UFC lightweights, and his ability to land punches in bunches is second to none.  If he was slightly stronger, he'd be beheading foes left and right.

    Edson Barboza: One move and one move only is all it took for people to realize Barboza's value as a flashy UFC striker. But beyond his spinning wheel-kick knockout of Terry Etim in 2012, the Brazilian possesses so much more pizzazz. His natural length and evolved timing are all he needs to continue destroying the competition.

    Honorable mentions: Gilbert Melendez; Donald Cerrone; Diego Sanchez; Melvin Guillard; Ross Pearson; Abel Trujillo


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    Johny Hendricks: You know how every car gets out of the way when a firetruck comes roaring down the road? That's what opposing welterweights do when Hendricks throws leather. Can you blame them? The man they call "Bigg Rigg" is as dangerous as they come.

    Carlos Condit: Sometimes overlooked as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, Condit delivers a regiment of kicks and knees. His ability to dispose of opposing threats is second to none. "The Natural Born Killer" is one of the hardest welterweights to figure out.

    Robbie Lawler: Just below Hendricks on the power chart, Lawler has displayed his own chin-bending knockouts of late. But the one thing that separates the veteran from the rest of the pack is that that power is the only thing he relies on. He knows it, we know it, and his opponents know it. That means he has to be extra aggressive to pull it off. Now that's deadly.

    Honorable mentions: Jake Ellenberger; Matt Brown; Hector Lombard; Brandon Thatch; Hyun Gyu Lim


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    Anderson Silva: Did you think I'd leave him off the list? Fat chance. Regardless of his last two outings, Silva is the most extraordinarily calculated striker of all time. His combination of speed, timing, power and effortless technique is the deadliest in history. It's simply inhuman.

    Vitor Belfort: Belfort brings fast hands, brutal power and an appetite for destruction with him every time he steps foot inside the cage. The fact that he's 36 years old and is still adding new knockout blueprints to his arsenal is preposterous.

    Lyoto Machida: Machida is the third Brazilian to land on this list in this division and for good reason. What he may lack in aggression and brutality he makes up for in, for the lack of a better word, wizardry. As arguably the most complex striker of all time, "The Dragon" waits on his opponent like a praying mantis in tall grass. It's fascinating.

    Honorable mentions: Michael Bisping; Luke Rockhold; Cung Le; Gegard Mousasi; Costa Philippou; Uriah Hall

Light Heavyweight

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    Jon Jones: Say what you will about his lack of one-punch knockout power, but Jones is a very dangerous entity on his feet. Blessed with ungodly physical dimensions and the athleticism to back it up, the pound-for-pound greatest fighter on the planet can land some of the most unseen techniques in the sport today.  This includes spinning backfists, oblique knee kicks, standing elbows and relentless knees.

    Alexander Gustafsson: Gustafsson has all the tools in the world to one day be the light heavyweight champion. He's tall, technical, persistent, versatile and capable of inflicting massive amounts of damage.  Once the rest of his game rounds out, "The Mauler" could be unstoppable.

    Rafael Cavalcante: Sure, guys like Dan Henderson, Glover Teixeira and Wanderlei Silva could have landed here, but hear me out. In 12-career victories, "Feijao" has recorded 11 knockouts. That's a staggering rate for anyone, let alone a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. In any case, Cavalcante's power is legit, and UFC light heavyweights are about to figure that out the hard way.

    Honorable mentions: Henderson; Teixeira, Silva; Jimi Manuwa; Thiago Silva


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    Junior dos Santos: By far the best boxer to ever grace the UFC heavyweight division, former champion and current top contender Dos Santos is the most deadly striker in the weight class. His timing is precise, his technique is calculated, and his power is more than likely derived from Thor's hammer. The fact that JDS is now starting to throw in spinning heel kicks should have the whole division huddled under a blanket somewhere.

    Travis Browne: Coming in at 6'7", Browne has decimated the opposition over his last three fights. Those back-to-back-to-back first-round knockouts come with a little something extra. Whether it was with a front kick to Alistair Overeem's dome piece or splintering elbows to Josh Barnett and Gabriel Gonzaga's temple, Browne is on an unprecedented tear through the division's upper class.

    Mark Hunt: Win or lose, Hunt comes to fight. He brings his very best every time he competes. So no matter how bloodied and bruised he may look, just remember that the other guy probably looks worse. That's what happens when you have hands made of titanium and a looping left hook that can knock over the Empire State building.

    Honorable mentions: Overeem; Antonio Silva; Roy Nelson; Stipe Miocic; Gonzaga; Pat Barry


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