Top 5 Pound-for-Pound MMA Fighters, and the Science of Determination

Adam VanOrmerContributor IAugust 2, 2009


8/02/2009  Note: This article is part I of II.

Sure, we have to do some speculating when we set out to name the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world, but there doesn’t have to be so much guesswork involved. There isn't an exact sciencebut there is a science to it.

Here is the official, certified scientific formula. (It’s official because I’m documenting it here. It’s certified because…well, I certified it.) This blueprint must be followed exactly: 

(A solid understanding of the subtle nuances of the disciplines involved in MMA) + (Comparisons of the fighters win/loss ratios) + (An examination of the level of competition the athletes have faced) + (Research of the methods of the fighters' victories (e.g. Does the athlete regularly end fights definitively?)) + (A complete disregard for personal opinions and feelings about the fighters)   

Consider each of the above attributes, weigh the importance of every argument in the formula, and “average” the results.

I am compelled to reiterate that, while we can employ an intellectual technique for determining who the best P4P fighters are, there will never be an exact science.

The only way to answer some of these questions with certainty is to have the fighters cross weights and compete against one another. Unfortunately, in some cases, this is impossible due to the extent of the weight differences (e.g. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Urijah Faber).

Still, there is an academic process that is much more reliable than the two methods most commonly used, which are: guessing without thorough research/knowledge, and overrating fighters based on personal favorites/feelings.

Now, let’s get on to the meat of it! I considered each facet of the formula and disregarded personal preferences to the best of my ability. The result is what I believe to be an accurate list, in order, of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, plus a list of five athletes who deserve honorable mentions. Finally, I included a list of five dream fightsfights that would blow the fans away and end much of the speculation once and for all.

Let’s begin with the list of the five very best active Mixed Martial Artists in the world:

1.      Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (170 lb. UFC World Champion) Record: 19-2

2.      Miguel Torres (135 lb. WEC World Champion) Record: 37-1

3.      Lyoto "Dragon" Machida (205 lb. UFC World Champion) Record: 15-0

4.      Anderson "Spider" Silva (185 lb. UFC World Champion) Record: 24-4

5.      Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko (233 lb.) Record: 30-1

There are several fighters not listed that deserve to be in this Honorable Mention category, (Roger Huerta, Diego Sanchez and more), but I'm keeping the lists at five! They are (in no particular order):

Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian (155 lb. UFC #1 contender) Record: 11-3

B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn (155 lb. UFC World Champion) Record: 13-5-1

Mike Brown (145 lb. WEC World Champion) Record: 22-4

Jon Fitch (170 lb. UFC top contender) Record: 19-3

Urijah “The CA Kid” Faber (145 lb. WEC top contender) Record: 22-3

Finally, the five dream fights.

These are the fights that would have the die-hard fans holding their breath. The fights that would truly be historic events in our relatively young sport. The fights that simply MUST happen:

1.      Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva (at a 175 or 180 lb. catch-weight)

2.      Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar

3.      Lyoto Machida vs. Anderson Silva (at a 195 lb. catch-weight)

4.      Miguel Torres vs. Mike Brown OR Miguel Torres vs. Urijah Faber (140 lb. catch-weight)

5.      Kenny Florian vs. Urijah Faber OR BJ Penn vs. Urijah Faber (150 lb. catch-weight)

There you have it ladies and gentleman. Undoubtedly, each and every reader has differing opinions, to some extent.

Be sure to read “Top Five Pound-for-Pound MMA Fighters, and the Science of Determination” part II of II. In it, I will expound upon and justify my list of the five best mixed martial artists in the world. We’ll also have some fun with two more top five lists:

The Five Most Exciting MMA Fighters

The Five Least Likeable MMA Fighters

Contact me anytime at with questions or comments. 

Until next time,

Adam VanOrmer (Freelance Sports Writer)