One may wonder why I made a list of thirty-three fighters and not the top ten or twenty five? The reason for this is that I wanted to make the list inclusive as possible and eventually I had to end somewhere. Hopefully, when I have more time allocated for research, I can expand the list to the Top 50 or maybe even the Top 100.
I have come to the conclusion that some fighters are usually ranked higher then I may have ranked them (i.e. Mark Coleman, Randy Couture) due to their iconic status, but I tried to look at their overall body of work (i.e. opponents faced) and not just their name recognition.
Rickson Gracie was difficult to rank because of his limited body of work, which consists of 11 total MMA fights. Other problems I ran into are in regard to the evolution of mixed martial arts (rule changes and added weight classes). How would Royce Gracie in his prime matchup against fighters solely in his weight class?
Along the way I probably missed some fighters and over valued others (Mark Kerr, Pat Miletich).
Feedback is welcome!
#33 Shinya Aoki (5'11 170 pounds)
Aoki is 25 year old Japanese fighter who has compiled a 16-2 record. Aoki recently defeated Gesias Calvacante at Dream 4.
#32 Don Frye (6'1 210 pounds)
Frye fought during the early UFC years and has compiled a 19-6 overall MMA record. He is currently pushing the envelop at 43 years old.
Frye knocked out Bryan Pardoe at a No Limit Fighting event in January.
#31 Pat Miletich (5'10 169 pounds)
The 40 year old Miletich did not exactly face the most formidable competition during his career, where he posted a 28-7-2 record. He has had an overwhelming influence on the sport, training some of the most elite fighters in the world.
Miletich has not fought in nearly two years after losing to Renzo Gracie in September of 2006.
#30 Mark Kerr (6'3 255 pounds)
Kerr won his first 11 fights and his career looked very promising in the mid to late 1990's. I would have to say that Mark Kerr could have been one of the top five greatest fighters of all time if he did not struggle with addiction, injuries and other personal problems.
He has fought twice in 2008, looking noticeably out of shape in losses to Oleg Taktarov and Tracy Willis. He has an overall record of 15-8. Age is also becoming a factor in Kerr's career as he will turn 40 years old this December.
# 29 Igor Vovchanchyn (5'8 205)
Vovchanyn was a dominant striker during his MMA career where he posted a 47-9 record. He won 25 of his fights by knockout or TKO. He will be 35 years old in August.
He has noteworthy wins over Mark Kerr, Gary Goodridge and Sakuraba. It could be argued that his overall body of work is not entirely impressive due to his lack of wins versus top tier competition.
Vovchanchyn has not fought since he incurred a two fight losing streak in 2005.
#28 Josh Barnett (6'3 250 pounds)
Barnett is one of the current top heavyweights in MMA. He has compiled an impressive 22-5 record. Three of his losses have come to Mirko Cro Cop. The 31 year old Barnett has noteworthy wins over Dan Severn and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Barnett is scheduled to fight on the Affliction card against Pedro Rizzo on July 19th.
27) Sean ‘The Muscle’ Sherk (5'6 155 pounds)
Sherk who will turn 35 this August, holds an MMA record of 32-3-1. He has noteworthy wins over Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan. Sherk’s reputation was tarnished after testing positive for steroids.
Rumors are circulating about a potential matchup with Matt Hughes.