The Top 10 Strikers in the UFC
Everyone who watches any kind of legitimate combat sport always looks forward to the KO. KOs are always exciting to watch. Most of them come without warning, and they generally spice things up.
You may be surprised to see that Paul Daley didn't make the cut. I think he needs a better résumé before he cracks any top-10-anything list. Now, on to the list.
10. Junior Dos Santos
"Cigano" burst onto the scene at UFC 90: Coté vs. Silva, winning KOTN over journeyman Fabricio Werdum. He followed up that performance with three straight matches ending by KO or TKO. He has an 18-0 record in professional kick-boxing.
He is only 25, and barring a massive choke, should only get better from here on out. His next trip to the octagon should occur at UFC On Versus 1: Vera vs. Jones. He will be fighting against the Brazilian, Gabriel Gonzaga.
9. Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson's first fight in the UFC was against Chad Reiner. Johnson knocked him out in the first round. In 13 seconds.
Every one of his UFC wins has come via KO. He displays great agility and angles during his strikes, and his kicks don't leave much to be desired. During his last win at UFC 104, Johnson opened the card with a bout against Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Johnson started quickly, throwing short, quick combos. He rocked Yoshida, then while Yoshida was backing up, Johnson connected with a left-hand right to Yoshida's jaw. This all took 41 seconds.
Look for Johnson to rebound from his controversial loss to Josh Koscheck and then make a name for himself in the welter-weight division.
8. Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is a dangerous man. During his UFC tenure, all of his fights, except the most recent one, have ended by KO. His striking is world class. After he lands a big shot, he looks to move in for the kill if the opponent hasn't already hit the mat.
Cardio (energy) hasn't really been a big problem for him, even though the one time it was, it may have cost him dearly. His last win was over Greg Jackson's Submission Fighting veteran, "The Dean Of Mean," Keith Jardine, knocking him out in just 95 seconds. His next fight hasn't been announced yet.
7. Kenny Florian
I can hear the outrage right now. "Kenny Florian doesn't deserve to be on this list. He's a grappler, not a striker." Kenny Florian is the best of both worlds. True, the majority of his wins are by submission. However, Florian is the kind of fighter who will wear his opponent out by beating him senseless, then when they are lying on the mat defending themselves, he gets down there and finishes the job.
His Muay-Thai is excellent, and as of right now he and Joe Stevenson are the only fighters who even come close to BJ Penn, both in grappling and striking.
6. BJ Penn
BJ Penn is a legend. He is easily the best lightweight in the world. No one in his division is capable of taking his title. He can thank whoever helped him become such a dominant boxer. If anyone can neutralize Diego Sanchez completely, with no threat whatsoever, then their striking has to be world class. And Penn's is.
His combinations are fast, he hits very hard for his size, and he is very unpredictable. If you don't know what I mean, watch the blow that opened up a three-inch cut on Diego Sanchez's forehead.
Anyways, BJ Penn needs some new competition in the Lightweight division. If GSP moves permanently to Middleweight, look for Penn to continue his era of dominance as a Welterweight.
If Rampage were a more technical boxer, he would easily have cracked the top three. As it is, he could be the most dangerous person to stand and trade with at 205, and since his wrestling is among the elite, that's often his opponent's only choice.
Rampage hits the hardest out of maybe anyone in the UFC. A straight shot to the jaw from him is almost a guaranteed KO. He moves fast for a man his size and is incredibly strong. At 31, he still has a lot more fighting left in him. If he sharpens up his boxing, watch out 205.
4. Shane Carwin
Shane Carwin, in my eyes and in many others', is in the top five of heavyweights in the world. He got there by KOing every one of his UFC opponents to date, never going past 1:31 of Round One. He is a monster of a man, standing 6'5".
He has shown that he can take a punch, as witnessed at UFC 96 when Gabriel Gonzaga broke his nose with a solid jab to the face. Carwin stepped back, gathered his senses, and shot a right hand straight through Gonzaga's arms to KO him. No one knows much about his cardio. Anyone willing to stand and trade with him after his past performances is either gutsy or doesn't have a good game plan. At 35, he is still relatively young.
Shogun was once the top Light-Heavyweight fighter in the world. He defeated all the big names of the sport by KO. The UFC signed him in 2007 to come and win the championship. After battling injuries for his first year, he started looking like his old self versus Mark Coleman, winning by TKO.
Then the UFC decided to put him up against top (but not top ten) counter striker in Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. "Shogun" put on his best performance in the Octagon to that point, overwhelming the former champ and finally KOing him at 4:28 of the first round. It appears that "Shogun" is back. Fifteen of his 18 career wins have come by KO. Only GSP can really match him in depth.
"Shogun" primarily is a Muay-Thai fighter, though he shows traits of boxing in his combos. His cardio is elite. He never even looked out of breath following his five-round-title-shot loss to Lyoto Machida last October. Look to see him in the Octagon again at UFC 112.
What can't we say about his striking? It's beautiful, very technical, very efficient, very deadly. Shotokan Karate was generally unheard of until Machida started winning.
Machida's striking in general isn't very offensive. He waits for his opponent to make the first move, then he strikes. It makes for a boring first round (usually), but when it all starts to click, his opponents start to fall (see: Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida). Leg kicks slow him down the most.
If you can take him down, manage to keep him down, and neutralize his jiu-jitsu, then you may win. Currently, he is the Light-Heavyweight title holder; his last match was a controversial unanimous decision victory over Shogun.
1. Anderson Silva
Everyone knew who was going to be in the No. 1 spot. Anderson Silva has two of the greatest KO's in UFC history.
First, after catching a James Irvin mid-kick, Silva punched his defenseless opponent once in the face. That was all it took. Second, after being criticized for his two (boring) performances before UFC 101, Anderson Silva again fought at Light-Heavyweight, this time against the very popular Forrest Griffin.
Griffin is a fan favorite, known for his hilarious quotes and his attack-dog style of fighting. As Round One started, so did the chants of "Forrest! Forrest! Forrest!" Silva quickly answered any questions by dropping Griffin twice in the first round, catching one of his kicks and almost re-doing the James Irvin KO. Forrest charged him again, throwing wild punches. Silva dodged every one of them and connected with a lazy, straight right to Griffin's chin. The fight was over.
A friend of mine often calls Silva the most dangerous striker the world has ever seen. So far, there is no evidence to prove him wrong.
Until next time....
The aforementioned 10 fighters are the UFC's best in the striking department in my opinion. This list is subject to change after any given UFC event. I know of about nine or 10 people who didn't make this list who very well could have. That's why I'm going to make another best of list, this time of people who didn't make it.