With the issue of boxing versus MMA now arisen since Toney has joined the UFC, it seems like now would be a good time so see which strikers have done well in MMA so far.
You may think that would be ridiculous at first, and no good fighter is just a striker, but look closer and you will see that there is a surprisingly high amount of almost absolute strikers in MMA.
In order to examine if these strikers can actually survive and become good in the process, let's see exactly who these people are and their wins and losses. I will rate their success from one to 10 on their attempt to base their career so far on being a nearly pure striker.
Honorable Mentions: Cheick Kongo, Vitor Belfort
This was an obvious choice. "Rumble" is a brawler with OK wrestling, but like many fighters in MMA he fell in love with his striking. His striking can be very heavy and quick. He also has extremely effective and powerful kicks.
He is a giant at Welterweight, and against Yoshida he missed the weight requirement by six pounds. He often cuts weight tremendously and it can be advantageous, but it can be bad for him since he sometimes tires quickly as well.
He hasn't won against anybody worth noting except Yoshida, whom he dwarfed in size. His losses aren't bad at all, as one came when he was very inexperienced, another was a fluke, and the last was against title contender Josh Koscheck.
Although Johnson's fight against Koscheck was filled with eye pokes and illegal knees, it exposed an important flaw in his style as he was still generally out-boxed and the few minutes they were on the ground he stood no chance at all.
If he wants to be better than just a gatekeeper, he should at least improve his striking to the point where nobody can out-strike him, but mainly he needs to just utilize his wrestling more in his fights.
Success rating on striking so far: Hard to tell since it's still early in his career, but I'll give him a 6.5.
One of the most successful employers of Muay Thai and overall striking in MMA, Manhoef hasn't gone past the first round in his last 10 fights. Out of his 24 wins, Manhoef has won 23 of them by (T)KO.
That in itself is an amazing achievement that so far hardly any fighter in the history of MMA has been able to rival.
Despite having huge success in striking with hands and feet, Manhoef lacks consistency and is relatively easy to take down by his opponents. Although his striking is explosive, caution has been a problem is his recent bouts.
His last fight is a perfect example of him not being careful. He was doing very well against Robbie Lawler, but he should have patient. Just when it seemed like Lawler was out of the fight, he ended the bout with a spectacular knockout.
This is a frequent problem for Manhoef as he often comes up just short of glory. If he had beaten Lawler, it would have been a huge step in his career and he could've even gotten a title shot.
Manhoef needs to add caution at least if he wants to stay a pure striker, but another skill certainly wouldn't hurt.
Success rating on striking so far: By only using using his striking in fights, Manhoef isn't doing bad at all. 7.5.
In his last 13 fights, Hardy has only lost one, and that was by DQ. In his last four bouts Hardy has beaten Akhiro Gono, Rory Markham, Marcus Davis, and a dominating win over Mike Swick. His last fight has earned him a title shot against Georges St. Pierre.
His record states he has four submission wins, but in reality all of them were when Hardy's opponent submitted to Hardy's barrage of punches. It's an impressive achievement to make somebody submit to your onslaught once, but Hardy has made four fighters tap to his punches!
Hardy has a great chin, which is a valuable asset for fighters overall. He doesn't have one punch knockout power, but he is a good counterstriker and his striking is quick and fluid.
Success Rating on Striking so far: With his title shot approaching quickly against GSP, it really would have been nice for him to have at least some BJJ credentials, but so far he is doing great on just striking. I'll give him an eight.
After winning two fights in a row, Daley burst onto the scene with a huge upset win over Martin Kampmann. Of course, it could have been beginners luck, so Daley was further tested with a fight against jiu-jitsu wizard Dustin Hazelett. Daley did not disappoint with a too easy knockout in the first round.
Daley's next fight is against Koscheck, and it could possibly be a life changing bout for him. Daley has surprisingly has won grappling competitions before and this should make him better on the ground.
Unfortunately, so far in MMA, he hasn't been able to make the most of his skills on the ground. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Koscheck will undoubtedly be looking to take him down early.
Daley is a powerful striker and has never really lost a fight by (T)KO so if Koscheck stays standing, Daley won't have much trouble winning at least a unanimous decision. His one punch knockout power is just another valuable asset that he has.
However, his recent losses both came on the ground against Nick Thompson and Jake Shields. If he losses against somebody like Thompson on the ground, Koscheck will easily exploit his weaknesses and probably win by submission.
Daley needs to at least establish some takedown defense before his luck runs out to secure the win.
Success rating on striking so far: With using his striking only, Daley is shocking the world with his power. 8.5.
Alves is a true warrior, with 16 wins, and 11 of them coming by (T)KO, one by submission (punches) and four by decision. He is ranked either No. 2 or 3 in all MMA websites, and he has beaten fighters such as Chris Lytle, Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes, and Koscheck.
His Muay Thai and striking are lethal, and has earned him a title shot before. With unbelievably fast and powerful striking, his stand up is pretty much unrivaled by anyone in the Welterweight division.
He is improving in every fight, and has added deadly kicking to his vast array of striking techniques. In his recent victories, his takedown defense has been an important aspect of his skill set, and his constantly adding new skills to his already ample repertoire.
His last fight against Georges St. Pierre was extremely important for his career for a variety of reasons. It was a valuable time to stop and reconsider. Did he really want to risk using striking for his whole career, and end up like Manhoef, always on the edge of elite competition but never crossing the line.
Sure, he is good now, but MMA fighters could evolve more to his style and figure him out. Alves knew this, so now he has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and excellent take down defense.
Success rating on striking so far: 10
To conclude, I think good strikers can definitely last in MMA, and some can become good, but eventually they will need to add more skills besides striking.
Takedown defense, wrestling, or BJJ certainly couldn't hurt.