UFC History: 20 Best UFC Fighters Of All-Time

Joshua BoykenContributor ISeptember 11, 2010

UFC History: 20 Best UFC Fighters Of All-Time

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    Remember this is not a least of the greatest MMA fighters ever. This is just the best that the UFC has ever had. These fighters have accomplished a lot in the UFC and has proved how great they were in the company.

    These fighters have brought this company to mainstream and fought to make it one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

    Criteria :

    Accomplishments (Titles, fight, submission, knockout of the night, title fights, and tournaments)

    Dominating (How they dominate their opponents and division)

    Win loss record (it does play a role in who is at the top)

    Competition (Competing and defeating the best fighters in the world)

    How they win (You gotta finish fights...)

Honorable Mentions

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    Pedro Rizzo (9-5) - Fought for Heavyweight title three times, holds notable wins over Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, and Andrei Arlovski.

    Ricco Rodriguez (5-2) - Former Heavyweight champion, with notable wins over Jeff Monson, Andrei Arlovski, and Randy Couture.

    Sean Sherk (7-4) - Former Lightweight champion, with notable wins over Tyson Griffin, Nick Diaz, and Kenny Florian.

    Jon Fitch (13-1) - Only loss is to the champion of the division and is currently the number one contender once again, holding notable wins over Diego Sanchez, Thiago Alves twice, and Paulo Thiago.

    Rashad Evans (10-1-1) - Former Light Heavyweight champion, notable wins over Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and Quinton Jackson.

    Quinton Jackson (5-2) - Former Light Heavyweight champion notable wins over Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei SIlva, and Dan Henderson.

    Dan Henderson (5-2) - Former Middleweight and Light Heavyweight title challenger, notable wins over RIch Franklin, Michael Bisping, and Carlos Newton.

    Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1) - Won UFC 6 tournament, and fought Ken Shamrock to a draw for the Superfight title, notable wins over Tank Abbot and Marco Ruas.

20. Vitor Belfort (8-4)

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    Vitor Belfort holds wins over Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, Marvin Eastman, and Tank Abbott.

    He has fought and contended in Light Heavyweight (where he won the title at one time), the Heavyweight division (won UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament), and now the Middleweight division (where he will be named No. 1 contender with a win over Yushin).

    He has a list of accomplishments in just 12 fights in the UFC.

    He has claimed the Light-Heavyweight title one before by defeating Randy Couture. Vitor has came back to the UFC more recently and knocked out former Middleweight champion Rich Franklin in the very first round.

    Vitor has won all 8 of his fights in the very first round. He still seems to have a long career ahead of him, and one day we could see him very easily in the top 10 of this list.

     He very well could be a little higher up on the list, but I see 20 being the perfect slot for this "Phenom."

    * February 7,1997 - Won UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament (at just 20 years of age)

    * January 31, 2004 - Won Light-Heavyweight Title

    * September 1, 2009 - Won Knockout of the Night (Rich Franklin)

19. Evan Tanner (11-6)

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    Evan Tanner was a very good stand up fighter with a very well rounded game.

    He competed at the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight divisions. Not only did he compete, but he fought for the title in both of those divisions.

    Evan Tanner has defeated top competition by taking out Elvis Sinosic, Phil Baroni twice, Robbie Lawler, and David Terrell.

    Sadly, this great champion has passed on. Evan Tanner was pronounced dead on September 5, 2008 at the age of 37, way too young. He left behind a wonderful career.

    * February 23, 2001 - Fought Tito Ortiz of Light Heavyweight Title, he fail short.

    * February 5, 2005 - Won Middleweight Title

18. Tim Sylvia (9-4)

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    As much as people love to hate him, he is one of the most prestigious heavyweights the UFC has ever had.

    Tim has won the UFC Heavyweight championship twice and paraded it around like his child.

    Sylvia has notable wins over top heavyweights like, Andrei Arlovski (twice), Brandon Vera, Ricco Rodriguez, and Jeff Monson.

    Sylvia is a heavy-handed puncher with a nice looking resume. Even though he is most famous for losing, he has done enough to earn a spot on this list.

    February 28, 2003 - Won Heavyweight Title

    April 15, 2006 - Won Heavyweight Title again

    February 2, 2008 - Won Fight of the Night (Big Nog)

17. Dan Severn (6-4)

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    One of the old timers who made the list. He had a prosperous career in the UFC, making a career off the tournaments the UFC used to hold.

    Dan has notable wins over Oleg Taktarov (twice), Ken Shamrock, and Tank Abbott.

    As far as accomplishments in the UFC he has to rank up there pretty high, as he has won 2 tournaments and then claimed the Superfight Championship.

    * April 7, 1995 - Won UFC 5 tournament

    * December 16, 1995 - Won Ultimate Ultimate (UFC 7.5) 95 tournament

    * May 17, 1996 - Won UFC Superfight Championship

    * February 7, 1997 - Fought for Heavyweight Championship, but failed in a loss to Mark Coleman.

16. Jens Pulver (6-2-1)

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    Jens Pulver is the former UFC lightweight champion of the world. He has defeated BJ Penn, Dennis Hallman, and Caol Uno. At one time in the UFC he was on a six fight win streak claiming the Lightweight Championship.

    Pulver was the very first Lightwight Champion in the UFC with his win over Caol Uno, and one of four fighters ever to be lightweight champion.

    He also went on to defend the title two times, putting him behind BJ Penn as to the most defences by a lightweight champion.

    Jens Pulver never lost the title either; he was stripped of it due to a contract dispute. I believe that he has done enough to pull off the number 12 spot on this list.

    * February 23, 2001 - Won the Lightweight Championship

15. Ken Shamrock (7-6-2)

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    Another veteran of the sport who has had some tremendous accomplishments in the UFC.

    Several people might disagree with him being all the way down at 15, but I have decided this is the best spot for him. He did not do enough in the UFC to make a run at the top ten ever.

    Early he fought a lot in Pancrase making a large impact. Do not get me wrong, he is a tremendous athelete and has proved in the UFC.

    Ken as notable wins in the UFC over Dan Severn, Kimo (twice), and Patrick Smith.

    * July 22, 1995 - Won Superfight Championship

    * November 22, 2002 - Fought for Light Heavyweight Championship, but fell short to Tito Ortiz

14. Frank Mir (11-5)

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    Yet another fighter that still has a chance to crack into the top ten if he can claim the Heavyweight Title again.

    Mir also could have already cracked into the top ten if he would have been able to defend the title the first time he won it over Tim Sylvia.

    Frank has fought every fight besides two inside the Octagon. Mir has fought the best of the best over and over again with victories over BIg Nog, Brock Lesnar, and  TIm Sylvia.

    * June 19, 204 - Won Heavyweight Championship

    * February 2, 2008 - Won Submission of the Night (Brock Lesnar)

    * December 27, 2008 - Won Interim Heavyweight Championship

    * July 11, 2009 - Fought for Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, but failed to Brock Lesnar

    * March 27, 2010 - Fought for Interim Heavyweight Championship, but failed to Shane Carwin

13. Don Frye (9-1)

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    Don made his MMA debut in the UFC, winning his first six fights. He has some big wins over well known opponents like Gary Goodridge twice and Tank Abbott.

    Don Frye more famously known for absolutely slugging it out with Takayama, however that was not held in the UFC.

    Don Frye has captured several accomplishments in the UFC, and is known for one of the toughest fighters in the game.

    A relatively small heavyweight at 6.1 and usually around 220 lbs he seems to do very well for his size. Looking over his accomplishments he is well deserving of 13.

    * February 16, 1996 - Won UFC 8 Tournament

    * July 12, 1996 - Fought at the finals of the UFC 10 Tournament, however fail short to Mark Coleman

    * December 7, 1996 - Won Ultimate Ultimate 96 Tournament

12. Frank Shamrock (5-0)

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    Frank Shamrock could have been an easy top ten fighter, but only had five fights in the UFC.

    Looking at his five fights, he started out fighting for the Light Heavyweight title and never lost it. He had a list of wins over Tito Ortiz, Jeremy Horn, and Kevin Jackson.

    One of a few fighters that has never lost a title fight, never lost a fight, and defended his belt four times. Frank Shamrock could have been one of the top five, but forfeited his title due to retirement (although he came back).

    * December 21, 1997 - Became first UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (in UFC debut)

    * September 24, 1999 - Defeated Tito Ortiz for his fourth title defense (Last fight in UFC)

11. Rich Franklin (13-4)

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    Falling just one short of the top ten ever is none other than, Rich Franklin. He has one of the greatest rags to riches stories in the history of MMA.

    He was a math teacher out of Cincinnati, Ohio, then became one of the greatest middleweight MMA fighters ever.

    He has fought and beat the best in the game, and if he don't beat you then you also must be a great fighter.

    On the list of Franklin's victories are greats like Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, Evan Tanner twice, Yushin Okami, and Ken Shamrock. He is a great light heavyweight fighter, although he won his title in the Middleweight division. 

    Rich Franklin is still competing at Light Heavyweight, therefore he still somewhat has a chance of getting into the top ten if not higher than that.

    * June 4, 2005 - Won Middleweight Title

    * October 20, 2007 - Fought for Middleweight Championship, however lost to Anderson Silva (the same man to take it from him)

    * June 13, 2009 - Won FIght of the Night (decision victory over Wanderlei Silva)

    * June 12, 2010 - Won Knockout of the Night (Chuck Liddell)

10. BJ Penn (11-6-1)

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    One if not the most talented fighters to ever live. He has tremendous talent, that has been canceled by his cardio on several occasions. BJ is one of the few fighters to win a title in two different weight classes.

    Penn has taken out several huge names in the game including Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver, and Kenny Florian.

    * January 11, 2002 - Fought for Lightweight title, but fell short to Jens Pulver by majority decision.

    * February 28, 2003 - Fought for Lightweight title, but did not receive it after fighting to a draw (Caol Uno)

    * January 31, 2004 - Won Welterweight Championship

    * September 23, 2006 - Fought for Welterweight tile, but fell short to Matt Hughes by TKO 3rd

    * January 19, 2008 - Won Lightweight Championship

    * January 31, 2009 - Fought for UFC Welterweight Championship, but fell short to GSP by decision

    * August 28, 2010 - Fought in an immediate rematch to Frankie Edgar, however fall short again by decision.

9. Mark Coleman (7-5)

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    You can call him "The Hammer", "The King Of Ground n Pound", or you can just call him crazy. He by far deserves a top ten spot.

    He has tremendous credentials in the UFC, and has defeated several of the best fighters in the game. Some of the names on that very list are Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Dan Severn, and Stephan Bonnar.

    Mark Coleman is crazy strong with intense wrestling, provoking his ground and pound nickname. Coleman, definently deserves a spot on this list for what he has done for the company and how talented he is.

    * July 12, 1996 - Won UFC 10 Tournament

    * September 20, 1996 - Won UFC 11 Tournment

    * February 7, 1997 - Won first UFC Heavyweight Championship

    * January 17, 2009 - Won Fight of the Night (Mauricio "Shogun" Rua)

8. Pat Miletich (8-2)

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    Yes, the founder of the prestigious Miletich camp, which has some what turned into HIT Squad now.

    He is a very good fighter with nice skills inside the cage. He has defeated a list of opponents like Clayton Miller, Shonie Carter, and John Alessio.

    Miletich has developed over time as a fighter, however he is not longer competing in MMA.

    His last fight was held in 2008 where he won by a knockout. Pat Miletich has accomplished much in this sport, and is well deserving of a top ten spot.

    * March 13, 1998 - Won Lightweight Tournament

    * October 16, 1998 - Won UFC Welterweight Championship (defended 4 times) 

7. Tito Ortiz (14-7-1)

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    He could be ranked higher due to his accomplishments at 205, but when you are dodging the top contender you go lower in rankings.

    Tito Ortiz is a fantastic wrestler with decent stand up. Ortiz has done a great job of controlling his opponents while on top and punishing them.

    Ortiz has a great list of wins over people such as Ken Shamrock (three times), Forrest Griffin, Evan Tanner, Wanderlei Silva, and Guy Mezger.

    Tito is still trying to get back to the top, although he has not had his hand raised in 2006. He is still competing in the UFC and trying to improve his status and rank on such lists as this. Ortiz is now scheduled to fight his friend, Matt Hamill.

    * September 24, 1999 - Fought for Light Heavyweight Title, however he fell short to Frank Shamrock.

    * April 14, 2000 - Won Light Heavyweight Title (defended five times)

    * October 10, 2006 - Won Knockout of the Night (Ken Shamrock III)

    * December 30, 2006 - Fought for Light Heavyweight Title, however he fell short to Chuck Liddell

6. Georges St. Pierre (14-2)

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    This man is the greatest wrestler in UFC history, especially since he has never competed in collegiate wrestling. He is a wrecking force, and could make an easy run at the best ever in the UFC if he could find ways to finish more fights.

    Georges has a impressive list of victories over the best fighters in the game including Matt Hughes (twice), BJ Penn (twice), Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Karo Parisyan, and Frank Trigg.

    St. Pierre is currently coaching against Josh Koscheck on the newest Ultimate Fighter. Towards the end of the show the two will compete against one another for the second time.

    * October 22, 2004 - Fought for UFC Welterweight title, however he fell short to Matt Hughes

    * November 18, 2006 - Won UFC Welterweight title

    * December 29, 2007 - Won Interim UFC Welterweight title

    * December 29, 2007 - Won Submission of the Night (Matt Hughes)

    * April 19, 2008 - Won UFC Welterweight title (has defended the title a total of four times)

    * August 9, 2008 - Won Fight of the Night (Jon Fitch)

5. Randy Couture (16-7)

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    The ageless one is still a very dangerous opponent, and always has been. Couture is well into his forties (47) and has an absolutely phenominal list of accomplishments.

    The only fault he has on his resume is he has lost in most of his huge fights (Liddell II, Liddell III, Big Nog, Brock Lesnar, and Ricco Rodriguez. Although he also has a great list of victories over Liddell I, Tito Ortiz, and Vitor Belfort.

    Couture is sitting at home relaxing and helping his son with his future MMA career. Couture could retire today and he would have created one of the most impressive careers in MMA history.

    This man is the Brett Favre of MMA, when you think he is done, he just gets better. I will be honest his victory over Toney is not what his career needed and was not and amazing victory for his resume. Hopefully he will jump back into the game against a contender and we will see him tested once again.

    * May 30, 1997 - Won UFC 13 Tournament

    * December 21, 1997 - Won UFC Heavyweight Championship (3 overall defenses of this title)

    * November 17, 2000 - Won UFC Heavyweight Championship

    * September 27, 2002 - Fought for vacant UFC Heavyweight title, however fell short to Ricco Rodriguez

    * June 6, 2003 - Won interim Light Heavyweight Championship

    * September 26, 2003 - Won UFC Light Heavyweight Championship

    * August 21, 2004 - Won UFC Light Heavyweight Championship

    * February 4, 2006 - Fought for UFC Light Heavyweight title, however fell short to Chuck Liddell

    * March 3, 2007 - Won UFC Heavyweight Championship

    * August 29, 2009 - Won Fight of the Night (Big Nog)

4. Chuck Liddell (16-7)

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    One of the most dominating fighters of all time in his division. He walked over people with not only victories but knockouts.

    What was going to happen became expected, Chuck Liddell by knockout nearly everytime. Liddell is arguably the greatest light-heavyweight fighter of all time let alone in the UFC.

    Liddell has proved this by winning the title and defending the title nearly more than everyone. Although if we would have saw Tito fight him when he should've then Chuck very well could have defended the title more than anyone else.

    Chuck has huge wins/knockouts over Randy Couture (twice), Tito Ortiz (twice), Wanderlei SIlva, Renato Sobral (twice), Jeremy Horn, and Vitor Belfort.

    Liddell is now debating with himself over retirement, following a first round knockout to Rich Franklin. Chuck has lost five of his last six and four of those by devastating knockout.

    However, Liddell looked very well against Rich up until he ran into a shot by Rich and went out. In the oncoming month we should know what Chuck's future plans are.

    * June 6, 2003 - Fought for Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, however lost to Randy Couture.

    * April 16, 2005 - Won UFC Light Heavyweight Championship (defended 4 times all by ko/tko)

    * December 29, 2009 - Won Fight of the Night (Wanderlei SIlva)

3. Royce Gracie (11-2-1)

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    When you think of the UFC you should think of this man. He started where the game is today, with his tremendous jiu jitsu which still entertains today.

    He has defeated great fighters like Ken Shamrock, Kimo, Dan Severn, and Patrick Smith. Royce Gracie fought Light-Heavyweights and Heavyweights and submitted them so easily.

    This man deserves an easy top five rank for the size of the people he fought. Royce is a great fighter and is one of the men that created the UFC.

    * November 12, 2003 - Won UFC 1 Tournament

    * March 11, 1994 - Won UFC 2 Tournament

    * December 16, 1994 - Won UFC 4 Tournament

    * April 7, 1995 - Fought for Superfight Championship; however, he drew with Ken Shamrock

2. Anderson Silva (12-0)

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    This man dominated his division, he beat the best in the world and not only beat them finished them. His list of victories goes over every other fighters in the history of MMA.

    Recently, he has not been the most exciting fight (Demien Maia and Thiago Leites). He has now overcame adversity in a fight against Chael Sonnen. Anderson Silva has took out every contender in the division, and then went up to Light Heavyweight and took out some of theirs.

    Silva's top wins are Rich Franklin (twice by knockout), Dan Henderson (sub. 2nd), Chael Sonnen (sub. 5th), Forrest Griffin (embarrassing knockout in 1st at light heavyweight), Nate Marquardt (TKO 1st), and Chris Leben (KO 1st).

    Silva has recently submitted Chael Sonnen in the fifth round, in a fight where he was being dominated. Even more recent than that the UFC has decided to match the two up in yet another match for the title.

    This fight proves to be very interesting, by seeing if we can see more control by Chael, or a more improved Anderson SIlva.

    * October 14, 2006 - Won Middleweight Championship

    * October 20, 2007 - Won Knockout of the Night (Rich Franklin)

    * March 1, 2008 - Won Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night (Dan Henderson)

    * July 19, 2008 - Won first UFC Light Heavyweight bout over James Irvin by KO 1st

    * April 18, 2009 - Broke UFC record with most consecutive wins at 9

    * August 8, 2009 - Won Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night (Forrest Griffin)

    * April 10, 2010 - Broke UFC record for the most consecutive title defenses at 6.

    * August 7, 2010 - Won Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night (Chael Sonnen)

    * August 7, 2010 - Extended record of most consecutive title defenses to 7 and most consecutive UFC victories to12.

    * August 7, 2010 - Set the record for longest five round fight not to go the distance.

1. Matt Hughes (18-4)

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    In my personal view no one has ever been more of a dominant champion than this guy. He beat everyone in his path and some people twice. This man is a Chuck Liddell, Anderson SIlva, and Randy Couture all mixed into one.

    He finishes fights (Chuck Liddell), he is tied for second with the most consecutive title defenses (Anderson Silva is first), and at the tender age of 36 going on 37 he still finds ways to win and finish fights (Randy Couture.

    Hughes has defeated the likes of Carlos Newton (twice), Frank Trigg (twice), Joe Riggs, Royce Gracie, BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, and Sean Sherk.

    This man with a new improved stand up game, might even still have a little more gas in the tank to maybe reach twenty wins in the UFC.

    Matt Hughes has the most wins in UFC history, he is one of two men to go on a 6 fight win streak of more, he is tied for first for the most total bouts in UFC history, he is tied for first with Randy Couture for most title wins at 9, and is second for most title fights with 12.

    Hughes has decided to take the fall off after a submission victory over Ricardo Almeida, and do some hunting. He plans to return to the Octagon sometime after hunting season, and we will see more of the greatest fighter in UFC history, Matt Hughes.

    * November 2, 2001 - Won UFC Welterweight Championship

    * October 22, 2004 - Won UFC Welterweight Championship

    * December 29, 2007 - Fought for Interim UFC Welterweight Championship, however fell short to GSP.

    * May 23, 2009 - Won Fight of he Night (Matt Serra)

    * August 7, 2010 - Won Submission of the Night (Ricardo Almeida) 

Twitter

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    Joshua Boyken has been a writer on Bleacher Report for some time, delivering passionate articles and great conversations. He has wrote over thirty articles for this website, and continues to add anew one on a weekly basis.

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