There is not much debate as to who the best boxers are in MMA, but it can be hard to distinguish who would do well if they were to just go from one sport to the other and be successful.
Some of the fighters on this list are so well rounded that they are just able to relax and outbox their opponents, without much concern for what may happen if their opponent decides to try something other than boxing.
That is what makes them good boxers and, more importantly, good boxers fighting in MMA.
Before you start reading this list, be aware that I left out boxers James Toney and Ray Mercer. Although they are the two best boxers to have a professional MMA fight, nobody really knows if they will compete again.
This is a list of the 15 best boxers actively fighting in MMA.
With exceptionally fast hands and accurate punching, UFC fighter Mark Hominick is one of the best boxers in the sport and has been for a while. His combination of head movement and footwork, while throwing jabs and body shots, really shows he knows how to put it all together inside the cage. The only thing that is missing is power.
Undefeated in the UFC at 2-0, Hominick is looking for a future title shot if he can make it past his next opponent, George Roop. That title shot would be against Jose Aldo. Prepare to see his boxing put to the ultimate test if that happens.
Sam Stout has always been one of the best boxers in the UFC, and he's been there a long time thanks to his boxing skills. He is coming off a split decision win against Paul Taylor, who also has exceptional boxing skills.
Taylor mixed up his attack with punches and kicks better, but Stout showed a varied attack with his hands as he mixed in body shots with head shots.
Stout has some of the best body shots in the business, because he commits to them when he throws them and establishes the body attack early, which pays off later in the fight.
The only thing keeping Andrei Arlovski out of the top 10 on this list is his chin. He is so light on his feet, but becomes light as a feather when he is hit and usually ends up unconscious on the canvas. Six of his eight losses are by knockout, and most of those are straight KOs.
Despite the chin factor, he still has some of the best boxing skills in the heavyweight division. He will be able to prove it in his next fight in the first round of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament against Sergei Kharitonov, who isn't too bad himself at standing and trading punches.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the younger brother of Rodrigo Nogueira, had great success as an amateur boxing in Brazil before moving into professional MMA. When he made his first trip to the UFC Octagon, he put on a boxing clinic against Luiz Cane and knocked him out in the first round.
His boxing has always been some of the best, and he has the credentials to back it up. He won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil for boxing. Before this, he had won a gold medal at the 2006 South American Games in Buenos Aires.
KJ Noons started his boxing career as a 2004 Olympic Boxing Trials Semifinalist. Since then he has compiled a 11-2 professional boxing record and a 9-2 MMA record. His only two losses in MMA are to Charles Bennett and Nick Diaz, who are both great boxers themselves.
He is one of the few professional fighters who competes in both MMA and boxing during the same time.
Like KJ Noons, Overeem competes in two combat sports: kickboxing and MMA. Overeem has a tougher time fighting the best in the world in K1, while most of his opponents in MMA are finished in the first round because of his superior skills standing.
If you took away the knees and kicks of Overeem, he would still be a devastating puncher to almost any opponent he faced in MMA. The only thing keeping him from the top positions on this list are his chin and sometimes his lack of head and foot movement, which is due in part to the way he positions himself to kick.
Rampage is so good at boxing that he forgets about everything else in MMA. His knockout win over Wanderlei Silva showed his excellent defense and counter-attacking skills. He also showed it in his knockout win over Chuck Liddell, which made him the Light Heavyweight champion of the world. He is the best boxer in the division and has the most power in his punches, especially his left hook.
The one problem Rampage has is that he can become too reliable on just boxing. If he mixed up his boxing with his wrestling more, he would become more of a threat to his opponents.
Cruz reminds me of Edgar because of the movement, footwork and cardio he displays in every one of his fights. Yes, he has gone to a decision in six of his last seven fights, but you don't need power to be considered a great boxer.
He is light on his feet, very elusive with his movement and attacks when he wants to attack. He doesn't let his opponent establish a rhythm or get into the fight, and this is what good boxers who don't have much power do. If his next fights comes against Urijah Faber, it will be his boxing that carries him to victory.
Everyone knows that Freddie Roach, trainer of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, has said that BJ Penn was the best boxer in MMA. I have him at the seventh spot on this list because this is where it gets debatable as to who is the best boxer in the sport, and there are better boxers than him.
His 21-second knockout win over Matt Hughes isn't enough to push him up in this list, and his upcoming fight at UFC 127 with Jon Fitch probably won't do much for him in reclaiming his position as the best boxer in MMA.
Hopefully Frankie Edgar gets the respect he deserves after surviving one of the most dominating first rounds you probably ever see in a championship fight. He came back to win most of the remaining rounds with his boxing and excellent cardio. If they were to fight again, which they will, expect Edgar to outbox Maynard and avoid anything big Maynard throws at him.
Edgar's best display of boxing came in his two wins over BJ Penn. He won most of the exchanges against Penn in the first fight and dominated him in the second fight.
It's hard to argue that Georges St. Pierre isn't one of the best boxers in MMA after dominating Josh Koscheck exclusively with the jab. Koscheck isn't what you would call a well-schooled boxer, but St. Pierre is starting to become one. The jab is the most underrated part of MMA, but a lot more fighters will start to use it after seeing the success St. Pierre has had with it.
This fight got a lot of people talking on boxing forums, and it's fighters who display great boxing that will get them interested in watching the sport if they don't already.
Santos is the best boxer in the heavyweight division. His wins over Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop all showed the things you want in a heavyweight boxer: speed, power and knockouts. Those are things you rarely see, even in the elite heavyweight boxers.
His hand speed is amazing for a guy his size, and he has everything he needs to take his skills to a whole other level. Training with the Nogueira brothers and guys like Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva will help him develop a better well-rounded skill set, which will only make his boxing more dangerous to his opponents.
If you haven't seen Santos working on the pads, go watch some of the videos of him doing so.
In the countdown show before his fight with Rich Franklin, his trainer said he could easily compete in boxing and be successful at the top of the division. It's easy to see why.
Belfort has the fastest hands in MMA, and he always has. His knockout wins in the early UFC tournaments showed this, and his last two wins over Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin showed it.
His next fight will be against Anderson Silva at UFC 127, and if he knocks Silva out, he moves to the No. 1 spot on this list.
Nick Diaz is the best boxer in the welterweight division. He has the ability to outbox any opponent put in front of him and knows how to break them down with just boxing. His punch output and combination of body and head attack really establishes himself as one of the more dangerous opponents in the division and as one of the best boxers in MMA.
In his last fight against KJ Noons, which was a rematch of an earlier loss, he threw 427 punches and landed 137 of them, including 98 jabs, according to Fight Metric.
If you were asked who put on the best display of boxing in MMA, you would probably say Anderson Silva when he knocked out Forrest Griffin. You aren't wrong about that. It was one of those fights that was so amazing to watch, and because Silva looked so good doing it, he put himself into the No. 1 spot on everyone's list of the best boxers in MMA.
One of the things that makes Silva vs. Belfort exciting is that we are going to see two of the best strikers standing and trying to knock each other out. It will be a fight you don't want to miss.