Ultimate fighting is an extremely dynamic sport with strikes delivered from all levels and angles. Whether they come by punches, knees, elbows or slams—knockouts are a prolific part of the sport.
Watching Chuck Liddell find his mark with an unbalanced, looping hook or Anderson Silva's devastating front kick to the chin of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 results in erupting fans and a highlight video for the fighter.
The four ounce gloves worn in MMA provide little to no protection to the fighter receiving the lethal strike. Yet, even with the variety of knockouts available and the prevalence of KO victories, there are fighters who possess iron chins that withstand direct blows allowing them to remain conscious and continue competing.
Within all of mixed martial arts, there are some notable exclusions from this list that deserve mention including Mark Hunt, Patrick Cote, Roger Huerta, Shane Carwin and B.J. Penn's UFC 127 main event challenger, Jon Fitch.
With that said, the following fighters are the top 10 chins in mixed martial arts—worldwide.
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Bloodied, beaten, battered, but never knockout out!
Clay Guida has never suffered a KO loss in 39 professional fights.
He has engaged in epic battles including a slug-fest with Diego Sanchez where he endured uppercuts and hooks as these two competitors went toe to toe.
Constant head movement and an up tempo pace allows Guida to escape from a direct shot. That, combined with his great defense and excellent boxing skills and "The Carpenter" has no need for the ringside physician's smelling salts.
In Yoshihiro Akiyama's match-up against Chris "The Crippler" Leben at UFC 116, Leben found his range in the second round and began landing a variety of straight punches and hooks onto Akiyama's face.
Willing to stand and trade in the pocket with "The Crippler," Sexyama began to fatigue and Leben's accuracy was picking apart the Japanese star.
Punch after punch landed on Yoshihiro, but to everyone's surprise, most notably ringside correspondent Joe Rogan, Akiyama continued to battle back.
"The Crippler's" punching prowess in the Octagon is well-known. However, Sexyama absorbed one punishing strike after another proving that he has a solid chin and is willing and able to take a punch.
At 6'4" 240 pounds, Junior dos Santos is a human wrecking machine.
With an undefeated 18-0 kick-boxing record and a 12-1 MMA record, dos Santos' chin has been tested on many occasions.
Never once knocked out, JDS has stood toe to toe with extremely talented strikers including Gabriel Gonzaga, Mirko Cro Cop and Fabricio Werdum.
If it were not for the fact that the seven MMA practitioners ranked ahead of him each possess more experience inside the Octagon and therefore, more chances of being knocked out, Junior dos Santos would definitely be ranked higher.
Junior will be able to test his iron chin on June 11, 2011 when he challenges Brock Lesnar.
Even though Brock Lesnar's stand-up does not compare to the tremendous striking skills of JDS, Lesnar's power always creates a one punch knockout potential.
I look forward to this match-up of colossal heavyweights.
In 23 MMA fights, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has never been knocked out. His only TKO loss was due to a broken arm suffered at Pride 31 by Mark Coleman.
Some may think that 23 fights is not much of a sample size. However, when you consider the talented strikers that Shogun has exchanged with, those are 23 tough battles.
The competition that Rua has faced is the who's who of ultimate fighting.
They include: Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, current Strikeforce heavyweight and K-1 World Kick-boxing champion, Alistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona, former UFC light heavyweight champions, Chuck Liddell and Lyoto Machida, just to name a few.
On March 19, "Shogun's" chin will be put to the test when he faces the extremely unorthodox and tremendously talented striker in Jon "Bones" Jones.
A former professional boxer, Chris "Lights Out" Lytle transitioned into MMA seamlessly.
With an overall record of 30-17 inside the Octagon with zero losses by knockout, Lytle possesses the inherent ability to suffer damage and stay on his feet, "roll" with punches as boxers do and have the comprehension to remain active inside the cage.
Earning Fight of the Night honors on four separate occasions and a Knockout of the Night bonus, "Lights out" pours his heart and soul into each fight. He has entertained fans and proven that he is a gamer and willing to stand and trade with any and all who challenge him.
With a competition resume that includes hard-hitting welterweights Matt Brown, Josh Koscheck, Marcus Davis, Paul Taylor and Thiago Alves, Chris Lytle has earned the No. 6 rank on this list of iron chins.
During Frankie Edgar's title defense against Gray "The Bully" Maynard at UFC 125, the current UFC lightweight champion proved that his chin is as strong as his heart.
In the opening stanza of this epic battle against "The Bully," Edgar was savagely beaten; dropped initially with a hook and then put down again from a brutal uppercut. Yet, "The Answer" continued to rebound and push forward in defense of his championship belt.
Weathering a hellacious first round beating, Frankie Edgar recovered between rounds and flipped the script, unloading a barrage of strikes and take-downs on Gray Maynard.
This 180 degree turn from one round to the next even caught the attention of ringside announcer Joe Rogan who stated that he had never witnessed a fighter endure such a beating and then recover to take control of the next round.
Surviving the onslaught of strikes, Frankie Edgar possesses the intangibles needed as champion, including an iron chin.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been a professional ultimate fighter since 1999. Accumulating an overall MMA record of 32-6-1, Nogueira has suffered only two TKO losses, most recently due to the vicious strikes of UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez.
Never KO'd, Nogueira is known for his ability to absorb damage.
Competing in legendary battles with some of the best ultimate fighters on the planet, including Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Sergei Kharitonov and Ricco Rodriguez, Antonio rose to prominence in the Pride Fighting Championship. His success was built on his brilliant jiu-jitsu wizardry, tremendous boxing skills and iron chin.
Beginning to show wear in his later years, there is no denying Nogueira's phenomenal career and his ability to take a punch.
Any doubter needs to watch his monumental fight versus Fedor Emelianenko when Antonio endured a ruthless ground and pound attack from the Russian star only to rise up and fight on.
Like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, "The Prodigy" B.J. Penn's only knockout blemish on his record was a TKO loss suffered at the hands of Matt Hughes at UFC 63 in 2006.
B.J.'s game plan inside the Octagon relies heavily on his ability to take a punch and battle on. Possessing elite level offensive boxing skills, B.J. has a tendency of fighting with his hands down enduring the strikes from his opponents so as to prevent any take-down attempts and deliver much more powerful punches.
Confidence in his chin grew as he stood toe to toe with tremendous strikers only to exit the Octagon under his own power.
During his illustrious career, "The Prodigy" has exchanged with more technically sound strikers inside the cage including Jens Pulver, Georges St-Pierre and Duane Ludwig; none of whom were able to KO the Hawaiian star.
Rightfully earning the No. 3 spot in this list, B.J. Penn will next challenge Jon Fitch at UFC 127 on February 26th.
In 34 professional fights spanning 14 years, "Dangerous" Dan Henderson has never suffered either a TKO or KO loss. I repeat, Dan Henderson's chin has kept him conscious through 34 professional fights, competing in the world's largest mixed martial art's promotions against some of the greatest ultimate fighters in history.
Competing for the Rings promotion, Henderson holds victories over striking sensations Gilbert Yvel and the aforementioned, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
During his years in Pride Fighting Championship, "Dangerous" battled the ultra aggressive Wanderlei Silva, former professional boxer Murilo Bustamante, as well as "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort, who may arguably be the best boxer in MMA.
Fighting inside the famed UFC Octagon, Henderson survived fights with knockout artists Quinton Jackson and Rich Franklin. He has also taken the best punch from the best striker in the world—current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.
Relying on his solid chin, "Dangerous" Dan Henderson looks to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship on March 5 against Rafael Cavalcante and add another premiere championship title to his Hall of Fame career.
Anderson "The Spider" Silva is not only the current UFC middleweight champion, the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet according to Sherdog.com and arguably the best all-around striker that graces the Octagon. He also possesses a legendary chin.
Some may state that Silva's chin has not been tested enough to provide him with such an award. Anderson possesses the amazing ability to minimize the damage he suffers inside the cage through precise movement and technical strikes that keep his opponents off balance and out of range.
Nevertheless, Anderson Silva first wore the championship belt beginning in 2006. Since then, he has had a bulls-eye on his back with each suitor attempting to dethrone the champ.
Only the best have competed against "The Spider" including former middleweight champion, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson and most recently, Vitor Belfort. Anderson has survived damaging punches by Thales Leites as well as a brutal ground and pound from Chael Sonnen; none of whom were able to knockout this Brazilian superstar.
Throughout these main event fights, it has been Anderson "The Spider" Silva's hand raised in victory and his opponent typically being the one to suffer the lingering effects of a knockout defeat.