MMA: Top 20 Fighters Pound for Pound of All Time
Let the fireworks begin! Here is Guerrilla Fight's top 20 brawlers in the modern history of the sport. We're logically starting the clock with UFC 1 in '93.
We are considering each fighter's record in their prime. We're making a judgment call on that part. You the reader may agree or disagree with our weighting of this factor.
Records for those all-time greats who fought too long on bad advice (no protection by managers, trainers or promotions) are weighted towards earlier in their careers.
We are also giving a nod to the more modern fighter because, as we all know, the competition is much tougher today than 10 or 15 years ago.
A list like this is always going to be controversial because MMA is a sport that evokes pure emotion and devout loyalty.
Think you got a better list? Let us here it in the comments.
Let's get it on!
#20: Dan "The Beast" Severn
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Dan Severn (98-16-7)
The Beast deserves mention, as he has 59 submissions over 17 years and was a tournament UFC champ (UFC 5).
He also made clear how dominant wrestlers could be in this sport...virtually by himself.
#19: Rickson Gracie
Rickson Gracie (11-0)
Some still say Rickson is the best submission guy ever.
It's really hard to judge where he actually fits in, but he's too significant a figure not to include him.
We're not the only ones to say "what might have been" in regards to the elder brother. In many ways Rickson and MMA were two ships passing in the night.
We can't justify placing him any higher based solely on his legend and speculation and second-hand accounts.
#18: Don "The Predator" Frye
Don Frye (20-8-1)
The Predator was 15-1 from 1996-2002. If this was a contest for best stare-down, Frye would make the top 3.
In the mustache battle...there is no close challenger.
#17: Frank Shamrock
Frank Shamrock (23-10-2)
Shamrock deserves mention mainly because he dominated his division for several years.
He's also widely credited for being an early prototype of the modern well-rounded fighter.
Shamrock's fight prep and training were innovative and influential to say the least.
#16: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
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Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-5)
This PRIDE and UFC champ was 18-4 in a stretch between '02 and '09, during which "Shogun" tore through a legendary list of top Pride fighters.
Rua was perennially in the argument for P4P best for almost 10 years.
Very few fighters are acknowledged by other fighters the way Rua has consistently been (last fight notwithstanding).
He has as many highlight-reel finishes as anyone.
#15: "Hollywood" Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson (27-8)
"Hollywood" is a multiple-time champ and multiple-division champ. Hendo went 12-1 from '97-'01.
When was the last time Henderson has been given an easy fight? Don't say Sobral...
Hendo's career is no doubt "headed for home" and he would be an underdog in a much-needed rematch with Anderson Silva... but those might be the tightest odds Silva has seen in years.
What does that tell you?
#14: Randy "The Natural" Couture
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Randy Couture (19-10)
With "Captain America," opponents always knew they were in for a fight. Whenever Randy steps into the Octagon, he is single-minded... determination unparalleled.
Couture defied both the UFC's desired outcomes on numerous occasions (meaning they rooted against him), and expert opinions on a routine basis.
Mother Nature is also stumped about his staying power.
The 19-10 numbers don't lie however, and this is the single reason the Captain didn't crack the top 10.
To be fair, other than James Toney, Couture has fought nothing but murderers for years.
#13: Pat Militich
Pat Miletich (29-7-2)
The original "Croatian Sensation" had 15 wins in a row in a tear from '95-'98. That's a rare form of dominance.
Anyone with a fighting system named after him had better "eat lightning and crap thunder."
#12: Rich Franklin
Rich Franklin (28-6)
Ace went 22-2 from 1999-2006. His placement this high on the list is all about that phenomenal run. His four total losses since then weren't exactly to unknowns.
#11: "The Prodigy" B.J. Penn
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BJ Penn (16-7-2)
The Prodigy was 10-2-1 and fought in four weight classes between '01-'05.
Were it not for his inconsistencies, Penn would have fared better on this list. If we were simply discussing God-given talent, Penn is likely top 5 material.
#10: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
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Antonio Nogueira (24-2-1)
We begin the mythical Top 10 with the fittingly named "Minotauro." This definition of a warrior ruled the ring in PRIDE for many years between '99-'04.
Nogueira was Top 10 tough even as a child, when a near-certain fatal accident with a three-ton tractor became just the first time his indomitable chin was tested.
Nogueira is just plain Spartan tough... as game as they come.
#9: Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell
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Chuck Liddell (21-8)
The Iceman was 12-1 from 1998-2002.
Liddell goes down not only as one of the premier KO artists of all time, but also as the most recognizable face in the sport.
Along with TUF, Liddell is the single biggest factor for the upward trajectory of MMA in the United States and beyond for the past five years (at least).
No wonder Dana White is a fan.
#8: Kazuki Sakuraba
The Gracie Hunter
Kazushi Sakuraba (26-15-1)
"The Gracie Hunter" took out four of the Royal Family when that kind of feat was stunning. Saku also went 12-1 from '96-'00.
His unmatched innovation, pure toughness, and willingness to fight an 800-pound gorilla (and the gorilla's brother later that same evening) make him a "fighter's fighter" and a legend.
#7: Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva
The Axe Murderer
Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1)
The "Axe Murderer" was a virtual King of PRIDE. He went a near perfect 22-1 from '00-'04. Did you forget about that? Don't.
This Vale Tudo veteran is in a toss up for the unofficial title of most exciting MMA fighter (ever) with "The Iceman."
Probable all-time stare-down champ as well.
#6: Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie (14-2-3)
Royce won three of the first four UFC tournaments from '93-'95 going 11-0-1. 'Nuff said.
Would the sport even exist without its very own Babe Ruth?
How many pro fighters over the last 15 years have given credit to Royce for inspiring them to pick up the game? Don't even bother counting.
#5: Bas Rutten "El Guapo"
Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Bas Rutten (28-4)
"El Guapo" had 21 wins in a row and was both a UFC & Pancrase Champ.
One of the most fearsome and targeted strikers in MMA history, his patented liver shots and elite kicks were complemented by serious power in his hands.
(Sidenote*) Bas' open-handed striking technique in Pancrase literally changed that sport in one fight... demonstrating a rarely equaled ability to game-plan and innovate. Bas stunned opponents with his ability to hurt them (badly) with the palm of his hand thrown from behind his ear.
Plus...come on...those bar fight videos...
#4: Matt Hughes
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Matt Hughes (45-8)
Hughes was absolutely dominant from '98-'00, going 22-2.
Undeniably an all-time warrior, Hughes laid down a template for ground 'n pound for all who followed.
#3: Georges "Rush" St. Pierre
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Georges St.Pierre (21-2)
"Rush" is on 8-0 streak and has avenged his only losses.
Having grabbed the Welterweight title and then dropped it in quick succession, GSP then managed to reclaim the belt and has since schooled all challengers badly in a division which previously had been considered stacked to overload... all the while making it look easy and taking minimal damage.
#2: Anderson "The Spider" Silva
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The Spider is 14-0 since 2006. End of story.
Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko
The Last Emperor
Fedor Emelianenko (31-3)
The Last Emperor established complete Heavyweight domination, going 31-1 in a 10-year stretch! We all know he dropped his last two fights, but Anderson Silva would need to go 17-1 over the next 5 years to match Fedor... wanna bet?
GSP would have to go 23-1.
Okay... let us have it. There's not going to be any shortage of opinions, this much we know...
Here are some honorable mentions and other related musings:
Most people who have been watching for a long time recognize (particularly against Rua) that Jon Jones is an all time great in the making. It's simply too soon to include him here.
If he defends successfully five straight times (or so), he will be knocking on the door to this list ... possibly before he's 25!
We acknowledge that Chuck Liddell may be placed too low here. One could argue top 5... but he finished very weak.
Tim Sylvia went 16-0 from '01-'03. You read that correctly. We challenge you to name them though.
Jeremy Horn went 87-20-5...good enough to break in?
Jens Pulver had a 14-2-1 record from '99-'02.
Frank Mir went 8-1 from '01-'04.
Vitor Belfort was considered, and had fate not intervened (negatively), he likely would have made our Top 20 cut.
Tito Ortiz went 10-2 from '97-'02.
---- Contributed by J.Seijas & J.Wise of Guerrilla Fight ----