The Top 50 Fighters in MMA History: Is Georges St-Pierre the Greatest Ever?

Sean SmithAnalyst IMay 5, 2011

The Top 50 Fighters in MMA History: Is Georges St-Pierre the Greatest Ever?

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    With his win over one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world in Jake Shields at UFC 129, Georges St-Pierre showed why he is considered one of the two best fighters in the sport today. Some would argue that St-Pierre has already surpassed Anderson Silva as the best fighter in the world at this time.

    Despite all the great fighters that have put everything on the line to entertain us over the years, some may even make an argument that St-Pierre is the greatest fighter of all time. Let's put that theory to the test and take a look at the 50 best fighters in the history of the sport.

50. Jon Fitch

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    MMA Record: 23-1-1, 1 NC

    Jon Fitch has long been considered the second best fighter in the welterweight division. In the last eight years, Fitch's only loss has come against Georges St-Pierre.

    During that time, Fitch has also defeated several of the most talented 170-pound fighters that the UFC has had to offer.

    Still, Fitch will have a hard time moving up this list without capturing at a title at some point.

49. Cain Velasquez

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    MMA Record: 9-0

    With his win over Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez became recognized as the best heavyweight in the world. That is saying a lot considering the talent in the division that remains outside of the UFC.

    In addition to his win over Lesnar, Velasquez also disposed of an MMA legend in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

48. Jake Shields

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    MMA Record: 26-5-1

    Prior to his loss against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129, Jake Shields had not lost in six years. During that time, Shields had become the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and EliteXC Welterweight Champion.

    Shields has defeated a long list of talented fighters and has found success in multiple weight divisions.

47. Forrest Griffin

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    MMA Record: 18-6

    Forrest Griffin gets a lot of undeserved criticism for not being deserving of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship he captured with a controversial win over Quinton Jackson.

    However, Griffin has defeated some of the biggest names in the sport. Some of the fighters Griffin has defeated over the course of his career include Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz, Mauricio Rua and Jackson.

46. Josh Barnett

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    MMA Record: 29-5

    Although he was forced out of the UFC due to a positive steroid test that cost him his UFC Heavyweight Championship, Josh Barnett has been extremely successful in mixed martial arts.

    Three of Barnett's five losses came against Mirko Filipovic, while the other two came against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Pedro Rizzo. Barnett has defeated fighters such as Nogueira, Dan Severn and Randy Couture.

45. Sean Sherk

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    MMA Record: 36-4-1

    Like Josh Barnett, Sean Sherk was also stripped of a UFC belt for a positive steroid test. Still, Sherk has had an extremely successful career and has only lost against the best of the best.

    In 41 career fights, Sherk's only losses have come against UFC champions in B.J. Penn, Matt Hughes, Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar.

44. Rashad Evans

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    MMA Record: 15-1-1

    Rashad Evans is climbing his way back to another shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship after losing his title to Lyoto Machida.

    The loss to Machida has been the only loss in the career of Evans, who has defeated Forrest Griffin, Quinton Jackson and Chuck Liddell.

43. Tim Sylvia

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    MMA Record: 28-7

    A two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, Tim Sylvia's career has completely fallen off of the map in recent years. Still, you can't take away from what he accomplished in the UFC.

    In 28 UFC appearances, Sylvia's only unavenged losses came against fighters who will appear later on this list.

42. Frank Mir

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    MMA Record: 14-5

    After winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship by becoming the first fighter to defeat Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir was involved in a career-threatening motorcycle accident.

    Mir was eventually able to regain his form after returning from the accident by winning an interim title, but many will wonder what could have become of Mir had he not gotten in that motorcycle accident.

    Still, Mir has defeated great fighters like Sylvia, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic.

41. Masakatsu Funaki

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    MMA Record: 39-13-1

    Masakatsu Funaki may never get the recognition he deserves from new fans of the sport, but long-time MMA fans recognize what a great fighter Funaki used to be.

    The long-time Pancrase competitor defeated Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock and Bas Rutten before returning to pro wrestling in 2008.

40. Dominick Cruz

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    MMA Record: 17-1

    Dominick Cruz never received the respect that he deserved either while fighter for the WEC. Now with the UFC, Cruz is still not even recognized by many as the best fighter in his division.

    Cruz, the UFC Bantamweight Champion, is likely to be an underdog when he defends his belt for the first time against Urijah Faber, who defeated Cruz earlier in their careers.

39. Miguel Torres

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    MMA Record: 39-3

    After losing the WEC Bantamweight Championship to Brian Bowles, Miguel Torres is on his way back up the bantamweight ladder.

    Prior to his loss against Bowles, Torres had won an incredible 17 consecutive fights.

    Torres' next fight will come against Demetrious Johnson later this month.

38. Shinya Aoki

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    MMA Record: 27-6, 1 NC

    Shinya Aoki lost a lot of respect for his knockout loss to Yuichiro Nagashima in a recent special rules fight. However, Aoki still holds an outstanding resume'.

    Still, Aoki's lack of striking ability has held him back from defeating well-rounded fighters such as Gilbert Melendez. At this point in his career, it is unlikely that Aoki will be able to develop the striking he needs to be considered one of the greatest of the great MMA fighters.

37. Mike Brown

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    MMA Record: 24-8

    Mike Brown has lost four of his last six fights and is in danger of being released from the UFC. It was Brown's success in the WEC, though, that made him one of the great featherweight fighters of all time.

    In his first four fights with the WEC, Brown defeated Urijah Faber twice and defended his featherweight title two times.

36. Rich Franklin

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    MMA Record: 28-6, 1 NC

    If it weren't for Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin may have become one of the best fighters in the history of the sport. However, Silva completely dismantled Franklin and forced him to move to light heavyweight.

    Still, the former UFC Middleweight Champion has found some success at 205 pounds.

    Franklin holds wins over fighters such as Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva.

35. Lyoto Machida

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    MMA Record: 17-2

    After winning his first 16 fights, many thought that Lyoto Machida would be able to hold onto the UFC Light Heavyweight title for quite some time.

    That was not the case, though, as Mauricio Rua knocked Machida out in the first round of their rematch. Machida then lost a controversial split decision to Quinton Jackson and his career looked to be on thin ice.

    After knocking out Randy Couture with a flying front kick at UFC 129, Machida now looks as good as he ever did.

34. Jon Jones

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    MMA Record: 13-1

    Just 23-years-old, Jon Jones has already dismantled one of the greatest light heavyweights ever in Mauricio Rua.

    If Jones is able to remain healthy and string some title defenses together, expect him to begin soaring higher on this list.

33. Vitor Belfort

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    MMA Record: 19-9

    Although he became UFC Light Heavyweight Champion because of a cut, Vitor Belfort still ranks among some former UFC champions in terms of career accomplishments.

    Also a winner of a UFC tournament, Belfort has defeated former champions such as Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva.

32. Takanori Gomi

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    MMA Record: 32-7, 1 NC

    Takanori Gomi has not been able to find consistent success in his short UFC career to this point, but he was certainly one of the most successful lightweights in the world while fighting in Pride.

    The only lightweight champion in Pride history, Gomi has defeated a number of excellent lightweights, including Jens Pulver.


31. Pat Miletich

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    MMA Record: 29-7-2

    The first UFC Welterweight Champion, Pat Miletich helped revolutionize the sport by become one of the first well-rounded fighters in MMA.

    Miletich also defended his title four times before relinquishing it to Carlos Newton in a fight he had liekly been winning prior to getting caught in a submission.

30. Jens Pulver

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    MMA Record: 24-14-1

    While Jens Pulver's legacy has been tainted by his complete lack of success in recent years, he remains one of the best lightweight in the history of the sport.

    A former UFC Lightweight Champion, Pulver holds a career-defining win over B.J. Penn and has defeated several other notable fighters.

29. Gilbert Melendez

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    MMA Record: 19-2

    Gilbert Melendez doesn't have a loss on his record that he hasn't avenged.

    With consecutive title defenses against Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri, Melendez is bginning to make an argument for being called the best lightweight in the world.

    With the UFC's purchase of Strikeforce, it seems that a title-merging fight is on the horizon for Melendez.


28. Igor Vovchanchyn

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    MMA Record: 54-10-1, 1 NC

    One of the most feared strikers in MMA history, Igor Vovchanchyn was once considered the best fighter in the world before losing to Mark Coleman in the finals of a Pride Openweight Grand Prix.

    Prior to the loss against Coleman, Vovchanchyn had been unbeaten in his last 37 fights. During that time, Vovchanchyn's biggest win came against Kazushi Sakuraba.



27. Dan Severn

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    MMA Record: 99-17-7

    Later this month, Dan Severn will attempt to earn his 100th MMA win.

    However, it was wins that came much earlier in Severn's career which have earned him this position as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.

    In his first 11 fights, Severn won two UFC tournaments and defeated Ken Shamrock to become the UFC Superfight Champion.


26. Don Frye

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    MMA Record: 20-8-1, 1 NC

    With two tournament wins, Don Frye was one of the most accomplished fighters in the early days of the UFC.

    In addition to his success with the UFC, Frye also holds a victory over MMA legend Ken Shamrock.

    Had Frye not retired to pursue a career in professional wrestling for four years, who knows what more he could have accomplished in MMA.

25. Rickson Gracie

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    MMA Record: 11-0

    Rickson Gracie has a recorded MMA record of 11-0. However, Rickson Gracie has stated that he has compiled a total of 460 victories in various combat sports. However, Rickson's father, Helio Gracie, stated that Rickson's claimed 460 wins are exaggerated.

    Still, Rickson Gracie was one of the best jiu-jitsu practiontioners the world has ever seen.

24. Frankie Edgar

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    MMA Record: 13-1-1

    For only the second time in his career, Frankie Edgar came away from a fight without a victory in his last appearance. Both of those instances have come against Gray Maynard, but in their second meeting Edgar was able to force a draw instead of losing to Maynard.

    The draw allowed Edgar to retain his title, but it also meant an immediate rematch with the opponent Edgar has had the most trouble with during his career.

23. Jose Aldo

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    MMA Record: 19-1

    On medication for an infection heading into his most recent fight, Jose Aldo was tested for the first time as champion by Mark Hominick. Despite having to hold on for dear life at the end of the final round, Aldo was able to pass the test and retain hsi title.

    The win over Hominick marked Aldo's first win as a UFC champion and earned him a third consecutive title defense. Prior to the fight with Hominick, Aldo had easily defended his belt against Manny Gamburyan, Urijah Faber and Mike Brown.

22. Urijah Faber

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    MMA Record: 25-4

    Despite losing his title, Urijah Faber remained the face of the WEC and is still widely considered the greatest featherweight of all time.

    In 29 professional fights, Faber's only losses have come against Tyson Griffin, Mike Brown and Jose Aldo.

    In his next fight, Faber will have the chance to capture another title if he is able to dethrone UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.

21. Mark Coleman

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    MMA Record: 16-10

    Mark Coleman's record might not be stellar, but he has earned his spot on this list by becoming the first UFC Heavyweight Champion and winning a Pride Openweight Grand Prix.

    Coleman has also compiled an impressive list of victories over fighters such as Igor Vovchanchyn, Dan Severn, Don Frye and Mauricio Rua.


20. Ken Shamrock

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    MMA Record: 28-15-2

    With an MMA career dating back further than the beginnings of the UFC, Ken Shamrock is one of the builders of the sport. In addition to winning a UFC Superfight Championship, Shamrock was also the first ever Pancrase champion.

    Throughout his career Shamrock has competed with many legends and has defeated Masakatsu Funaki, Dan Severn and Bas Rutten.

19. Kazushi Sakuraba

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    MMA Record: 26-15-1, 2 NC

    One of the most respected fighters in the sport, it is amazing that Kazushi Sakuraba was never able to earn a title while with Pride. Still, Sakuraba's resume' is nothing short of spectacular.

    Undersixed in many of his fights, Sakuraba has defeated fighters like Vitor Belfort, Masakatsu Funaki, Ken Shamrock, Quinton Jackson and Royce Gracie.

18. Mirko FIlipovic

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    MMA Record: 27-9-2, 1 NC

    With his lack of success in the UFC, Mirko Filipovic hasn't done much to help his image with new fans of the sport. However, those who followed Filipovic during his legendary Pride career are cognizant of what the Croatian was once capable of.

    Filipovic has one of the greatest highlight reels of knockouts in the sport's history, mainly because of his left head kick. MMA greats such as Igor Vovchanchyn, Mark Coleman and Wanderlei Silva have all fallen victom to Filipovic's outstanding striking.    

17. Ricardo Arona

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    MMA Record: 14-5

    While Ricardo Arona was never able to capture a Pride championship, he still picked up a number of wins over great fighters while with the organization.

    Over the course of his career, Arona has become considered one of the better light heavyweights in the history of the sport with wins over Alistair Overeem, Kazushi Sakuraba, Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva.

16. Frank Shamrock

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    MMA Record: 23-10-2

    fter finding much success fighting for Pancrase, Frank Shamrock earned the UFC Middleweight Champion in his first fight with the UFC. After that, Shamrock defended his title four times before vacating the belt due to a lack of competition.

    Had he not relinquished his title, Shamrock may have been able to defend the championship a couple more times, which would have put him in a position to still hold the record for the most consecutive title defenses in the now-named light heavyweight division.


15. Bas Rutten

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    MMA Record: 28-4-1

    Although much of his success came before the modernization of MMA, Bas Rutten was still able to compile an outstanding record of 28-4-1 against solid competition.

    A former Pancrase and UFC champion, Rutten has defeated Masakatsu Funaki and Frank Shamrock.

    Rutten retired having been undefeated in the final 22 fights of his career.

14. Dan Henderson

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    MMA Record: 27-8

    Despite becoming the only Pride fighter to simultaneously hold a championship in two divisions, Dan Henderson has never successfully defended a belt. Now Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, the 4--year-old Henderson could finally make that happen.

    First, though, Henderson will meet Fedor Emelianenko in a non-title fight. While the bout won't give Henderson the opportunity to defend a strap for the first time, it will allow him to cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats if he can defeat Emelianenko.


13. Quinton Jackson

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    MMA Record: 31-8

    His head hasn't always been in the right place, but Quinton Jackson has shown to be one of the best fighters in the world when he is focused on fighting.

    A former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and stand-out fighter in Pride, Jackson has defeated light heavyweight legends Lyoto Machida, Ricardo Arona, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell.

12. Mauricio Rua

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    MMA Record: 19-5

    Injuries have held Mauricio Rua back for much of his career, but the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has still become one of the best fighters ever.

    Rua has defeated fighters such as Alistair Overeem, Lyoto Machida, Mark Coleman, Ricardo Arona, Quinton Jackson and Chuck Liddell.

    Rua will get a chance to avenge a loss and add another big win to his resume' in his next fight against Forrest Griffin.

11. Tito Ortiz

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    MMA Record: 15-8-1

    With more title defenses than any other light heavyweight champion in UFC history, Tito Ortiz probably doesn't get the credit he deserves due to his recent lack of success.

    Ortiz is winless in his last five fights, but has defeated some of the best fighters in the sport o ver the course of his career.

    Ortiz holds wins over Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort, Ken Shamrock and Wanderlei Silva.

10. B.J. Penn

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    MMA Record: 16-7-2

    Still recognized as the greatest lightweight of all time by many, B.J. Penn has also had much success as welterweight.

    Penn has held UFC titles in both weight classes and has defeated fighters like Sean Sherk, Takanori Gomi, Jens Pulver and Matt Hughes in the process.

9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    MMA Record: 32-6-1, 1 NC

    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been plagued by various injuries over recent years. However, Nogueira's greatest accomplishments came earlier in his career while fighting for Pride.

    One of only two heavyweight champions in the history of Pride, Nogueira went more than six years without losing to any fighter other than Fedor Emelianenko.

    Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has defeated a long list of great heavyweight fighters including Josh Barnett, Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman, Mirko Filipovic, Dan Henderson and Randy Couture.

8. Royce Gracie

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    MMA Record: 14-2-3, 1 NC

    A pioneer for the sport, Royce Gracie won three of the first four UFC tournaments. In most cases, Gracie defeated opponents that were much larger than himself.

    Planning to make a comeback for one final fight with the UFC, Gracie holds wins over Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba.

7. Wanderlei Silva

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    MMA Record: 33-10-1, 1 NC

    Arguably the best light heavyweight in MMA history, Wanderlei Silva is hoping to find some late-career success at middleweight after losing five out of six fights prior to making the drop to 185 pounds.

    Still, Silva will always be most remembered for his success in Pride.

    Before re-joining the UFC in 2007, Silva earned wins over fighters like Kazushi Sakuraba, Ricardo Arona, Dan Henderson and Quinton Jackson.

6. Chuck Liddell

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    MMA Record: 21-8

    Chuck Liddell's career didn't exactly end how he would've liked it to with losses in five of his last six fight. Still, Liddell accomplished more during his career than any other light heavyweight in the history of the sport.

    Liddell defended the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship four times and defeated fighters such as Alistair Overeem, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva and Randy Couture.

5. Matt Hughes

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    MMA Record: 45-8

    After Georges St-Pierre's win over Jake Shields, Matt Hughes now sits in second place for the most consecutive welterweight title defenses in UFC history.

    Sitting behind St-Pierre is nothing to scoff at, though. Hughes still holds wins over MMA greats like Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Royce Gracie and St-Pierre.

    During his career, Hughes won the UFC Welterweight Championship twice and defended it a total of seven times.

4. Randy Couture

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    MMA Record: 19-11

    After losing to Lyoto Machida at UFC 129, it seems likely that we will never see Randy Couture fight again. Despite the loss, Couture has had an amazing MMA career and is sure to find success in anything he does outside of the sport as well.

    Couture is a record five-time UFC champion, having held the heavyweight belt three times and light heavyweight belt twice.

    Couture holds wins over other greats such as Tim Sylvia, Vitor Belfort, Mark Coleman, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell.

3. Georges St-Pierre

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    MMA Record: 22-2

    Undefeated in nine straight fights and with six consecutive welterweight title defenses, Georges St-Pierre is beginning to make an argument for being the best fighter in MMA history.

    St-Pierre already holds wins over several fighters that we have already seen on this list including Jake Shields, Jon Fitch, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes.

    If St-Pierre decides to gain the weight necessary to compete with Anderson Silva in a super-fight, it would be difficult to call the winner of that fight anything but the greatest competitor MMA has ever seen.

2. Anderson Silva

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    MMA Record: 28-4

    Undefeated in the last five years, Anderson Silva has defended the UFC Middleweight Championship eight consecutive times, becoming the most dominant champion in UFC history.

    Since joining the UFC, Silva has not lost in all 13 of his fights with the organization.

    One could make a strong case for Silva being the greatest fighter ever, but his level of competition in the UFC has not been quite equal to the competition that the final fighter on this list faced during the prime of his career.

1. Fedor Emelianenko

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    MMA Record: 31-3, 1 NC

    Fedor Emelianenko has now lost back-to-back fights against Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva. However, no losing at this point in Emelianenko's career can erase what has been the most amazing career in MMA history.

    For more than nine years, Emelianenko was undefeated. During that time, Emelianenko became one of only two fighters to capture the Pride Heavyweight Championship, which he defended three times. 

    Emelianenko has defeated some of the best heavyweights in the history of the sport including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Filipovic, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Coleman.

    Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre are quickly closing in on Emelianenko's accomplishments, but they aren't quite there yet.