Left-handed fighters, better known as southpaws, have caused trouble for many right-handed fighters throughout history.
The history of boxing dates back to ancient Sumer, ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, but the southpaw stance began with western boxing well over 200 years ago and has since transitioned over to Mixed Martial Arts.
Standing with the right foot forward and left foot back, the southpaw is the exact opposite of a right-handed orthodox stance and poses many potential dangers to fighters that haven’t trained properly for a southpaw.
Some of the most famous southpaw boxers include, Marvin Hagler, Hector Camacho, Winky Wright, Joe Calzaghe and Manny Pacquiao.
Boxing has now made its way into MMA and is trained as one of the top three disciplines, along with Muay Thai and grappling.
In this slideshow, we will examine the top 10 best left-handed fighters in MMA today, starting with the No. 10 ranking and moving down to the best southpaw at No. 1.
Demian Maia is a UFC middleweight fighter and world-renowned BJJ black belt known for his incredible ground skills inside and outside of the Octagon.
Maia’s record is 16 fights with 14 wins and two losses. He has won both of his last two fights since losing a landslide decision in his championship bout with Anderson Silva.
With two knock outs, eight submissions and six decsions on his professional record, Maia has gone 8 for 10 in his UFC career and is set to take on Mark Muñoz at UFC 131: Lesnar vs. Dos Santos.
He might not be considered a top striker, but with only two losses to his name and boasting such a successful run in the UFC, we place Maia at No. 10 on the list of the best southpaws currently competing in MMA.
UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen comes in at No. 9 on the list.
With a record of 37 fights, 25 wins and 11 losses, Sonnen claims 15 wins by decision and 7 by KO. Contrary to popular belief, he also has three submission victories to his credit.
Sonnen is a dominant fighter with power in his left hand that seems to go unnoticed because of his wrestling ability. In his title bout with Anderson Silva, Sonnen dropped the champion to his knee for a second with a straight left hand early in the fight.
Known more as a wrestler with lethal GnP skills, Sonnen is still in contention for another middleweight title shot and is the only person to threaten Silva’s belt since taking it from a game Rich Franklin and that puts him in the No. 9 slot.
Coming in at No. 8 we have Takanori Gomi.
The highly decorated, Japanese lightweight fighter sports a record of 40 fights with 32 wins and only seven losses.
Gomi is known as a highly competitive striker as well as a submission specialist with 12 of his wins coming by way of knockout, six by submission and 14 decisions, all of which were unanimous but for one.
Getting his professional start fighting for the Shooto promotion, Gomi went on to claim the Shooto welterweight (154 lbs) title in 2001 before moving to the PRIDE FC promotion where he set the record for the fastest KO in PRIDE FC history at only 0:06 into round one.
He then went on to claim the PRIDE FC lightweight title in 2005 and has gone 1-3 in his UFC career.
Being that Gomi is such an experienced and dominant striker with the ability to control the fight standing or on the ground, we place him as the No. 8 best southpaw in MMA today.
Next up at No. 7 is UFC middleweight brawler, Chris Leben.
If you’ve ever watched this guy fight, you know that he lets it all hang out and does so for each and every fight. In fact, I can’t remember a boring Chris Leben fight, although I’m sure some of you can prove me wrong.
The point is that, Leben is so entertaining to watch that I can only recall him being in exciting matchups since his second fight in WEC when he knocked out Mike Swick for the WEC middleweight belt and become the first WEC middleweight champion.
The WEC middleweight class was dissolved in 2006 when Zuffa LLC purchased the promotion.
Since then, Leben has seemingly stormed through his career before facing Anderon Silva at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 5 when he was knocked out cold in the Brazilian’s UFC debut.
Leben has only lost via TKO one other time and most recently to Brian Stann at UFC 125 in January 2011.
With 32 fights, 25 wins and seven losses, 13 of Leben’s wins come by way of KO with six equal submission and decision victories.
If you need more proof that Leben puts on exciting fights, consider that he won Fight of the Knight Honors twice and Knockout of the Night three times.
Considered now to be a very fierce gatekeeper, Leben is dangerous on any given night and carries sick power in his left hand as is indicated by his nickname, “The Crippler.”
Japanese fighter, Yushin Okami comes in at No. 6 on our list of the best southpaws in MMA today.
Okami’s takedown defense and southpaw stance along with an excellent game plan make him a tricky opponent for anyone and one that can usually control the fight and end up with a decision win, if not by KO or TKO.
26 of Okami’s 31 fights have been victories with nine coming by way of KO, four by submission and 12 by decision.
He only has five losses and two of them were in the UFC; one was to Rich Franklin and the other to Chael Sonnen, both by unanimous decisions.
If you look at Okami’s record, you will see that he has fought A-list fighters for most of his career and will be taking on UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil scheduled for August, 27, 2011.
This will be Okami and Silva’s second fight in a rematch that has been highly anticipated for quite some time.
Okami took home a DQ win over Silva at Rumble on the Rock 8 in 2006.
One of the most beloved and decorated fighters of all time, Rich Franklin makes his way to the list at No. 5.
Franklin, affectionately known as “Ace” for his resemblance to Ace Ventura star, Jim Carrey, entered the UFC in 2003 at UFC 42: Sudden Impact with a TKO win over Evan Tanner.
He has since gone 13 for 18 in his UFC career, fighting the who’s who of elite competition at both the middleweight, light heavyweight and catch weight classes.
Franklin often switches from southpaw to orthodox stance during his fights and possesses power in both his left and right hands.
With a record of 35 fights with 28 wins and 6 losses, Franklin has 15 of those wins coming by way of knockout and 10 wins by submission with only three decisions ever in his career.
It’s obvious that this guy likes to finish fights.
Some of Franklin’s most notable KO victories include bouts against, Ken Shamrock, Evan Tanner, Travis Lutter, Matt Hamill, and most recently UFC Hall of Famer, Chuck Liddell.
“The 209 Kid” from Stockton, CA comes in at No. 4 on the best left handed fighters in MMA today.
Nick Diaz, is a guy who you either love or hate and who some love to hate.
Diaz is a true southpaw and can bang with the best of them. He’s also quite crafty on the ground and especially from his guard.
At only 27 years old, Diaz has been fighting for his entire adult life and has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Cesar Gracie and has had one professional boxing match which he won via KO in the 4th round.
Diaz is currently the reigning and defending Strikeforce welterweight champion. His most recent victory was over UK fighter and fellow former UFC competitor Paul Daley, which he won via TKO with three seconds left in Round 1.
With 25 wins in 33 professional fights and 13 KO victories with only seven losses, Diaz is one of the best southpaws in all of MMA and still has plenty of fighting years left in him, if he chooses.
Making his way in at No. 3 is former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
Machida is a natural southpaw who often switches his stance to orthodox during his fights and is considered elusive with a straight left that seemingly comes out of nowhere.
Representing his own family’s style of Karate called, Machida Karate, Machida has dominated his entire career until his 2010 title bout rematch with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Rua KO’d the champ in round one to definitively take home the win and the belt this time..
Machida recently retired Randy “The Natural” Couture in a light heavyweight matchup at UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields when he knocked Couture out with a front kick to the face, much in the same way that fellow Black House fighter and Steven Seagal student, Anderson Silva did to Vitor Belfort at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort.
With 19 professional fights, 17 wins and only two losses with six of his wins by KO, Machida is a three-time Knock Out of the Night honors winner and can never be counted out.
It looks like he may be back on the road to redeeming his title, but a lot has changed since last year.
Regardless of his future, Machida makes it into the top three southpaws in the sport today.
Interestingly enough, some of the best southpaw fighters in MMA today are also some of the best fighters in the sport, which brings us to No. 2, Vitor Belfort.
Belfort has been known as a serious southpaw striker since his early UFC career beginning in 1997.
His most notable victory is a TKO win over fellow Brazilian, Wanderlei Silva at UFC Ultimate Brazil, which he won with a barrage of punches that backed Silva across the Octagon and onto the ground before having the fight called at 0:44 into the first round.
Since then, Belfort has fought in the PRIDE FC, Strikeforce and Affliction MMA promotions before finally making his way back to the UFC.
Belfort has faced literally nothing but the best competition since his first professional MMA fight and is still a feared striker today.
Before losing to Anderson Silva by the now famous (or infamous) front kick, Belfort went on a five-fight winning streak knocking out all but one of his opponents.
Belfort’s professional MMA record is 28 fights with 19 wins and nine losses with 13 of his wins coming by way of KO.
He is set to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133 on August 6, 2011.
The No. 1 best southpaw in Mixed Martial Arts today just happens to be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, Anderson Silva.
I don’t think there is a single sane person who can dispute that claim.
Silva has gone undefeated during his UFC reign and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The best we can hope to see from the champ is a few more fights and victories before retiring once and for all as one of the UFC’s most dominant champions and one of the greatest fighters to ever live.
Not only can he strike, Silva has a nasty ground game as well and has submitted many high-level grapplers as he is willing to go wherever the fight takes him and dominate. He also will often switch stances during a fight.
The closest Silva has come to losing a fight since April of 2006, was in his title fight with Chael Sonnen, where Sonnen gave him a run for his money and the fight of his life.
Silva’s professional MMA record is 32 fights, 28 wins and only four losses. He holds 16 knockout victories, five submissions and seven decisions.
With a UFC record of 13 for 13 fights and 10 title defenses, Silva looks to defend his belt once again in a rematch against No. 1 middleweight contender, Yushin Okami at UFC 134: Rio on August 27, 2011.