Anderson Silva, Alistair Overeem and the 17 Most Feared Strikers in MMA Today

Michael Evans@@MikeEvansMMACorrespondent IIIMay 26, 2011

Anderson Silva, Alistair Overeem and the 17 Most Feared Strikers in MMA Today

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    Nothing is more visceral than the knockout.

    In the NFL, we do not see the impact on the head and we do not see the pain in motion. It is more like we know something is wrong. In MMA, we get to clearly see what is happening in real time. It is almost as if we feel the pain with them.

    Sure, the ground game is formidable and has made many a champion. But people fear the great strikers. Just like men feared Jack Johnson in the early 20th century, Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and Mike Tyson in the late 1980s in boxing, mixed martial arts also has its feared men.

    These are people that guys avoid at all costs. These are the guys you hope that their manager does not match you up with.

    On this list are champions, kickboxing masters, Muay Thai specialists and every other type of ass-kicker who laces up the four-ounce gloves. These are the greatest strikers in MMA. They are feared, they are awesome to watch and they bring it every time they enter a cage or a ring. 

17. Wanderlei Silva

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    He was once the most feared man in Pride outside of maybe Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko. Wanderlei was the long-time Pride Fighting Championships middleweight champion and has an amazing ability to swarm and finish when he knows his opponent is hurt.

    He has 23 knockouts out of 33 career victories.

    The legend returns to the Octagon after a year-and-a-half hiatus to face Chris Leben at UFC 132 in July.

16. Brian Stann

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    Brian Stann is a proud former serviceman in the Marine Corps. He is also a very powerful and accurate puncher who has one-punch knockout power. In the WEC, he was the light heavyweight champion before moving on to the big show in the UFC.

    He has found recent success inside the Octagon after dropping to middleweight. His recent knockout victory of Chris Leben was a major step forward in his career.

    Stann has seven knockouts in 10 career victories and will try to add another to that tally on May 28th in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada when he faces returning middleweight powerhouse Jorge Santiago at UFC 130.

15. Brendan Schaub

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    Schaub is a rising prospect in the UFC. He now has strung together some impressive knockout victories. His most recent was a knockout of former Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix champion Mirko Cro Cop. He is athletic, always in phenomenal shape and has dynamite in his hands.

    He will look to get his winning streak going on August 27th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when he takes on another Pride legend, Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira, at UFC 134.

14. Melvin Manhoef

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    Melvin Manhoef is a striker who has kickboxing experience, which makes him more dangerous. He has power in his hands and feet and can knock out his opponents with either. He has 23 knockout victories in 24 career victories. It doesn't get better than that for a striker.

    Manhoef has knockout wins over Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, Fabio Silva, Ian Freeman and Evangelista Santos.

13. Pat Barry

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    Pat Barry has five knockout victories in six professional wins. Just merely saying his name brings up memories of painful leg kicks. Barry finished many of his kickboxing matches with leg kicks and has already finished a bout in the Octagon in this fashion.

    Barry has a very well-rounded striking game. He can punish his foes with punch-and-kick combos. His lack of ground skill may keep him out of title contention, but his power and striking skills will keep him a perennial threat. 

12. Lyoto Machida

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    Lyoto Machida was already one of the most feared strikers in all of MMA before UFC 129, laying waste to Rashad Evans in 2009 and making a footprint that would be the short-lived "Machida Era." He would go on to lose his belt to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, however his striking appears to have gotten even better recently.

    At UFC 129, Machida landed a jumping front kick that would have made any Karate Kid fan pround. With that one kick, he ended Randy Couture's night and his career as well.

    Machida is back and he has even more weapons. The light heavyweight division had better be paying attention.

11. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

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    Quinton "Rampage" Jackson needs no introduction to MMA fans. He is the former Pride Fighting standout who is known for big slams and bigger punches. He is the former UFC light heavyweight champion and has knocked out Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona and Kevin Randleman.

    He will be swinging for the fences when he faces Matt Hamill in the main event of UFC 130 on May 28th.

10. Hector Lombard

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    He has looked like a young Mike Tyson of late. Hector "Lightning" Lombard has a record of 22-0-1 in his last 23 fights. He is the reigning Bellator middleweight champion. He has power and speed that are unmatched in his weight class.

    Lombard has now made it clear that he is in the top 10 in the world at his weight class. His two recent wins were by knockout. He won by TKO over former UFC competitor Joe Doerkson and he followed that up with a one-punch knockout of seasoned veteran Falaniko Vitale. Hector's knockout of Vitale is even more amazing because he was able to do that much damage in Round 3.

    Lombard is very much feared at 185.

9. Fedor Emelianenko

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    Fedor is one of the best MMA fighters of all time. His recent losses move him down this list a bit but he is still feared. In his loss to Fabricio Werdum, he landed a very nice right hand before getting suckered into a jiu-jitsu war.

    Fedor has awesome power in his punches and his overhand right may be the best that mixed martial arts has ever seen. While he fought for the short-lived Affliction Entertainment promotion, Fedor dispatched of former UFC heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski in less than four minutes combined.

    In one of the greatest knockouts in history, he hit Arlovski with an overhand right as the "Pitbull" was attempting a flying knee, sending Arlovski to the mat completely unconscious.

8. Dennis Siver

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    Germany's Dennis Siver has become one of the most feared men in the UFC. He is a stocky lightweight who loves to throw hands and has a devastating spinning back kick which he unleashes to the liver or ribs of his foes.

    He will look to add another victory inside the Octagon when he faces "Handsome" Matt Wiman at UFC 132 in July.

7. Sergei Kharitonov

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    He is the dark horse to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and with good reason. This man is one tough Russian. His punches, heart and durability make him a very dangerous opponent for any heavyweight. And at only 30 years of age, he could have many great years ahead of him.

    Kharitonov's recent knockout of Andrei Arlovski was painful to watch and he will only get better as the tournament rolls on. Sergei holds knockout wins over the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Murilo Rua, Semmy Schilt, Pedro Rizzo and Alistair Overeem.

6. Nick Diaz

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    An important aspect of the fight game is your chin or how well you can take a punch. Nick Diaz, the Strikeforce welterweight champion, proved against Paul Daley once again that he can take one hell of a punch and come right back. After taking severe punishment, including a flush left hook from Daley, Diaz roared back for a technical knockout victory.

    Diaz is feared because he is very well-rounded, can take shots and fire right back. And while he is punching, he is taunting you incessantly to throw you off. Not many people want to fight this guy.

5. Cain Velasquez

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    Cain Velasquez is still healing from shoulder surgery and should be back and better than ever by fall 2011. With back-to-back knockout wins over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Brock Lesnar, fighters know it is best to fear this man and steer clear.

4. Jose Aldo

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    UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is relentless, accurate and not someone you would want to be getting hit by. After his UFC 129 win, it was revealed that he had been ill prior to the bout and still put on a great performance and was able to win.

    His attack comes from everywhere. He can punish your legs with kicks, give knees in the head, throw crisp punches and then slip out of range. He is feared by all at both 145 and 155.

3. Junior dos Santos

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    Junior dos Santos is undefeated in the UFC. He has knockouts over Stefan Struve, Gilbert Yvel and Fabricio Werdum. Mirko Cro Cop verbally tapped to escape the onslaught that is "Cigano." The only opponent to survive three rounds with him was Roy Nelson and he was battered badly.

    He will face his toughest test to date when he squares off with Shane Carwin in the main event of UFC 131 in Vancouver on June 11th.

2. Alistair Overeem

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    The Demolition Man Alistair Overeem is the current Strikeforce heavyweight champion. In 2010, he became the first man to ever hold an MMA and kickboxing title simultaneously when he knocked out K-1 legend Peter Aerts in December to win the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix.

    He has become a dominant force in the heavyweight division. He can attack with crushing punches, monster knee attacks, hard kicks or pounds his foes to submission on the canvas.

    He will look to build off of his amazing 2010 campaign with a win over Fabricio Werdum in a rematch of a 2006 Pride encounter in which Overeem was submitted. The bout will take place on June 18th in Dallas, Texas.

1. Anderson Silva

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    Silva stands over a beaten Forrest Griffin.
    Silva stands over a beaten Forrest Griffin.

    Anderson "Spider" Silva is the most feared striker in MMA. He has a Muay Thai clinch that is unmatched. He has accurate punches and kicks that make even the best martial artists look amateur. He is simply amazing to watch.

    Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin with a jab, he crushed Rich Franklin's nose with a knee from the clinch and most recently he landed the front kick heard around the world on fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort.

    Silva looks to defend his middleweight title once again on August 27th in Rio de Janeiro. It would be a record 14th straight victory in the UFC. Silva will need little motivation in training. He will be fighting the last man to record a win against him and he will do it at home. Yushin Okami had better be ready to fight better than he ever has before because the venom of this spider is deadly.