MMA's Top 50 Pound-for-Pound Hardest Hitters in History

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MMA's Top 50 Pound-for-Pound Hardest Hitters in History

Abandon all groupthink, ye who enter here.

When MMA talk gravitates toward the striking phase of the game, as it invariably does, a well-trodden crop of usual suspects tends to spring to the forefront. You know the names: it's the Liddells, the Cro Cops, the Ruttens, the Wandys, the Juniors, the Penns, bada bing, bada boom, get home safe. 

Nothing wrong with that, I guess. Those guys are all great and powerful strikers. But this list is not going to repackage and repurge the usual suspects, at least not in the usual form.

For starters, this list focuses solely on punching power. Knees, feet and elbows need not apply. This is a list of guys who hit the hardest with their fists when doing so could win them a fight.

A lot of the guys on this list are ugly. They’d stand little chance in a popularity contest. Their techniques—and physiques—aren't always so breathtaking. Hell, some aren’t even overly successful. 

But they can all throw hands, and throw them hard.

So how did I compile this? Well, since I don’t see myself lining up every fighter along the Ocean City boardwalk for whacks at the carnival punching machine, or staging a very special 37-hour episode of “SportScience,” I had to take a bit of a patchwork approach. I think it makes more sense to measure actions in the cage, anyway, versus pounds per square inch in a sterile laboratory somewhere.

Here’s what I did:

-- Examined the stats and careers of about 90 guys from across MMA history.

-- Compiled wins gained by KO, TKO, submissions from strikes, a medical/corner stoppage related to strikes or retirement due to a striking-related injury. This gives as complete a picture as possible of a fighter’s striking prowess. For the sake of convenience, I called it SRS, or striking-related stoppage.

-- For comparison’s sake, I then tallied the SRS totals that came from punches only. For a great puncher, of course, this number will not drop substantially (or at all) below the overall number.

-- Though it is not available for every fighter, whenever possible I included the percentage of power arm strikes as tabulated by CompuStrike. Say what you want about CompuStrike, but it was the only MMA stat service I could find that aggregated power striking stats.

-- Since man cannot live on stats alone, I also considered longevity and consistency, quality of opposition, frequency of "true" knockouts and one-punch knockouts, Fight or Knockout of the Night bonuses, overall reputation and, last but not least, aggression and physical damage inflicted in the cage.

While plenty of usual suspects cover this list, some don't. For example—brace yourself—Alistair Overeem missed the cut. He is 35-11-1 with an impressive 15 striking-related stoppage wins. However, only six of those came solely from punches. To make matters worse, only 55 percent of the arm strikes he landed in his last 10 fighters were considered power strikes by CompuStrike.

So while he is a no-brainer for a spot ranking the great technical strikers or nasty beatdown artists or whatever, he doesn’t make an airtight case for being one of the hardest hitters in the sport’s history.

All right, enough qualifiers. Basically, I’m just trying to do something different, maybe spark a little debate and, most importantly, introduce some new names or new perspectives into the debate. Thanks for reading.

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