Rampage Jackson and the Top 10 Punchers in MMA
Striking is where every fight starts. It’s the most exciting part of fighting and provides the highlight reel knockouts we all crave.
But while kicks, knees and elbows are all a large part of striking, punches are the most popular and the most lethal.
This list will rank the fighters with the best hands in the sport. It will look at their speed, their accuracy, and most importantly, their power.
Here is a list of ten guys who could be on the list within the next year (it was hard keeping some of these guys off the top ten).
1. Cain Velasquez
2. Anthony Johnson
3. Jake Ellenberger
4. Gray Maynard
5. Rashad Evans
6. Chad Mendes
7. Cheick Kongo
8. Lyoto Machida
9. Travis Browne
10. Hector Lombard
10. Shane Carwin
I was a little hesitant to include Carwin because of his back injury and the embarrassing loss to Junior Dos Santos, but a guy with this much power is impossible to keep off the list.
Frank Mir, Christian Wellisch, and Gabriel Gonzaga are just a few guys who have been knocked senseless by Carwin’s humongous fists. But the biggest reason Carwin sits at number 10 is that he can do what few fighters can; knock people out with a straight right hand.
Most knockouts you’ll see are hooks and uppercuts. Some guys can daze an opponent with a straight right hand (still very difficult), but Carwin can drive his fist right through the chin and put his opponent to sleep.
9. Dan Henderson
Let’s face it, Dan Henderson has very little skill when it comes to boxing.
But that tends to not matter when you have the strongest chin and the most deadly right hand in the history of MMA. He’s knocked out Fedor, Feijao, Babalu, Wanderlei (back when he truly was the Axe Murderer), and of course Michael Bisping.
During their fight at UFC 100, it wasn't a matter of if Henderson would knock out Bisping, it was just when.
It was also the most exciting card in the history of the UFC, trailed very closely by UFC 52. You don’t need John Brenkus to figure out that Dan Henderson can punch hard.
8. Alistair Overeem
Let me start by saying that Overeem is a complete enigma.
He could very well be a top three heavyweight in the world, or he could be towards the middle of the pack. There is no way to know because he has not faced any real competition in the last 4 years.
But what Overeem has done is punish the guys that have been put in front of him.
He knocked out Todd Duffee without breaking a sweat and pummeled Brett Rogers. Not to mention the fact that Overeem is the current K-1 Kickboxing Champion (even though in reality he won that tournament because of his knees and fatigued opponents).
The next 12 months are huge for Overeem, he can either capture the UFC Heavyweight Title or fade into obscurity like so many other heavyweights before him. Lets see if he can let his hands do the talking.
7. Melvin Guillard
Melvin Guillard might have the best combination of speed and power in MMA. No one at 155 can compete with his striking.
He holds some big knockout wins over Shane Roller, Evan Dunham, and Dennis Siver. But he has two wins that stick out the most; his knockout of Rick Davis and his body shot KO of Gabe Reudiger.
His knockout of Rick Davis was absolutely filthy. With one lightning fast right hook, Davis was out cold. And against Gabe Reudiger, he showed very technical boxing ability with a perfect body shot to the liver.
Watch out 155, Melvin Guillard is no joke.
6. Rampage Jackson
This dude is mean. Rampage wants to knock his opponent senseless with every punch.
He holds notable knockout wins over Chuck Liddell, Marvin Eastman, and a devastating one-punch knockout of Wanderlei Silva. Rampage has some big power and some good boxing skills, but I do believe his punching ability is overrated.
His two biggest knockouts, the one against Liddell and the one against Wanderlei, were against fighters whose chins weren’t what they used to be (maybe not so much the Liddell fight, but definitely against Silva). But if he knocks out Jon Jones on Saturday, you can bet that he’ll be moving up this list.
5. Shogun Rua
In 2006, Shogun Rua was considered the best fighter in the world by many.
While he is no longer at that level, he still is a force to be reckoned with. No one in the light heavyweight division punches harder than Shogun (that includes you Rampage), and his accuracy is underrated.
The man knocked out Lyoto Machida, who is as close to untouchable as fighters get. And if Shogun Rua had fought Rashad Evans instead of Jon Jones, I’d bet that “Suga” would've been unconscious after a lunging right hand and a few hammer fists.
4. George St. Pierre
While he may not be finishing his opponents lately, GSP’s hands are still lethal.
His superman punch gives opponents fits (sorry BJ) and he has arguably the best jab in MMA. We’ve seen his power against the likes of Matt Hughes and Jon Fitch, and he meticulously picked apart Koscheck last year.
One of the best UFC highlights of all time is his punch against Fitch that sent Fitch’s mouthpiece flying across the canvas. The only reason he is down at number four is because he plays it too safe. If he’ll let his hands go and try to get the knockout, he might be moving up this list pretty soon.
3. Vitor Belfort
When “The Phenom” burst onto the scene at 19 years old, you knew he was special.
He won the UFC 12 Heavyweight tournament back in 1997! That phrase should not apply to someone who is still a contender in the UFC. His hand speed is out of this world (just ask Wanderlei).
And while his hand speed is amazing, people tend to overlook Vitor’s power. Vitor doesn’t get TKOs, he gets KOs. As in “you aren’t waking up for a while.” He punished Matt Lindland, destroyed Rich Franklin, and massacred the iron-chinned Yoshihiro Akiyama.
The only thing that can get in his way is the bottom of Anderson Silva’s foot.
2. Junior Dos Santos
This man is a beast. No one in the Heavyweight division has even come close to beating this guy, mainly because his hands are lethal.
He burst onto the scene with his huge uppercut knockout of Fabricio Werdum and hasn’t looked back since, finishing 5 of his 7 UFC opponents with his fists. What gets overlooked with Dos Santos is how versatile his punches are.
He can knock you out with a right uppercut (Werdum), a left hook (Gilbert Yvel and Gabriel Gonzaga), or he can just swarm you with a flurry of punches (Stefan Struve). And for any of you right-handed readers out there, try throwing a left hook and you’ll really start to appreciate Junior’s boxing skills.
JDS has the best combination of power and hand speed in his division, and Cain Velasquez will have to deal with this during their title fight in November.
1. Anderson Silva
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? There is no equal to him in any facet of the standing game.
He has the best kicks, the best knees, and (as you might have guessed) the best punches. Marquardt, Irvin, Okami, and Henderson (just to name a few) have all felt the speed, power, and accuracy of his punches. His first fight in the UFC was against iron-chinned Chris Leben, and Silva landed literally every punch he threw at Leben. Less than a minute later, the fight was over.
Another spectacle was Silva’s fight against Forrest Griffin at UFC 101. In what was undoubtedly the most dominant striking performance in the history of MMA, Silva completely outclassed and embarrassed Griffin (if you have not seen the fight yet, stop everything, and watch it immediately).
The video is awesome, and puts Silva's greatness into perspective. Plus, I love watching that front kick.