The 20 Most Indestructible Fighters in the UFC Right Now
Frankie Edgar and Jon Fitch fought last weekend. And you know what that means: Everyone's thinking about the sport's toughest fighters.
This list covers fighters currently active in the UFC. Who made the cut? And why? Sometimes, indestructible is a synonym for tough, which is a synonym for scrappy, which is a synonym for small. But there are tough guys at every weight class.
For these purposes, I'm scoring indestructibility based on stamina, resistance to injury both in and out of the cage, an ability and/or willingness to resist being finished and a demonstrated will to fight regardless of circumstances.
So based on these metrics, who out there can't be destroyed? Who is truly indestructible? By the power of Grayskull, here we go.
20. Fabio Maldonado
Division: Light heavyweight
Fabio Maldonado is not the world's most skilled competitor. So it's a very good thing for his UFC career that his backside is able to cash the checks his lacking skill set writes.
One need look no farther than the whomping he got from Glover Teixeira at UFC 153, in which he refused to quit, forcing the cage-side doctor to do it for him.
Despite losing three straight, Maldonado appears safely under the UFC's wing.
19. Jared Hamman
Plenty of guys have a take-one-to-give-one philosophy toward fighting. But Jared Hamman isn't plenty of guys. He doesn't prefer to follow your "conventions." He prefers his own approach: take one to take one.
18. Joey Beltran
Division: Light heavyweight
Only Lavar Johnson can knock him out. And Lavar Johnson can knock out a car.
Beltran's got a great gas tank and can take a ton of punishment. For proof, look no further than his UFC on Fuel 4 tangle with James Te Huna. I still don't know how he survived that first round.
17. Chris Leben
When Chris Leben wins, his success is based on a simple formula: The chin gets him into range and the fists do the rest.
If someone wants to beat him, they have to try awfully hard. Brian Stann floored him with a vicious punch, but Leben rose from the dead and started taking knees and what not, compelling the referee to stop the violence.
16. Leonard Garcia
I have nothing to add to this picture.
15. Clay Guida
Speaking of images, feast your eyes on one of the three seconds of action that occurred during Clay Guida's 15-minute January fight with Hatsu Hioki. It's like capturing a panda mating ritual on film.
Energy levels aside, Guida's still pretty tough. Hard to remember him ever being in actual trouble; he just seems to run out of road.
14. Brian Ebersole
Almost 70 pro fights with zero knockout losses? Yes, I suppose you can be on the list.
He's known a lot for his wacky manscaping and what not, but he's got some seriously malicious ground-and-pound. His hammering of Dennis Hallman was completely spectacular.
And when is Brian Ebersole going to fight again, by the way? The suspense is killing me.
13. Nate Diaz
Telling this to an MMA fan is a little like telling them that water is wet, but the great Nathan Diaz out of Stockton, Calif., never stops moving forward.
He needs to fight his way back after that loss to Benson Henderson—which, I have to say, was convincing—but I think he'll be back.
12. Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz created the style that younger brother Nate follows. It will be interesting to see how (or if) he can employ it against Georges St-Pierre.
11. "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung
It's easy to picture Jung in the center of the Octagon, cut in half, clawing the canvas to get to his victim, trailing spine and entrails behind him.
Do you think that's why they call him the Zombie? Or is it because of his notoriously parsimonious sleep habits? Ah. That's very humorous.
10. Gilbert Melendez
All right, all right. Put down the pitchfork. I know he had the unimpressive win over Josh Thomson and so on and so forth. But I've never seen a guy take a more precipitous drop in public opinion polls over one freaking fight. The guy is tough as nails.
9. Wanderlei Silva
He's aging in fighter years if I've ever seen such a thing, and it's not helping his place on these rankings. But as long as he's drawing breath and a paycheck as a pro fighter, he'll be one of the hardest guys out there to put away.
8. Urijah Faber
Don't let him fool you, with his dimpled chin and California thing. Urijah Faber's made of railroad ties. Watching Jose Aldo punish Frankie Edgar with leg kicks last weekend reminded me of Faber valiantly going the distance under a more sustained version of the same attack back in the WEC.
7. Diego Sanchez
Three rounds, in three separate fights, tell the Diego Sanchez story pretty nicely. The first with Clay Guida, the second with Martin Kampmann and the third with Jake Ellenberger.
6. Benson Henderson
Some may not remember Benson Henderson's first fight with Donald Cerrone, in which he refused to succumb to Cerrone's submission attempts and won the WEC interim title in a five-round war.
But you might remember that he seems to have taken barely a scratch in the course of his UFC career. And since he's the champ right now, I think that's a positive testament to his durability.
5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
It doesn't seem to come easy for Big Nog these days, but his iron chin and iron will make a hard-to-replicate combination that's even harder to vanquish.
4. Jon Fitch
Who else could have endured with Demian Maia through that type of grappling match? Not many.
Fitch has still only been submitted once, and that was back in 2002, in his first pro fight.
And for the record, that Johny Hendricks punch would've finished anyone. So I don't really count that one against him.
3. Dan Henderson
Division: Light heavyweight
The gold standard for MMA indestructibility. With his power and head of pure granite, Dan Henderson is The Thing come to life.
2. Frankie Edgar
I will always remember the reaction in the bar when Frankie Edgar knocked out Gray Maynard.
I know I'm not exactly tilling new ground here by noting those two had a memorable series, but no one was paying any attention to that second fight where I was. It was a packed sports bar with like 50 TVs in it. The UFC was on maybe a third of them. I was with a group of people that was humoring me by even being there.
But then the heads started to turn. The crowd started to swell. By the time Edgar pulled it out, the house was packed with MMA fans.
1. Roy Nelson
This man deserves your respect. No, the one eating the knee.
Yes, I know he's fat. I know he's weird. But who else could hang with Junior for that long (Cain, sit down)? Who else could have taken that beating without falling down or coming out looking like a snuff film escapee?
And the same goes for that bout with Fabricio Werdum. Mike Russow is tough, and Werdum dropped him in two minutes. And Werdum was sending his kneecap directly up Nelson's nose. At high velocity. Did Nelson go down? NO HE DID NOT.
Nelson never, ever stops fighting. It almost seems like it wouldn't even occur to him to ever do so.
And don't even get me started on the Shane Carwin thing. With all his talk about Excellence, and how Nelson didn't know what it meant to Achieve Excellence.
Pssssht. At the end of the day, who was unable to step in there (on multiple occasions)? Carwin. I think I recognize the real Excellence in this equation. And it comes in the form of Roy Nelson's pure, unadulterated indestructibility.
Follow Scott Harris on Twitter.