Ranking the 7 Best (and Worst) Chins in MMA History

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2014

Ranking the 7 Best (and Worst) Chins in MMA History

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The presence of a sturdy chin, or lack thereof, always has and always will be predicated on a fighter's genealogical makeup.

    And since a chin can't be strengthened through hard work and dedication, those seemingly blessed with jaws of granite bring an attribute to the cage that many fighters can only dream of possessing.

    The opening portion of this two-part slideshow details the most rock-solid chins in MMA history—those that withstood countless beatings before ever giving into an embarrassing in-fight nap.

    The second segment represents a list of the most unreliable chins in the sport's history, a countdown of glass-jawed warriors who couldn't seem to survive in slugfests.  

Honorable Mentions

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    Mark Hunt

    Hunt has not only walked through countless haymakers from some of the best heavyweights in MMA history, but he's withstood the same type of punishment against many of the world's best kickboxers.

    In his 11-year pro MMA career, Hunt has only suffered two losses by knockout. Venomous Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef KO'd Hunt at Dynamite!! 2008, and last May Junior dos Santos KO'd the hard-headed Super Samoan with a spinning hook kick at UFC 160.

    In 43 pro kickboxing bouts, Hunt lost via KO twice (Semmy Schilt and Jerome Le Banner).

    Carlos Condit

    Aside from a TKO suffered from a knee injury in his last bout against Tyron Woodley at UFC 171, Carlos Condit has never been finished by knockout.

    In his 37 pro bouts, which include tooth-and-nail battles against Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, Condit always left the cage with his consciousness. 

    Fedor Emelianenko

    A significantly larger and stronger Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva pummeled the legendary Emelianenko on the mat to become the first man to make the Russian legend quit at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva in 2011.

    Five-and-a-half months later, the hard-hitting Dan Henderson became the first man to utterly flatten The Last Emperor with a punch, doing so during a scramble on the ground at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.

7. Anderson Silva

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    Anderson Silva's chin had held up on several occasions with the belt on the line before the former middleweight champ got KO'd by current champ Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in July 2013.

    Perhaps that's why Weidman's KO at UFC 162 will always be considered one of the greatest upsets in the sport's history.

    Prior to the first of two straight setbacks to Weidman, the risk-taking Brazilian striker made it 37 pro fights without falling by knockout. During that span, The Spider schooled former UFC champs Carlos Newton, Rich Franklin (twice), Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin.

6. The Diaz Brothers (Nick and Nate)

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    Nate Diaz has fulfilled a goal that many athletes could only dream of attaining in following in his older brother Nick's footsteps as a UFC stalwart.

    And through his journey to becoming a UFC title challenger, Nate has wisely emulated Nick, continuously stalking his opponents before unloading on them with a high volume of strikes.

    Since turning pro in 2004, Nate has scrapped 26 times, including 19 times in the Octagon, and has lost by knockout just once. That TKO loss came after Josh Thomson landed a flush head kick and several punches on Diaz at UFC on Fox 7 in April 2013.

    In his 36 fights since turning pro in 2001, which includes bona fide wars against the likes of Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley and Diego Sanchez, Nick has suffered just two TKO losses.

    Jeremy Jackson TKO'd Diaz at UA 4: King of the Mountain in 2002. K.J. Noons then beat Diaz by TKO (doctor stoppage) at Elite XC: Renegade in 2007.

    Diaz later avenged his losses to Jackson and Noons. He finished Jackson in back-to-back fights in 2003 and scored a unanimous decision over Noons at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons II in 2010. 

5. Brian Ebersole

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    Brian Ebersole has maintained his lucidity through his adventurous 15-year pro career, and it's not because he has the best defensive boxing skills or the most effective footwork in the UFC's welterweight division.

    Ebersole has proved that he was blessed with one of the trustiest chins in MMA history by making it through 68 fights—50 of which he wonwithout getting KO'd.

    The unorthodox Ebersole has faced some heavy-handed strikers in his day, but even guys like Hector Lombard, Chris Lytle and Emanuel Newton couldn't render the former NCAA Division I wrestler unconscious. 

    Only the fact that Ebersole fought for 11 years (62 fights) before making his UFC debut prevented him from landing higher on this countdown. 

4. Roy Nelson

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    Roy Nelson has locked horns with many of the best heavyweights in the world since joining the UFC in 2009, and during that time, only one fighter (Junior dos Santos) has knocked him down, and no one has KO'd him.

    In fact, in 29 fights since turning pro in 2004, "Big Country" has lost just once via KO. That loss came against former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski at Elite XC: Heat in 2008.

    If Nelson can make it through his next fight without getting KO'd, a main event bout with heavy-handed New Zealander Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 52 on Saturday, he'll even further solidify his spot in MMA lore as one of the most indestructible fighters ever.

3. Diego Sanchez

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    In the UFC's massive stable of lightweights, only Gleison Tibau (23 UFC fights) can say he's gone to battle in the Octagon on more occasions than scrappy New Mexico native Diego Sanchez.

    Sanchez embodied his balls-to-the-wall style in his unforgettable unanimous-decision loss to Gilbert Melendez at UFC 166 last October.

    Amazingly, Sanchez fought with similarly reckless abandon in the bulk of the other 20 UFC bouts he took part in since joining the company following a stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. 

    Sanchez suffered his only career KO setback in his 32-fight career when he got TKO'd (doctor stoppage) by BJ Penn in a memorable lightweight title fight at UFC 107 in 2009.

2. BJ Penn

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Thanks to a rock-solid bone structure, legendary two-division UFC champion BJ Penn eluded ever tasting a true KO loss.

    In 14 years and 29 pro fights, only Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar ever managed to stop The Prodigy with strikes, and neither managed to render him unconscious.

    But Penn plucked the No. 2 slot on this list primarily because of his willingness to not only take on larger and more explosive fighters, but his propensity for surviving, and often times thriving, as an underdog.

    Penn, who flourished most at 155 pounds, made it through notable battles with Lyoto Machida, Matt Hughes (three times), St-Pierre (twice), Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald without getting KO'd.

1. Dan Henderson

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    After suffering the first KO loss of his 17-year career, the then-43-year-old Dan Henderson wasted little time proving that he still has one of the most trustworthy chins in the business. 

    Hendo survived a brutal onslaught of punches from nemesis Mauricio "Shogun" Rua before later flattening the ever-durable Brazilian with a right hand that ended their rematch at UFC Fight Night 38 in March. 

    Henderson's ability to bounce back in style, particularly during the twilight of his career, helped him garner the No. 1 spot on this list.

    The always-entertaining and often-reckless Hendo lost for the first and only time via KO in his storied 42-fight career when he got dropped with a flush Vitor Belfort head kick at UFC Fight Night 32 last November.   

    The win marked the third straight head-kick KO in 2013 for Belfort, who during that time had an exemption to use testosterone replacement therapy.

The Worst

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    7. Wanderlei Silva

    A flimsy chin never hindered Silva until the Brazilian brawler got KO'd with a lethal head kick by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute in 2006.

    The Axe Murderer, who had only previously lost via KO/TKO in 1998 to Vitor Belfort, dropped two of his next four fights by KO. 

    An owner of 27 career KO's, Silva suffered the sixth KO loss of his career when he got clipped by a barrage of punches from Chris Leben at UFC 132 in 2011.

    6. Marvin Eastman

    Granted, four of the seven career KO setbacks Eastman suffered came against either former UFC champs or former UFC title challengers, but the second of his three KO losses in the UFC symbolized his career-long struggle with absorbing punishment to his jaw line.

    After getting TKO'd by Vitor Belfort in his promotional debut at UFC 43 in 2003, Eastman got put to sleep from a glancing blow on a Travis Lutter punch at UFC 50.

    5. Andrei Arlovski

    Throughout his 15-year career, Arlovski used his quickness and boxing prowess to reach the top of the heavyweight mountain.

    Those same attributes, however, can put ballsy risk-takers like him in imminent danger in slugfests.

    In 34 pro fights, the 240-pound Belarusian has lost seven times by KO, with his most recent KO setback coming in 2011 against Sergei Kharitonov at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. 

    4. Jonathan Goulet

    Losing five times via form of KO in his first 10 fights should have served as a sign for Goulet to choose another career path.

    Instead, the determined Canadian worked his way into the UFC, where he ultimately suffered three more devastating KO losses.

    UFC vet Chris Clements handed Goulet his ninth career KO loss in his last fight at Ringside MMA: Payback in 2010.

    3. James Thompson

    While obviously blessed with certain physical gifts, hulking Englishman Thompson simply didn't come equipped with the talent or the chin needed to compete with the world's best heavyweights.

    Thompson has faced off with some of the sport's top dogs in his 11-year career, and in doing so, he's suffered more KO's than any fighter on this countdown (11).

    2. Bob Sapp

    One of the most intimidating fighters of the early 2000s, gargantuan former NFL lineman Sapp has become one of the strangest stories in the sport after losing eight of his last 10 fights via T/KO.

    Sapp won nine of his first 12 fights, 11 of which took place in Japan, before entering a dark period where he dropped 16 of his next 18 fights.

    The 350-pounder has lost nine times via KO in his pro MMA career and 11 times by KO in his pro kickboxing career.

    1. Alistair Overeem

    Durability issues seemed like a thing of the past for Overeem heading into his promotional debut at UFC 141 in 2011.

    However, knockout losses in three of his last four outings have brought The Demolition Man's chin woes to light.

    Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne each stormed back to knock out Overeem in back-to-back bouts at UFC 156 and UFC Fight Night 26, respectively.

    Then, following a less-than-memorable win over Frank Mir, Overeem got taken out for the ninth time by way of knockout in his latest outing in a TKO loss to underdog Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night 50.