The 20 Greatest Heavyweights in MMA History

Dwight Wakabayashi@WakafightermmaCorrespondent IIDecember 16, 2011

The 20 Greatest Heavyweights in MMA History

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    Mixed martial arts fans have been treated to some of the best heavyweight fighting action ever in 2011 and the picture is heating up towards New Year's Eve with the colossal battle between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem.

    From the epic scramble and roll between Mir and Nogueira to the bombing overhand right to Velasquez's temple that won Junior Dos Santos the title, the division holds some exciting matchups for fans to want to see in the future, 

    With the recent news that Strikeforce will dissolve it's heavyweight's and almost all the best big men will be fighting under one promotional roof for the first time in history, the question remains who is the Best Heavyweight MMA Fighter Of All Time?

    Take a look at my list:

20. Ricco Rodriguez

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    Body: 6'3" 229 lb, 34-yrs old

    Career: 1999-present

    Record: 61 matches - 47 wins 14 losses

    Ricco Rodrigues burst on the MMA scene as one of the most feared submission wrestlers in the heavyweight division and he proved it against the best in world early in his career. The native of San Jose, California won the vacant UFC heavyweight title in 2002 with a decision win over Randy Couture before losing it to Tim Sylvia in his first title defence.

    Notable Wins: Gary Goodridge, Paul Buentello, Andre Arlovski, Jeff Monson, Randy Couture

    Notable Losses: Tim Sylvia, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, Ben Rothwell, Jeff Monson, Seth Petruzelli

19. Oleg Taktarov

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    Body: 6'0" 209 lb, 44-yrs old

    Career: 1993-2008

    Record: 24 matches - 17 wins 5 losses 2 draws

    Oleg Taktarov made his name in mixed martial arts in the era of the open tournament and provided some of the toughest and bloodiest battles in the early UFC. The cool Russian Sambo artist was also one of the first heavyweight submission artists in the game. Taktarov lost to Dan Severn in the semi-finals in his first tournament, UFC 5, but then defeated Tank Abbott to win the UFC 6 title. He then battled to the finals in UFC's Ultimate Ultimate 1995. He is one of the most popular UFC fighters of all time.

    Notable Wins: Tank Abbott, Dave Beneteau, Marco Ruas, Mark Kerr

    Notable Losses: Dan Severn 2x, Renzo Gracie, Gary Goodridge

18. Kevin Randleman

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    Body: 5'10" 205 lb, 40-yrs old

    Career: 1996-2011

    Record: 33 matches - 17 wins 16 losses

    Kevin "The Monster" Randleman was the first real athletic specimen in the UFC with his chiselled, powerful physique. He fought his way up the ranks quickly and took on Maurice Smith in a contender match at UFC 19. He defeated Smith to get a shot at the vacant title, where he lost via decision to Bas Rutten. Randleman continued on to a very solid career in the UFC and Pride and faced some of the best heavyweights of all time in his career.

    Notable Wins: Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral, Murilo Rua, Mirko Filipovic

    Notable Losses: Bas Rutten, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Filipovic, Mauricio Rua, Stanislav Nedkov, Roger Gracie

17. Pedro Rizzo

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    Body: 6'1" 244 lb, 37-yrs old

    Career: 1996-present

    Record: 28 matches - 19 wins 9 losses

    Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo has been involved in some of the most brutal and entertaining striking wars in UFC history. The Marco Ruas protege was known for his damaging leg kicks and his endless attack. From 1998 to 2005 Rizzo fought the top big men in the business and gave them all the toughest fights they could handle. He lost twice to Randy Couture but gained many fans from those wars and he has some very notable wins as well. 

    Notable Wins: Vernon White, Tank Abbott, Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, Josh Barnett, Andre Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez, Jeff Monson, Gary Goodridge, Ken Shamrock

    Notable Losses: Kevin Randleman, Randy Couture 2x, Vladimir Matyushenko, Sergei Kharitonov, Josh Barnett, Gilbert Yvel

16. Tim Sylvia

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    Body: 6'8" 266 lb, 35-yrs old

    Career: 2001-present

    Record: 37 matches - 30 wins 7 losses

    The towering behemoth Tim Sylvia was one of the most intimidating big men in the early days of the heavyweight division in the UFC. He entered the organization in 2002 with an undefeated 12-0 record and he jumped in to the deep waters right awa y by beating the likes of Wesley Correira and Ricco Rodriguez on his way to winning the title. He fought for and defended the title nine times in his career before two losses in 2008 stalled his career. He continues to fight in mixed martial arts regional shows.

    Notable Wins: Ricco Rodriguez, Andre Arlovski 2x, Brandon Vera, Jeff Monson, Paul Buentello

    Notable Losses: Frank Mir, Andre Arlovski, Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fedor Emelianenko, Ray Mercer

15. Andre Arlovski

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    Body: 6'4 250 lb, 32-yrs old

    Career: 1999-present

    Record: 27 matches - 16 wins 9 losses

    Belorussian fighter Andre Arlovski has treated us to some of the best hands the sport has ever seen in his 12 year fighting career. He arrived on the UFC scene in 2000 with a submission win before jumping up and taking on Ricco Rodriguez and Pedro Rizzo, both losses. He picked himself up and won the interim heavyweight title from Tim Sylvia in 2005 and defended it twice before losing it back to Sylvia. At 32-years old, Arlovski is trying to make a comeback in his career and has two straight wins outside the UFC.

    Notable Wins: Vladimir Matsyushenko, Wesley Correira, Tim Syvia, Pauk Buentello, Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson

    Notable Losses: Ricco Rodriguez, Pedro Rizzo, Tim Sylvia 2x, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva, Sergei Kharitonov

14. Cain Velasquez

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    Body: 6'1" 249 lb, 29-yrs old

    Career: 2006-present

    Record: 10 matches - 9 wins 1 loss

    Cain Velasquez is just reaching stride in his career and he has already held the heavyweight championship of the world. Velasquez comes from a decorated NCAA wrestling background and the Mexican American is well on his way to climbing higher on this list. He is a dominant all around fighter with amazing cardio conditioning. He just lost his title and is coming off of major shoulder surgery in his first bit of adversity in his career.  

    Notable Wins: Cheick Kongo, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Brock Lesnar

    Notable Losses: Junior Dos Santos

13. Brock Lesnar

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    Body: 6'4" 264 lb, 34-yrs old

    Career: 2007-present

    Record: 7 matches - 5 wins 2 losses

    Behemoth athlete and former WWE star Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest fighters and draws in mixed martial arts today. He has combined his awesome size, evolving skill and polarizing personality into one of the most followed fighters today. Lesnar jumped right into deep waters in the UFC and has not looked back since. He won the heavyweight championship of the world over Randy Couture in his fourth professional fight and he defended it twice before losing it to Velasquez last year.

    Notable Wins: Heath Herring, Randy Couture, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin

    Notable Losses: Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez

12. Junior Dos Santos

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    Body: 6'4" 239 lb, 27-yrs old

    Career: 2006-present

    Record: 15 matches - 14 wins 1 loss

    Brazilian fighter Junior Dos Santos is the recently-crowned heavyweight champion of the world after he defeated Cain Velasquez on the monumental UFC On Fox debut in November. Junior posesses some of the best boxing in MMA with his power, speed and unbelievably quick movement. Dos santos is a likable and respectful champion and will defend his title against the winner of Brock Lesnar-Alistair Overeem in December.

    Notable Wins: Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Filipovic, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez

    Notable Losses: Joaquim Ferreira

11. Marco Ruas

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    Body: 6'1" 210 lb, 50-yrs old

    Career: 1984-2007

    Record: 15 matches - 9 wins 4 losses 2 draws

    Marco Ruas was known as "The King of The Streets" for a reason and he fought the biggest men in the game before weight divisions were introduced. Along with his solid in cage career, Ruas is known as the founder of Ruas Vale Tudo, one of the original hybrid combinations of submissions and kick boxing. He is the teacher of such formidable and famed fighters like Pedro Rizzo and Renato Sobral. The pinnacle of Ruas' career came when he won the UFC 7 tournament title.

    Notable Wins: Paul Varelans, Keith Hackney, Patrick Smith, Gary Goodridge

    Notable Losses: Oleg Taktarov, Maurice Smith 2x

10. Bas Rutten

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    Body: 6'1" 205 lb, 46-yrs old

    Career: 1993-1999, 2006

    Record: 33 matches - 28 wins 4 losses 1 draw

    Bas Rutten is one of the true pioneers of MMA and fought before the era of the weight division. Rutten was a feared striker with incredible submission skills. He was ahead of his time in terms of martial arts skill and he took on some of the best fighters in the world in his time. Rutten was the King of Pancrase for many years and won the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 20 in 1999. Rutten retired from competition in 1999 due to injuries but returned for one fight in 2006. He continued to be heavily involved in MMA broadcasting, fitness gear and appearances.

    Notable Wins: Maurice Smith 2x, Frank Shamrock 2x, Masakatsu Funaki, Kevin Randleman

    Notable Losses: Masakatsu Funaki, Ken Shamrock 2x, Frank Shamrock

8. Josh Barnett

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    Body: 6'3" 261 lb, 34-yrs old

    Career: 1997-present

    Record: 36 matches - 31 wins 5 losses

    Josh Barnett is one of the longest competing heavyweights in mixed martial arts and still one of the most dangerous submission wrestlers in the world. He is set to compete for the Strikeforce heavyweight title to add to his many accomplishments. He has fought for the UFC and Pride title in his career and has some wins and some very close losses against the best in the world. Barnett is currently on an eight-fight winning streak and has not lost since 2008. He dominates opponents with his top heavy catch wrestling style and is a handful for anyone in the division.

    Notable Wins: Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Alexander Emelianenko, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Pedro Rizzo, Gilbert Yvel, Sergei Kharitonov

    Notable Losses: Pedro Rizzo, Mirko Filipovic 3x, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

7. Don Frye

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    Body: 6'1" 210 lb, 46-yrs old

    Career: 1996-present

    Record: 31 matches - 20 wins 9 losses 1 draw 1 NC

    Don Frye is a mixed martial arts legend both in North America and Japan, known for his willingness to stand and deliver in his fights in his career. Frye was a brawler with considerable skill and his look was an instant hit with fans everywhere. He fought in the days of the UFC open tournament and won two of them in his career. He also lost to Mark Coleman in the finals of another but won more than he lost in his storied career. Frye continues to fight but his time is up and it is time he retired the respected legend that he is.

    Notable Wins: Gary Goodridge 2x, Mark Hall 2x, Tank Abbott, Gilbert Yvel

    Notable Losses: Mark Coleman 2x, Gary Goodridge, Hidehiko Yoshida, Ikuhisa Minowa

6. Mark Coleman

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    Body: 6'1" 205 lb, 46-yrs old

    Career: 1996-2010

    Record: 26 matches - 16 wins 10 losses

    They call Mark Coleman "The Godfather of Ground and Pound" for a reason and the big man laid down some of the biggest beatings in history from the top position and many have used the style after him. Coleman was dominant in his early days with wins at UFC 10, 11, and the inaugural UFC heavyweight championship in 1997 over Dan Severn. He then went on to win the Pride Openweight grand Prix in 2000. Coleman used his takedowns and strength to get on top and beat opponents down and he fought the best in the world at heavyweight.

    Notable Wins: Gary Goodridge, Don Fry 2x, Dan Severn, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mauricio Rua, Stephan Bonnar

    Notable Losses: Maurice Smith, Pete Williams, Pedro Rizzo, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fedor Emelianenko 2x, Mirko Filipovic, Mauricio Rua, Randy Couture

6. Dan Severn

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    Body: 6'2" 250 lb, 53-yrs old

    Career: 1994-2011

    Record: 125 matches - 100 wins 18 losses 7 draws

    Dan "The Beast" Severn is one of the most decorated wrestlers in America and one of the most active MMA fighters of all time. Severn was the first real big man wrestler in the UFC and won UFC 5 and Ultimate Ultimate 95 with his dominant Greco Roman wrestling game. Severn was an imposing figure in the cage but lacked any type of stand up skill in his career making him successful despite his one dimensional style. Severn is a veteran of over 100 fights in his career.

    Notable Wins: Oleg Taktarov 2x, Tank Abbott, Ken Shamrock, Paul Buentello, Forrest Griffin

    Notable Losses: Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett, Pedro Rizzo

5. Frank Mir

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    Body: 6'3" 260 lb, 32-yrs old

    Career: 2001-present

    Record: 21 matches - 16 wins 5 losses

    Frank Mir is one of the most dangerous submission heavyweights in MMA history and has been battling the best of the best of the division for years. He is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion and also fought a third time for the title, losing to Brock Lesnar in 2009. Mir has some of the most brutal submissions in the game and has also developed his stand-up game to be able to battle with the best of them. He may yet get another shot at UFC gold before his Hall-of-Fame career is done.

    Notable Wins: Tank Abbott, Wes Sims 2x, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 2x, Cheick Kongo, Mirko Filipovic, Roy Nelson

    Notable Losses: Brandon Vera, Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin

4. Randy Couture

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    Body: 6'1" 205 lb, 48-yrs old

    Career: 1997-2011

    Record: 30 matches - 19 wins 11 losses

    Randy Couture is this high on the list based on the era he fought in and his willingness to face all comers head on in his storied career. Couture was often at a size and odds disadvantage in his fights yet he almost always shocked and overcame. Couture is a three-time UFC heavyweight champion and has had some epic battles, defending it three times as well. His ability to break down and game plan a fighter is legendary and he is one of the most decorated and beloved fighters of all time.

    Notable Wins: Vitor Belfort 2x, Maurice Smith, Jeremy Horn, Kevin Randleman, Pedro Rizzo 2x, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman, James Toney

    Notable Losses: Enson Enouie, Valentjin Overeem, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, Vitor Belfort, Chuck Liddell 2x, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Lyoto Machida

3. Mirko Filipovic

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    Body: 6'2" 235 lb, 37-yrs old

    Career: 2001-present

    Record: 41 matches - 27 wins 10 losses 2 draws 1 NC

    Mirko Filipovic is one of the most feared pure strikers the heavyweight division has ever known. Cro Cop took on all comers and mowed most of them down. His famed head kick knock out is one of the most recognized highlights in MMA. He made it to many Pride tournament finals and won the 2006 Pride openweight grand prix. His battles with Nogueira and Fedor in Pride were some of the most memorable fights of all time.

    Notable Wins: Kazushi Sakuraba, Igor Vovchanchyn, Alexander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett 3x, Wanderlei Silva

    Notable Losses: Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Mark Hunt, Cheick Kongo, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson

2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    Body: 6'3" 239 lb, 35-yrs old

    Career: 1999-present

    Record: 42 matches - 33 wins 7 losses 1 draw 1 NC

    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is one of the toughest and most courageous heavyweights of all-time. He is also one of the most skilled and feared and has tested that against the very best over the course of his career. He was the first Pride heavyweight champion in 2001 and defended it until 2003 when he lost to Fedor Emelianenko in 2003. Nogueira regained the Pride title later that year and defended it another five times before once again losing it to Fedor in 2004. Big Nog then came over to the UFC and won the interim title in 2008.

    Notable Wins: Jeremy Hron, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, Heath Herring 2x, Dan Henderson, Mirko Filipovic, Fabricio Werdum, Randy Couture

    Notable Losses: Fedor Emelianenko 2x, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir 2x, Cain Velasquez

1. Fedor Emelianenko

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    Body: 6'0" 238 lb, 35-yrs old

    Career: 2000-present

    Record: 37 matches - 32 wins 4 losses 1 NC

    When you look back at mixed martial arts history in the heavyweight division, it becomes pretty clear that Fedor Emelianenko is the best heavyweight of all time. He was the feared king in the golden era of big men, mostly in the Pride fighting organization. Fedor won the Pride title in 2003 and defended it without defeat over the next three years until the end of the promotion. Fedor has never tested his skills in the UFC and many hold that against him but he has beaten the best of the best without a doubt. His aggressive, dominant punching and top game was unstoppable for eight years straight in the prime of his career.

    Notable Wins: Heath Herring, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 2x, Mark Coleman 2x, Kevin Randleman, Mirko Filipovic

    Notable Losses: Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, Dan Henderson

    Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and correspondent for

    Catch him on Facebook and Twitter at wakafightermma.


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