We can trace the history of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) all the way back to the Olympics of ancient Greece. Athletes took part in a combat sport called Pankration
that only had two rules – no biting and no eye gouging. Since then the sport, and thankfully the rules, have evolved with MMA becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
With the UFC 229 grudge match between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov
around the corner, here’s a list of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Image Source: rt.com
Fedor Emelianenko has never fought in the UFC, and currently competes in Bellator MMA. But that doesn’t mean the Russian isn’t one of the greatest MMA fighters in the world. Undefeated from 2001 to 2010 – a run of 28 fights. His unrivalled punching power, solid Jiu-Jitsu and ruthless ground-and-pound often leaves his opponents in a heap in the middle of the cage.
Image Source: sportsnet.ca
Jon “Bones” Jones
Jon Jones isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. His controversial fighting style and brash personality often rub people up the wrong way, but with a record of 22 wins and just a single loss (one no contest), there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. His record is all the more impressive when you realise that his only loss came as a result of a disqualification against Matt Hamill. A fight that Jones was dominating.
Jones includes a mix of snappy punches, vicious spinning elbows and damaging oblique kicks in his arsenal. Many of his competitors have said that they think Bones fights dirty. No matter what his critics say, his record speaks for itself.
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Image Source: mmajunkie.com
Nicknamed “Rush” because of how quickly he reached five professional wins, St-Pierre took up martial arts to learn how to defend himself against bullies at school.
The Canadian welterweight is currently sitting on a 12-fight win streak, and has beaten the likes of BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck and Nick Diaz. GSP suffered his first defeat at the hands of Matt Hughes at UFC 50, with his second coming to underdog Matt Serra at UFC 69. To this day those are the only two losses he’s suffered in his professional career. St-Pierre made it his mission to learn from his losses, and has adapted his fighting style to become one of the most vicious strikers and dominant wrestlers in the sport.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk
Anderson “The Spider” Silva
In 2011, UFC President Dana White referred to Anderson Silva as “the greatest mixed martial artist ever”. Although that was some time ago, it still rings true.
From June 2006 to October 2012, Silva dominated the UFC and held a record of 16 wins with no losses. 11 of those wins came by way of KO or TKO. Ultimately, it was Chris Weidman who ended the Brazilian’s amazing streak with a second-round TKO at UFC 162 after Silva’s showboating let him down. Weidman would prove to be somewhat of a bogey for Silva, again beating him by TKO at UFC 168 after Silva broke his leg in the second round.
Losses and controversy aside, Anderson Silva’s vicious striking and ruthlessness on the ground puts him right at the top of the list of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
With the huge growth of MMA around the world, it is only a matter of time before a Nigerian fighter finds his or her way onto this list. Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman has a professional record of 13-1 and has been lighting up the UFC’s welterweight division. Does he have what it takes to become one of the greatest of all time?
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