It’s easy to understand the appeal of mixed martial arts. For fans, mixed martial arts offers a haven for those who want the physics and immediacy of wrestling, but can’t stand the storytelling of the soap opera. The best MMA fights are brutal and cruel affairs in which the fighters fight for their lives and no one ever knows who will win.
As with any other sport, MMA has its stars and its runners. MMA’s greatest fighters blend physique and grace, raw strength and agility and skill with pure charisma, which makes them incredible to watch on the mat.
Here are, for your consideration, the greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time.
No list of MMA’s greatest fighters is complete without UFC Hall of Fame Mark Coleman. His approach to wrestling marked him among his competitors, but it is his analytical skill and calculated approach to every fight that has made him a legend. There is no doubt that Coleman should be in the annals of every MMA fan.
Speaking to Betway, Coleman discussed the changing landscape of combat sports and its popularization of the ‘ground and pound’ style. It’s worth checking out the interview; Coleman speaks eloquently about his impact on the sport and what he looks like today, and he even throws a little treat on the Paul Brothers!
Jones shares his name with Martian Manhunter, an oft-overlooked DC superhero in favor of the flashier, more marketable Superman. In many ways, it sounds like Jones’ career in MMA; his very first big game was actually a loss, as he was disqualified for using illegal moves, but it solidified his place in the Hall of Fame (tiny).
Despite Jones’ slightly ugly start, he continued to absolutely dominate the UFC landscape, battling as many as seven future Hall of Fame alumni and winning against them all. More recently Jones has been showing signs of slowing down, but he had such a high peak going down that he just hit the same level as everyone else.
There is really hardly anyone in the female mixed martial arts who rivals Rousey in terms of skill, dedication, and power. Her career has seen her rise through the UFC ranks, and although her time in mixed martial arts seemed to be coming to an end following a loss to Holly Holm, she continued to be successful in WWE.
Of course, that’s not Rousey’s only rather impressive bowstring. She has also since become a famous actress, appearing in franchises as diverse as The Expendables, Fast and furious, and charlie’s angels. If you want a butt-kicking diva who doesn’t take anything from anyone, then Rousey is your go-to actor.
There is a good reason why Amanda Nunes is known as “The Lioness”. She has the most female wins in UFC history, which arguably sets her apart as the most talented MMA fighter the world has ever seen. Nunes counts Rousey among her defeats, along with Rousey’s conqueror Holly Holm and her colleague Cris Cyborg.
Nunes’ style works because she has range, drive, and power in her kit. She’s versatile, but she also has a lot of stamina, which means she can survive even the most grueling opponent. She’s the best because she knows where her limits are and when to push them.
What remains to be said about the titan that is Saint-Pierre? He is, according to many media outlets, the greatest fighter in UFC history, and it’s hard to dispute that. His absolute domination is matched only by his devotion; he has a superhero origin story which means he was only meant for UFC greatness.
St. Pierre came from a difficult background, his parents having to choose between sport and karate because they did not have enough money to encourage his nascent interest in both disciplines. He says that having a difficult childhood “shaped [his] character ”, allowing him to become the demon he is today.
Despite a long time struggling with some of the UFC’s greatest fighters, one could argue that Nurmagomedov never really enjoyed a real competition. His fights are one-sided fights of sheer strength and raw power, and it’s always difficult to watch him tear apart opponent after opponent with little care.
Nurmagomedov is known as “the eagle”, and this is because he brings so much more than brute strength and physique to his fights; he is also an agile and agile fighter who is more than capable of taking on fast opponents in the ring. To put it simply, Nurmagomedov will go down in history as one of the greatest.
Cris Justino, aka Cris Cyborg
One of the few UFC fighters to compete under a nickname, Cris Cyborg – or Justino, to give him his real name – is a truly terrifying opponent to face in the ring. Cyborg is one of the few fighters to hold a truly impressive 20-0 record, and although that record was ultimately finished by The Lioness, Cyborg can be proud of.
She’s not just a great fighter, however; he is also an extremely charitable human being. In 2019, Cris Cyborg helped the Batwa Pygmies in Uganda by drilling the first two water wells on their land. Really, she’s an example, and someone everyone in the UFC can turn to for a role model.