The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), founded in 1993, has featured the most skilled mixed martial artists in the world for nearly 20 years. UFC originally began as an eight person tournament without any types of separating classes, but later developed into its more recognized format of eight divisions separated by weight.
From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to traditional American wrestling, the UFC has hosted a plethora of talented fighters honing their particular type of martial arts. With hundreds of fighters displaying their skills over the past two decades, there have been only a select few that stand out as the best fighters in the history of UFC.
1. Anderson Silva - Anderson Silva has been the most successful champion ever within the UFC. Silva's mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Taekwondo has earned him the title of the longest reigning UFC champion, along with the most consecutive wins of all time at 14. Silva has defended his middleweight championship an incredible nine times, and is looking to do it once more in his upcoming title defense against Chael Sonnen.
2. Randy Couture - As one of the first pioneers of UFC, Couture has the most storied UFC career of any fighter to enter the octagon. Some of his impressive feats include being the first fighter to simultaneously hold titles in different weight classes, entering the most championship fights ever, and successfully reigning as champion on five separate occasions. Couture is undoubtedly the greatest UFC heavyweight ever.
3. Chuck Liddell - Revered as the first UFC superstar to become a household name, Liddell is known as the greatest UFC knockout artist of all time. Liddell holds the UFC record for most knockouts and wins in the light heavyweight division. Many recognize Liddell for his outstanding striking ability and toughness within the octagon, earning him a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame.
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4. Royce Gracie - This UFC Godfather utilized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to win the first, second, and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments. Impressively, Gracie was able to beat opponents that weighed significantly more than him. He was the first UFC fighter to truly demonstrate that technique is more important than strength.
5. Matt Hughes - The most successful welterweight fighter of all time has held his title on two separate occasions and defended it a staggering seven times. Hughes is a battle-proven UFC Hall of Famer with the second most fights of all time. Even more impressive, Hughes currently holds the record for the most UFC wins.
6. Georges St-Pierre - St-Pierre ranks second for all time wins in UFC, while currently holding the welterweight title. He has only two losses in his UFC career and has defended his current title six times. At the age of 31, St-Pierre has the talent and drive to challenge Silva for the most title defenses.
7. B.J. Penn - Hawaii native B.J. Penn has established himself as legendary fighter as both a lightweight and welterweight champion. He is the most successful lightweight in UFC history - he has defended his title three consecutive times -- while also recording the most wins among that particular division.
8. Tito Ortiz - With the most UFC fights ever, Ortiz was undeniably a bad man. Ortiz defended his light-heavyweight title an impressive five consecutive times. His incessant trash talking made him one of the most controversial fighters, yet he developed a can't miss persona that will remain attached to UFC history. Ortiz's lengthy three year championship reign is the most successful among the light-heavyweight division.
9. Frank Mir - Although sidetracked by his horrific motorcycle accident in 2004, Mir has remained the most consistent heavyweight fighter in recent years. Mir has only held the heavyweight title once, but has beaten four title-holders within the heavyweight division. Mir always poses a threat when stepping into the octagon.
10. Jon Jones -Jones has demonstrated in his short career that he has what it takes to be a UFC champion. At the age of 23, he became the youngest fighter to ever hold a UFC title. Jones, the reigning champion, has defended his title three times, including against big names such as Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans. The sky is the limit for the 24 year old Jones.