February 2017- and as the UFC settles into another year of fights, the popularity of the sport continues to reach unprecedented levels. With household name fighters and a 4 billion dollar brand, the future looks bright for UFC, but how did they reach this point? Who are the fighters who really put the sport on the map? Here is our run down of the top 3 greatest fighters in the promotions history.
No.3 Jon Jones
Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has built an amazing career during his time with the UFC, and has the potential to be unmatched not only in the UFC, but throughout MMA.
At just 23 years old, Jones became the youngest UFC champion ever, defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in what was a Dominant display of skill and athleticism. He holds the record for most consecutive light-heavyweight title defences, and as it stands is currently on a 13 fight win streak.
Away from the cage, Jones has had his problems, with numerous run ins with the law – most recently a hit and run accident that saw him stripped of his title – and a doping allegation that saw him pulled from the card at UFC 200. Yet the MMA universe still holds its breath for the Albuquerque fighter to return.
As we saw recently in his feud with bitter rival Daniel Cormier, Jones has an ability to get under the skin of his opponents, both inside the cage and out. He has an uncanny ability to shut down elite fighters, often using their best skills against them, as demonstrated by out wrestling Olympic wrestling captain, Cormier.
Regardless of what becomes of Jones in the future, he will always be remembered as the first of a new wave of UFC athletes that elevated the sport to another level. While we wait for his return in 2017, we are forced to admire his stunning victories over the likes of Daniel Cormier, Quinton ‘rampage’ Jackson, and Lyoto Machida
No.2 George St-Pierre
Georges St-Pierre is arguably the most well-rounded mixed martial artist in the sports illustrious history. He was a measured and powerful athlete who excelled at every aspect of the game. George had an obsession with training, and focused on details that helped take the sport to a new level.
In the mid 2000’s St-Pierre was the poster boy for the UFC, and the face of Canadian MMA, being thrust into the media spotlight, and paving the way for superstars such as McGregor and Rousey to follow. The sport began to gain wide acceptance under St-Pierre’s reign, helping change the stigma at the time, that all fighters were brawlers and thugs.
During his career, St-Pierre won a number of marquee fights, from his devastating knockout of Matt Hughes, to his controlling decision victory of Nick Diaz. He wiped out a roster of killers in the Welterweight division, including legends such as B.J Penn, Carlos Condit, Johnny Hendricks, and Josh Koshcheck.
St-Pierre ended his career on a 12 fight win streak, earning him the unofficial title of greatest Welterweight of all time, and a number two spot on our list of greats.
No.1 Anderson Silva
There are few records legendary fighter Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva doesn’t possess. With a list that includes most title defences, most consecutive wins, and most finishes, there was little doubt the exciting Brazilian would make the list of greatest fighters the promotion has seen.
During a seven year winning streak, that began with his stunning first round demolition of TUF vet Chris Leben, Silva dazzled us with his perfect technique, and creative striking ability. In the prime of his career he bobbed and weaved, and even danced to taunt his opponents, almost inevitably finishing them with a knockout.
Silva’s resume speaks for itself, with victories over Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin and Vitor Belfort. Not to mention his match up with famed trash talker, Chael Sonnen.
On a night where Silva struggled to stop Sonnen’s relentless takedowns and ground and pound, the title seemed all but lost. Sonnen had out-struck him and out- grappled him, and had even notched up a number of 10-8 rounds. But write off Silva at your peril. It was late in the fifth when suddenly, Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle choke, forcing the challenger to tap, and taking one of the most dramatic wins in UFC history.
That was the legend of Silva, the style and chaos he could make in the ring is unmatched by anyone to date. Though he hasn’t won in the octagon in his previous five outings, there are few in UFC history who can match the fame and achievements of Anderson Silva.
Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, BJ Penn, Randy Couture
By Lewis Smith.