As the name suggests, MMA is about much more than just boxing. But in order to be great in the sport, you need a great set of boxing skills. That begs the question of who is the best boxer in the history of MMA? Well, that’s what we wanted to find out.
Here we’ll count down the fifteen best boxers while looking at why they were so good. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Boxers in UFC/MMA of All Time
- Best Boxers in MMA – FAQs
15 Best Boxers in UFC/MMA of All Time
15. TJ Dillashaw
Division: Bantamweight, Flyweight
Best Achievement: UFC Bantamweight Championship (Twice)
With the most knockouts ever in the UFC Bantamweight division at seven, it’s no surprise that TJ Dillashaw makes this list. His boxing skills are particularly impressive when you consider that he has no background in the sport, unlike many on this list.
His background is mostly in wrestling but instead of using that to take the fight to the ground, he just uses his skills to avoid takedowns so that he can keep on boxing. It makes him great to watch and one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.
His boxing credentials were solidified back when he beat Benan Barao twice who was known as one of the best strikers at the time. He’s also beaten many other great boxers too, such as Cody Garbrant. There’s no doubt he’s one of the best boxers in the game.
14. Alexander Gustafsson
Nickname: The Mauler
Division: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight
Best Achievement: UFC Fight Wing Hall of Fame, 4 x Fight of the Night winner
Gustafsson’s credentials as a boxer were clear from a young age when he became the Swedish youth light heavyweight champion in 2003. This was due to starting his martial arts journey in boxing at the age of 10.
He switched between MMA and boxing a few times, winning several amateur boxing titles in his home country. However, he made the permanent switch to the UFC when he was offered a contract with the organization.
It’s no surprise Gustafsson was such a good boxer given his height and range. While being a very tall man, he has the footwork and movement of a much lighter fighter. He also boasts a stunning uppercut along with a sharp jab.
As you can see from his achievements, he’s never won a championship and may well be the best UFC fighter never to do so, challenging for the belt three times. However, the four Fight of the Night awards show that you are always guaranteed entertainment with a Gustafsson fight.
13. Holly Holm
Nickname: The Preacher’s Daughter
Division: Bantamweight, Featherweight
Best Achievement: UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion
As far as boxing credentials go, no one beats Holly Holm. The legendary fighter had already become a boxing legend before she ever stepped into the Octagon. She won titles at three different weight classes, with four different organizations, and with a hugely impressive 16 title defenses.
At the time of her move to MMA, many regarded her as the pound-for-pound best female boxer in the world. Eventually, she was able to use those skills to great effect to also become the Bantamweight champion in UFC.
Along with this, she also won amateur titles in kickboxing, making her a bona fide fighting legend. Her punch technique has always been perfect which has led to plenty of knockouts in her career. She also inspired many women to not only take up boxing but also transition to MMA.
12. Stipe Miocic
Best Achievement: UFC Heavyweight Champion (twice)
We mentioned above how Gustafsson has the movement of a much lighter man and the same could be said of Miocic. Widely regarded as the best heavyweight in UFC history, he made a name for himself with his ferocious power.
He boasts a knockout percentage that any heavyweight boxer would be proud of and has been a part of many memorable fights. His trilogy against Daniel Cormier will always be remembered, which included some elite-level boxing.
Boxing is clearly what he believes to be his biggest strength as he always tries to keep the fight standing when he can. He can not only punch, but he also has an impressive ability to slip punches and use his movement to counter his opponents.
You could also say that Miocic is all about efficiency too. Not only is he one of the leanest heavyweights in the game but he never throws wild punches in the octagon and makes sure the time is right to unleash that fearsome power.
11. Jorge Masvidal
Division: Welterweight, Lightweight
Best Achievement: 3 x Fight of the Night, 4 x Performance of the Night
Masvidal will perhaps always be most well-known for the fastest UFC knockout of all time but that didn’t have any boxing skill at all. While Ben Askren was the victim of a ferocious knee straight from the bell, Masvidal is no stranger to knocking out opponents with his fists as well.
He also boasts a perfect boxing record, although that’s a little misleading considering he only ever had one fight! In the Octagon he is known for his incredible skillset and violence, which includes amazing striking ability.
He has the ability to switch stances and through a brilliant range of combos which many of his opponents have been unable to live with. His KO of Darren Till is probably the best example of his world-class boxing ability.
Aside from a few notable exceptions such as his Askren knockout, the vast majority of his wins are down to his boxing ability. He always used that electric hand speed along with a solid chin to trade blows and create some amazing fights.
10. Dustin Poirier
Nickname: The Diamond
Division: Lightweight, Featherweight
Record: 29-7 (1 NC)
Best Achievement: Interim UFC Lightweight Champion
Dustin Poirier has made a brilliant career for himself and a lot of that has been built on the back of him having elite boxing skills. He’s had many memorable wins including knockouts of Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, along with those two wins against Conor McGregor.
While having excellent technical ability, Poirier is also known for his ability to brawl inside the octagon. He is known for his brilliant combinations and is also very accurate with his punches, whenever he exchanges.
He’s always incredible to watch which has seen him given the Fight of the Night bonus eight times, the joint most out of anyone. Part of that entertainment comes from his relentless pressure in the octagon along with his remarkable durability.
He’s one of the smallest fighters on this list which is a testament to his ability to have a very powerful punch for his size. While a great brawler, he still has the timing and patience to pick his shots which helps him stand out as a world-class fighter.
9. Adrian Yanez
Best Achievement: 4 x Performance of the Night
Adrian Yanez is another fighter on this list who has yet to claim a world championship in the UFC but he’ll surely get his chance sooner or later. He has excellent boxing skills which has earned him the Performance of the Night bonus four times.
Many of the fighters in his list have the ability to stay in control and the same can be said for Yanez. He knows when to pick his punches and never swings wildly. When the time comes, he always has the energy to blitz his opponents with a flurry of punches.
He also loves to counter and seems to enjoy making his opponent miss before throwing a punch of his own, often a devastating counter hook. He’s delivered 10 knockouts so far in his career and that number will no doubt increase.
8. Junior dos Santos
Division: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight
Best Achievement: UFC Heavyweight Champion
Junior dos Santos is one of the legends of the UFC and also one of its best ever boxers. He made a name for himself not only with his devastating power but also with great speed and mobility for his size. It’s led to him having 15 knockouts from his 21 wins.
Not only does he have knockout power but he’s also intelligent at being able to set up his shots. He’s great at being able to faint and use his jab to find an opening. When he does, it’s usually game over for whoever is facing him in the octagon.
He has a lot of attributes you’d usually associate with a smaller fighter such as his rapid hand speed and being able to fight on the back foot. His supreme boxing ability was what led to his best achievement in the sport when he knocked out Cain Velasquez to win the Heavyweight Championship.
7. Israel Adesanya
Nickname: The Last Stylebender
Division: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight
Best Achievement: UFC Middleweight Champion (twice)
Israel Adesanya made a name for himself in the world of kickboxing so it’s no surprise that he’s an elite puncher. He has the perfect punch technique which allows him to hurt his opponents with almost surgical precision.
One of his notable traits is that he’ll use his long reach to hurt his opponent while being able to avoid anything coming back. He’ll also use his kicking ability to keep them at a distance so he can keep delivering those heavy strikes.
Before becoming an elite UFC fighter he won boxing tournaments in New Zealand which showcased his talent in the sport. 16 of his 24 wins have come via knockout and this has also led to him winning Performance of the Night six times.
6. Petr Yan
Nickname: No Mercy
Best Achievement: UFC Bantamweight Champion
Petr Yan is a Russian who is able to deliver punching power far above his bantamweight size. His career has stuttered in recent years but there is no doubt about his boxing ability, which was shown when he knocked out Jose Aldo.
He sits in a division that isn’t particularly known for its heavy punches but Yan is one of the exceptions. He prefers to keep the fight standing whenever he can which is shown by only one of his wins coming via submission.
What makes him such an awkward opponent is his ability to always switch it up. He’s able to switch from boxing to a kickboxing stance but also from orthodox to southpaw. It remains to be seen whether he can get his career back on track, but his impressive boxing ability can’t be doubted.
5. Anderson Silva
Nickname: The Spider
Division: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight
Best Achievement: UFC Middleweight Championship, UFC Hall of Fame
Many people see Anderson Silva as the best UFC fighter ever and we wouldn’t disagree. He had an incredible career with the organization with his biggest achievement being not only winning the Middleweight Championship but also defending it an incredible 10 times,
A large part of that success was down to his brilliant striking ability. He comfortably switched stances throughout to fight to keep his opponents guessing. This entertaining style led him to win Fight of the Night five times.
Of course, to be as good as he was it’s not just about hitting your opponent but also not getting hit. He used his footwork and movement brilliantly to evade attacks while countering at a blistering pace with excellent combinations.
These natural boxing talents were combined with high fight IQ and a lot of discipline. He’s had a few professional boxing matches over the years but it would have been interesting to see how good he would have been if he had a run of boxing bouts in his prime.
4. Nate Diaz
Division: Lightweight, Welterweight
Best Achievement: The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner
Nate Diaz was one of the most entertaining fighters ever in the UFC, not just for his skills in the ring but also for his trash-talking outside of it. It led him to a total of 22 wins, but he was never quite able to get a championship belt.
He is unique in this list as he is also an excellent grappler too, winning the majority of fights by submission. But he was never afraid to trade toe-to-toe and let his hands go. At times his boxing skills were on another level and once won Knockout of the Night vs Gray Maynard.
We mentioned above how Poirier is tied for the most Fight of the Night bonuses and one of the men he is tied with is Nate Diaz. He was an excellent boxer in his prime and his broker Nick could have also easily made this list as one of the best boxers in MMA.
3. Conor McGregor
Division: Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight
Best Achievement: UFC Featherweight and Lightweight Champion
When it comes to knockout ratios, not many can match McGregor. Out of his 22 wins in MMA, 19 of them have come via knockout with by far the most memorable one being his devastating win over Jose Aldo only seconds into the fight.
He quickly got a name for himself due to his immense precision and accurate timing of his punches. That along with his huge personality meant that he quickly became a superstar of the sport and its most famous fighter.
Of course, he also had a professional boxing match against Floyd Mayweather which is probably the second most lucrative bout of all time behind Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao.
McGregor easily lost the fight but it would have been interesting to see how good he could have been if he gave boxing a proper run.
2. Cody Garbrandt
Nickname: No Love
Division: Flyweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight
Best Achievement: UFC Bantamweight Champion
We’ve praised many of the fighters on this list for having incredibly powerful punches but with Garbrandt, it’s all about lightning speed. While that’s true, there is still plenty of force behind those punches to get impressive knockouts.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that he was an impressive amateur boxer. He boasted a record of 32-0 in the sport before he thought his skills were better suited to MMA. It’s a move that was justified when he became the UFC’s Bantamweight champion.
It’s not just in his striking ability where Garbrandt is impressive. He also has fantastic footwork to get out of trouble or put pressure on his opponents, and also a good head movement to avoid punches and counter. It all adds up to him being a world-class boxer in UFC.
1. Max Holloway
Division: Featherweight, Lightweight
Best Achievement: UFC Featherweight Champion
Our best boxer in UFC history has to go to Max Holloway. He always looks like a man who just loves fighting as he’ll stand in the pocket all day and trade blows until either his opponent or himself is on the floor. It’s a style that has seen him be given Fight of the Night five times.
Many see his style as a little crude as it always seems he’s happy to take a shot if it means being able to land one on his opponent. That being said, he still has slick footwork with also decent headwork to ensure he’s had a lot more wins than losses.
As for submissions, only three of his 31 fights have ended that way (2 wins, 1 loss) which shows his commitment to standing up and trading. The sheer volume and accuracy of his punches mean that he claims our number-one spot.
Best Boxers in MMA – FAQs
Who is the best UFC 4 fighter for boxing?
There are many great boxers in UFC 4 that you can control. The best in the game would probably go to Israel Adesanya who has a punch speed of 95, a punch power of 92, and an accuracy of 98. Other honorable mentions would go to Anderson Silva, Alistair Overeem, and Amanda Nunes.
Is there any boxer who never lost a fight?
Jorge Masvidal! In reality, there are many boxers that have never lost a fight as they simply didn’t have a lot of fights. But there are some legendary world champions who went unbeaten including Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0), Rocky Marciano (49-0), and Joe Calzaghe (46-0) among others.
Who does Mike Tyson think is the best boxer ever?
Tyson has given a few different answers to this question over the years but his three favorite fighters are Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Roberto Duran. However, Tyson has admitted how difficult it is to compare boxers from different eras.
Can you do UFC and boxing?
You can practice both of them but no man has ever been at an elite level in both of these sports. However, Holly Holm has proved that you can be both a world champion in UFC as well of boxing but she’s a rare exception.