Since its debut 30 years ago, the UFC has been the world’s most prominent MMA promotion – pitting the best fighters in the world against each other to see who is the greatest.
I’ve been watching the UFC for two decades and have had the privilege of seeing the great’s rise and fall over the years. Seeing the sport evolve over time has given me plenty of insight as to what separates the greats from the rest.
For this list of the top 10 UFC fighters of all time, we’ll be using criteria based on: longevity as champion, title fight wins, title defenses, quality of opposition, dominance, and skillset.
Table of Contents
- 10. Randy Couture
- 9. Stipe Miocic
- 8. Daniel Cormier
- 7. Khabib Nurmagomedov
- 6. Amanda Nunes
- 5. Jose Aldo
- 4. Anderson Silva
- 3. Georges St. Pierre
- 2. Demetrious Johnson
- 1. Jon Jones
10. Randy Couture
Birthday: June 22, 1963
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight
Fighting Style: Greco-Roman wrestling, ground-and-pound
MMA Record: 19-11
Years Active: 1997-2011
Accolades: UFC Heavyweight Champion (x3), UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (x2), first multi-division champion in UFC, most championship reigns in UFC (6), oldest fighter to be UFC champion (45 years old), most main events in UFC history (18)
The most throw-back fighter on this list of the greatest UFC fighters of all time is Randy Couture. He’s the only fighter on the list to have won an original tournament style UFC event, having won UFC 13 all the way back in May, 1997. Although he finished his career with more losses than most of the other UFC fighters on this list, his accolades speak for themselves.
Randy Couture was one of the UFC’s first stars, helping create the promotion into the global powerhouse that it is today. Using his formidable Greco-Roman wrestling background, Couture was one of the first UFC fighters to bring wrestling to prominence. After winning the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament, he won the UFC heavyweight title against Kevin Randleman at UFC 28 in November, 2000.
Couture would go on to set a then-record for UFC heavyweight title defenses with 2. Couture then moved down to light heavyweight, where he beat Chuck Liddell for the interim title and unified the belt against Tito Ortiz.
What makes Couture’s legacy unique is his ability to compete against the best in the world despite his advanced age and multiple setbacks. Couture remains the only fighter in UFC history to win his title back after losing it in multiple divisions. He still holds the record for the oldest fighter to win a UFC bout, defend a championship, and win a championship (all accomplished after his 43rd birthday).
9. Stipe Miocic
Birthday: August 19, 1982
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Fighting Style: Boxing and Wrestling
MMA Record: 20-4
Years Active: 2010-Present
Accolades: Most consecutive title defenses at UFC heavyweight (3), most finishes in UFC heavyweight history (4), most post-fight bonuses in UFC heavyweight history (9), most total defenses in UFC heavyweight history (4), most wins in UFC heavyweight title fights (6, tied with Randy Couture)
Stipe Miocic is widely considered to be the greatest UFC fighter of all time at heavyweight. In a division known for its devastating knockout power, Miocic has excelled – collecting wins over UFC legends like Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Francis Ngannou, and Daniel Cormier (twice). Miocic is the only UFC heavyweight to defend his belt 3 consecutive times and has the most heavyweight title defenses in history (4).
The quality of Miocic’s opponents makes his success in the most dangerous division even more impressive. He has seven wins over UFC heavyweight champions, including four knockouts. Miocic holds the record for the most finishes in UFC heavyweight title fight history with 4 – all by way of knockout. His combination of wrestling and boxing skills have made him one of the most well-rounded heavyweights in history.
Miocic only has 4 losses in his career, with 3 of those coming against opponents he also has a win over. Considering the difficulty of longevity at heavyweight and his success against the best in the world, Stipe Miocic is a UFC legend and easily one of the best UFC fighters ever.
8. Daniel Cormier
Birthday: March 20, 1979
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight
Fighting Style: Wrestling
MMA Record: 22-3 (1 NC)
Years Active: 2009-2020
Accolades: First UFC fighter to defend championship titles in two weight classes, second simultaneous multi-division UFC champion, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion, 2018 ESPY Best MMA Fighter
Daniel Cormier is a UFC legend who is widely considered to be one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time. Cormier is the second UFC fighter in history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously after Conor McGregor, but is the first to ever defend each belt. Cormier dominated the UFC light heavyweight division for years in Jon Jones’ absence, with his only losses coming against Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic – two of the best UFC fighters of all time.
During his career, Cormier racked up wins over UFC legends like Anthony Johnson (twice), Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson, Frank Mir, Anderson Silva, Stipe Miocic, and Derrick Lewis. An Olympian and US National wrestling champion, Cormier’s freestyle and greco-roman wrestling overwhelmed almost every opponent he faced. His high-crotch takedown was his signature technique, taking advantage of his lower center of gravity.
Considering the quality of his opponents and his status as the first UFC simultaneous multi-division champion to defend both titles, Daniel Cormier more than earned his spot on the list of the top 10 UFC fighters of all time. Cormier was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2022 and continues to contribute to the promotion as an analyst.
7. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Birthday: September 20, 1988
Weight Class: Lightweight
Fighting Style: Sambo
MMA Record: 29-0
Years Active: 2008-2020
Accolades: ESPY 2021 Best MMA Fighter, Undefeated in MMA, Tied for most UFC lightweight title defenses (3), most submissions in UFC lightweight title fights (3), longest title reign in UFC lightweight history (1077 days)
Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best UFC lightweight of all time, which by extension makes him one of the best UFC fighters ever. The UFC’s lightweight division is the most talent-rich weight class in the promotion, making Nurmagomedov’s achievements all the more impressive. Out of all the fighters on this list of the top 10 UFC fighters of all time, Khabib is the only one with an undefeated record.
Famous for his relentless Sambo wrestling and mauling ground-and-pound style, Nurmagomedov went undefeated in his professional MMA career, finishing with a perfect 29-0 record. During his time with the UFC, he collected dominant wins over UFC legends like Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Rafael dos Anjos. Many MMA fans consider Khabib to be the most dominant fighter in UFC history.
There are some who believe that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the greatest MMA fighter of all time, so his placement at #7 may be controversial. The main reason he is only 7th on this list is because of his relatively short tenure as UFC champion. Out of all the fighters on this list, he has the least amount of UFC championship wins (4).
However, Nurmagomedov’s dominance cannot be understated. This is a man who competed in the UFC’s toughest division, never once bleeding or being knocked down. That is an achievement that is unlikely to ever be replicated.
6. Amanda Nunes
Birthday: May 30, 1988
Weight Class: Bantamweight, Featherweight
Fighting Style: Boxing, Muay Thai
MMA Record: 23-5
Years Active: 2008-2023
Accolades: Most UFC title fight wins for women (11), most wins in UFC women’s bantamweight title fights (8), third fighter to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously, first fighter to defend two UFC titles simultaneously, only UFC fighter to retire as multi-division simultaneous champion, longest combined UFC title reign of all time, most consecutive wins in UFC women’s history (12)
Amanda Nunes is undoubtedly the greatest female MMA fighter ever – more than earning her spot on the list of the top 10 UFC fighters of all time. “The Lioness” holds countless records in both the women’s categories as well as the UFC overall, being one of the most accomplished fighters to ever grace the Octagon.
Nunes’ MMA career started off rocky – with 4 of her 5 career losses coming in her first 13 professional fights. However, starting with Sayna Baszler in 2015, Nunes would rattle off 12 consecutive victories in the UFC – a record amongst female fighters that stands to this day. During her record-setting run, Nunes collected wins over former champions Valentina Schevchenko, Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm, and Germaine de Randamie.
Even more impressive is the fact that Nunes was a multi-division champ simultaneously – and is the only fighter to defend both titles while holding both (the only other UFC fighter to successfully do this is the aforementioned Daniel Cormier). Nunes became the UFC bantamweight champion when she submitted Miesha Tate at UFC 200, later becoming the featherweight champion by knocking out MMA legend Cris Cyborg at UFC 232.
Nunes retired from MMA after dominating Irene Aldana at UFC 289 in June, 2023. Her combined reign as champion is the longest in UFC history (3683 days) and is a multi-time Female Fighter of the Year winner.
5. Jose Aldo
Birthday: September 9, 1986
Weight Class: Bantamweight, Featherweight
Fighting Style: Muay Thai, boxing
MMA Record: 31-8
Years Active: 2004-2022
Accolades: UFC Hall of Fame, most title defenses in UFC featherweight history (7), WEC featherweight champion (two defenses), inaugural UFC featherweight champion
Jose Aldo is widely considered to be the greatest UFC featherweight of all time, earning him a spot in the top 5 of the list of top 10 UFC fighters of all time. Aldo was the UFC’s inaugural featherweight champion – a post he held for 5 years. Aldo was the WEC featherweight champion before the merger with the UFC, with a decade-long winning streak that began in May 2006 and lasted until December 2015.
Known for his explosive striking and devastating leg kicks, Aldo was considered the best MMA fighter in the world during his tenure as WEC and UFC champion. During his title reign, he collected wins over UFC legends like Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Chan-sung Jung, Frankie Edgar, Kenny Florian, Uriah Faber, and Cub Swanson. His 9 total defenses make him one of the longest lasting champions in MMA history.
After Aldo’s reign as featherweight kingpin ended, he made the decision to drop down to bantamweight. Although he lost a title fight against Petr Yan at UFC 251, Aldo collected wins over top bantamweight contenders like Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font – proving that he was still amongst the elite, even in a different weight class.
Aldo retired from MMA in 2022, going on to compete in boxing. His dominance as featherweight champion, coupled with his decade-long winning streak and quality of competition earns Aldo a spot in the top 5 greatest UFC fighters of all time.
4. Anderson Silva
Birthday: April 14, 1975
Weight Class: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight
Fighting Style: Muay Thai, BJJ, boxing
MMA Record: 34-11
Years Active: 1998-2020
Accolades: Most title defenses in UFC middleweight history (10), most consecutive wins in UFC history (16), longest title reign in UFC history (2457 days), most finishes in UFC title fights (9), unified UFC and PRIDE middleweight titles, most finishes in UFC middleweight history (11), most Knockout of the Night awards in UFC history (7)
Anderson Silva isn’t only the greatest middleweight in UFC history, he’s a pioneer who forever changed the fight game. One of the UFC’s first virtuoso strikers, Silva is one of the promotion’s most prolific knockout artists – having a reign of terror in the UFC that is unlikely to ever be equaled. Silva’s 16 consecutive UFC wins is a record that still stands to this day.
Silva started that winning streak by knocking out Chris Leben with a knee at UFC Fight Night 5 in 2006 – following up that performance with another knee KO over Rich Franklin at UFC 64 to become UFC middleweight champion. Silva wouldn’t lose again until 2013 – racking up wins over UFC legends like Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, and Stephan Bonnar. His miraculous comeback victory at UFC 117 – in which he submitted Chael Sonnen with a triangle choke in the fifth round – remains one of the greatest comebacks in UFC title fight history.
Watching an Anderson Silva fight was like watching a scene out of the Matrix films. He transformed the sport by raising the bar for the striking higher than it had ever been – making him not only one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, but also a pioneer who left an indelible mark on the sport of MMA.
Silva holds countless records, including the most finishes in UFC title fights (9), the most “Knockout of the Night” awards in UFC history (7), the third most UFC title defenses (10), the longest finish streak in modern UFC history (8), the most knockouts in UFC middleweight history (8), and the most wins in middleweight title fights (11).
Silva retired from MMA in 2020.
3. Georges St. Pierre
Birthday: May 19, 1981
Weight Class: Welterweight, Middleweight
Fighting Style: Karate, Wrestling
MMA Record: 26-2
Years Active: 2002-2017
Accolades: Most title defenses in UFC welterweight history (9), most wins in UFC welterweight title fights (12), second most wins in UFC title fights (13), most takedowns in UFC history (90), most strikes landed in UFC welterweight history (2523), most control time in UFC history (2:23:04), most top position in UFC history (2:22:05)
Georges St. Pierre is arguably the greatest MMA fighter ever – well deserving of his placement on our list of the top 10 UFC fighters of all time. Many fans place him as the best fighter in history, with him routinely finishing in the top 3 on most lists of famous UFC fighters. “Rush” is inarguably the greatest UFC welterweight of all time, holding many records in the weight class and having one of the best resumes in UFC history.
Coming from a traditional karate background, St. Pierre is renowned for his sharp fight IQ and savvy gameplanning. Despite karate upbringing, it was actually a combination of a stiff jab and a double-leg takedown that made St. Pierre one of the winningest fighters in UFC history. UFC commentator Joe Rogan once described it by saying “Everyone knew what he was going to do, but nobody could stop it.”
In terms of resume, St. Pierre’s is hard to beat. He not only defeated fighters of the generation preceding his, like Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and Matt Hughes, he also beat his contemporaries in BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, Dan Hardy, and Jake Shields. He also beat up and coming fighters in the form of Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, and Johnny Hendricks – making him one of the few fighters to find success across generations of MMA.
St. Pierre added to his UFC legend when he came out of retirement after a 4-year hiatus to challenge Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 217. He ended up beating Bisping in the third round via a rear-naked choke, adding a second belt to his ledger.
St. Pierre goes down in history as the holder of many records, second only to Jon Jones in UFC title fight victories (13), with the most in UFC welterweight history (10) and a number of metrics that highlight his dominance, holding the record for the most takedowns, the most control time, and the most top position in all of UFC history.
2. Demetrious Johnson
Birthday: August 13, 1986
Weight Class: Flyweight, Bantamweight
Fighting Style: Kickboxing, Wrestling, BJJ
MMA Record: 25-4
Years Active: 2009-Present
Accolades: Most title defenses in UFC history (11), most wins in UFC flyweight history (12), most submissions in UFC title fights (4), most significant strikes, takedowns, control time, and total fight time in UFC flyweight history
Demetrious Johnson is the greatest flyweight of all time and arguably the greatest mixed martial artist to ever live. “Mighty Mouse” had an unprecedented reign of dominance over the UFC flyweight division, becoming the weight class’ inaugural champion in September 2012 and holding the belt until August, 2018. During that stretch, he defended his belt a record 11 times – good for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history.
Johnson has perhaps the most well-rounded arsenal out of any fighter on this list. He’s an elite striker, wrestler, and submission artist, having multiple tools to win a fight at any given moment. He has knockout victories over Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez and his flying armbar submission of Ray Borg is one of the greatest submissions in UFC title fight history. What makes Johnson’s career even more impressive is that he continued his winning ways in the second-best MMA promotion – becoming the ONE Championship flyweight champion in 2019.
Johnson’s skillset and reign of dominance give him a strong case to be the best UFC fighter ever. The only reason he didn’t get the top spot on this list of the 10 is because the flyweight division wasn’t as talent-rich compared to other divisions. Regardless, Johnson’s accomplishments speak for themselves and he is undoubtedly one of the greatest MMA fighters to ever grace the Octagon.
1. Jon Jones
Birthday: July 19, 1987
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight
Fighting Style: Muay Thai, Wrestling, BJJ
MMA Record: 27-1, 1 NC
Years Active: 2008-Present
Accolades: Longest light heavyweight reign in UFC history (1501 days), most title defenses in UFC history (11), most wins in UFC title fights (15), youngest UFC champion in history (23 years, 242 days), longest unbeaten streak in UFC history (19)
Jon Jones is the greatest UFC fighter of all time – bar none. Jones’ resume is an incredible as it gets – not only was he the youngest UFC champion in history, he’s got the most title fight wins in the promotion’s history. Much like Georges St. Pierre, he successfully defeated the generation of fighters preceding him, his contemporaries, and the next wave to come after him. What’s more, his only loss came via disqualification in a highly controversial decision – effectively making “Bones” undefeated.
Jon Jones has more UFC title fight victories than some of the other fighters on this list have total UFC fights. He’s beaten an entire roster of UFC legends, including Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, and Daniel Cormier, His reign as UFC lightweight champion was the longest in history – interrupted only by USADA suspensions. In fact, his 19-fight unbeaten streak is a UFC record – one that is unlikely to ever be challenged.
Jones’ resume was already stacked beyond comparison before he made the decision to move from light heavyweight to heavyweight. It was something Jones had teased for years, but at UFC 285, Jones finally made the move up to heavyweight – dominating top contender Ciryl Gane to become the UFC heavyweight champion.
Simply put, nobody has a better resume than Jon Jones. He is not only the greatest UFC fighter ever, but the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
Who is the best MMA fighter of all time?
The most consistently referenced fighters in the debate of who the greatest MMA fighter of all time is are Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre, Demetrious Johnson, and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Answering this question is subjective and changes depending on what your criteria are.
Is Khabib the greatest fighter ever?
Some MMA fans consider Khabib to be the greatest fighter ever. However, his lack of longevity at the top and relatively short run in the UFC hold him back from cracking the top 5 in some people’s opinions. For comparison, Jon Jones has 15 UFC title fight wins, while Khabib only has 4.
Who won the most titles in UFC history?
Jon Jones has won the most titles in UFC history, going 15-0 in championship bouts.
Who has the most knockouts in MMA history?
The MMA fighter with the most knockouts in MMA history is Travis Fulton – a relatively unknown fighter who has an incredible 143 career victories via knockout. However, most of these wins came in low-ranking competitions.
The UFC fighter with the most knockouts is the heavyweight Derrick Lewis, who has 14.
Is there a UFC fighter that has never lost?
There have been several UFC fighters who have never lost. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the first UFC fighter to retire undefeated.
There are multiple undefeated fighters currently on the UFC roster, including Tatiana Suarez, Khamzat Chimaev, Umar Nurmagomedov, Ian Garry, Movsar Evloev, Shavkat Rakhmonov, Michael Morales, Gabriel Bonfim, Javid Basharat, Ilia Topuria, and Tatsuro Taira.