In the weeks following UFC 148, Anderson Silva has been hailed by many as the greatest MMA fighter in history. Detractors of Silva can no doubt name a few other worthy mixed martial artists that deserve the title as the greatest of all time. Selecting the best MMA fighters is a tough job. There are many to consider.
Mixed martial arts has been around in many different forms for centuries and really began to evolve with the Gracie family in the early 1900s. However, it is impossible to compare fighters from a century ago to fighters today as the sport has evolved and now includes unified regulations. So when considering the best fighters, it is easier to keep it within the modern arena, which basically has its roots in 1993 with UFC 1.
On paper and in the opinions of millions of fans, Anderson Silva deserves the title of the best fighter in history. His record with 32 wins and only four lost bouts is highly impressive. He also holds several UFC records, including the most knockdowns and the longest winning streak of any UFC fighter. Silva’s strength lies in his amazing versatility. While his strongest skill is probably Muay Thai, he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a black belt in Judo. He also has a yellow rope in the Brazilian art of Capoeira.
Of course, Randy Couture is another candidate and he isn’t known as “The Natural,” for nothing. His record includes 19 wins out of 30 bouts, including wins against giants in the sport such as Vitor Belfort. He also was the first UFC fighter to hold championship titles in two different weight classes, light heavyweight and heavyweight. One also should consider that he was nearly 34 during his first UFC fight and didn’t retire until he was 47.
Not all of the great fighters are Ultimate Fighting Champions, however. Fedor Emelianenko has earned an impressive reputation with fights in Pride and RINGS. He was undefeated for nearly ten years, defeating 27 opponents from 2001 until a loss against Fabricio Werdum in 2010. In addition to MMA fights, he has won multiple gold medals at the World Sambo Championships and the Russian Sambo Championships.
While these three are certainly strong contenders for the best MMA fighter of all time, there are many others who deserve consideration. Some fans would make a case for fighters such as Matt Hughes or perhaps Georges St. Pierre or even BJ Penn as the best in the arena. Whichever fighter you prefer, as the MMA evolves, there will be some new blood dominating the sport and vying for a shot on everyone’s Top Ten lists.
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