In its history, the UFC has seen a lot of excellent modern day warriors. Royce Gracie for example was excellent on the ground but was a bit problematic when it came to striking. Since MMA is a continuously evolving sport, the quality of fighters have surely gone up quite a bit.
Most of today’s best fighters NEED to be well-rounded. They should be a force to be reckoned with both striking and grappling. If they aren’t, then they should be pretty good at the style they prefer.
As with any sport organizations, there are a few standouts in the UFC. Since the UFC is considered as the top MMA organization there is, it’s likely that these guys are the best fighters in the entire world.
We’ve got the rundown on the best MMA fighters currently in the UFC. This list includes champs, contenders and even soon-to-be legends. Don’t expect to see fighters like Jon Jones on this list as we’re counting those currently on the UFC roster. Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn aren’t on this list as well as they’ve yet to make their comebacks in the octagon.
15 Frankie Edgar
Combine excellent wrestling skills, superb footwork and an impressive boxing style and you get Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. He’s the former Lightweight champ of the UFC and he’s regarded as one of the best in the division alongside Jose Aldo and BJ Penn. His record stands at 19-5-1 and he’s currently the 15th ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC.
Like Daniel Cormier, Edgar relies on his excellent wrestling skills to gain points and the advantage over opponents. What makes Edgar different though is that his boxing skills are way superior. Though he may not have much power on his hands, his standup is supported by footwork and speed. Edgar recently suffered a loss to Aldo for the interim Lightweight title but fans are expecting him to make a comeback soon.
14 Robbie Lawler
Before losing the belt to Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler was one of the most feared champs in the UFC. His fights are always a brawl and there are a few fighters out there that could match the durability of Lawler. His record stands at 27 and 11. In his stint in the UFC, Lawler was able to secure four Fight of the Night awards and one KO of the Night.
Lawler is known for having insane power behind his punches and that’s probably also why fans love watching him in a fight. His fight with Rory MacDonald wowed fight fans and non-fight fans alike. Although he’s no longer the Welterweight champ in the UFC, we’re guessing that it won’t take "Ruthless" very long to climb up the ranks and dominate the division once again.
13 Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov carries probably the most impressive MMA record not only in the UFC but also in the other organizations. Standing in at a staggering 23-0 record, Khabib is sure to be one of the future champions in the UFC.
Fans rarely see Khabib fight because of recurring injuries but when he gets in the octagon, he’s a sight to see for any martial arts fan. Aside from his impressive record, Khabib is also a multi-time Combat Sambo champion. Fighters and fans alike have criticized Khabib’s record; saying that he hasn’t fought any big names in the UFC yet. In his short career in the UFC, Khabib has taken out former Lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos with a unanimous decision win. He’s probably next in line for Eddie Alvarez’s belt but that’s until he takes out bigger names first.
12 Demian Maia
Demian Maia is the equivalent of Daniel Cormier in Jiu-Jitsu. In all of the UFC’s fighters, no other can be as dangerous on the ground as Maia. No other fighter has a Jiu-Jitsu background as impressive as Maia’s and any guy who’s brave enough to go to the ground with him isn’t really a smart fighter.
Out of his 24 wins, 12 have come via submission. Sadly, his last big break on the UFC was way back in UFC 112 in a middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva. Ever since he dropped to welterweight, Maia has been a better fighter than he ever was before. He’s currently ranked third in the UFC’s welterweight rankings and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a shot at the belt that Tyron Woodley currently holds.
11 Ronda Rousey
Former women’s bantamweight champ, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is the gal the propelled women’s MMA into mainstream popularity. Originally a Judoka, Rousey has geared herself into becoming a well-rounded fighter. She’s finished fights both with strikes and submissions and she does so in some of the quickest time possible.
Her first (and only) loss was handed to her by Holly Holm. Since then, Rousey’s fans have yet to see her in action. Before losing, Rousey’s record was 12 wins; 3 via KO, 9 via submission. She was one of the most dominant figures not only in her division, but in the entire UFC. Many are longing for the queen’s big return but there’s not clear sight on when that date will be. Hopefully, we see the former champ stronger than she ever was before.
10 Tyron Woodley
Newly crowned UFC Welterweight champ Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley has insane KO power in his hands and great takedowns to support him when things get tight on foot. Woodley was a well-decorated wrestler who transitioned into MMA. Like other successful former wrestlers, Woodley made an art out of MMA.
When he first began MMA, Woodley’s wins were submissions only. After that, Woodley began bagging wins through decision. Now, Woodley’s hands do the talking most of the time, bagging 6 of his recent wins via KO.
Woodley’s best moment so far is his one-punch KO of the very durable Robbie Lawler. Woodley definitely won the crowd with the KO and it just goes to show how no guy is safe from his explosiveness.
9 Stipe Miocic
Current UFC Heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic is just like any other heavyweight. A huge guy than has bricks for fists. Miocic was an athlete in multiple sports including baseball, football, wrestling, boxing and later on, MMA. What makes Miocic a cut above the rest is that he isn’t much of an aggressor. He relies on counter attacks to take out his opponents. Another key difference with Miocic from other heavyweights is that he’s faster the most of them.
His record is an impressive 16-2. 12 of his wins are by KO, 1 is submission and the rest is via decision. Through all of his impressive wins, Miocic’s defining moment was with his fight against former Heavyweight champ, Fabricio Werdum. Not only was it the fight that got him the belt, it was also the fight were he single handedly took down the guy that once beat Fedor Emilianenko.
Miocic recently defended his belt against Alistair Overeem in another knockout win. He’s one of the few heavyweight champions that managed to defend the belt.
8 Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Even before Ronda Rousey suffered her first loss to Holly Holm, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was already well on her way to become one of the most dominant female MMA fighters there is. Her impressive kickboxing is always at display during her matches and not other fighter can dish out combos as vicious as hers.
In the UFC and in any other organization, Jedrzejczyk is currently undefeated. She has 4 knockouts and 1 submission win under her name so fighters shouldn’t readily question what she can do on the ground. Her other wins come via unanimous decision as well.
When it comes to fighting, Jedrzejczyk completely dominates on stand up. She’s beaten up a few fighters already including Carla Esparza and Jessica Penne. We can’t see any of the female Strawweight fighters taking her belt any time soon and many are expecting Jedrzejczyk to dominate the division for few more years.
7 Anderson Silva
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer in the UFC. This guy has turned striking into an art and he’s pretty much a crowd favorite whenever is part of the fight card.
Silva dominated a lot of promotions but his career was truly propelled into the UFC. His highlights contain a lot of insane KOs and the occasional dance move. For years, Silva’s ground game has been questioned but he proved that he’s a well-rounded fighter during his first match against Chael Sonnen.
Ever since his consecutive losses to Chris Weidman, Silva’s career has been in an up and down battle. He suffered losses to Michael Bisping and most recently, to Daniel Cormier. Despite his losses, many fans still see Silva as one of the best guys in the UFC to date. Many are hoping for a huge comeback from the Spider.
6 Dan Henderson
Henderson scheduled has hinted before that he’s close to retirement and that may be the case whether or not he wins the championship match against Michael Bisping. Back at UFC 100, Henderson took out Bisping with one of the most brutal overhand rights in MMA history and he has another chance to do so again. But this time, it could be the last we see of Hendo.
5 Jose Aldo
Before his upsetting loss to Conor McGregor, Jose Also dominated that Featherweight division. He’s a well rounded fighter. On foot, he can brawl with hands that have KO power and leg kicks that can disable any fighter’s footwork. On the ground, fighters should do well to avoid getting him on top as he has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But thanks to his superb striking, we rarely get to see his ground game.
Fans though that Aldo was done for after his first round KO loss to McGregor, but it’s quite the contrary. His most recent win was against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Aldo did what he does best, dominate. MMA fans are longing for the day that he and McGregor square off again but this time, they’re expecting a different Aldo.
4 Dominick Cruz
Current Bantamweight champ, Dominick Cruz has had one hell of a roller coaster ride in his career. Thanks to several serious injuries, Cruz has been in only 5 fights inside the octagon despite debuting in the UFC way back in 2011. Whenever he does get a chance to fight, he’ll basically dominate any guy he faces.
Cruz’s biggest weapon is his striking. At first look, Cruz looks pretty awkward on his feet. He looks pretty lanky and he throws some of the most awkward shots in the UFC but it somehow works to his advantage. He’s a very unorthodox fighter and his footwork is top-notch.
Most of his wins are by decision. His sheer dominance against any fighter is seen in his record as he has several unanimous decision wins over some big names including Urijah Faber, Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. We’re hoping that his injuries won’t come to bug him again as we love seeing him step inside the cage.
3 Conor McGregor
There are two reasons why Conor McGregor is the highest paid fighter in the UFC; he can draw a huge crowd and he is one tough brawler. An exciting personality both in and out of the octagon, McGregor’s fights are always a sight to see mainly because of his excellent display of striking.
McGregor joined the UFC in 2013 and he has since dominated nearly every fighter that got in his goal of becoming one of the best. He’s had many highlight KOs in his career but we can all agree that his best one could be his KO to former Featherweight champ, Jose Aldo. It’s the same Aldo that dominated the division for years.
Despite being such an excellent striker, there are holes in McGregor’s game. To be more precise, he lacks ground game. Nate Diaz shook the entire MMA world when he submitted McGregor in their first bout. McGregor played differently on their second bout and completely dominated Diaz. If he does manage to work on his ground game, he may be the most unstoppable force there is in the UFC.
2 Daniel Cormier
Ask any MMA fan out there who the best wrestler is in the UFC and they’ll probably say that it’s Daniel Cormier. The current UFC Light Heavyweight champ is the best when it comes to wrestling inside the octagon. The former Olympian has evolved into a fully fledged MMA fighter with powerful strikes and smooth submissions.
Cormier’s list of wins include some of the biggest names in MMA. Dan Henderson, Frank Mir, Anthony Johnson and of course, his most recent win, Anderson Silva.
Cormier’s only loss so far is against former Light Heavyweight king, Jon “Bones” Jones. Although it was his first loss, Cormier pushed the former champ further than he’s ever been pushed before. He caught Jones a couple of times but the former champ was just too good. With Jones currently out of the picture, it’s easy to say that Cormier is the current king of the Light Heavyweights.
1 Demetrious Johnson
Though he’s not as popular as the other fighters on this list, there’s no doubting that Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is one of the best fighters to ever step in the octagon. Johnson has an amazing record of 24 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw. He’s on a roll with a 10 fight winning streak that began way back in 2012.
What makes Johnson one of the best fighters out there is that his game is ever evolving. As seen from his win against an Olympic wrestler; Henry Cejudo, Johnson can pretty much strike, grapple and wrestle with anyone.
He’s been tearing up the Flyweight division ever since he got the belt back in 2012. There’s not a single Flyweight in the UFC roster that he hasn’t beaten yet. In fact, the current Ultimate Fighter season is looking not for the next UFC fighter, but for the next contender for Johnson’s belt. We’re guessing he’ll dominate his next opponent again and the only time we might see Johnson struggle again is in a super fight against the last guy who gave him a loss: Dominick Cruz.