Top MMA fighters of all time – Part 1: The best of the Hulking Heavyweights

724px-UFC_131_Carwin_vs._JDS_2_Bad intentionz_mma_gateway_top_mma_fighters_all time UFC Pride BellatorNow a while back I did a post about The Top 10 UFC fighters of all time, and it was a very difficult list to compile, especially considering the youth of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. But now in today’s post we are going to start broadening things, meaning lets look at the real detail of who are the Top MMA fighters of all time.

This is a series that I will be doing providing all the data on the top 10, the true cream of the crop in each weight class from Heavyweights down to Flyweights.

So in our first part I wanted to start this series off with a bang! so lets look at the best of the Hulking Heavyweights that we have ever seen enter the cage.

This list is based purely on my personal opinion, and the data of historical feats inside the world of MMA in no specific order –

Stipe Miocic

No better way to start this list right now in my opinion, and actually this is really not a pick based on my opinion, because Stipe Miocic’s stats really speak for themselves.stone cold stipe_mma_gateway_top_mma_fighters all_time_UFC Pride Bellator

He is of course the current UFC Heavyweight Champion, having already tied the current record for Heavyweight title defences with back to back KO wins over Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem after initially winning the title from Fabricio Werdum again via KO.

In fact Stipe has one of the most impressive KO streaks in Heavyweight history, because his past 6 wins in the UFC have been by KO and considering he is fighting the best at Heavyweight, this feat alone easily gets him firmly in this list – he has swam in the deepest waters and prevailed in style nearly every time.

His hands are really powerful over short ranges, great boxing and wrestling technique, and since losing to Stefan Struve in 2012, he has gone 8-1, only losing narrowly to Dos Santos in 2014 in a controversial decision, which he recently avenged.

Can anyone stop Stipe at Heavyweight right now? Time will tell, but here’s the best of Stone Cold Stipe Miocic


Fedor Emelianenko

One cannot dare utter the words greatest ever in the world of MMA without producing this mans name – because “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko should be the basis for any die hard MMA fans list.

I was lucky enough to have lived through the best days of this incredible and venerable fighter, and he was a huge part of me developing such a keen interest in MMA – It still gives me goosebumps when I think about watching old Pride fights when I was a teenager, the awe I would have when he entered the arena with his stoic and calm nature walking to the cage was mesmerising.

The crowd cheered and we all watched on in concentrated amazement wondering – will this man be able to stop Fedor? Time and time again he showed how superior he was at the time.

I mean of all the legendary stories  from the world of MMA, you will not hear of any better then the famed undefeated run that Fedor amassed in his prime – the man went undefeated for 10 years compiling a record of 31-1-1 (the only loss was a fight he was winning until a doctor stopped it for a cut).

In the most chaotic sport in the world that is such a crazy unbeaten streak to go on, and don’t go thinking that record was padded either, because he fought all the best at the time – Mark Coleman, Mirko Crop Cop, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers, Semmy Schilt, Heath Herring, Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Hunt, Tim Sylvia and many others, I mean the list of names is insane really especially when he was usually the smaller man.

I can still remember so many moments where I thought Fedor could lose, but then turned the fight round and won – I will never forget the slam that Kevin Randleman did to him, literally spiking Fedor on his head with all of his own and Randleman’s weight. It was one of the most devastating slams I have still ever seen in MMA, yet Fedor shook it off like it was nothing and a few minutes later he won the fight via submission.

They even tested him once in Japan because some people genuinely did not believe that Fedor was human, given his feats in the cage.

His Sambo mastery, along with his well rounded game, blistering hand speed, great chin and fighting ferocity allowed him to not only beat so many great opponents, but to do most of them  with ease.

However, his run was finally brought to an end in 2010 by Jiu-Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum via Triangle Choke. That caused an storm in the MMA world and literally turned Werdum into a star overnight, and since that fight Fedor has amassed more losses, and his most recent loss to Matt Mitrione via KO at Bellator NYC was a reminder that his best days are past and he should look to hang up his gloves soon.

As a Fedor fan since my teenage years, I don’t want to see him take any more punishment in the cage, but here’s a video of his best ever moments, and there was so many –

Cain Velasquez

MMA_Gateway Cain Velasquez The DopplegangerI think of one word when I think of Cain Velasquez – relentless. The high pace that Cain  brought to the Heavyweight division was truly unique at the time, and really was one of his strongest traits.

Before him nobody had heard of a Heavyweight having the cardio to maintain this top speed pace from the start to finish of a fight. In both his title defences against Junior Dos Santos, he dished out 25 minutes of a high intensity beating, making it look easy at times, which is so impressive against someone of Dos Santos giant stature in the sport.

He is a proud man of his Hispanic heritage having many supporters in Mexico, also MMA fans will always remember him as the first UFC Heavyweight to really put a beat down on the polarising WWE superstar Brock Lesnar to become the UFC Heavyweight champion in 2010.

In 16 fights, Cain has won 12 by KO/TKO, 2 decision wins, and only 2 losses getting clipped by Dos Santos in their first fight, and gassing out in Mexico at altitude against Fabricio Werdum, so Cains record is against the best, and having a 14-2 record at this level is an amazing record.

His chaining of take downs, and his fluidity to shift between the various phases of fighting has been a joy to behold in MMA, and a ferocity that few can match.

Cain is one name many UFC fans want to see Stipe Miocic fight before Stipe can be considered “the best UFC heavyweight ever”.

But injuries have also plagued Cain in his career, but with the size of his heart and will, I would not be surprised to see Cain one day sit on top of the UFC Heavyweight throne again.

Here’s his best moments –

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Mark Coleman

“The Godfather of Ground and Pound” had to make this list, given the fact that in 1996, when Mark “The Hammer” Coleman came into UFC 10 to make his debut, he was essentially the best wrestler to ever enter into the cage at that point.

He went 6-0 in his first 6 bouts, racking up impressive wins over legends Gary Goodridge, Don Frye and Dan Severn in this run. His phenomenal physical Strength coupled with his high level wrestling pedigree, and devastating ground and pound made him seem almost invincible at the time.

He was the man responsible for the whole idea that wrestling is the most important discipline in MMA, which was the common belief in the sport at the time, and does have some level of truth to it.

Much like Royce Gracie was with Jiu-Jitsu, or Anderson Silva with striking, Mark Coleman was one of the founding fathers of the effectiveness of wrestling in a fight during the blood and guts days of the early UFC events.

After a famous Headkick KO loss to Pete Williams in 1998 and a split decision loss to Pedro Rizzo shortly after – Coleman left the UFC revitalising his career in Pride in Japan, and while he had a chequered career, he will be remembered as one of the pioneers of the sport and one of the greatest Heavyweights ever without question.

Heres his best moments –


Randy Couture

Just like my Top UFC fighters of all time list, I found it impossible to leave out “The Natural” Randy Couture, I mean honestly I have never seen a man compete at the top level as late in his career as Randy Couture. MMA GATEWAY WRESTLING randy coutureThe guy didn’t stop fighting professionally competing with the best till he was 48, which in this sport is literally unheard of for most fighters.

Now he was  a two time Light Heavyweight champion, and a three time Heavyweight champion, which is still a record in the UFC, which really highlight show good Couture was in his prime.

He has competed in more UFC title bouts in history then most, and he was also the first man to hold a title in two different weight classes, and although his 19-11 record isn’t the most impressive on the face of it, his championship achievements truly speak for themselves.

With the basis of his game always being that solid Olympic wrestling pedigree, and a well rounded skill set, couture holds victories over the likes of Vitor Belfort twice, Chuck Liddell, Kevin Randleman, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, and Mark Coleman.

You have to mention as well that at Heavyweight Randy was often significantly smaller then a lot of heavyweights, much like Fedor, hanging at around 222 pounds. Yet still, as he displayed in his famous title win over Tim Sylvia, being the smaller man never phased Randy Couture in anyway.

With a Captain America style personality, and his amazing storied career, Randy “The Natural” Couture will never be forgotten.

See his best performances here –

Josh Barnett

542px-JoshBarnett BBPromo Michael DunnJosh “The Warmaster” Barnett has to be one of the most original and unique characters to ever walk into MMA full stop, regardless of weight class. He has a level of insight, wit and intelligence which is very rare in a fighter, which has always made for enjoyable interviews with Josh Barnett.

Also he’s a great entertainer and has done a lot of pro wrestling, but don’t let that or his direct speaking yet smooth talking ways fool you, his achievements inside the world of MMA Heavyweights is definitely something of legend.

He is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, the youngest ever at the time and still to this day, Barnett is also one of the best grappler’s and finishers in MMA history.

His amazing record of 34-8 against the best is so impressive, especially considering he has over 20 wins by submission and 8 Knockout wins.

He has defeated other legends like: Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Frank Mir, and Roy Nelson, which is an amazing list of names.

Although he recently lost by submission to Ben Rothwell, he then bounced straight back straightaway by submitting Andrei Arlovski, and even though he is 39, I still expect to see atleast a few more MMA bouts from “The Warmaster”. Here is his most memorable moments –

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Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

Cro Cop is without questions one of the most deadly strikers in MMA Heavyweight history, particularly his famous left high kick.

The highly respected Croatian has a professional record of 35-11-3, with 26 of those wins coming by way of Knockout,  most often with that infamous left head kick. He was one of the first MMA fighters to prove that Boxing, Wrestling and Jiu-Jistu alone cannot protect you against someone like Cro Cop – everyone’s head kicks in MMA got a lot better as a result of the amazing feats of Mirko.

He is tied for most finishes in PRIDE history at 16, as well as having the most first round finishes at 15, which is highly impressive despite the fact that with all his talent he still didn’t manage to capture the PRIDE or UFC heavyweight titles.

The famed Croatian striker has victories over Josh Barnett on three occasions, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Wanderlei Silva and he avenged his shocking loss to Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC.

Cro Cop is without question one of the most talented strikers to ever to compete at heavyweight in MMA, here’s all his greatest moments –


Junior Dos Santos

“Cigano” Junior Dos Santos has always had that true Gladiator vibe about him, a Goliath that stomps his foot and makes the ground crumble, and his exploits in MMA show this to definitely be the case – he is one of the hardest hitters in UFC history, while also having one of the best chins ever.MMA_Gateway_UFC 211_Tickets 399px-Junior Dos-Santos-Belt-Flickr User Fotos GovBa

His shocking early 1st round knock outs over Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez to win the title the first time are legendary – but equally so are the absolute beatings he took from Cain in the two rematches, and the close bout with Stipe Miocic that showed Juniors incredible toughness.

It takes a special kind of human to take a sustained beating from Cain Velasquez for 25 minutes, and make it to the judges. But lets not under sell his martial arts skills, because his boxing technique is some of the best the Heavyweight division has ever seen.

Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Frank Mir, Mark Hunt and Cain Velasuez have all been stopped by Dos Santos in devastating fashion on the feet. That’s a really impressive resume, not to mention he is a former UFC Heavyweight title holder, sure he has taken some losses in the UFC in recent years, but only to the very best.

The name Junior Dos Santos still creates shock waves in the annals of MMA Heavyweight history. Here’s some of his best moments –

Frank Mir

Frank Mir is a two time UFC Heavyweight champion, I believe he still holds the records for most fights, most victories and most submissions in UFC Heavyweight history, and those stats alone get him in this list.

Then consider those he has beaten – Tim Sylvia, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice, Mirko Filipovic, Roy Nelson, and Antonio Silva. He also had a couple of huge feathers in his cap by handing Brock Lesnar his first MMA loss by submission, as well as being the first man ever to both submit, and knockout Nogueira.

Mir is probably the best submission expert ever in UFC Heavyweight history, the devastating bone breaking injuries his submissions achieved against Tim Sylvia and Nogueira for instance, were some of the most brutal I have ever seen.

While he has taken many losses in recent years, those losses have only ever been against the best, but his story is the stuff of legend in the halls of Heavyweight MMA. Arguably the best submission artist in UFC heavyweight history, Mir, in my opinion, could very well be higher up on this list, but he has also suffered multiple losses to the division’s elite such as – Shane Carwin, Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos, Daniel Cormier, Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem, and Andrei Arlovski, so he has had his fair share of losses, but he has also shown himself to be one of the best to ever do it.

Here’s the best of Mir –

Fabricio Werdum

Bottom line he was the first guy to truly beat Fedor Emelianenko – because for all of Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum’s great achievements in MMA, that moment was still one the greatest in his career in my opinion, but there were many other great ones.

His record of 21-6 is fantastic, and considering the names he has on that record and in the manner he beat them is unbelievable in many ways – first off he went on a great 6 fight win streak to win the UFC Heavyweight title beating the likes of – Roy Nelson, Mike Russow, Nogueira, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, and Cain Velasquez.

Shockingly Werdum has not only beaten, Nogueira, Emelianenko and Velasquez, he beat all three of them via submission, which is something we will likely never see again at Heavyweight.

With his 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Werdum is easily one of the most decorated submissions grappler’s to ever compete in MMA. His striking has also come on a lot in recent years under Rafael Codeiro, which even at 39, still makes Fabricio Werdum relevant at the top of the heap.

If it wasn’t for the emergence of Stipe Miocic, then Fabricio Werdum would likely still be the champion right now, so that should tell you how good he really is.

This highlight video really shows his best qualities –

In closing

Wow that was a wild ride! So many great fighters, but now you have a good idea of who the top MMA fighters of all time are.

Other Honourable mentions that easily could have made this list are: Alistair Overeem, Antonio Nogueira, Bas Rutten, Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, Andrei Arlovski, Shane Carwin, Tim Sylvia and the late Kevin Randleman.

Stay tuned for the next instalment where we look at the top ten light heavyweight MMA  fighters of all time, right here at the MMA Gateway.

Make sure you subscribe like and share, also if you have any comments or questions then please post some below as your engagement is always enjoyable and is what makes the MMAGateway what it is.

See you soon!


Marley Dawkins


  1. Wow, the first 3 I watched were Randy, Josh and Cro Cop and all I could do is admire the dedication to the craft. I liked them all but I think Cro Cop absolutely masters that left high kick as you mentioned. I think I seen him completely knock out his opponents with it about 5 different times in his highlight video. Maybe even more than 5 but this is an awesome post you have here.

    I feel like the fighters on this page are the result of going to bed late and waking up early because when you want something bad enough, you end up being unstoppable like all the top fighters you have listed here!

    As always, great article Marley.

    • Hey Jaron, yeah your right dedication to the craft is the perfect way to explain all these men in this list – but yeah Cro Cop was the first dude to start Knocking guys out consistently with the left head kick, and now look at how many fighters can do it – he as a true pioneer, and surprising that he never held a UFC Belt

      Yeah hard work always pays off bro 🙂 

      Anyway thanks for dropping in again, always appreciate your feedback and support, see you soon!

  2. Hey man, you forgot about the Iceman Chuck Liddell. He and Couture had some brawls before Couture hung up his boots. I would have liked to see a Fedor/Liddell fight but they couldn’t make it happen when Fedor was overseas. The truth is they are all good fighters at the top of their games and on any given Saturday one of them can win.


    • Hey Brad, yeah Chcuk Liddell only competed at Light-Heavyweight and don’t worry he will be on the top 10 Light-heavyweights of all time in the next part 🙂 like you say he had some epic bouts with Couture and others, but no Fedor has always stuck to the Heavyweight division, although he probably could have made 205 pounds. 

      But yeah definitely that’s a part of why MMA is so entertaining, you never know what could happen on any given day!

      Oh by the way if your thinking of building some Heavyweight muscle, then make sure you have some good protein to work with.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Marley,

    That was a great article; I really liked the videos!
    One of my friends is a boxer but in medium weight. He won the Gold Medaille in his town, but he is by far being the champion of the world:) He still needs work a lot!
    However, I was a bit shocked when I watched the video with Fabricio Werdum because he was keeping hitting the man once he fell on the floor. It was really aggressive. I thought that the rule was to stop beating once someone falls. Isn’t that way it should be? Or maybe this man is furious:)
    Thank you for this excellent post!

    • Hi Daniella, glad you liked the article and videos 🙂 but cool! Your friend would have a great base if he ever wanted to go into MMA, Boxing is a great martial art to start out learning, who knows maybe your friend would be really good at MMA too 🙂

      But yes some fights can have some aggressive outcomes, but in MMA the fight continues until somebody taps, someone gets Knocked out, or the ref stops the fight due to too much damage being landed – that last one is a tough one for referees, because sometimes fights get stopped early and sometimes they go on too long.

      Fabricio Werdum is not known as a dirty fighter, and its really his Jiu-Jitsu that is the most devastating in his arsenal, but yes his ground and pound is brilliant as well, and yes MMA can be shocking when you start watching it, but the beauty of the sport is really in the amazing techniques being displayed by professional martial artists expressing themselves for our viewing pleasure – this post will clarify a few more things for you.

      Anyway thanks for your feedback Daniella!

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