The Ultimate Fighting Championship is still relatively young in comparison to other sports, most notably its main “rival” boxing. In its 24-year history the sport has seen a change in that early on jiu-jitsu was considered the more dominant style. Other styles such as wrestling, kickboxing and muay-thai have since been melded into the modern day mixed martial arts athlete.
In this article we’re going to take a look at the top-5 pound for pound UFC fighters of all time. The list only includes fighters that fought within MMA’s premier promotion, UFC, so Fedor Emelianenko is most notably absent, though he is widely considered to be one of the greatest MMA fighters ever.
This list was compiled through not only myself, but also a vote of fans through social media. As with most “greatest of all time” lists, it is sure to be met with disagreement and we welcome comments and thoughts below.
Honorable mention: Royce Gracie, the original GOAT.
Hughes was a two-time All-American wrestler out of Eastern Illinois. He was able to overpower most of his opponents on his way to becoming a two-time welterweight champion.
Hughes had a career MMA record of 45-9 and was recognized as the number one P4P fighter in the sport during his title reign of 1577 days. The Hillsboro, Illinois native was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in May of 2010.
The selection of Jones to this list comes with controversy and rightfully so following doping allegations and his outside the cage issues. What can’t be denied however, is his dominance over the light heavyweight division, plus the fact he is the one man on this list that can say he never was actually “beaten” inside the octagon. He did suffer a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in December 09′ due to illegal elbows, a decision in which UFC President Dana White said was incorrect.
Jones originally won the light heavyweight title in March of 2011 when he defeated Mauricio Rua by TKO. After defeating Rua, Jones went on to beat four consecutive former World Champions in Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort en route to a light heavyweight record 8 consecutive title defenses over a period of 1501 days.
Jones is the record holder of pretty much every major mark in UFC history in the light heavyweight division. However, there will always be speculation surrounding his achievements.
Johnson is the current UFC flyweight champion and the one guy on the list who would still be considered “active” with Jones awaiting a ruling on his eligibility. He is known for his quick striking and elusiveness.
Johnson is largely ignored by the casual fans due to his size, but he has been at the top of most P4P lists by the sport’s insiders for quite some time. He is currently in the midst of a 13-fight unbeaten streak that dates to a loss in October 2011 in which he fought for the bantamweight title against longtime champion Dominick Cruz.
The Kentucky native holds the UFC record for the most consecutive world title defenses with 11 and has held the flyweight title for a period of over 2000 days and counting. Perhaps Johnson’s most impressive feat was when he beat Miguel Torres by unanimous decision in May 2011 after suffering a broken fibula early in the second round.
St. Pierre is one of just four men in history to win a world title in multiple divisions. He is widely considered by many to be the most complete fighter the sport has ever seen.
The Canadian’s list of records is unparalleled by all but our number one guy. St. Pierre was a three-time welterweight champion–two regular and one interim–and held the title the last time for 2064 consecutive days until his retirement in December 2013.
He holds the record for most consecutive world title defenses (9) in the welterweight division, as well as being tied with Michael Bisping for most career victories at 20.
After being retired from the sport for four years St. Pierre returned on November 4th, 2017 to defeat the aforementioned Bisping for the UFC middleweight title. He would later vacate the belt in December of last year but the feat itself remains.
The Brazilian superstar is considered number one by just about everyone and rightfully so. Yes, later in his career he faced doping allegations and had been called boring at times, but his name is etched into the history books of the sport many times over.
While Silva’s career mark of 34-8-1 isn’t the most eye-popping, it’s what happened during his run in the UFC that sets him apart. Silva joined the organization in the spring of 2006 and went on a tear never before seen or since duplicated.
He began his UFC career by winning an unprecedented 16-consecutive fights with 10 of those being title defenses. Silva won the UFC middleweight championship in October of 2006 by dominating Rich Franklin and held the title for 2,457 days till losing to Chris Weidman in the July of 2013.
Silva, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, holds the record for being the most accurate striker in history landing an astonishing 67.8% of his significant strikes.
The 2457-day reign, the 16 consecutive victories, the most finishes in history (14), along with many other records are the reason most insiders, numerous media publications, Dana White, along with myself feel he is unquestionably the greatest of all time.