This is by no means a list that is set in stone. Yet I have taken into account: wins, breakthrough achievements, consistency and fighting intelligence. There will be notable exclusions since I am only listing those who fight or have fought in the UFC. Notable exceptions will be Wanderle Silva, Bas Rutten, Fedor Emilianenko etc., who didn’t fight UFC, did not excel, or just weren’t in their prime while in the UFC.
10. Tito Ortiz
Tito is tied at third with the most wins in UFC history. He was considered unbeatable in his prime. His first fight was at UFC 13 but it was at UFC 22that he got his first title shot. He beat Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25 to gain the light-heavyweight title which he defended a record 5 times. This record is still held by Ortiz in the light-heavyweight division. He is also the only UFC fighter to reach the 27 fight mark.However Tito did become a controversial figure with his “bad boy” attitude and his disrespectfulness towards fellow fighters. Perhaps this also helped Ortiz become the number 1 pay-per-view draw of 2006. He scores low in this list for having refused to fight Chuck Liddell to protect his title leading to the Liddell and Couture fight for the Interim title. His most notable fights were against Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell and his three fights against Ken Shamrock.
9. Chuck Liddell
Chuck “The Ice Man” Liddell got his break in MMA at UFC 17 but did not become notable until he beat Kevin Randleman at UFC 31. He got his first title shot against Randy Couture at UFC 43, losing by TKO. He then on to beat Randy at UFC 52 in what would become the second of one of the greatest fight series in UFC history. He went on to defend the title 5 times, just one short of Tito. An he is notable for “fighting anybody”. The reason he beats Tito on the list is because his exciting sprawl-and-brawl style of fighting and his incredible abilities to defend takedowns and his unmatched knockout power. He is tied at second with the most number of wins, 16, having finished 11 of those by knockout.
8. BJ Penn
The second fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two different weight classes, BJ Penn comes in at number 8. He became the first non-brazilian to win the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in the black belt category and also applied this in the octagon. He defended the lightweight title 4 times and the welterweight title 1 time. He dethroned the previously thought unbeatable Matt Hughes of the welterweight title with some of the best jiujitsu in UFC history.
7. Randy Couture
Having held a title in both in the light-heavyweight division and in the heavy-weight division Randy is an all round bad ass. He, like Tito, made his debut at UFC 13 and when on to win the UFC heavy-weight tournament (yeah, back then fighters had to fight several times in each tournament to win). He defended the heavyweight title 6 times and the light-heayweight title 3 times for a combined total of 9 title defenses putting him second in UFC history.Randy was an all round guy, with excellent wrestling and also showing excellent boxing ability. He is considered a ground-and-pound fighter. He holds the record of most title fights in the UFC with 15. His holds notable wins over Tito Ortiz (where he spanked him), Chuck Liddell, and his knock-out win over long time champion and boring fighter Tim Sylvia.
6. Ken Shamrock
One of the pioneers of the sport, Ken Shamrock made his Debut at UFC 1 losing to the legend Royce Gracie at a time when the world hadn’t been exposed to jiujitsu. He went on to win UFC 6 to become champion. He also holds a notable draw with Royce Gracie at UFC 5. He is also one of the few fighter to have beaten Bas Rutten, having done so once he did it again, becoming the only fighter to beat him twice. He retained his title at UFC 7 and UFC 8 and finally lost it to Dan Severn at UFC 9. At a time where the UFC had little to no rules shamrock held his own. His ruthless persona and his skills as a fighter earned him the nickname “The World’s Most Dangerous Man”. He will be remembered for introducing Shootfighting to the MMA world.
5. Mark Coleman
Another innovator of the sport, a wrestler, Mark Coleman introduced the Ground-and-Pound into MMA. He’s arguably the second most influential person in MMA due to this breakthrough achievement. He won the UFC Heavy-weight tournament on three separate occasions back when there was no championship belt. He holds notable wins over Dan Severn, Don Frye, and Shogun Rua breaking his arm and starting an all out brawl afterwards. His style paved the way for fighters like Emilianenko, Couture, Dan Henderson and many more who have used a perfected his technique.
4. Georges St. Pierre
Also known as GSP is a world class wrestler and considered by many either the number 1 or number 2 pound for pound fighter in the world. He holds 16 wins in the UFC with only 2 loses. Both of which he redeemed later in his career. His elite wrestling is considered so good he has even been considered for the Canadian Olympic team. He has been Canadian Athlete of the Year on three separate occasions. His style is unmatched, with elite wrestling, great stand-up, and an incredible stamina. He is one of the most humble and charismatic fighters out there, both in the octagon and out. He has defended the title 9 times and 6 of them consecutively. GSP is coming out of an injury and is set to make his comeback at UFC 154. If he comes back as good as before the 31 year old will keep reigning the welterweight division for some time to come.
3. Matt Hughes
Coming in at number 3 is a multiple record breaker in the UFC. An elite wrestler he is one of only two people to defeat GSP. He holds the most winsever in the UFC with 18 and is tied at second with the most title defenses with 9. He was widely thought to be unbeatable and routinely named the top pound-for-pound fighter during his reign as a welterweight. He makes numerous lists as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Like GSP he is known for his unmatched work ethic and dedication. He beat every single available opponent in his prime. Like Coleman, Couture, Ortiz, and Shamrock he is now in the UFC Hall of Fame leaving a legacy and still records to beat.
2. Anderson Silva
Widely considered the number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Silva is also considered the greatest UFC fighter of all time. He is the Michael Phelps of the MMA world. Almost as if he was built in a lab to be the ultimate fighter. His long reach, his stamina, his flexibility and knock out abilitymakes him the greatest. He is also considered the most exciting fighter to watch, being a knock-out artist and/or dominating fights to the point that his opponents run out of the ring, like at UFC 101 when he defeated Forrest Griffin. He has beaten every opponent that has come forth and there is virtually no one who can defeat him today.
1. Royce Gracie
This might be a controversial placing because like the pioneers mentioned above Royce probably couldn’t beat most of the champions today. With that being said Royce and his family not only started the UFC but also created the most dominant martial art in the sport, brazilian jiujitsu. There is nothing that can be said about Royce that wasn’t personally demonstrated by him at UFC1. At a time when there were no rules and no weight classes he faced opponents who should have been in two or three weight classes above him and beat them. He won the UFC 1, UFC 2, and UFC 4 tournaments. He also participated in the longest fight in UFC history at UFC 5 against Ken Shamrock, who he had beaten in seconds at UFC 1. Showing how rapidly this martial art caught on in the MMAworld. For creating the concept of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the martial art that has come to dominate the sport Royce Gracie gets the number 1 spot.