The Top Seven UFC Warriors of All Time

April 6, 2009

Tuesday night Spike TV's brand new original series Deadliest Warrior premieres at 10pm, so I figured it's a better time than ever to take a few minutes and hash out who the all-time greatest UFC warriors are.

7. BJ Penn

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One of only a few fighters to hold titles at two different weight classes, "The Prodigy" has an unnatural ability to inflict pain on the lightweight insubordinates. He has wins over Matt Serra, Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, and Sean Sherk, all of whom have held titles of their own.

His recent loss to St-Pierre has caused him to slide a little on the all-time list, but none of that changes what Penn has done in the lightweight class and, for now, he securely holds his spot at the back of my list.

6. Royce Gracie

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Source: Markus Boesch/Getty Images

Without Royce Gracie, it's fair to say that mixed martial arts as we know it today would not exist. The sheer dominance of which Gracie dispatched opponent after opponent in the early days the UFC caught the attention of eager fans across the globe.

Gracie beat insurmountable odds with his unmatched jiu-jitsu skills and submitted much larger opponents en route to tournament victories at UFC 1, 2, and 4. Gracie was responsible for some of the most technical battles in the early years of the UFC and provided legitimacy in the midst of a blood sport. Without the groundwork laid by Gracie, the UFC may never found the foothold it was looking for and could very well have fallen to the wayside.

There is a little bit a Gracie's soul in every card the UFC holds and for that he always be remembered as an all-time great.

5. Matt Hughes

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In one of the most competitive weight classes ever, Matt Hughes is the most decorated champion in UFC history. With a staggering 42 overall wins and a 9-2 record in title fights, Matt Hughes ruled the welterweight class for so long, the belt was practically named after him. Early in his career Hughes was charged with the task outgrowing the shadow cast by his predecessor and mentor Pat Miletich. It was an undertaking that would have crumbled most challengers, but Hughes took it on with all cylinders and never looked back. He will never again be thought of as "Little Pat."

Over his journey he recorded wins over Carlos Newton, Frank Trigg, Georges St-Pierre, and Hayato Sakurai, but perhaps the most symbolic win was his TKO victory over the legendary Royce Gracie. With it, he officially ushered out the old and welcomed the new, and though he could be controversial outside the cage, there is no denying that he was a force to be reckoned with inside it, which is why he deserves to be considered on the all-time list.

4. Chuck Liddell

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Knocking out the opposition with a ferocious consistency that no one has been able to match, Liddell struck fear across the light heavyweight division since his debut at UFC 17. It wasn't long before his became the most feared right hand in the UFC and he won his first title in 2005 from the one and only Randy Couture.

Liddell's punching power has almost reached mythical proportions, but Spike TV recently stepped up to show just how dangerous Liddell really is. In this clip from Deadliest Warrior, Liddell takes on science and finds out how truly deadly he can be.

3. Randy Couture

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Nearing 46 years old, Randy Couture, one of the last crusaders, transcends the old and the new. He has been the face of the UFC since its infancy and remains one of the most fearsome and loveable stars an astonishing 12 years after his debut. Couture's career has been nothing but amazing with a combined nine successful title fights across two weight classes.

After losing his heavyweight belt in 2002 to Josh Barnet, Couture had a bumpy ride and shocked the MMA community with his retirement announcement immediately following a second loss to Chuck Liddell. A year later, Couture waged war against time and returned to the Octagon, where he would defy logic and natural order in a geriatric victory over Tim Silvia at UFC 68 to regain his belt for the last time.

Couture would again step back form the fight game, only to triumphantly return in a fight to defend the belt he never lost against Brock Lesnar. With a sideways grin, Couture walked to the Octagon one more time - Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle blazing" - and reminded everyone why he's among the most beloved and honored champions in the sport.

2. George St-Pierre

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The pure athlete. The current champion, ruling his division from the icy streets of Montreal, has proven himself among the most dangerous men on the planet with victories over the likes of Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and, BJ Penn. St-Pierre is in a class by himself and operates on a level that most cannot understand. His freakish conditioning and ability to control fights with a relentless pace has kept him on top of the division since 2007.

In his most recent victory over BJ Penn, St-Pierre shut down his opponent with a technical perfection that few, if any, can match. St-Pierre's methodical destruction of Penn put to rest any doubts that St-Pierre deserves his place at the top of the all-time list.

1. Anderson Silva

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The untouchable. Silva brings new meaning to the word dangerous. The epitome of a mixed martial artist, no one in the history of MMA has mastered the art and science of destruction with the same vicious beauty as Anderson Silva. Called a "ballet of violence" by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Silva's graceful dominance is awe-inspiring.

After defeating Rich Franklin to earn the middleweight belt, Silva ran through everything the UFC had to offer, barely breaking a sweat. With no challenge seeming too big, he was set to face former Pride Champion Dan Henderson in what was to be a clash of the Titans. It turned out to look more like a massacre. Silva picked apart the stronger Henderson with superior striking in the first round. He survived, barely, only to be submitted at 4:52 of the second round and with it, Silva declared in a clear voice that he was the evolution of fighting sports.

Silva has gone on to defend two more times and emerged from both bouts virtually untouched. Heading into his next defense against Thales Leites at UFC 97 on April 18th, he seems unstoppable.

The only big question mark left on Silva's career is what next? He's been tested on all stages and proven himself superior in every way and thus earning his place at the very top of the all-time greatest UFC warriors.

Credit: UFC.com

Record the premier of Deadliest Warrior from Direct TV right here

 

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