Saturday, October 24, 2020

Top 10 UFC fighters of the decade

This decade has been huge for the UFC, seeing a number of events take place at a higher profile than anything the company had seen in the rest of its history. There are many fighters that helped the company grow throughout the decade, but we had to narrow it down to just 10.

10) Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley is not a popular figure amongst UFC fans, mostly due to his slightly lacklustre title fights throughout his welterweight title reign. While the fights themselves weren’t a thrilling spectacle, it can’t be denied that Woodley was one hell of a champion for the UFC while he held he belt.

Woodley would defend his welterweight title on four different occasions, fighting a style that was focused on mitigating what his opponents did best, rather than going out to defeat them. It was an effective strategy and one that showed him to be an elite fighter, until he ran into the freight train than is Kamaru Usman.

9) Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has done more for the sport of MMA in the past decade than pretty much anyone else. He has brought millions of new eyes to the UFC. Through the early years of the decade McGregor was one of the most entertaning fighters to watch in the company, however in the latter half of the decade things have gotten a little strange.

Looking at McGregor’s record over the past few years, he hasn’t won a fight since a 2016, going 2-2 over his past four fights. He became the first ‘champ champ’ in the history of the UFC, a monumental feat, however his failure to defend either of the titles once again works against him.

McGregor has had one hell of a decade, that much cannot be denied, however his record inside the cage doesn’t allow him to rank any higher on the list than this.

8) Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo has exploded in the last couple of years. Following his victory over Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC flyweight champion, he did everything in his power to expand and secure his legacy, hounding Dana White to let him face off against TJ Dillashaw.

Not only would Cejudo smoke Dillashaw in the first round, but it turns out that his opponent had been juicing before the fight. Following their fight, Dillashaw would be stripped of the belt giving Cejudo the chance to step up and take on Marlon Moraes for the vacant title. He would go on to win the fight in impressive fashion, becoming the Triple C that we know and… tolerate… so well today.

7) Max Holloway

As Joe Rogan said multiple times this past month, Max Holloway is considered one of the greatest featherweight champions of all time. Before his loss to Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway was undefeated in the division for over five years, amassing one of the greatest streaks the division has ever seen.

Not only would he defeat some of the toughest guys in the division, but he would pick up two huge wins over Jose Aldo – the man who was considered to be the greatest featherweight of all time until he came across the path of Blessed.

Holloway has a long way to go yet, at just 28 years old. He had an incredibly decade however we could still be yet to see the best of Max.

6) Stipe Miocic

Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC, he has taken out some of the greatest names in the division and defended the belt for a record three times consecutively. Following his loss to Daniel Cormier, Miocic would fight back and reclaim his throne, become a two time champion.

You look back at his record and can see that he has beaten a who’s who of the heavyweight division, clearing the whole thing out on his way to capturing the title before taking out even more guys while defending the belt. If he can retain the belt against Cormier next year, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone else can dethrone him.

5) Khabib Nurmagomedov

One of the most dominant fighters in the history of the sport, one of few things stopping Khabib from being further up this list is simply the men that he has fought. He has picked up wins over some big names; looking at Rafael Dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. However most of those wins have come in the past couple of years.

Khabib rose to the top towards the end of the decade, which has solidified his place this high on the list. He rules the lightweight division and I would be surprised to see anyone take that crown from him, even Tony Ferguson. It seems as though the only thing that could stop him at this point, is himself.

It’s rare you watch Khabib fight and see a moment of the fight that he isn’t utterly dominating his opponent, he is yet to face anyone in the cage that could stop him from taking them to the mat, the man is an absolute animal.

4) Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes has turned women’s MMA on it’s head. Back at the start of the decade, a woman who doesn’t even feature on this list, would set a standard in the sport. Ronda Rousey looked like a world beater, building a legacy that seemed like it couldn’t be surpassed. The Lioness has taken that legacy and made it look like a joke.

Not only would Nunes absolutely obliterate Rousey, in a fight that looked like a pro taking on an amateur, but she would begin to work away at almost every aspect of Rousey’s legacy purely by continuing her career. Nunes currently sits at five consecutive defences of her bantamweight championship, just one away from tying Rousey’s record. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her break that record by the end of next year.

Just to top it all off, after already doing the impossible in defeating Ronda Rousey, Nunes managed to do the downright absurd. Stepping up to featherweight and taking on Cris Cyborg, challenging her for the title that felt as though it existed purely for Cyborg. She wouldn’t just beat her, she would dominate her from the first bell, knocking her down a number of times in the first round en route to an early stoppage. Amanda Nunes is the greateset women’s MMA fighter of all time.

3) Georges St-Pierre

The consensus ‘best to ever do it’, Georges St-Pierre only fought for four years in the decade, excluding his comeback in 2017. In that time he completed more successful title defences than almost any champion we’ve seen in the rest of the decade, retaining his belt on six occasions between 2010 and 2013 alone.

Four years after he stepped away from the cage and vacated his title, GSP would return to take on Michael Bisping for the middleweight title, aiming to become just the fouth multi-divisional champion in the history of the UFC. After four years away from the competition, while suffering from ulcerative colitis, in a weight class above any he had ever competed in, GSP would defeat Michael Bisping to become the UFC middleweight champion.

It is a testament to his legacy and ability that he could step away from the sport for as long as he did, only to return and pick up from exactly where he left off. GSP is the greatest to ever do it and it will take some effort for anyone to ever knock him off that perch.

2) Demetrious Johnson

I feel like there are a few people who are going to question this choice, having DJ this high up the list, however it is most certainly deserved. Mighty Mouse broke the record that many people thought would never be beaten, defending his belt a record 11 times in a row between 2012 and 2018.

DJ was not only the most dominant champion in the history of the UFC, but he was by far the most dominant champion of the decade. Holding the flyweight title from 2012 through to 2018, losing it in an extremely close split decision, a fight which many people suggested that he actually won.

His new mark of 11 consecutive title defences will likely never be surpassed, looking throughout the UFC, there are few people that make it to the top of their division at an age that will allow them to defend their title for that length of time, let alone being able to successfully defend it against the best that their division has to offer on 11 consecutive occasions.

1) Daniel Cormier

The things that Daniel Cormier has achieved in this decade are almost unparalleled in the history of the sport. DC joined the UFC in 2013, originally making his debut in the heavyweight division before moving down to light heavyweight once teammate Cain Velasquez captured the title.

His run at light heavyweight was one of the best in the history of the division, surpassed only by Jon Jones, a man who would likely top this list if it weren’t for the vast number of controversies that have marred his career over the past few years.

Cormier would clean out light heavyweight, defending the belt three times before moving up to challenge Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight championship. It was a fight that not many people picked Cormier for, going into the bout he was taking on a man that was and is considered to be the best heavyweight champion in the history of the division. Not many people picked DC to win, even fewer would pick him to win via knockout.

Cormier would become the second ever ‘Champ Champ’ in the history of the UFC, he would also go on the be the first double champ to actually defend one of his belts. He has created a legacy for himself that can be surpassed by few in the history of the sport and cemented himself on the Mount Rushmore of MMA.

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