The most dominant fighter in bantamweight history, Cruz split his success between the WEC and the UFC. When the latter absorbed the former, Cruz became the promotion’s inaugural 135-pound champion. Unfortunately, injuries have decimated his career in recent years, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of his achievements. A two-time UFC champion, his comeback victory over T.J. Dillashaw was one of the greatest ever.
Cruz has traditionally had a massive rivalry with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male gym. He has fought Faber twice, avenging his loss. Then he took the belt from Dillashaw after his return from injury. Between 2008 and 2016, he established an eight-fight unbeaten streak. Furthermore, Cruz had unbelievable footwork, making it very difficult for his opponents to get a read on him.
Some people will scorn Rousey’s place on this list, but that’s foolish. UFC President Dana White literally introduced women’s MMA to the promotion because of the former Olympic judoka. His decision paid off because she rampaged through the women’s bantamweight division. Almost nobody could take her past 30 seconds as she took her opponents down and armbarred them with ease.
Of course, we all know what happened when she started doing movies and ran into Holly Holm. She defended her UFC title six times as well as one more under the Strikeforce label. This was unprecedented at the time because she ran through women. Meanwhile, ‘Rowdy’ had one of the sport’s great rivalries with Miesha Tate. Finally, she emerged as one of sport’s only two mainstream stars alongside Conor McGregor.
Former UFC featherweight champion Aldo is, for our money, the greatest featherweight champion in history. It’s a shame that most recent MMA fans will only think of his post-Conor McGregor days. But before then, he was the most dominant champion in the lighter divisions of the UFC. He went undefeated for 17 fights from 2006 through to 2014 because he was so good.
Some people believe that because Max Holloway defeated him twice, that somehow his record deserves less respect. They also point to the fact that he was just 31 at the time. However, this totally ignores the fact that the Brazilian has put his body and mind through so many wars. One of the greatest strikers the sport has ever seen, Aldo is a clear future Hall of Famer.
Like B.J Penn and Jose Aldo to a lesser extent, Silva’s recent record does not reflect how dominant he was in his prime. ‘The Spider’ changed the UFC with his unbelievable striking. Furthermore, he had ridiculous counter-defense, where he fought with his hands down and slipped his opponents’ strikes. That’s how he became the most successful middleweight champion ever.
Silva achieved an unprecedented 10 successful title defenses at 185 lbs. Along the way, he defeated the likes of Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, and Chael Sonnen. In sum, his career is basically one long highlight reel because he achieved a ridiculous number of knockouts. He also has the most ‘Knockout of the Night’ bonuses in the history of the UFC.
‘The Lioness’ holds the unique accolade of having defeated every women’s bantamweight, and featherweight champion in UFC history. She defeated Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, and Germaine De Randamie. Meanwhile, Nunes also holds two wins over women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Overall, she is a monster and the most dominant female fighter in the history of MMA by a wide margin.
Nunes has incredible power standing and is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Furthermore, she is the only fighter to defend titles in two divisions while continuing to hold both. Her win over Cyborg sealed her legacy as the greatest female fighter of all-time. It will take something special to defeat her again. While she did suffer losses early in her career, she has emerged as by far the most dominant in the sport.
When it comes to MMA as an entity, many people believe that St-Pierre is the greatest of all-time. He’s definitely in the conversation because his run at welterweight was outstanding. The Canadian has the most title defenses in the history of the division with an incredible nine. A two-time champion at 170 lbs, he also avenged both of his losses to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes.
What makes St-Pierre special is that he wasn’t just a great fighter, he was a brilliant athlete. He did gymnastics and dance to improve his ability in the cage. Furthermore, he became a two-weight champion after taking a four-year hiatus. GSP moved up a weight class to choke out Michael Bisping and win the middleweight title. St-Pierre was simply a force of nature.
Jones coming in at third will be controversial to some. However, the four-time light-heavyweight champion is definitely one of the most dominant and talented fighters ever. He has victories over all of his fellow contenders at 205 lbs, including Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Rashad Evans, and ‘Rampage’ Jackson. He was also the youngest UFC champion of all-time.
Jones’s only official loss was a disqualification against Matt Hammil. However, there are two reasons why he isn’t on top of this list. First of all, his most recent performances haven’t been as dominant. Secondly, he tested positive for banned substances multiple times so this automatically taints his legacy. However, despite both of these factors, he’s still one of the greatest of all-time.
A couple more title defenses and Khabib will definitely top this list. With an undefeated record of 28-0, the Russian is one of the most relentless and dominant fighters in the world. He is currently riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC alone. If he beats Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, he will move to three successful title defenses and one step closer to his goal of retiring with a 30-0 record.
The Russian uses his oppressive wrestling style to suffocate and overwhelm his opponents. ‘The Eagle’ grinds them up against the fence and batters them until he can choke them out or they give up. Everybody knows what he is going to do but nobody can do anything to stop him. Essentially, he is the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather for MMA. His superb record and specialized style make him too good.
Now fighting for ONE Championship, Johnson was the first UFC flyweight champion. Nobody could touch him at 125 lbs as he went on a ridiculous run of defenses, running up a UFC record of 11 title wins. Johnson is a complete fighter with excellent striking, creative grappling and BJJ, as well as ludicrous athleticism. If you’ve seen his flying armbar win over Ray Borg, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Some will point to his lack of a standout opponent as a reason why he shouldn’t top this list. However, equally, you could say that he was just so good that nobody was able to really test him. Even Henry Cejudo, who eventually defeated him in 2018, lost against Johnson the first time they fought. Furthermore, many people believed that D.J did enough to win in their rematch. Ultimately, “Mighty Mouse’s” record speaks for itself.