The popular saying goes, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." The quote can be perfectly applied to certain fighters in the MMA world.
Over the years, the UFC has seen the who's-who of the sport begin at the bottom, rise to the top, and then fall back to where they started over and over again. But something separates a select few from the rest, making them stand out in the crowd.
Here are the 4 UFC stars who arrived in the UFC with the promise of greatness, and delivered during their time in the organization.
4. Israel Adesanya (UFC middleweight champion)
Now considered one of the best strikers in mixed martial arts, Israel Adesanya was known in the combat sports world because of his stunning kickboxing resume, with more than 75 wins. He was one of the most exciting additions to the UFC roster when he was signed by the promotion in December of 2017.
Adesanya proved in his debut fight against Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 that he was here to do things in his own unique way. Israel Adesanya won the fight via TKO in the second round and took home the Performance of the Night bonus.
Adesanya went on to amass an undefeated streak of nine wins, including a knockout victory over Robert Whittaker to become the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.
After two successful defenses of the title, Israel Adesanya, in an effort to make history, went up a division to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight belt.
Despite being unsuccessful, the loss is unlikely to prevent 'The Last Stylebender' from 'daring to be great'. This along with his entertaining entrances and high-energy style among other qualities, makes him one of the best fighters the Octagon has seen.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov
According to many, Khabib Nurmagomedov is the GOAT in the UFC and the MMA world. While some might contest that, there is no denying that 'The Eagle' has done something unparalleled in the sport.
Hailing from the rugged terrains of Dagestan, and trained from childhood in the art of wrestling by his father, Khabib Nurmagomedov debuted in the UFC with a submission win against Kamal Shalorus. This was followed by an excellent decision win over Gleison Tibau.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's rivalry with arch-nemesis Conor McGregor, following his UFC lightweight championship win at UFC 223 against Al Iaquinta, is now the stuff of MMA legend. Nurmagomedov finished McGregor in round 4 of their UFC 229 bout after following an intense buildup to the fight.
Creating history by retiring undefeated, Khabib Nurmagomedov was removed from UFC rankings recently after UFC president Dana White confirmed the news via social media. Nurmagomedvo's legacy, however, will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of MMA fans.
2. Jon Jones
Jon Jones is undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of fighting gloves. From becoming the youngest champion in UFC history to holding multiple UFC records in the light heavyweight division, Jon Jones has proved time and again that he deserves the top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings.
If not for his skirmishes with the law or testing positive for banned substances, Jon Jones would not only have the longest undefeated streak in the UFC, but he would also have been the longest-reigning UFC champion in history.
Jon Jones is now preparing for a move up to the heavyweight division after having vacated his LHW belt. After yet another pay dispute with the UFC, it now seems like Jon Jones and Dana White have settled their differences and agreed on a deal for a fight against heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
1. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor once said, "I’m going to change the way martial arts is viewed. I’m going to change the game. I’m going to change the way people approach fighting." And that is exactly what he went on to do.
'The Notorious One' made a name for himself when he went through Marcus Brimage with a first-round knockout on his UFC debut. The Irishman went on to put the entire sport on the world map with his rise to the absolute top of the sport.
The image of the Irishman perched at the top of the cage at Madison Square Garden with two UFC belts on his shoulders would go on to define mixed martial arts for years to come,
McGregor's ascent to the peak from 2013 through 2016 drew in millions of fans to the UFC. Conor McGregor is, without a shred of doubt, the biggest superstar the sport has created.