Fighters with different combat sports backgrounds compete in MMA. Over the years, the UFC has also seen its fair share of unique combatants. But, ever so often, some athletes stand out among the best. They may not always be the most highly skilled or decorated fighters on the roster, but they are feared and respected.
Many fighters initially make a huge splash. However, they struggle to find success after setbacks. Luke Rockhold is a good example. He became UFC middleweight champion in 2015 after a dominant run. But he has struggled since losing his first title defense against Michael Bisping.
However, some fighters can retain their intimidating aura even after a few losses. On certain occasions, even champions are cautious in their approach against them. Israel Adesanya never went toe to toe with Romero. Jon Jones stayed away from 'Rampage' Jackson's boxing range. Derrick Lewis turned the tide against Curtis Blaydes with one punch.
A single mistake against such fighters is often the last.
On that note, let's take a look at 5 UFC fighters whose power and strength are feared by all.
#5. UFC middleweight and Olympic medalist Yoel Romero
Yoel 'Soldier of God' Romero looks like a real-life comic book superhuman. For a man his size and build, Romeo closes distance inside the octagon at tremendous speed.
The Cuban started his combat sports journey in Olympic wrestling. He won the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He made his UFC debut much later, in 2013. The Olympian then tore through the UFC middleweight division. He brutally dismantled former champions like Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.
Even when he lost, the former Olympian barely had a scratch on him. He fought Robert Whittaker twice but failed to capture the title. But both times, it was Whittaker who looked more beat up. He stood toe-to-toe, exchanging power shots against a much younger Paulo Costa for three rounds.
The 44-year-old never became champion. However, athleticism and vicious knockout power made him one of the scariest middleweights ever. His durability also speaks for itself. He never lost by knockout in the promotion. After their rematch at UFC 225, Robert Whittaker said:
''He felt like steel. I was punching and kicking him but it wasn’t doing any damage.''
#4. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson
Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson lived up to his nickname. Even before joining the UFC, Jackson became known for his knockout ability. His eccentric personality won him many fans, but he was formidable when it came time for a throwdown.
At Pride: Critical Countdown, he knocked out Ricardo Arona not with a punch or kick but with a massive slam.
In 2007, he knocked out Chuck Liddell and ended his dominant title run. 'Rampage' became the UFC light heavyweight champion. He lost the belt to Forrest Griffin in 2008 but nearly finished Griffin early in the fight.
His second title shot came in 2011 when he faced Jon Jones at UFC 153. Jones outstruck and outwrestled 'Rampage' but quickly created distance anytime Jackson looked for power shots. The 43-year-old also had a successful run at Bellator after leaving the UFC.
Quinton Jackson seemed almost unstoppable in his prime. A power puncher who fought the best and also captured gold.
#3. Dan Henderson, the middleweight with the legendary right hand
Dan Henderson is quite possibly the heaviest hitting middleweight in UFC history. He had a storied career and defeated some of the best mixed martial artists of his day. Such was his knockout power that fans named his overhand right the 'Hendo' bomb.
Henderson made his MMA debut back in 1997. In 1998, he fought twice in the UFC and won. He then moved to Pride FC and went on to become a double champion. Henderson simultaneously held the Pride welterweight and middleweight belts. In his second UFC run, 'Hendo' gave the world one of the best knockouts in MMA history. He KO'd future champion Michael Bisping in round two with a 'Hendo' bomb.
He then joined Strikeforce. At 40, he won the Strikeforce light heavyweight title. He became one of the few men to finish Fedor Emelianenko. He joined the UFC for the third time when promotion bought Strikeforce. In the final fight of his career, the Californian lost a rematch against Bisping. Even at 46, 'Hendo' almost KO'd the champ twice with his legendary right hand.
#2. Anthony Johnson, the man who fought in four different weight classes
Anthony Johnson started his UFC career as a welterweight standout in 2007. For years he had trouble making weight. In 2012, he moved to middleweight for his bout with Vitor Belfort but missed weight. He lost the bout and was cut by the promotion. However, his devastating power began to show itself when he moved to light heavyweight.
At WSOF, he KO'd Andrei Arlovski at heavyweight. He won and broke Arlovski's jaw. The UFC signed him again and he dispatched Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as well as Alexander Gustafsson with ease. He then challenged Daniel Cormier for the vacant light heavyweight belt. 'Rumble' almost sent Cormier flying with a punch but ultimately lost via submission.
He challenged Cormier once more after three straight KO finishes. He came up short a second time. During his run, 'Rumble' became one of the strongest punchers in UFC history. Seventeen of his twenty-three victories are by KO/TKO. His raw power was feared, no matter what weight class he fought in.
#1. UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou
'The Predator' burst onto the MMA scene in 2013. He is the only active UFC fighter on the list. In his first fight with the promotion, Ngannou knocked out Luis Henrique in round two. He then went on a tear in the heavyweight division, finishing four of his next five opponents inside one round. In just six fights in the UFC, the man from Cameroon had established himself as a feared puncher.
However, things would come to a grinding halt. At UFC 220, Ngannou was completely taken apart by champ Stipe Miocic. He then lost to Derrick Lewis by unanimous decision. But 'The Predator' came back and KO'd his next four opponents within minutes.
He beat Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a combined 2 minutes and 42 seconds of octagon time.
In 2021, at UFC 260, he outwrestled and knocked out Miocic to win the heavyweight belt. He had an answer for everything Miocic tried. As it stands, ten of his eleven victories have come via KO/TKO. The 35-year-old has left some of the best heavyweights ever unconscious on the octagon floor. Ngannou is not only a powerhouse but a champion who seems to improve with every fight, making him the most feared UFC fighter in the world today.