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Counting down to the best MMA fighter of all time

Ronda Rousey: A pioneer in women's MMA
Ronda Rousey: A pioneer in women's MMA
Paul Benson
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Mixed martial arts invaded the mainstream back in November 1993, when a pay per view event entitled "The Ultimate Fighting Championship" took place. The concept was intriguing; eight fighters from different disciplines competing in a single elimination format to determine the greatest fighting style of all. It was Brazilian Royce Gracie, with his brand of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu who wowed the audience by defeating opponents much larger than himself, including Ken Shamrock, with whom he would build a considerable rivalry.

In the past quarter of a decade, MMA has expanded massively and now there are promotions all over the world promoting fights. In America, Bellator has been competing with UFC since 2008 and has signed many of the promotion's former stars such as Tito Ortiz, Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen.

Worldwide, there are other promotions now making waves, such as Absolute Championship Berkut based in Russia, ONE Championship in Singapore and Pancrase in Japan to name just three.

There are several now defunct promotions such as PRIDE, that made stars out of Wanderlei Silva, the Nogueira's and others and Strikeforce that was home to future megastar, Ronda Rousey.

MMA has produced several outstanding fighters, male and female and this slideshow will look at the 15 best.

There are several fighters who are notable legends who have not quite made the cut. Names such as: BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Royce Gracie miss out for varying reasons such as fighting too far past their prime, or not being as well rounded as other fighters on this list or not enjoying the success they should have done.

In calculating this list, the following factors have been taken into consideration when determining the top MMA fighters of all time:

Multi-dimensional fighting styles

Dominance

Drawing power

Crowd reactions

Title wins and successful defences

Standard of opposition defeated

Wins in different UFC/MMA weight classes

So, without further delay, let's count down the 15 greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Do you agree with the men and women on the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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#15 Ronda Rousey (2011 to 2016)

Ronda Rousey: Pioneer for women's MMA
Ronda Rousey: Pioneer for women's MMA

It is easy to forget now given the ignominious end to her MMA career and her current status as a WWE superstar, but the WWE Hall of Famer was a true pioneer of women's MMA, bringing female MMA stars into the mainstream.

In Judo, Rousey won Olympic and World medals before making the jump to MMA and rising to prominence in the Strikeforce promotion before becoming the first ever female fighter to be signed to a contract by UFC.

The first ever women’s match under the UFC banner took place on the 23rd February 2013, at UFC 157, in which Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche by submission in a back and forth encounter which was the perfect showcase for the fledgeling division.

Rousey proved her worth still further when she defeated her long-time rival Miesha Tate at UFC 168. She survived numerous submission attempts by Tate before submitting her with an armbar in the third round.

From there, Rousey decimated her competition in increasingly impressive fashion, crushing Sara McMahon in 66 seconds at UFC 170, Alexis Davis in 16 seconds at UFC 175, Cat Zingano in 14 seconds at UFC 184 and Bethe Correira in 34 seconds at UFC 190.

Rousey was regarded as unbeatable and after twelve straight MMA victories, it certainly appeared that way. However, her gaps in her striking games were badly exposed by former pro-Boxer, Holly Holm at UFC 193 and Rousey's aura, undefeated streak and Bantamweight title all disappeared overnight.

All good things must come to an end and Rousey was shockingly defeated by former boxer, Holly Holm by knockout. Holm had an answer for Rousey’s offense and displayed superior striking skills. Rousey was distraught by her loss and took a year away from the sport.

As the first figurehead in women's MMA, Rousey transcended the sport. Her Olympic credentials, good looks, marketability and massive drawing power led to her becoming the biggest star in the sport at her peak.

What Rousey achieved in the sport cannot be understated and he entry into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018 was much deserved.

#14 Conor McGregor (2008 to present)

Conor McGregor launches himself at Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229
Conor McGregor launches himself at Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229

Conor McGregor has lost some of his aura following his one sided loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. But to write him off based upon that is a disservice to Khabib and McGregor.

McGregor is primarily a striker. His aggressive southpaw based fighting style has brought him impressive, dominating victories over a who's who of MMA; namely:

McGregor has a background in Judo, Karate and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu though evidence of these skills has been sparse in his MMA bouts given his superb success as a stand up fighter.

Where McGregor is unmatched, is his incredible drawing power. "Notorious" has been one half of four of the five highest drawing UFC cards of all time. That is impressive.

McGregor has tasted his fair share of success too. He won the Cage Warriors Lightweight Championship while recognised as the Featherweight Champion; a feat he repeated in UFC when he became the first man to hold two titles's simultaneously when he added the Lightweight title to the Featherweight strap he already owned.

McGregor has notched up wins over top names such as Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo and Nate Diaz to name but three.

His credentials should never be overlooked. McGregor is one of the sport's greatest.

#13 Kazushi Sakuraba (1996 to 2015)

Kazushi Sakuraba: Made a habit of defeating the Gracie family
Kazushi Sakuraba: Made a habit of defeating the Gracie family

Kazushi Sakuraba has been a legend in Japan for over two decades. The enigmatic, Japanese fighter first came to international attention when he won the UFC Japan tournament in December 1997. It was a night not without controversy as he initially lost his first round bout versus Marcus Silveira when referee John McCarthy mistakenly thought he had been knocked out, when in truth he had jumped to the ground to attempt a take-down.

When Tank Abbott pulled out due to injury, a Sakuraba/Silveira re-match served as the final, with the previous encounter now being declared a No Contest. Sakuraba, this time won via Submission. From there, he began competing for PRIDE where he defeated huge names such as Vernon White, Carlos Newton and Vitor Belfort.

Already a legend in his own time, Sakuraba became even more famous for defeating a long line of fighters from the Gracie family. He earned the nickname, the "Gracie Killer" and knocked off Royler, Renzo, Ryan and most impressively Royce in the longest MMA fight ever, at 90 minutes duration during the 2000 PRIDE Grand Prix.

Even in his later years, Sakuraba still defeated top line superstars such as Kevin Randleman and Ken Shamrock.

In truth, Sakuraba fought too far past his prime and lost his final five fights between 2010 and 2015. However, what he achieved prior to 2010 was ground breaking for Japanese MMA.

#12 Ken Shamrock (1993 to 2016)

UFC pioneer: Ken Shamrock
UFC pioneer: Ken Shamrock

Ken Shamrock competed at UFC 1 in November 1993 and was many observers pick to win the inaugural tournament given his impressive physique and credentials. It was considered a major shock then when he cleanly submitted to the much smaller, Royce Gracie in the semi-final.

However, Shamrock would be back. He competed in Pancrase simultaneously with UFC and after withdrawing from the UFC 3 tournament final due to injury, he got his opportunity at a re-match with Gracie at UFC 5 and dominated him for 36 minutes. The lack of judges during the early years of the UFC were the only thing that prevented him from victory. Shamrock instead had to settle for a draw.

At the following UFC, he defeated Kimo to become the company's first Superfight Champion; a title he held until UFC 9, when he dropped it to Dan Severn on a Split Decision.

Shamrock fought just once more in MMA before joining the World Wrestling Federation after MMA and UFC in particular was forced underground by the United States government.

Due to the worldwide fame he achieved in the WWF, PRIDE in Japan, made Shamrock a massive financial offer to return to MMA in 2000. He did so and the 36-year-old returned with a bang by becoming the first man to ever stop Alexander Otsuka in a fight.

Two years later, he contested the fight of the year with Don Frye at PRIDE 19 when despite wrenching Frye in an Ankle Lock for over five minutes, found himself on the wrong side of a Split Decision.

Shamrock's performances earned attention from his old friends at UFC and he was offered a return bout versus Tito Ortiz, with whom he had had bad blood for years.

UFC 40, built by the hype of Shamrock's return earned the promotion it's biggest buy-rate in well over half a decade, pulling 100,000 orders. Shamrock had brought UFC back into the mainstream, where it has stayed ever since.

Shamrock's next UFC bout saw his final victory inside the Octagon wherein he defeated Kimo once again in a heavily hyped re-match.

From there, Shamrock had mixed fortunes in MMA. He dropped two more matches to Ortiz in UFC, before he won just two of his final seven fights. Although his losses to Mike Bourke and Gracie were shrouded in controversy.

Shamrock did fight long past his prime; that much is true, but in terms of influence on the sport and the fighters he trained in the Lion's Den, well rounded fighting ability, drawing power and importance to the entire sport, few can match the "World's Most Dangerous Man."

#11 Randy Couture (1997-2011)

Randy Couture: UFC Hall of Famer
Randy Couture: UFC Hall of Famer

Perhaps the greatest wrestler to ever compete inside the Octagon is “The Natural” Randy Couture.

Atypically, Couture is one of the only martial artists to get better with age, winning three UFC titles after he turned 40 years old, continually developing and expanding his skills despite his advancing age.

Couture first appeared at UFC 13, winning that event's Heavyweight tournament. He followed that victory up with a hugely impressive win, over the much younger, dynamic and then unbeaten, Vitor Belfort at UFC 15 which earned him a shot at Maurice Smith's Heavyweight title which we won at UFC Japan in December 1997.

Couture left the company shortly afterwards owing to a contract dispute but found his way back to the company in 2000 and won the Heavyweight title for a second time in his return bout versus Kevin Randleman. Couture extended his UFC unbeaten streak to six fights when he successfully defended the title twice versus Pedro Rizzo. Couture dropped the title to Josh Barnett at UFC 36 and after failing to win it back at UFC 39, he was considered over the hill.

However, the then 40-year-old shocked the world to defeat the much younger Chuck Liddell to win the Interim Light-Heavyweight title and won the belt outright by dominating Tito Ortiz, who had previously been unbeaten in his past six fights. With those victories, Couture became the first man to win UFC Championships in two different weight classes.

He retired in 2006 only to return a year later, when he was offered a Heavyweight title match against Tim Sylvia. The 43-year-old dismantled the younger, taller and stronger champion to win the title for a record third time. That record still stands.

“Captain America” remains the most popular martial artist in UFC history as well as one of the most successful. Boasting an impressive sixteen victories over a who’s who of UFC Hall of Famers, such as Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Tito Ortiz and Maurice Smith, Couture’s mark on the company is unmistakable. His drawing power was substantial too, with four events headlined by him surpassing 400,000 buys and one drawing over one million.

Couture is unquestionably one of the greatest MMA stars of all time.

#10 Matt Hughes (1998-2011)

Matt Hughes: Dominated the Welterweight division
Matt Hughes: Dominated the Welterweight division

The King of the Welterweight division, Matt Hughes dominated the best UFC had to offer for over a decade.

Debuting for the promotion in 1999, Hughes soon found himself in the Championship picture and he won his first Welterweight Championship versus Carlos Newton at UFC 34 in November 2001. That was Hughes’s first win of a six-fight UFC winning streak which was ended by BJ Penn at UFC 46 in an upset, where Hughes’s overconfidence led to being undone by a rear naked choke.

Hughes atoned for his loss when he began another six-fight winning streak which encompassed a second Welterweight title win, this time opposite George St. Pierre and also saw him avenge his loss to Penn.

That run also included a huge win over UFC 1, 2 and 4 tournament champion, Royce Gracie at UFC 60. Hughes was regarded as the greatest pound for pound MMA star in the world at this time and it is difficult to argue with that opinion. His superiority was such that he defeated every other fighter in his division.

Hughes lost his second Welterweight title to GSP at UFC 65 and failed to recapture the belt in a rematch at UFC 79.

Hughes only fought a handful more times with mixed results, losing his final two matches against Penn and Josh Koscheck.

However, Hughes’s impact in his heyday can never be dismissed. He was a submission machine at his peak and the most dominant Welterweight of his era until his crown was taken by GSP.

#9 Amanda Nunes (2008 to present)

Amanda Nunes: The most dominant female MMA star of all time
Amanda Nunes: The most dominant female MMA star of all time

A strong case can be made for Amanda Nunes being the greatest female MMA performer of all time.

The Brazilian had an inauspicious start to her career losing her first MMA fight, then dropping two more in her first 10 fights. However, once she joined UFC, Nunes became an athlete transformed.

Nunes followed up impressive wins over Shayna Baszler, Sara McMann and Valentina Shevchenko with a Bantamweight title victory over Miesha Tate.

Nunes then effectively retired female pioneer, Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 in her first title defence.

Nunes's dominance over the rest of the female UFC roster was underlined, emboldened and italicised when she battered, Cris Cyborg, who was undefeated in her previous 21 fights, spanning 13 years in under a minute at UFC 232.

With that victory, she won the Featherweight title as well; becoming the first woman to hold two UFC titles simultaneously.

Nunes will be remembered for a long time yet and still has more to give.

#8 Tito Ortiz (1997 to present)

Tito Ortiz: Dominated UFC's Light-Heavyweight division
Tito Ortiz: Dominated UFC's Light-Heavyweight division

Tito Ortiz burst onto the scene at UFC 13, the same show that Randy Couture debuted on. Like Couture, Ortiz competed in a one night tournament, but lost in the final in the Light-Heavyweight division.

From there, Ortiz avenged his loss to Mezger at UFC 19 where he famously upset, Ken Shamrock whom was in Mezger's corner by donning a T-shirt that said: "Guy Mezger is my b*tch."

Ortiz defeated Wanderlei Silva to win the vacant Light-Heavyweight title at UFC 25 and defended that title successfully five times which included huge victories over names such as: Evan Tanner, Vladimir Matyushenko and most famously, Ken Shamrock at UFC 40, an event that re-popularised the sport of MMA in the United States.

Ortiz's dominance in the Light-Heavyweight division was snapped when he was shockingly defeated by Randy Couture at UFC 44. His long-awaited clash with former buddy, Chuck Liddell at UFC 47 also ended in defeat.

However, the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" soon bounced back with a five fight winning streak, which encompassed classic wins over Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin.

That streak earned him another crack at the Light-Heavyweight strap, held by Liddell. Unfortunately for Ortiz, Liddell got the better of him once more which began a slow decline for Ortiz.

He went five years without a victory inside the Octagon until he bested Ryan Bader at UFC 132 in July 2011. That was to be his final UFC win as he dropped his final three fights for the promotion before retiring from the sport.

Two years later, Ortiz made a comeback in Bellator, where he won three of his four bouts for the number two promotion in the States.

In his final fight, in November 2018, Ortiz finally defeated his great rival, Liddell at the third time of asking with a first round Knockout in a fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.

#7 Wanderlei Silva (1996 to present)

Wanderlei Silva: The world's best Middleweight in the mid 2000's
Wanderlei Silva: The world's best Middleweight in the
mid 2000's

Wanderlei Silva is widely considered the greatest Middleweight fighter of all time.

It is recognition that is well deserved.

Silva began his MMA career in his native Brazil before debuting for UFC in December 1997. It was an inauspicious start for him as he was memorably pummeled in under a minute by a dominant Vitor Belfort.

He won just one of three UFC fights in his initial run with the company before he joined PRIDE in Japan.

Silva competed at five consecutive PRIDE events between PRIDE 10 and PRIDE 14, winning four times and drawing once. That was a run that earned him a shot at the Middleweight belt versus Japanese legend, Kazushi Sakuraba. Silva knocked out Sakuraba to lift the title. Silva would hold onto the strap for a staggering six years, when he finally dropped it to Dan Henderson.

Silva's list of victims in PRIDE was staggering; Sakuraba (three times), Henderson, Quinton Jackson (twice), Guy Mezger and Ricardo Arona.

When PRIDE was bought out, Silva was signed up by UFC once more.

His UFC return career, in truth never lived up to the billing. The problem was that Silva had fought so frequently in PRIDE, that he had little left in the tank.

His performance opposite Chuck Liddell in the co-headliner of UFC 79 was the fight of the year in 2007 and proved he was still an incredible fighter. However, gone was the dominant aura he once held.

Silva won a few bouts in his second UFC career, most notably versus Keith Jardine and Michael Bisping before he ventured to Bellator in which he dropped his final two MMA bouts.

However, despite flattering to deceive during his final years as an MMA star, one cannot question Silva's achievements during his prime years.

#6 Jon Jones (2008 to present)

Jon Jones: Only loss was via disqualification
Jon Jones: Only loss was via disqualification

Controversy follows Jon Jones everywhere he goes.

Jones has missed a ton of time from the Octagon owing to suspensions from drug use and an unpleasant hit and run incident he was responsible for back in April 2015.

Jones's solitary loss as an MMA fighter was also shrowded in controversy, given that he was disqualified in his defeat to Matt Hamill in December 2009. Despite dominating the fight, Jones lost when he continually dropped downward elbows on the fallen Hamill. He was initially docked a point, but when the strikes were seen to have dislocated Hamill's shoulder, he lost the fight due to disqualification.

Jones defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to win the Light-Heavyweight Championship at UFC 128, then defended that title successfully eight times over the next five years. In that run, he downed Quinton Jackson, Lyota Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and Daniel Cormier.

That is a Hall of Fame career right there. After Jones was stripped of the belt due to a failed drugs test, he returned 15 months later to win the Interim Light-Heavyweight title opposite Ovince Saint Preux. Chaotically, Jones was his own worst enemy once more, as he was stripped yet again for testing positive for a banned substance.

He finally returned at UFC 214 wherein he bested Cormier for a second time but inexplicably found himself suspended again due to another failed drugs test. His Light-Heavyweight title win was cancelled and the result changed to a No Contest.

After over a year on the shelf, Jones finally returned at UFC 232 in December 2018 and won convincingly versus Gustafsson to claim the Light-Heavyweight crown vacated by Cormier once again.

Despite his controversies, which will always mar his achievements, Jones is a supremely talented striker and wrestler and will always be remembered as one of the finest martial artists in history.

#5 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (1999-2015)

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: The first PRIDE Heavyweight Champion
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: The first PRIDE Heavyweight Champion

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is twin brother to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and between them, the Brazilians took the MMA world by storm.

Rodrigo Nogueira in particular has achieved what few Heavyweights in MMA history ever have.

Nogueira holds the distinction of being the only man to have held the UFC and PRIDE Heavyweight Championships. He was the first man to wear PRIDE Heavyweight gold when he defeated Heath Herring at PRIDE 17. He held that title for 16 months before he was upended by Fedor Emelianenko, who would hold it until the belt was deactivated.

"Big Nog" won the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship versus Tim Sylvia in just his second appearance for the promotion at UFC 81 on February 2, 2008. However, Nogueira's achievements are far more than two titles won.

Nogueira fought an incredible 21 times for PRIDE in just five years, and scored wins over huge names such as: Mark Coleman, Gary Goodridge, Bob Sapp, Dan Henderson, Ricco Rodriguez, Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett.

In UFC he defeated legends such as: Sylvia and Randy Couture.

Ostensibly a grappler, "Big Nog" jointly holds the record for most submissions in PRIDE history with 11, shared with Kazushi Sakuraba. Nogueira was also a supremely talented striker and achieved several wins via Knockout as well.

Like Sakuraba and Silva, his frequent fighting in PRIDE took a toll on his body and he fought less frequently, with less success as he grew older and lost his final three fights.

However, no one can take away what "Big Nog" achieved in his 16 year career.

#4 Khabib Nurmagomedov (2008 to present)

Khabib: Still undefeated after a decade of action
Khabib: Still undefeated after a decade of action

Khabib Nurmagomedov is the only fighter on this list who remains unbeaten.

Khabib's homeland of Russia has a proud tradition of producing MMA fighters and he is among the best of the Russian MMA fighters ever as wel

The Russian made the headlines for all the wrong reasons at UFC 229 after he dismantled Conor McGregor in the headliner at the highest grossing MMA pay per view of all time.

Many fans may not have been aware of Khabib prior to the McGregor fight, but make no mistake, the Russian had been building his own legacy at an impressive rate.

Khabib has won all 27 of his professional fights; the most recent 11 have been under the UFC banner.

Making his debut inside the Octagon in January 2012, Khabib defeated Kamal Shalorus via rear naked choke.

Khabib has continued to rack up victories over names such as: Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta, whom he defeated to win the Lightweight Championship.

Khabib's fighting style where he grinds down his opponents with a ground and pound style, which is virtually inescapable, may not be easy on the eye, but it is among the most effective ever seen in MMA history.

Khabib is the real deal and at only 30 years of age, has plenty of time on his side to become the greatest ever fighter in MMA history.

#3 Anderson Silva (1997 to present)

"The Spider" had the longest title reign in UFC history

Ask anybody who they consider among the top UFC fighter's of all time. Many people will answer that question with the following name: Anderson Silva.

Silva began his career in his native Brazil before he jumped to PRIDE in 2002 where he fought four times, winning three; most notably over Alexander Otsuka and Carlos Newton.

In 2006, nine years after his MMA debut, Silva finally found his way to UFC where he won the Middleweight Championship in his second fight for the promotion at UFC 64.

From there, Silva held that title for an incredible record breaking 2,457 day reign, which finally ended seven years after it began at UFC 162 in July 2013, when he dropped the strap to Chris Weidman.

Silva's reign is the longest of any title in UFC history.

His unique fighting style which encompassed aggressive counter-attacking, combined with the sharp head movement of boxing, a precise striking accuracy, the ability to switch between an orthodox stance and southpaw, and a strong ground and submission game, made Silva the finest MMA fighter in the world.

He's defeated a who's who of MMA in his long career including luminaries such as: Rich Franklin (twice), Dan Henderson, Forest Griffin, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen (twice), Vitor Belfort and Stephan Bonnar.

Unfortunately, the loss of the Middleweight belt spelt the end of Silva's dominance and he has won only one of six fights since. Retirement is close. But what a ride it has been.

#2 Fedor Emelianenko (2000 to present)

Fedor Emelianenko: The greatest Heavyweight MMA star of all time
Fedor Emelianenko: The greatest Heavyweight MMA star of all time

Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest Russian MMA fighter of them all. That covers a lot of ground. But Fedor is worth every superlative that can be thrown at him.

Put simply, he is the dominant Heavyweight that MMA has ever seen. He also holds the distinction of being the finest fighter to never fight inside UFC's Octagon.

Fedor spent the first two years of his career, competing for his native Russia's Rings promotion before he found his way to PRIDE in 2002. PRIDE would be his home for the next five years and was where the Russian made his name as the finest Heavyweight MMA has ever produced.

Fedor competed in PRIDE on 15 occasions and did not lose a single fight during his tenure there.

He became the second and final ever Heavyweight Champion in PRIDE history when he upended Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to win the title at PRIDE 25 in March 2003.

He defended that title successfully versus such legends as Nogueira in a rematch, Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt and won the 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix.

UFC attempted to sign him several times after PRIDE folded but the two parties could never agree terms. Fedor fought for the likes of Strikeforce and Affliction instead and kept on winning.

Most recently, even at the age of 42, Fedor advanced to the final of the Bellator Heavyweight tournament before he was defeated by the much younger Ryan Bader.

Fedor's impressive striking and aggressive ground and pound approach made him the most feared Heavyweight MMA fighter of all time.

With a record of 38 wins, 6 defeats and 1 no contest, "The Last Emperor's" record is virtually unmatched in a two decade career.

#1 George St. Pierre (2002 to present)

GSP: Achievements unrivalled in MMA
GSP: Achievements unrivalled in MMA

The greatest Welterweight in company history, Canadian, George St. Pierre or GSP, is also the greatest fighter in UFC history.

Debuting in the Octagon, at UFC 46, back in January 2004, GSP quickly worked his way up the ranks, earning a Welterweight Championship shot at Matt Hughes at UFC 50 on October 22nd that same year. Although GSP came up short on that occasion, he put Hughes on notice that he was a serious contender for that crown.

On the 18th November 2006, GSP finally defeated Hughes to take the Welterweight crown. From there, he shockingly lost the belt during his first defense to Matt Serra before reclaiming it in another bout with Hughes at UFC 79 in December 2007. GSP then defended that title an incredible 10 times, building up a winning streak of 12 consecutive victories before he announced an extended leave from the sport citing burnout, following victory over Johnny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November 2013.

In February 2017, it was announced that GSP had signed a new multi-year deal with the UFC. His comeback began with a bang. In his first MMA fight in four years, he defeated Michael Bisping for the Middleweight Championship in a stunning bout which concluded when GSP submitted the Champion with a rear naked choke.

In doing so, he became only the fourth UFC fighter in history to win titles in different weight classes and also equalled Bisping’s UFC record of 20 victories in the promotion.

GSP vacated the belt soon afterward due to a bout of ulcerative colitis. He has still npy yet returned at time of writing. However, when he does return, there is no telling what the greatest ever can further achieve. Bouts versus Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have been mooted. Do not bet against GSP continuing to add to his legacy for many more years yet.

Edited by Kingshuk Kusari
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