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
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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