Author: Dylan Mcbennet
After George Saint Pierre’s win at UFC 217, it would be easy to call the Canadian the greatest fighter of all time, but is he? A title win after a four-year lay off is impressive. Knocking out a fighter the calibre of Micheal Bisping even more so, but does that cement GSP’S legacy as the greatest? I’ve compiled a list of who I believe to be the 5 greatest MMA fighters of all time, followed by my reasoning for their positions.
5- Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
The current Flyweight champion of the world is regarded as the best pound for pound fighter on earth at the moment. Johnson successfully defended his title against Ray Borg at UFC 216, stopping Borg with one of the best finishes in UFC history. Johnson recorded a flying arm-bar from a suplex to finish Borg.
The reason I believe Johnson cannot be solely regarded as the best of all time is due to the weight class he fights in. The Flyweight division is devoid of any true amazing fighters. The Bantamweight division is where all the competition is for Johnson, and yet he shows a hesitancy to step up. Johnson turned down a fight against TJ Dillashaw earlier this year, citing the reason as the bout not being fair on the other fighters in the Flyweight division. Speaking on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Johnson said,”“It’s just the principle of a bantamweight coming down and skipping the line”.
Despite his all of this, Johnson is easily in the top 5 fighters of all time. The American now holds the record for most title defences of all time with 11. Johnson holds an MMA record of 27-2-1. Johnson’s first loss came against Brad Pickett under the World Extreme Championship banner. Johnson will be a future Hall of Famer for sure, and despite his critics is easily deserving of a spot in the top 5.
4- The Notorious Conor McGregor.
The man who brought MMA to the pinnacle of mainstream media. Conor McGregor’s persona drew millions and millions of fans to the MMA world. The Irishman’s personality and humour, as well as his knack of predicting the outcomes of his fights, thrust himself and the UFC into the spotlight, and to back that all up, he can fight too.
McGregor boasts some of the greatest achievements in MMA history. The fastest knockout in UFC Championship history against the only ever Featherweight champion before him, Jose Aldo. He’s the first UFC fighter to hold two world titles in different weight classes simultaneously. McGregor has broken PPV records, Gate records and Social Media records. And he’s knocked people out along the way. Brimmage, Porier, Siver, Mendes, Aldo and Alvarez. All people McGregor has knocked out, all this and he’s only 29. The Aldo knockout may be regarded as the most famous ever.
As with every fighter, the Notorious has his downfalls. His ground game is suspect, shown up in the Diaz one fight. McGregor was choked out in the second round, after shooting for a take down after being rocked for the first time in is UFC career by Diaz. It was also shown up in his fight with Mendes, despite McGregor winning by knockout. Another criticism is his stamina. In 3 of his last 4 fights, McGregor has gassed out early in the bout. Diaz I, Diaz II and the Mayweather bout in August. McGregor’s stamina seems to be hugely suspect, despite his constant training. Another thing about McGregor that people disagree with is, he hasn’t defended a title yet. He’s held the Featherweight and Lightweight and has yet to defend either one, instead he has chased the money fights. For McGregor to be regarded as the GOAT, he needs to start defending belt, or keep his one-liners flowing. Either one will suit us.
3- Jon Jones
The fighter who’s let himself down the most on this list, Jones could have been the GOAT, no doubt about it. The youngest champion in UFC history had the world at his feet when he won the title in March 2011. His career had only begun, but ever since that day, it’s gone from bad to worse for Jones. A lay-off here, a lay-off there. Cocaine abuse, steroids and trouble with the police. Everything you can imagine going wrong has gone wrong for Jones. It’s a shame that his battle with Cormier came at such a turbulent time. Jones beat Cormier once, clean. They then had a scheduled bout cancelled due to Cormier with an injury, and then due to Jones testing positive for PED’S at UFC 200. This prompted a mass outbreak from Cormier.
Jones has been one of the most dominating fighters to ever grace the octagon, his long rangy style has proven unbearable for some of the greats of the fight game. The Americans only loss is due to a DQ from illegal elbows against Matt Hamill. Jones would be further up this list but for his misdemeanours, misdemeanours that may cost him a career in the UFC. Despite this, many purists will still view Jones as one of the greats, and his record in the game would support their beliefs.
2- Georges Saint-Pierre
Controversial, I know, but the Spider cannot be overlooked. Georges Saint-Pierre in any other generation of fighters would be regarded as the GOAT, but Anderson is too good to be overlooked as the best. As a technical fighter, GSP would be regarded as one of the best. His game-plans in his day were second to none. GSP also boasts a better a record than Silva, so why isn’t he first? Silva past his prime years ago. After Weidman 1, Silva tried to get it back. He probably would have if not for the broken leg, the injury which effectively ended Silva’s career. He hasn’t been the same since.
GSP is an amazing fighter in every aspect. His hand speed, his ground game and his kicks. Amazing. How he gauges distance, and how he cuts off the Octagon are the likes we’ve never seen in the UFC before. What lets GSP down is his attention to keeping himself healthy. GSP’S attitude towards this is completely correct, every fighter should aim to keep themselves fit and healthy, but it comes at a cost. From July 11th, 2009 to November 16th, 2013, every single GSP fight was won by decision. GSP’S major downfall is his refusal to go and finish a fight, instead settling for a decision. Anderson Silva on the other hand always tries to finish a fight and invents new ways to do so. Alas, GSP is still a phenomenal fighter by every stretch of the imagination. What he has done in MMA, now becoming the 4th fighter to win a title in two weight classes, joining Randy Couture, BJ Penn and Conor McGregor. The pinnacle of the Canadian’s career may well be the UFC 217 win against fellow Hall Of Fame candidate Micheal Bisping, but despite all that he doesn’t make his way into the number one spot.
1- Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
The great one. Every sport has one, every sport needs one. Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter to ever step foot in a UFC cage. The Spider has accomplished feats like no other, he was the first to ever record 10 successful title defences up until Mighty Mouse broke the record recently. But the Spider still holds many records in the game, to name but a few. Most finishes in UFC title fights(9). Most finishes in the UFC(14). Most consecutive wins in UFC history(16). Spider is a phenomenon. The most finishes one really rubber stamps him as the best. GSP had a tendency to sit back and never go for the kill, Silva went for the kill no matter what. He recorded some of the most beautiful knockouts in UFC history. The two that stand out are the obvious front kick against Belfort in arguably his toughest ever bout. And the straight right hand that KO’d Forrest Griffin. Silva is still going today, the Brazillian recorded a win over Derek Brunson in his previous fight at UFC 208 via unanimous decision.
What sets Silva apart from the rest for me was his movement, his ability to not get hit and to hit. His movement was and still is in some ways some of the most beautiful work the game has ever seen. The way he weaves around the octagon, the head movement of a god and the hand speed to match. We may never see a fighter the class of Anderson Silva again.
This top 5 is based on my opinion, any changes or substitutes you’d like to make let me know.