One of the greatest debates happening in mixed martial arts today is who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. We can crunch the numbers to rank these guys systematically but where’s the fun in that?
Every fan has their firm favourite Ultimate Fighting Championship contender over the past decades and we believe being an all-time-great takes more than what we read from statistics. Yo Tipster! has compiled it’s own chart of top 10 fighters in the 265-lb division in the UFC based on a shortlist of criteria: fight record, character, longevity; and influence.
Here are our picks… do you agree?
1. Stipe Miocic
Arguments have been made that Stipe Miocic has not yet proven himself to be the best UFC heavyweight in history. However, the fact the Cleveland native has the record number of title defences in the history of the 265lb division help make Miocic the best fighter ever seen in the UFC Heavyweight division.
Fighters like Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos have all been stopped by Miocic. The only fighter who Miocic has beaten as champion who was not stopped – Francis Ngannou – was dominated by Miocc at UFC 220 in what would be his only UFC loss to date.
Watch Miocic’s highlight reel:
2. Cain Velasquez
Perhaps the biggest shame in the career of Cain Velasquez is the numerous injuries that have sidelined him in recent years. The Mexican-American heavyweight made his UFC debut after just two MMA fights, and took the division by storm before winning the title from Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 in 2010.
Velasquez lost the belt in his first defence against Junior Dos Santos, but he eventually avenged that loss by dominating Dos Santos in two rematches. His last fight was an emphatic first round victory against Travis Browne at UFC 200, but injuries have meant that Velasquez’s momentum in the Heavyweight division continues to be stalled.
Watch Cain’s highlight reel:
3. Fabricio Werdum
A surprising fact about Fabricio Werdum, especially in the context of this list, is that he was actually released from the UFC back in 2010, following a loss to Junior Dos Santos. However, after a dominant tenure in Strikeforce, Werdum re-signed with the UFC and asserted himself as one of the best heavyweight fighters in the mid-2010s.
The Brazilian easily defeated top ten fighters like Roy Nelson, Travis Browne and Mark Hunt en route to a title fight against Cain Velasquez, who he defeated via submission to win the title. Although age now seems to be getting the better of Werdum, there is no denying that his achievements in the UFC Heavyweight are rivalled by only a handful of other fighters.
Here are some career highlights from Werdum:
4. Randy Couture
His record on paper looks less than stellar, but Randy Couture’s age-defying domination of the UFC Heavyweight during the 2000s puts him on the list of UFC’s best ever heavyweights. A three-time UFC Heavyweight champion, ‘The Natural’ made history by winning his second Heavyweight title at 43 years of age.
Perhaps even more surprising was that Couture successfully defended his title after his 44 th birthday, finishing Gabriel Gonzaga – nearly 16 years his junior – via punches at UFC 74. Couture would eventually go back to Light Heavyweight, where he fought before retiring just two months short of his 48 th birthday.
Watch Randy Couture’s career highlights:
5. Brock Lesnar
There is little doubt that Brock Lesnar’s name value helped give him a fast track to a UFC Heavyweight title shot, but his capturing of the title and subsequent defence showed that he was well and truly a top tier UFC Heavyweight. Lesnar beat Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight title, which he subsequently defended against Shane Carwin. Losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem followed, but Lesnar left his mark and proved himself to be one of the top heavyweights to ever grace the Octagon.
Check out Brock’s UFC highlight reel:
6. Frank Mir
The last five or so years of Frank Mir’s career saw him mostly play the role of top ten gatekeeper. Despite that, Mir’s longevity in the UFC, along with his initial dominance in the heavyweight division make him of the top ten fighters in UFC heavyweight history.
Mir was just 25 when he beat Tim Sylvia in less than one minute at UFC 47 to claim the Heavyweight title. Injuries from a motorcycle accident sidelined Mir for nearly two years, but he would remain a top ten fighter for a decade after he returned.
See vintage Frank Mir in action:
7. Tim Sylvia
Tim Sylvia plateaued heavily in the later stages of his MMA career, but there is no denying that the 6’8 Heavyweight was one of the best UFC Heavyweights of the 2000s. He made his UFC debut at UFC 39 against Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira and was immediately granted a title shot in his next fight, which he won in the first round.
While he lost the title to Frank Mir at UFC 47, he reclaimed the belt two years later after a first round TKO of Andrei Arlovski. He successfully defended the belt against Arlovski and Jeff Monson before losing it to Randy Couture.
See some of Tim Sylvia’s best UFC moments:
8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Although Minotauro Nogueira’s prime years came before he fought in the UFC, the Brazilian fighter’s victories against the promotion’s top fighters warrants him a spot on this list. He made his UFC debut against Heath Herring following a long and distinguished career in Pride.
After beating Herring, Nogueira won the interim UFC Heavyweight title after submitting Tim Sylvia in the third round. Injuries eventually took their toll on Nogueira, and he retired from MMA in 2015 after a loss to Stefan Struve.
Here are Nogueira’s best MMA moments:
9. Junior Dos Santos
He only started training MMA in his early 20s, but Junior Dos Santos quickly became one of the most feared heavyweights in the UFC. After knocking out Fabricio Werdum, Dos Santos won another five fights in the Octagon, which came against fighters like Mirko Cro Cop and Shane Carwin.
After beating Cain Velasquez in just 64 seconds to win the UFC Heavyweight title, Dos Santos successfully defended the belt against Frank Mir at UFC 146. He went on to lose the title in a rematch against Velasquez, but Dos Santos still remains a top five heavyweight to this day.
Watch Cigano’s UFC highlights:
10. Andrei Arlovski
Throughout the 2000s, there were few UFC Heavyweights who were better than Andrei Arlovski. The Belarussian submitted Tim Sylvia to win the UFC Interim Heavyweight belt at UFC 51 and defended it once before being promoted to the undisputed titleholder.
He would eventually lose the belt back to Sylvia but remained a top five fighter in the UFC and other organisations throughout the rest of the decade. Arlovski returned to the UFC in 2014, and has won fights against other top fighters like Frank Mir, Travis Browne and Stefan Struve since his return.
Here is Arlovski’s highlight reel:
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