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Who is the greatest UFC fighter of all time?

When we reach a landmark in sports, it gives us a chance to reflect upon the history, success and era defining moments which have shaped a sport to what it is today. Therefore, with UFC 300 on the horizon, it is the perfect time to start a discussion about which fighters have helped transcend Mix Martial Arts (MMA) from a once frowned upon sport by mainstream media to one which has created some of the most electrifying combat sports events of the 21st century. The greatest of all time (GOAT) is a subjective topic however in this feature I have presented three cases of fighters who all have a claim to be the UFC GOAT but all for very different reasons.

Anderson Silva

Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva arrived in the UFC in 2006 and instantly took the organisation by storm. Silva looked like the first fighter who couldn’t be beaten, fans wouldn’t be tuning in to see if he would win or lose, rather they’d want to see how he would pick his opponent apart fight by fight. The Brazilian backed up this form of ‘immortality’ by setting the longest win streak in UFC history at 16 in a row, a record which still stands to this day. The Spider holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history at 2457 days and has an impressive 10 title defences. Anderson Silva’s success helped take the UFC closer to a mainstream audience and was the first worldwide superstar in UFC history which is why it was essential he was included on this list.

Jon Jones

When you ask most MMA fans who they believe is the greatest fighter to step into the octagon is, the most frequents answer is Jon Jones. Apart from a controversial disqualification to Matt Hamill in 2009, Jones is virtually undefeated, destroying absolutely everyone he has faced in his illustrious career. His 21 ones have come in a variety of different ways, 24% by KO, 29% by submission and 48% by decision per This shows his well roundedness as a mixed martial artist and the reason why no one has managed to defeat New York native. After clearing out the Light-Heavyweight division, Jon Jones stepped up to Heavyweight recently and continued his dominance. Jones career hasn’t come without controversy which is no secret, but his talent and success cannot be rivalled. UFC President Dana White has claimed Jones was his GOAT.

Conor McGregor

This could be seen as a controversial inclusion but my reasoning for McGregor being on this list is slightly different to the previous two. Of course, the Irishman has had a spectacular career in the UFC, becoming the first simultaneous two weight champion was an astonishing achievement at the time. However, I believe Greatness shouldn’t just be defined as fights won and lost, it should include impact. You could seriously argue that Conor McGregor has grown a sport more than any athlete in history. He took the UFC and made it one of the most talked about sports in the world. He has 8/10 of the most PPV buys in UFC history and put the UFC on the map in his fight vs Floyd Mayweather. So despite not having the longevity as the previous two, the former UFC lightweight champion’s greatness goes beyond his in ring achievements.

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May 2024