THE world of MMA has been put in stasis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s an ideal time to take stock and look at the best fighters to have ever graced the sport.
But our expert had no room for Conor McGregor, arguably the most famous UFC fighter of all time.
Here’s SunSport top ten MMA fighters of all time – and why.
10. CHUCK LIDDELL
UFC Hall of Famer, Liddell paved the way for future generations of MMA stars.
The former champion was a cultural phenomenon that played a major role in the UFC’s early success.
His rise to stardom culminated at UFC 47 in 2004 against Tito Ortiz, which was the biggest fight the UFC had seen.
He finished his rival in under 40 seconds of the second round and became the first person to knock out Ortiz during a fight.
The win marked the start of a legendary run for Liddell whose influence on the sport makes him one of the best MMA fighters ever.
9. RANDY COUTURE
UFC juggernaut Couture is credited for helping bring MMA into mainstream sports.
Despite having a peppered record of wins and losses (19-11) the UFC veteran was one of the first wrestlers to make a mark in the sport.
The 56-year old was a three-time heavyweight and two-time light heavyweight champion.
From Chuck Liddell to Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman to Brandon Vera, Couture has challenged many of the MMA greats.
Over the course of his 14-year career, ‘the natural’ has set many records and defined what it means to be a top fighter in the world of MMA.
8. AMANDA NUNES
The two-division champion, Nunes has unrivalled dominance in women’s MMA.
Over the course of her 13-fight UFC career, “The Lioness” has beaten every woman to hold championship gold in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.
She bulldozed her way past MMA superstars, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.
Not only did she defeat all five former champions, but she has finished them all in the first round.
This earned Nunes “the greatest female fighter of all time” title, according to UFC president, Dana White.
7. KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV
Since claiming the lightweight title in 2018 against Al Iaquinta, “The Eagle” has earned his place among the greatest fighters in MMA history.
At UFC 229 in his first title defence, Nurmagomedov made history against his arch-nemesis, Conor McGregor.
He used his trademark grappling skills to submit “The Notorious” and went on to defeat Dustin Poirier in a similar fashion a year later.
Despite racking up an undefeated 28-0 record, the 31-year old has only defended his lightweight belt twice.
Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the champion was forced to withdraw from his eagerly anticipated bout against Tony Ferguson, who instead lost to Justin Gaethje last month at UFC 249.
Nurmagomedov will need to face off against other top-ranked fighters to build his reputation as the MMA king.
6. DANIEL CORMIER
Before becoming an MMA star, Cormier was an Olympic wrestler and team captain for the US 2008 squad.
His wrestling experience served him well as “DC” made his MMA debut in 2009 and tallied 15 back-to-back wins.
He has achieved a near-faultless record in the UFC and has defeated several knock-out artists such as Derrick Lewis and Anthony Johnson.
The 41-year old became one of the UFC’s only two-division champions as he held the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles simultaneously.
However, his career took a turn for the worse in his last octagon appearance against Stipe Miocic.
Cormier first beat Miocic by first-round KO in 2018 at UFC 226, but went on to lose their rematch by fourth-round TKO a year later.
A trilogy bout is expected to take place some point in the future and will determine who is the heavyweight king once and for all.
5. DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON
The former inaugural flyweight champion, Johnson set the gold standard in the UFC men’s lightest division.
The 33-year old claimed the 125-pound title in 2012 against Joseph Benavidez and successfully defended his title a whopping 11 times.
He was widely considered the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world up until his 2018 loss to Henry Cejudo.
The former champ lost by split decision and fans were divided over which fighter performed better.
Even Cejudo recently named his former opponent “Mighty Mouse” as the greatest fighter of all time.
Johnson eventually parted ways with the UFC but continues to assert dominance across the pond at ONE Championship.
4. FEDOR EMELIANENKO
Emelianenko was an unstoppable force in the early days of MMA and has long been in the conversation as one of the best.
‘The Last Emperor” made his professional debut in 2000 and he didn’t lose a fight for the following nine years.
In that time, the heavyweight titan used his submission skills and knock-out power to rack up 27 wins.
The Russian athlete has won accolades in multiple combat sports and was dubbed the greatest MMA fighter of the decade by Sports Illustrated.
His blockbuster bout against Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ at PRIDE FC earned him the reputation as the most feared opponents in MMA.
3. ANDERSON SILVA
Anderson Silva is an MMA legend who has gone to battle against the toughest opponents in the middleweight division.
“Spider” fought top prospects such as James Irvin, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and tallied a record-breaking 16-fight win streak.
He also secured ten successful title defences for seven years which earned him the longest title reign in UFC history.
The 45-year old’s masterful striking and knockout finishes earned him several ‘fight of the night’ and ‘fighter of the year’ distinctions.
However, doping violations for steroid use and consecutive losses towards the end of his career have cast a shadow over an otherwise phenomenal record.
2. GEORGES ST-PIERRE
The Canadian athlete is often dubbed the greatest MMA fighter of all time, and for good reason.
The fan favourite became a two-division champion in both the middleweight and welterweight divisions.
He has built an impressive resume (26-2) in the sport, defeating UFC legends such as Michael Bisping and BJ Penn.
His only two losses were against Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, but “GSP” bounced back in both rematches and proved to be the better fighter.
St-Pierre also proved to be a man of integrity, as he has never experienced a doping violation throughout his 15-year career.
He held the record for the most title wins and held 13 consecutive victories before deciding to quit whilst he was ahead.
St-Pierre hung up his MMA gloves for good in 2019 and cemented his position as one of the world’s top MMA fighters.
1. JON JONES
Jones is the undisputed light heavyweight champion and widely regarded Greatest Of All Time.
His fast and furious rise to stardom took place in 2003 when he beat Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by TKO to become the youngest UFC champion.
“Bones” has shown unparalleled skill time and again against the likes of Daniel Cormier, Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida.
The 32-year old has accomplished a professional 26-1 record, in fact his only loss was due to an illegal elbow disqualification in 2019.
His legacy within the sport has been put into question, especially following his last fight against Dominick Reyes earlier this year.
Jones won by unanimous decision, but many fans were shocked at the judges’ ruling and felt his opponent should have won.
In addition to rising tensions with the UFC and Dana White over a possible Francis Ngannou fight, Jones announced his decision to vacate the light heavyweight throne earlier this month.
Other controversies that have tainted Jones’ career include multiple arrests and doping violations.
Nevertheless, his undeniable fighting ability and track record have stood the test of time, making Jones one of the best MMA fighters ever.