Is Anderson Silva the greatest of all time? We rank our top 10 best fighters in MMA history
As Anderson Silva sees the octagon door shut behind him tonight, we wonder whether "The Spider" truly is the greatest fighter of all time.
After being knocked out by current middleweight champion Chris Weidman, his rematch for the 185lb belt saw him break his leg in horrific fashion and we wonder how much those two defeats have affected his GOAT status.
Is Anderson Silva still the best to ever don a pair of mixed martial arts gloves? Where does young-gun Jon Jones rank? And how are the old guard represented?
And before we cause a Twitter storm that will send the internet tumbling into oblivion, let's preface this by saying we judged this list based on the OVERALL career of the fighters, not where they rank right now.
10. Dan Henderson (30-13)
We almost left poor old Dan Henderson out of this list in favour of BJ Penn but then we went back and looked at their fights.
Forget about his recent outings, "Hendo" is a beast and a legend of the sport and we deserve a signature Henderson left hook for even considering omitting him.
Our heart drops every time we see him lose because it is undeniably upsetting his legacy but we're sticking by the man who started out his career going 9-0.
We're not going to sit here and say that Henderson is the most technically sound fighter in any element of MMA but this list has precisely nothing to do with technique.
"Hendo" would get in there and scrap with anyone and is the last man to beat one of the most dangerous fighters of all time, heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko.
And when he does retire, which we truly hope is sooner rather than later, he will forever be remembered for one of the most unforgettable knockouts of all time when he curled Michael Bisping's toes in 2009.
9. Randy Couture (19-11)
With the indifferent record of an average fighter, Couture was anything but.
"The Natural" won UFC gold in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions and deserves his place on this list based purely on the fact that he has 15 championship fights to his name.
He's also been attributed with establishing the technique of dirty boxing whereby fighters use short hooks and uppercuts to cause damage in the clinch.
But his main contribution to the world of MMA comes in the form of ground and pound. Randy was one of the first fighters to use his grappling credentials to keep his opponents' backs on the mat so that "The Natural" could rain down punches.
Fighting into his late 40s, Couture became a hero to many fighters today and laid the foundation for wrestlers to excel in the UFC.
8. Chuck Liddell (21-8)
Chuck was arguably the first guy to bring MMA to the mainstream back in the mid-noughties when he went on a seven-fight win streak with the UFC, winning the UFC light heavyweight title and defending it four times amidst those fights.
He was embroiled in some of the most compelling rivalries over the years including a healthy, respect-filled one with Randy Couture and a not-so-respect-filled one with Tito Ortiz.
Strangely, he's fought the same man more than once on five occasions with pairs of fights against Ortiz, Renato Sobral, Jeremy Horn and "Rampage" Jackson as well his famous trilogy of fights with Couture.
Liddell was an advocate for the use of defensive wrestling whereby he would stuff the takedown attempts of his opponent so that he could take advantage of his superior striking which is shown by the fact that he's won by KO/TKO in 13 of his 21 wins.
7. Matt Hughes (45-9)
Matt Hughes had just the 29 wins to his name before he was given the chance to fight for the UFC welterweight championship in 2001.
He was the typical All-American wrestler who was pound-for-pound one of the strongest men to ever take to the cage.
For a period of time before GSP erupted on the welterweight scene, Hughes was THE guy at 170lbs in the UFC and enjoyed a 22-fight stint (16-6) with the promotion before his retirement in 2011.
A hard-nosed grappler, Hughes had some of the best slams we've ever seen in MMA and his win column is littered with some of the biggest names in the history of the sport with Georges St-Pierre, Royce Gracie and BJ Penn all finding themselves stopped by the biggest little man in MMA.
6. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1NC)
If you don't love Wanderlei Silva just a little bit then MMA may not be your sport.
The Brazilian is probably the most vicious fighter ever to compete and he has never shown up to a fight without being ready to put his body on the line in the hope of entertaining fans.
Don't let his UFC record of 5-7 confuse matters because, in the PRIDE days of the early 2000s, he went 18 fights undefeated with only three of those bouts needing the judges' scorecards.
We're sure the cynics among you will question the legitimacy of that promotion and we're well aware of the prevalence of PEDs in that organisation but that doesn't take away from the fact that "The Axe Murderer" can put anyone to sleep with a hook... or a knee.
And in the UFC, in which drug testing is much more stringent, Silva has wins over top guys including Michael Bisping, Cung Le and Brian Stann.
There's no doubt that modern-day MMA would not be where it is today without Wanderlei.
5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-9-1, 1NC)
One of the true veterans of the sport, he is deserving of all the praise he gets because of how dominant he once was.
Nowadays you're lucky to see elite fighters fight twice a year but back when Nogueira was building his reputation, he fought 13 times between October 2000 and December 2002. If that's not impressive enough, he won every single one of those 13 bouts. And if that's not impressive enough, he won 11 of those fights inside the distance.
That's staggering stuff from arguably the greatest heavyweight Jiu Jitsu practitioner in the history of the sport.
"Big Nog" has just shown shadows of his former self since his move to the UFC in 2007 since when he has amassed a 5-5 record but, at 38, he still has the ability to knock out tough heavyweights like Brendan Schaub and submit MMA legends like Tim Sylvia.
4. Jon Jones (21-1)
Leaving all personal aspects of his life out of this, we reckon Jones will find his way atop this list in the next year or two if he continues fighting the way he is.
The 27-year-old is arguably the most entertaining fighter to watch in the history of the game just based on the fact that he tries things that we have never seen before and he is somehow improving fight-by-fight.
Whether it be the unusual shoulder-lock he used against Glover Teixeira or the spinning elbow he threw as a counter to a Stephan Bonnar kick, this kid is as creative as it gets.
He has looked nothing but dominant in every fight he has taken with none of them coming against any slouches.
He's got a 72% finishing record and is dangerous everywhere, against anyone. Just look at what he did to perennial title contender Lyoto Machida for God's sake.
And, in all reality, "Bones" should be 22-0 in his fight career because his only loss came as a technicality in a dominant performance against Matt Hamill in which he used illegal elbows (a ludicrous rule in MMA).
Expect him to top this list by the end of 2016.
3. Georges St-Pierre (25-2)
The only thing that's keeping St-Pierre in third place is his failure to finish fights in the last five years.
Currently semi-retired, GSP has his place in MMA history due to the fact that, throughout his career, it was he who decided where the fight took place.
The best tactician to ever wrap his hands, GSP would employ the perfect gameplans to expose the weaknesses of his opponents and sometimes that would lead the Canadian to take fewer risks.
But in his early days, "Rush" was a finisher. He stopped our #7 Matt Hughes by both submission and TKO between 2006 and 2007.
He also stopped one of the toughest fighters in MMA history, BJ Penn, inside the distance when Penn's corner requested the fight to be stopped in between rounds.
Some of our favourite GSP action came against Josh Koscheck in 2010 when he put forward the best exhibition of the effectiveness of the jab by destroying Koscheck's face for five rounds.
The record of the Quebec native speaks for itself and both of his losses came under unlucky circumstances in an otherwise flawless fight career.
We're hoping to see more of him in the octagon.
2. Fedor Emelianenko (34-4, 1NC)
It was a tight one between Fedor and GSP for second spot but we were so terrified of upsetting Fedor that we simply couldn't give lovely Georges the nod.
The Russian is undoubtedly the scariest man to take part in any combat sport and he was thought to be literally unstoppable for almost a decade in the early noughties.
"The Last Emperor" went 28 fights unbeaten between 2001 and 2009 with just six of those bouts seeing the final bell. That's a petrifying return.
He had arguably the heaviest hands of all time with ten knockouts to his name in his 12-year fight career.
But submissions were Fedor's bread and butter. He got the tap from his opponents in 16 of his outings and they came more out of his unprecedented power than any overwhelming technique.
1. Anderson Silva (33-6)
Was there ever any doubt?
There will be the naysayers who will claim that his last two outings have sullied his legacy as an unbeatable striker but we refuse to ignore what he's managed to pull off in the octagon.
It's easy to forget the amount of entertainment that "The Spider" brought to his fights but our memory's fantastic
For the striking creativity alone, Silva gets our nod as he led the way for Jon Jones and other young fighters like Conor McGregor and Stephen Thompson to use their stand-up to express themselves.
Just take a look at this stepping reverse elbow in his last fight outside the UFC to see how astoundingly innovative the Brazilian is.
After signing with the UFC, he showed that his arsenal was almost flawless, knocking out beasts at 185lbs such as Rich Franklin and Nate Marquardt before choking out Dan Henderson and going the distance with Thales Leites.
His kicks are among the best you'll ever see in an MMA highlight reel, with this front kick to Vitor Belfort the top of the pile.
He made the move to light heavyweight a few times and made the 205lbers look foolish by putting on clinics against both Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
He also gave us one of the best, if not the best, rivalry in the sport's history during a pair of fights against brash wrestler Chael Sonnen. Both tests he passed with flying colours. The first fight against Sonnen showed the toughness that Silva possessed to go along with his striking and grappling credentials as he was beaten up for four rounds before pulling a triangle choke out of the bag in the final round.
BJ Penn, Tito Ortiz, Jose Aldo, Royce Gracie, "Rampage" Jackson, "Shogun" Rua, Mirko Cro Cop, Frank Mir, Mark Coleman, Vitor Belfort, Bas Rutten, Cain Velasquez, Rich Franklin, Frank Shamrock.