In the wake of the news that the ‘California Kid’ Urijah Faber will be joining the UFC’s Hall of Fame, we’re going to take a look at ten active fighters who look destined to join him in that esteemed group of athletes when they finally call it a day on their careers.
Ten men and women who have had an undeniable hand in shaping the modern era of the UFC, both through their accomplishments inside of the octagon and out of it.
Honourable Mentions: Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Miesha Tate, Andrei Arlovski
#1 – Ronda Rousey
A true pioneer in every sense of the word, this former champion played a key role in the establishment of the women’s divisions in the UFC and up until her recent decline, proved herself to be amongst the most fearsome fighters in the promotion’s history. Her armbar still to this day stands as one of the game’s most legendary fight-ending weapons and her skills will forever be engrained in the minds of the MMA community.
#2 – Georges St-Pierre
As the former welterweight champion, GSP displayed his polished skills each and every time he stepped into the octagon and despite losing twice (to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra) over the course of his UFC career, he managed to avenge both losses in stunning fashion, setting himself up for a comeback to trump all other comebacks this year when he challenges Michael Bisping for the middleweight title.
#3 – Demetrious Johnson
Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson may well stand as the most technically sound fighter the sport of mixed martial arts has ever seen, marrying together a mastery of striking and grappling with an unrivaled fight IQ to make him the most complete package in the game. With him set to attempt to equal Anderson Silva’s consecutive title defenses record of ten this weekend, his status as a legend of MMA is simply beyond any doubt at this stage.
#4 – Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva currently holds the record for the most consecutive UFC title defenses at ten but regardless of that, for years he thrilled fight fans with his in-octagon charisma, frankly ridiculous striking ability and legendary fight-finishes. Silva perhaps embodies the phrase ‘human highlight-reel’ more than any fighter we have ever seen compete in the sport and we may never see another who even comes close to the man they call ‘the Spider’.
#5 – Jon Jones
Jon Jones could well be the most talented fighter to ever compete in the sport of mixed martial arts and despite the one loss on his record, those in-the-know realise he has never once lost a fight as a professional. The demons that have plagued him over the course of his fine career have detracted from his potential in recent times but his legendary run as the UFC’s light-heavyweight champion showcased some of the most accomplished performances ever seen inside the octagon.
#6 – José Aldo
Aldo’s reign atop the UFC’s featherweight division – though interrupted by the Notorious Conor McGregor – has seen him dominate some of the very greatest 145lb-rs the game has had to offer over the years. Aldo’s ability as a muay-thai practitioner is only rivaled by his amazing fight IQ and legendary takedown defence and before his demise at the hands of the aforementioned McGregor, he had carved out his own era of total dominance in his weight-class.
#7 – Daniel Cormier
This will be an unpopular decision to those who perhaps allow their feelings about his fighting style or personality to cloud their judgment but with a record of 19-1, an unbeaten run at heavyweight and the heads of the likes of Anthony Johnson (twice), Dan Henderson, Alexander Gustafsson, Anderson Silva and Frank Mir stored away in his personal trophy-room, to deny the current 205lb champ what he so clearly deserves would be madness.
#8 – Vitor Belfort
Vitor’s UFC career has now stretched into its twentieth year, something that would be enough on its own to warrant a spot on this list. However, Belfort’s time in the UFC has seen him clinch both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles and over the past two decades, he has faced a legion of the toughest fighters to ever compete in the sport and for that reason he is more than deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame when he does, in fact, call it a day.
#9 – Michael Bisping
If this one seems like another controversial choice to you, then it most certainly shouldn’t! Michael Bisping currently holds both the UFC’s middleweight title and its record for the most wins in its history at any weight-class at 20. Bisping’s rise to the top of the 185lb division was a slow one but the manner in which he won the title will certainly solidify his name into MMA legend, regardless of the inconsistency of his earlier career.
#10 – Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor’s destructive ascent to the very top of the MMA world and beyond simply defies all logic. His personality, his aura and his elite skills inside the octagon have complimented each other perfectly over the years and he has undoubtedly singled himself out as the most important star ever to emerge in the sport’s short history and whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny that he has changed everything in a way that perhaps no one will ever manage again.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena