Home MMA From A To C-List: Ranking The UFC’s Biggest Superstars

From A To C-List: Ranking The UFC’s Biggest Superstars

We attempted to create a tier-system with the aim of better understanding the UFC’s current crop of well-established and still-blossoming superstars. 

With the recent shift in the futures of past stars such as Georges St-Pierre and Ronda Rousey, and the constant uncertainty surrounding the future of Conor McGregor, there is very much the sense that the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion is entering a new era.

As we’ve seen in recent times, stars can be born in an instant and compelling narratives can appear out of thin air. In 2019, we’ve seen the emergence of several fighters who could prove themselves to be major PPV draws down the line.

With that all in mind, here’s an idea of how we feel some of the UFC’s biggest stars can be categorized – based on the figures and data we have at hand as well as that special something that cannot be measured in numbers.

C-List

Darren Till

Twitter: 124k

Instagram: 637k

Highest PPV: UFC 228: 130k

Till is very much at a crossroads in his career after suffering two brutal defeats in a row to divisional elites Jorge Masvidal and Tyron Woodley. Still, when you consider his age and his status as one of the top European draws, his journey through the sport is just getting started and if you ask me, redemption is far from out of the question for this undoubtedly-talented and magnetic Liverpudlian.

Henry Cejudo

Twitter: 68k

Instagram: 467k

Highest PPV: [No data on UFC 238: Cejudo vs. Moraes at the time of writing].

‘The King Of Cringe’ is playing the game so perfectly that it’s almost hilarious to see people fail to grasp exactly what he’s doing and how well it’s working. Whether he’s pissing you off with his unapologetically lame ‘Triple C’ character or blasting through some of the world’s very best inside the octagon, Henry Cejudo has shot his name into the public eye this year. Do not expect him to relent even slightly.

Israel Adesanya

Twitter: 168k

Instagram: 1.2m

Highest PPV: UFC 234 – 175k

This may be a tad bit premature, but with a potentially massive Melbourne showdown against middleweight king Robert Whittaker in his future, and an instant classic showcase with Kelvin Gastelum in his back-pocket, Stylebender’s stock is primed to go through the roof. Of course, beating the champion will be a tough ask, but if he is successful, exponential growth in his worth to the company should be expected.

Tyron Woodley

Twitter: 266k

Instagram: 1.3m

Highest PPV: UFC 209 – 300k

Sure, he lost his title in a meek effort against the powerful Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 but even with that and his divisive personality in mind, Woodley is setting himself up for a lucrative retirement as well as anyone in the sport. Between appearances as a panellist on ESPN, his ambitions as a recording artist and even his regular feature on TMZ, Woodley is a household name and has managed his time in the spotlight excellently.

Tony Ferguson

Twitter: 280k

Instagram: 1.4m

Highest PPV: UFC 216 – 200k

Even if you find his unique personality odd or awkward, Ferguson has done enough inside and outside of the octagon to make himself a recognizable figure to the mainstream. There’s something undeniably infectious about El Cucuy as a person and while there are those who choose to ridicule, the world is slowly coming around to this man and understanding his worth as a completely and utterly compelling character within this sport.

Ben Askren

Twitter: 267k

Instagram: 570k

Highest PPV: N/A

Sure, his UFC run hasn’t been as dominant as we might have thought but fighting aside, Askren is one of the most well-known fighters on the roster today. After years spent meandering through the sport’s comparatively smaller promotions, Ben took his opportunity in the spotlight with open arms and while he was well and truly embarrassed by Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239 – make no mistake, he remains among the most recognizable faces at Dana White’s disposal.

B-List

Max Holloway

Twitter: 321k

Instagram: 1.7m

Highest PPV: UFC 231 – 300k

A truly likeable figure outside of the octagon and an undoubtedly great champion inside of it, Max has all of the potential to be both a legend of the sport and a huge name in the eyes of the mainstream. Perhaps a marquee matchup in his home-country of Hawaii could prove to be the moment needed to give him that push. If he can continue winning, the sky truly is the limit for Blessed.

Amanda Nunes

Twitter: 195k

Instagram: 964k

Highest PPV: UFC 207 – 1.1m

I think it’s fair to say that Nunes could be promoted better by the UFC. She is nothing short of a wrecking ball inside the octagon – a force of nature that has no equal in women’s MMA but despite earning wins over some of the biggest stars the sport has ever known, it’s hard to know exactly where her ceiling is as far as popularity is concerned. Given the depth of her resumé and her status as a dual-weight world-champion, though, her place on the B-list is pretty undeniable.

amanda nunes

Jorge Masvidal

Twitter: 182k

Instagram: 642k

Highest PPV: N/A

When all is said and done in 2019, there’s no doubt in my mind that Masvidal will be seen as the year’s breakout star. Considering that he has been in and around the upper-echelons of the sport for years now, the manner in which he shot his star into the stratosphere was quite remarkable. As compelling outside of the octagon as he is inside of it, the marquee matchups that await Gamebred could very easily see him crack into that A-list category before too long.

Donald Cerrone

Twitter: 579k

Instagram: 1.5m

Highest PPV: N/A

Cerrone is a fighter’s fighter, a man as universally-loved as any athlete in the history of mixed martial arts. Popular for both his electric fighting style and authentic personality. His status as a PPV draw is still very much in question but even now as he approaches the twilight years of his career it’s pretty safe to say that his star-power is continuing to grow. Whether he gets the opportunity to compete in a marquee matchup before all is said and done is anyone’s guess at this point but if he does, the people will almost certainly tune in.

A-List

Daniel Cormier

Twitter: 810k

Instagram: 2.2m

Highest PPV: UFC 214 – 860k

Between his work inside the octagon, his spot in the commentary booth, and his constant presence in the sport’s media, DC is undoubtedly one of the faces of mixed martial arts as we know it. If he chooses to hang up his gloves in the wake of his brutal loss to Stipe Miocic last weekend, there’s no doubt that his post-fight career will be an incredibly successful one. A legend in every sense of the word and someone who should stand as a role model to anyone looking to try their hand at MMA.

Jon Jones

Twitter: 2.2m

Instagram: 4.3m

Highest PPV: UFC 214 – 860k

Jon Jones is perhaps not the almighty PPV draw that his billing as something akin to a ‘Michael Jordan of MMA’ may suggest but even still, he remains a constant presence within the sport’s media. And while he has been in some hugely significant matchups in the past, there is certainly the feeling that some of his biggest challenges still await him. Whether that involves a move to heavyweight or not is the question that will likely follow Bones into 2020.

Nate Diaz

Twitter: 1.3m

Instagram: 3.3m

Highest PPV: UFC 202 – 1.65m

If there were any doubts about Diaz’s status as a needle-mover ahead of UFC 241, everything from the metrics drawn from the content he featured in during fight-week to the pop off of the crowd as he entered the arena should make it very clear that he belongs at the top. Of course, a lot will become clear once the PPV figures for last weekend’s show are released but as things stand, there’s no doubt that Nate is one of the most popular fighters in the game.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Twitter: 765k

Instagram: 15.8m

Highest PPV: UFC 229 – 2.4m

It may come as a surprise to some exactly how popular the lightweight champion is. Khabib is a bonafide global superstar, boasting huge numbers on his social media channels as a result of his massive following on the other side of the globe. A showdown in Abu Dhabi could well prove to be the perfect coming-out-party for The Eagle and if he is successful against Dustin Poirier, it will be very interesting to see how the UFC choose to utilize his unique place within the sport.

Conor McGregor

Twitter: 7.7m

Instagram: 31m

Highest PPV: UFC 229 – 2.4m

Love him or hate him, it’s completely undeniable at this point that Conor McGregor has transcended the sport. With a social media following that outnumbers the entire A-list’s total combined, it should come as no surprise that he sits comfortably within the sport’s exclusive upper-tier. With a return to competition looking increasingly likely for early next year, it will be very interesting to see how the Conor McGregor story continues on from here.

About Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at cillian@punditarena.com.