Last Saturday Fedor Emelianenko further cemented his position as the greatest heavyweight martial artist of all time. With a record of of 31 wins and arguably no losses he has been the consensus number 1 ranked heavyweight for over 6 years. In the scope of history there is really no other heavyweight that even comes close to his accomplishments. Even if he loses every future fight he partakes in he will be remembered as the greatest heavyweight ever. I struggle to even imagine what it would take for a fighter to overcome his legacy.
These facts made me start wondering about the rest of the weight classes. MMA as a sport is so new, it is in the unique position of having several of the greats still competing at a high level. We are truly witnessing the glory ages of the sport first hand. So I thought it would be fun to breakdown each weight class and make a case for that weight class's king.
Light Heavyweight: Despite his recent decline, I really feel like this one goes to Wanderlei Silva. He went unbeaten for over three years from August of 2000 all the way until New Years Eve of 2004 where he lost to a much larger heavyweight in Mark Hunt. He was at one point the face of fighting and the baddest man on the planet. Though you can bring up his lack of success in both his stints in the UFC, his accomplishments in Pride should be enough. With wins over Rampage Jackson, Dan Henderson, and Sakuraba his reign was greater than any fighter's ever in this weight class. His main competition are Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, and Shogun. I feel his streak is slightly more impressive than Chuck's due mainly to the level of competition. Lyoto and Shogun's careers have really yet to fully blossom. In five years I fully expect Shogun's name to be listed here.
Middleweight: This is probably the easiest weight class of them all to crown a champion in. It is clearly Anderson Silva. His streak in the UFC is second to no fighter ever. Not only has he beat every competitor, he hasn't even really been challenged. His losses range from flukey to bizarre. He may be the greatest fighter of any weight class ever. I am truly thankful to have lived through his career. Second place goes to Sakuraba.
Welterweight: Of all the weight classes I think this one is the trickiest to call. I can think of two fighters that deserved to be up for this award: Georges St Pierre and Matt Hughes. Matt Hughes was the most dominant champion the UFC had ever seen up to that point. He truly is a pioneer of the sport and one of its stars who will be remembered forever. However I give the edge to GSP because of his two dominating wins over Hughes despite the fact that Hughes was in his decline. Nobody in MMA has fought and beaten the same amount of quality opponents as GSP in the last 5 years. HIs resume contains a who's who of top welterweights. In a few more years I don't suspect there will be any argument as to which of these two were the greater welterweights.
Lightweight: The lightweight division is one of the newest weight classes in MMA and therefore looking back through history is difficult. However I feel BJ Penn has risen to the top. He only won the UFC lightweight strap one and a half years ago and he has already defended it as much as anybody. He looks to be almost untouchable at the top of the lightweight ladder. The top lightweight from Japanese based organizations is most likely Takanori Gomi and BJ owns a decisive stoppage victory over him.
Bantamweight/ Featherweight: I don't really think I am qualified to rank these as I have only recently started following them. Though if I were forced to pick I would pick Miguel Torres for Bantamweight. His record speaks for itself. Featherweight is a little more difficult. I would think it would be either Urijah Faber or Kid Yammamoto. Hopefully somebody more knowledgeable than me can give a much more informed ranking in the comments.
These are who I believe to be the greatest of all time. I am in no way an expert and I am curious to hear everyone else's opinions.