MMA debates have been around since man had Pay-Per-View and a Compuserve internet connection. Since then, seemingly every debate has been discussed and discussed ad naseum. GSP vs. Silva, Silva vs. Jones, Pride vs. UFC, Royce's place in history, Fedor = best Heavyweight ever, nay, best Fighter ever? What if Fedor came to the UFC? Guys in the dark ages vs. guys of today? What if Bas hadn't gotten injured?, etc.....
One debate baffles me that it's only been touched on briefly. Seeing as how, statistically, the majority of MMA fans are American, why doesn't one of the hot debates center around who is the best American fighter of all time?
Most Americans are petrified of being labeled as "The Ugly American" so they're afraid of being too jingoistic, so fuck it, I'll bring it to the forefront.
Whether you're American or not doesn't matter, let's debate one of the most under-discussed MMA discussions out there. Who is the greatest American fighter ever?
The Top Candidates (feel free to add as you see fit)
Matt Hughes (45-8)
-The country boy was a 2-time UFC Welterweight Champion with seven defenses. Holds wins over Royce Gracie, BJ Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Sean Sherk, Mach Sakurai (in his prime), Renzo Gracie, Matt Serra, and Akihiro Gono, Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida.
BJ Penn (16-7)
-UFC Lightweight and UFC Welterweight Champion. Three defenses at Lightweight. Notable wins over Matt Hughes (twice), Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Matt Serra, and Takanori Gomi.
Randy Couture (19-11)
-3-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, three defenses, 2-time UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Notable wins over Vitor Belfort twice, Jeremy Horn, Kevin Randleman, Pedro Rizzo twice, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Tim Sylvia, and James Toney.
Mark Coleman (16-10)
-Won 2000 Pride Openweight Grand Prix, UFC Heavyweight Championship. UFC Superfight Champion. Notable wins over Dan Severn twice, Don Frye, Kazuyuki Fujita, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Shogun Rua.
Ken Shamrock (28-15)
-King of Pancrase Champion. UFC Superfight Champion with one defense. Notable wins over Maurice Smith, Bas Rutten (twice), Dan Severn, Masakatsu Funaki (twice), Kimo Leopoldo (twice).
(Poster's note: The fact that Ken beat Bas TWICE should be a bigger mystery than Roswell, Stonehenge, Easter Island, and Jack the Ripper combined. I cannot figure out how the fuck that happened.)
Frank Shamrock (23-10)
-Interim King of Pancrase Champion, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion with four defenses. WEC Light Heavyweight Champion, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Notable wins over Bas Rutten, Jeremy Horn, Tito Ortiz, Minoru Suzuki (twice), Vernon White, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Masakatsu Funaki.
Dan Henderson (27-8)
-Pride 185 and 205 Champion, Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, Rings King of 1999 Tournament. Notable wins over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Babalu Sobral (twice), Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Ryo Chonan, Rafael Cavalcante, Rousimar Palhares, Murilo Rua, Renzo Gracie.
Quinton Jackson (32-8)
-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (one defense). Notable wins over Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell (twice), Murilo Rua, Matt Lindland, Ricardo Arona, Keith Jardine, Igor Vovchanchyn, Matt Hamill
Chuck Liddell (21-8)
-IFC Light Heavyweight Champion, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (four defenses). Notable wins over Jeff Monson, Guy Mezger, Vitor Belfort, Babalu Sobral (twice), Randy Couture (twice), Tito Ortiz (twice), Jeremy Horn (twice), Alistair Overeem, Vernon White, Wanderlei Silva.
Tito Ortiz (15-8)
-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (five defenses). Notable wins over Guy Mezger, Wanderlei Silva, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ken Shamrock (three times).
Forrest Griffin (18-6)
-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Shogun Rua, Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen, Jeff Monson.
Dan Severn (99-18)
-UFC Superfight Champion, Elite-1 Heavyweight Champion. Notable wins over Oleg Taktarov (twice), Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott, Forrest Griffin, Paul Buentello, Justin Eilers.
Rich Franklin (28-6)
-UFC Middleweight Champion (two defenses). Notable wins over Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Matt Hamill, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, David Loiseau, Yushin Okami
Jens Pulver (24-14)
-UFC Lightweight Champion (defended twice). Notable wins over BJ Penn, Caol Uno, Cole Escovedo, Cub Swanson.
Pat Miletich (29-7)
-UFC Welterweight Champion (four defenses). Notable wins over Shonie Carter (twice), Kenichi Yamamoto, Jorge Patino