UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva has reigned atop the pound-for-pound best list of the UFC Rankings since its inception in February. The 185 lb. king has defended his title an unprecedented 11 times as well as gone undefeated in 16 fights inside the Octagon. His next challenge awaits in the form of undefeated contender Chris Weidman who he'll face on July 6 in Las Vegas, NV at UFC 162.
Both challenger and champion appeared on a media conference call for the upcoming event on Tuesday. When asked who he felt was the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Silva put one name above the rest:
In my opinion, BJ Penn is No. 1
While some may scoff at Silva's choice considering Penn's recent run at the Welterweight division, it's not like the man doesn't have credentials. Penn is one of only two men in UFC history to have held championships in two divisions. He was considered untouchable at 155 lbs. from when he claimed the vacant belt in 2007 until he lost it in a controversial decision loss in 2010. Currently, he's contemplating a return to the Lightweight division.
Silva also named the next three on his GOAT list - Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Royce Gracie. Couture is the only other fighter aside from Penn who's a multi-division champion. He competed against the best in the UFC for over a decade despite being 35 years old when he started fighting. Liddell was the face of the UFC for years and defended the Light Heavyweight title 4 times in only 20 months. Gracie is renowned for putting the UFC on the map in the very early days of the sport. He impressed audiences by defeating men who appeared twice his size to win the first two tournaments and went unbeaten in his first 13 fights.
Silva definitely left room for debate in his top-4 since he only named fighters relevant to UFC history. On top of that, all four have faced criticism regarding their respective greatness. However, any list like this is going to spark argument and none can argue the importance each of Silva's picks had on MMA history.