There are a dozen or so weight classes in mixed martial arts and dozens of fighters competing in each one across multiple promotions, including the UFC, Bellator and the Professional Fighters League. Here’s a look at the 10 best MMA fighters across the entire landscape of the sport, regardless of division or promotion, presented in reverse order.
10. Tyron Woodley (UFC, 19-3-1)
Before a flat performance against Kamaru Usman cost Tyron Woodley his welterweight title, he had made four successful title defenses (three wins, one draw) against top competition in Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Darren Till.
9. TJ Dillashaw (UFC, 17-4)
Was it the drop in weight class, from bantamweight to flyweight, that affected TJ Dillashaw in his 33-second knockout loss to champion Henry Cejudo? Dillashaw says no. Was it a quick stoppage? Perhaps, but does that mean the situation would have improved for Dillashaw as Cejudo swarmed him? Will they book the rematch at 135? Who knows, but what's known is this: Dillashaw remains the UFC bantamweight champion and a very good fighter.
8. Amanda Nunes (UFC, 17-4)
Amanda Nunes' resume en route to becoming UFC bantamweight champion included wins over Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko (twice). She can add to that list a win over Cris Cyborg as Nunes knocked out who many had considered the best female fighter in MMA history at UFC 232. And she did so in 51 seconds to become the featherweight champion and first female two-weight champion in UFC history.
7. Tony Ferguson (UFC, 26-3)
He's on an 11-fight win streak over the past six years and has ascended to the top of the 155-pound division. His interim title was removed after he tore knee ligaments a week before his title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Still, his win streak includes eight finishes, most recently against Anthony Pettis at UFC 229.
6. Henry Cejudo (UFC, 14-2)
Henry Cejudo won a split decision over Demetrious Johnson, then at the top of most pound-for-pound lists, to win the UFC flyweight title, in August 2018. In his first defense, he knocked out reigning bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in 32 seconds at UFC Brooklyn in January 2019. Insert any commentary you wish about "split decision" or "quick stoppage," but as you do, understand that Cejudo created both situations with his aggressiveness and skill set.
5. Demetrious Johnson (One, 27-3-1)
Is it weird to have Demetrious Johnson ahead of Cejudo on this list given that Cejudo beat him last time out? Some may say so. Others may also say that Johnson ascended to such a high perch — No. 1 on this list — that a not-so-far fall is perfectly fine. When a No. 1 team in college football loses to an unranked team, that No. 1 team doesn't automatically vanish or fall below an unranked a team. Consider Johnson's resume: 11 straight title defenses as the flyweight champion before he lost a split decision to Cejudo. Johnson broke Anderson Silva's UFC record for most consecutive successful title defenses. That run included seven stoppages (five by submission). He lost a close fight by what essentially was one judge seeing one round differently. There's no shame in that, nor in his "trade" to One Championship.
4. Max Holloway (UFC, 20-3)
A 13-fight winning streak is nothing to scoff at, especially against the run of opponents Holloway has faced at featherweight en route to becoming the champion. The list includes Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Ricardo Lamas, Anthony Pettis, Brian Ortega and José Aldo twice. Ten of those 13 wins were by stoppage.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC, 27-0)
Nurmagomedov has never lost an MMA fight, and he's had 27 of them as a professional. In this sport, that's borderline impossible, no matter what anyone wants to say about level of opponent. Nurmagomedov finally lost his first round — round! — in the UFC when defending his lightweight title against McGregor.
2. Daniel Cormier (UFC, 21-1, 1 NC)
Daniel Cormier's ascension to the top spot on this list came when he knocked out Stipe Miocic to win the UFC heavyweight title. That win gave legend-beater Cormier both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles, making him the second "Champ Champ" in UFC history. His drop to No. 2 on this list came in conjunction with the return of Cormier's archnemesis, Jon Jones.
1. Jon Jones (UFC, 24-1,1 no contest)
Let's be honest here. The only reason Jones hasn't sat atop this list every day for the past seven years or so has been his own out-of-cage antics that got him into trouble on multiple occasions with multiple legal and nonlegal organizations. When he's fighting, he's the best and it's unquestioned. He proved it again at UFC 235 by completely shutting down any attempt at offense by Anthony Smith.
On the outside looking in
11. Ryan Bader, Bellator light heavyweight and heavyweight champion
12. Conor McGregor, UFC lightweight
13. Robert Whittaker, UFC middleweight champion
14. Stipe Miocic, UFC heavyweight
15. Rose Namajunas, UFC strawweight champion
16. Cris Cyborg, UFC featherweight