The Greatest Champions of the Sport.

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts has seen many great fighters and champions come and go, but only a few have cemented a legacy for the ages. I have selected five fighters, from their own respective divisions, that have not only claimed a title but shaped the sport as well. I did not add the Featherweight or the Bantamweight divisions due to the fact that most casual fans are not aware of their existence, and the divisions are relativity new compared to the five major weight divisions.

Heavyweight: Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko

 

For nearly a decade, Fedor Emelianenko dominated not only the Heavyweight division but, too, the sport of MMA. Viewed as indestructable and invincible in a division that also contained two other legends in Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Antonio “Minotauro” Rodrigo Nogueira, Fedor annihilated them (along every other opponent placed in front of him). Fedor left the PRIDE organization with 14 Wins, 1 No Contest and 0 losses (from 2002 to 2007). Along with winning the PRIDE Heavyweight title in 2003, Fedor won the PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2004. He holds notable victories over Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Ricardo Arona, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Mark Hunt and Heath Herring. Due to his accomplishments, Fedor is viewed as ‘The Greatest of All Time’ by fans and fighters from all around the sport. Up until 2010, Fedor was crowned ‘The Pound-For-Pound King’ by most major MMA publications. His biggest win came in the form of perhaps the fight simply dubbed ‘The Biggest Fight in MMA History’ over Mirko Filipovic in 2005.

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Light-Heavyweight: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua/Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva

 

The Light-Heavyweight division was thought to have been dictated by Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell but when getting past the UFC/Zuffa hype machine, it became evident that the top 205 pounder did not fashion a mohawk. The honor goes to former Chute Boxe members Mauricio Rua and Wanderlei Silva. Although Liddell was the reigning champion and face of the UFC, Silva and Rua held more accomplishments and acclaim in the sport. Wanderlei won both the PRIDE Middleweight title (2001-2007) and the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix (2003). During his title reign, Silva destroyed the likes of Quinton Jackson, Kazushi Sakaruba, Ricardo Arona, Hidehiko Yoshida and Kazukuki Fujita. While his protege (Mauricio Rua) never held the PRIDE Middlweight title, Rua did win one of the most memorable tournaments in MMA history (the 2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix) in dominant fashion at the age of 23. Mauricio disposed of Quinton Jackson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and then Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona on the same night. Shortly after, Rua was declared to be the top 205 pound fighter on the planet and uncrowned champion. Mauricio eventually captured the UFC Light-Heavyweight title by defeating Lyoto Machida in 2010, and in the process surpassing his good friend and mentor Wanderlei Silva.

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Middleweight: Anderson “The Spider” Silva

 

With no doubt, not one middleweight in sport has been more hindering than the man they call “The Spider”. The third and final head of the Chute Boxe monster — Anderson Silva is the current UFC Middleweight Champion and is ranked number one on the Pound-For-Pound list by every major publication. In addition to having the title, Anderson also holds three records in the UFC (longest active winning streak in the UFC [13], longest winning streak in UFC history [13] and most consecutive title defenses in UFC history [8]). Silva first won the title in 2006 and continues to hold it in 2011. He currently promotes a 13-0 record in the UFC with eight of those wins coming in the form of KO/TKO and three coming via submission. His list of victims include Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Rich Franklin.

Welterweight: Georges “Rush” St. Pierre

 

Like his counterpart in the Middleweight division (Anderson Silva), no Welterweight in the sport has come close to compiling an impressive list of accompishments and names obliterated like Georges has over the past six years. In that time period, Georges has gone through Matt Serra, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk and Dan Hardy. What makes it even more impressive is the way St. Pierre has taken his victories from his opponents by outwrestling them. A skill that St. Pierre has only started to train in his early 20’s (compared to fighters like Hughes, Fitch and Koscheck). GSP first won the UFC Welterweight title in 2006 (Matt Hughes), and then won it back in 2008 (Matt Serra). GSP is currently ranked number two on the Pound-For-Pound list.

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Lightweight: B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn

 

Few fighters have transitioned successfully into Mixed Martial Arts from grappling and developed world class Boxing. Even fewer have been given a career start in a top tier organization like the UFC and lived up to the expectations, hype and full potential that B.J. Penn has. In his UFC career, Penn has overwhelmed and conquered the opposition. Such names would include Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes, Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk, Joe Stevenson, Caol Uno and Kenny Florian. B.J. Penn first won the UFC Welterweight title in 2002 (defeating Matt Hughes in the process) and then the UFC Lightweight title in 2008 (overpowering Joe Stevenson).