This is a list that isn’t just based on fighting style and accolades but is influenced by the Top 10 retired MMA fighters we want to come back from their prime.
10. Kenny “KenFlo” Florian (14-6)
“Passion is very important; if you don’t love what you do then you’re probably doing the wrong job.”
Fighting in one weight class doesn’t seem like enough for Florian and that is because he has to fight in four: featherweight, welterweight, middleweight and lightweight. Florian made it all the way to the middleweight finale in the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 where he beat Chris Lebon even though he was massively oversized for that tournament. During his reign in the UFC he has beaten the likes of Clay Guida, Din Thomas, Takanori, and Joe Lauzon. Meanwhile, suffering impressive losses from fighters like BJ Penn, Sean Shark and Jose Aldo. As time went on inside retirement, Florian has made an impressive transition to the broadcast team for FOX Sports and UFC Fight Pass where he does commentary.
9. Forrest Griffin (19-7)
“The ladies kept telling me I wasn’t good in bed, so I figured if I wasn’t a lover then I must be a fighter.”
Griffin is known for the most epic war inside The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 against Stephan Bonnar. After the brawl his hand was raised in the wake of a new era for the UFC. Griffin went on from there to have massive wins over Shogun Rua where he was labeled as the massive underdog. Then to continue on beating Rampage Jackson to become the new light heavyweight champion. Also has wins against Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin. Moving on from the UFC, Griffin has two best selling books called Got Fight?: The 50 Zen Principles of Hand-to-Face Combat. Griffin was also inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame.
8. Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (34-10)
“There’s no such thing as a lost cause, or a dead end. Through persistence, attitude, and creativity, there’s always an escape route.”
This “California Kid” was the poster boy for WEC and featherweight champion being the first breakout star inside the lower weight classes. Faber has beaten a who’s who of former MMA chmapions like Dominick Cruz, Jens Pulver, and Eddie Wineland for starters. He has trained with champions and multiple UFC talents. Making it into the UFC Hall of Fame isn’t an easy task, but Faber has succeeded in that as well. Owning his own gym, Team Alpha Male, has shaped a handful of UFC Champions and ongoing.w
7. Dan Henderson (32-15)
“You just gotta do what you gotta do whatcha can.”
Henderson has been around since UFC 17 Redemption against Carlos Newton and Allan Goes way back in 1998. He moved on to fight in Pride to become a Grand Prix Champion. Hendo also captured the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt and fought for the UFC middleweight championship twice. Although he wasn’t able to gather the wins it doesn’t take away how brutal and talented Henderson was in the cage. Some notable H-bomb recipients include Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Michael Bisping, and Rich Franklin.
6. Rich “Ace” Franklin (29-7)
“Losing is inevitable, make sure you have the tools in your toolbox to deal with it.”
Franklin was a former school math teacher turned mixed martial artist. He was one of the original true mixed martial artists to succeed against Ken Shamrock and pave a new UFC era. While in the UFC he became the middleweight champion by defeating Evan Tanner with a KO at 2:40 in round one. He has beaten Wanderlei Silva, Travis Lutter, and retired Chuck Liddell by KO with a broken arm. Ever since 2014, Franklin began his role as the Vice President for One Championship.
5. Bas “El Guapo” Rutten (28-4-1)
“Fighting is easy to understand. You just hit the guy as hard as you can.”
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Rutten came from the Pancrase Organization in Japan to gain the UFC heavyweight Championship. He only had that one fight/win in the UFC against Kevin Randleman, but due to injury he has to relinquish the belt and retire. Bas has gone over to a successful career in broadcast and remains an ambassador of MMA overall. Dana White inducted him into the UFC Hall of Fame as a nod of respect to Rutten and his fans. Frank Shamrock and Maurice Smith didn’t stand a chance inside the octagon against “El Guapo” at the time. Outside of MMA he is no stranger to making movies where he has stood along Kevin James in Here Comes The Boom.
4. Matt Hughes (45-9)
“When you lose, say little… When you win, say less.”
At one time Matt Hughes was the most dominant welterweight champion in UFC history. Hughes has beaten some of the best in the game like BJ Penn, Matt Sera, George St-Pierre and Sean Sherk. He was apart of Pat Miletich’s fighting system which produced fellow champions Jens Pulver and Tim Sylvia. It was no surprise that Hughes entered in the UFC Hall of Fame. Hughes is now dealing with a health battle after suffering from a horrific train crash and further struggles in his personal life.
3. Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-1)
“I am not a violent person. I actually don’t like to hurt people.”
Muay Thai has always been Gina Carano’s number one love. Carano fought for both the EliteXC and Strikeforce organizations. One of the biggest moments in MMA history is when she fought Cris Cyborg back in 2009, as it was the first time females headlined a major MMA event on Showtime. Carano ended up losing that fight bringing her MMA record to 7-1, but the fight will always remain a powerful statement in MMA history. In retirement, Carano has showcased herself in TV shows and movies while recently being inducted as a honorees of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
2. Randy “The Natural” Couture (19-11)
“If losing a fight is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in your life, you’re doing pretty good.”
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Randy Couture could always achieve the impossible. He retired from MMA at the age of 47 and started at 33. During his career he became a three time UFC heavyweight champion, two time UFC light heavyweight champion and the UFC 13 tournament champion. “The Natural” has a permanent spot inside the UFC Hall of Fame. His trilogy with Chuck Liddell wwere a trio of massive fights and perhaps his crowning moment was when he faced Tito Ortiz and (literally) spanked him in the cage.
- George St-Pierre (26-2)
“The quieter you become the more you can hear.”
George St-Pierre is a true role model and a sports man. He was the most versatile MMA fighter on Earth and he wore that title well. GSP had a game plan for every single fighter he faced and it was executed perfectly. At times it might have been “boring” to the average viewer, but inside the fighters eye, every fighter wanted to be like GSP. During his UFC run he became the two time welterweight champion, middleweight champion and the longest reigning welterweight champion of all-time. He has notable wins against Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit and Michael Bisping.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira