Check out BJPenn.com‘s list of the top-10 MMA fighters of the decade, featuring the likes of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Demetrious Johnson and Cris Cyborg.
The first thing to note is that this is a very subjective and difficult list to come up with. There were so many fighters who could be included in the discussion, but ultimately we had to leave many of them off since it’s just a top-10. But before we do that, here’s a list of some honorable mentions that just missed the list.
Honorable mentions: Max Holloway, Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez, Donald Cerrone, Michael Bisping, Frankie Edgar, Rafael dos Anjos, Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, Aung La N Sang, Kyoji Horiguchi, Junior dos Santos, Israel Adesanya, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Robbie Lawler, Douglas Lima, Patricio Pitbull, Michael Chandler, Mamed Khalidov.
And now, the top-10 fighters of the decade, along with their records from 2010-2019, and a quick rundown of their accomplishments in the sport.
10. Cris Cyborg (13-1, 1 NC)
Cyborg had an incredible decade as she held the UFC featherweight title, the Strikeforce featherweight title, and the Invicta FC featherweight title. She was the scariest female fighter for most of the decade and deserves a top-10 spot on this list. If Cyborg didn’t lose to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 she would be higher on this list, but that loss does knock her down a few pegs. Still, she was incredible. Some of her top performances include two stoppage wins over Marloes Coenen and her destruction of Leslie Smith in her UFC debut.
9. Jose Aldo (12-5)
Even though Aldo flamed out a bit at the end of the decade, what he did during the first half of it can’t be forgotten. He started off the decade by defending the WEC featherweight title twice, then he became the first-ever UFC featherweight champion and went on to defend the belt seven times. Some of his most memorable performances include an epic battle against Mark Hominick at UFC 229, two crazy fights with Chad Mendes, and headlining the WEC’s first-ever pay-per-view against Urijah Faber at WEC 48.
8. Amanda Nunes (15-3)
Nunes was incredible this decade, winning the UFC bantamweight and featherweight titles — the first woman in MMA history to be a “champ champ” — and going 12-2 overall inside the Octagon while fighting the highest-level of competition. A couple of losses earlier in the decade drop her down a few spots and keep her out of the elite of this list, but there’s no doubt Nunes was incredibly dominant. Some of her top performances include her KO win over Cris Cyborg at UFC 232, his KO win over Ronda Rousey UFC 207, and her submission win over Miesha Tate at UFC 200.
7. Georges St. Pierre (7-0)
GSP had an underrated decade, going unbeaten over the seven fights he had. He also became one of the few fighters to win two belts in two separate weight classes as he defended the UFC welterweight title six times and then beat Michael Bisping at UFC 217 to become the UFC middleweight champion four years after first retiring. It’s a shame GSP didn’t fight more frequently and retired twice or else he would have been higher on this list. Some of his top performances including his submission over Bisping and his controversial split decision win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 that led to his first retirement from MMA.
6. Demetrious Johnson (22-3-1)
Many will argue that Johnson deserves the top spot on this list, and if we go by pound-for-pound rankings there’s a good argument he should be higher. After all, Johnson was a dominant champion in the UFC between 2012 and 2018, becoming the UFC’s first-ever flyweight champion and defending it 11 times. The only problem with Johnson is that he wasn’t able to win fans over in the way that some of the other fighters on this list did. But if we go by pure dominance inside the cage, he’s right up there with the best of them. Some of his top performances include his two wins over Joseph Benavidez, his insane submission over Ray Borg at UFC 216, and knocking out Henry Cejudo at UFC 197. We should also mention he was part of the first-ever trade in MMA history for Ben Askren and went on to win the ONE Championship Flyweight Grand Prix after he left the UFC, further strengthening his resume on a new continent, and signalling more dominance to come.
5. Khabib Nurmagomedov (21-0)
It was an amazing decade for Nurmagomedov as he didn’t lose a single one of his 21 fights, which was the best record of anyone on this list. What’s amazing is that Nurmagomedov missed two years between 2014 and 2016 with injuries, otherwise his record might be even better. He was dominant in the Octagon with a 12-0 record, with notable wins over the likes of Conor McGregor at UFC 229 and Michael Johnson at UFC 205. He also carried the torch from Fedor Emelianenko and became a huge star in Russian MMA.
4. Daniel Cormier (21-2, 1 NC)
DC’s decade was among the very best as he was both the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, not to mention the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion. If it wasn’t for his loss and No Contest to Jon Jones, there’s an argument that DC could actually be at the very top of this list. But even with the Jones fights, what DC accomplished in the 2010s was astonishing. Some of his top performances include his KO win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 to win the UFC heavyweight title, beating Josh Barnett in Strikeforce to win the Grand Prix, and two submission wins over Anthony Johnson at light heavyweight.
3. Ronda Rousey (12-2)
Rousey ended up losing a few fights at the end of her career to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, but it’s hard to argue that she wasn’t the most important female fighter in the sport. Before Rousey, there was no such thing as women’s MMA in the UFC, but she was the most important driver of bringing women into the Octagon. She was the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, and she defended that title seven times. Some of her top performances include submitting Miesha Tate twice, knocking out Bethe Correia at UFC 190, and tapping out Cat Zingano in 14 seconds at UFC 184. It’s amazing she accomplished all of this in less than seven years.
2. Jon Jones (16-0, 1 NC)
Many will argue that Jones should be No. 1 on this list, and I can see the argument. He was insanely dominant during the decade and emerged as arguably the greatest fighter in MMA history. Jones burst onto the scene in the late 2000s then became the UFC light heavyweight champion in 2011 and he hasn’t lost a fight since, defending it 10 times. If it wasn’t for his issues outside the Octagon and with USADA, he would be No. 1 on this list, but we can’t ignore those issues. Still, Jones was unstoppable for the most part and he deserves to be at the top of this list. Some of his top performances include beating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 to win the UFC light heavyweight title, knocking out Daniel Cormier with a head kick at UFC 214, and his violent masterpiece against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 in what many regard as the best fight of the decade.
- Conor McGregor (18-3)
McGregor might not have the most wins this decade, but it’s hard to argue he wasn’t the most important fighter of the 2010s as he transformed the sport of MMA. When the UFC was going through a transition with past stars like Chuck Liddell and Brock Lesnar retiring, McGregor entered the Octagon and became a living legend. He became the UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, coining the term “champ champ” in the process as he became the first UFC fighter to hold two belts at the same time. Some of McGregor’s most notable performances of the decade include his 13-second KO win over Jose Aldo to win the UFC featherweight title at UFC 194, his mauling of Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title at UFC 205, and his two legendary fights with Nate Diaz. Plus his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 broke pay-per-view records. You may not be a fan of McGregor, and some of his issues outside the Octagon hurt him here, but you can’t argue with what he’s accomplished when he has stepped into the cage.
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