Anderson Silva hasn’t always been as good as he is now. He was an unremarkable boxer with just a handful of professional fights, and the early parts of his MMA career were mediocre to say the least.
But as soon as he stepped foot inside the Octagon, the Brazilian brought an unparalleled killer instinct matched with superior skill that was on a level never before seen. Save for Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva has decimated through the ranks, often toying with opponents on his way to the top of the MMA food chain.
There’s nothing to dislike about the way “Bones” Jones goes through opponents like a fat kid goes through cakes. He’s an all-American wrestler, a high school and collegiate standout, honing his skills early on and afterwards crossing over to the professional ranks with added ferocity.
Jones uses the same world-class wrestling skills to overpower foes with ruthless slams and efficient takedowns. The way Jones uses his elbows and knees to beat opposition to a pulp isn’t just utterly brutal, it’s criminal.
Popularly known as “GSP”, St. Pierre’s fights are technical masterpieces. The way he breaks down his opponents is just painfully methodical. Every move GSP makes exudes purpose. There’s a reason for every transition, every takedown, every hammer-fist.
It doesn’t matter what game plan is in place, GSP will take every advantage away from an opponent and force his indomitable will until not just the body submits, but also the spirit. They’ve thrown everyone at him – BJ Penn, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, the list goes on and on – but it just doesn’t seem to matter. He’s virtually unbeatable.
The star of the lower weight divisions, Jose Aldo’s soccer background lends to his devastating leg kicks and insane cardio. His stand up game could be just as diverse as Anderson Silva’s. In fact, Silva previously mentioned that if Aldo were a Middleweight, Silva would retire.
Imagine furious spinning elbows, flying knees, soccer kicks to the head – those are just some of the spectacular moves thrown around by Aldo as he wows crowds with his Muay Thai. He’s just entered the UFC, and has an amazing future ahead of him. MMA fans have lots to look forward to as he progresses with his career.
Smooth has been around the MMA scene for quite a while now, often flying under the radar and giving way to more popular names in the industry. But his recent string of performances is hard to ignore. His favorite technique? “The winning technique,” says Henderson.
The wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu specialist likes to take fighters down and do damage on the ground. Quietly he’s taken down marquee fighters like Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida. The sky’s the limit for Henderson, as long as he continues the way he’s been going.
He’s the first Mexican-American fighter to win a Heavyweight title in both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. After shocking the MMA world by obliterating then seemingly unbeatable Brock Lesnar, Velasquez carved a path of destruction by defeating Bigfoot Silva, and perhaps more impressively, the hard-hitting Junior Dos Santos. Velasquez is the real deal. He’s physically stronger than the majority of foes he goes up against and his will is indomitable.
Acclaimed by Hall-of-Fame Boxing trainer Freddie Roach as the “best boxer in MMA”, Junior Dos Santos finishes opponents the old fashioned way, with his fists. With 11 wins coming by way of brutal knockout, Dos Santos is one of the most feared Heavyweights to step inside the Octagon.
Though he lost to Cain Velasquez recently at UFC 155, he clearly wasn’t himself on an off night. Dos Santos returns to the ring looking for vengeance, starting with Mark Hunt at UFC 160.
Frankie Edgar uses the age old formula of speed and stamina to wear down opponents both physically and mentally. His boundless reservoir of energy is hard for opponents to match and he can drag guys out into deep water as he circles around them like a shark, waiting to pounce at any given opportunity. Case in point, Edgar beat the legendary BJ Penn twice as he entered each fight as the underdog. Penn never could figure out how to outsmart Edgar, and ‘The Answer’ effectively ended Penn’s reign.
Dominick Cruz is the first ever UFC Men’s Bantamweight champion after defeating Urijah Faber at UFC 132 via decision. Cruz is the epitome of a mixed martial artist, mastering wrestling, BJJ, boxing and Muay Thai.
His well-roundedness poses problems for any opponent he decides to face. Stylistically similar to Frankie Edgar, Cruz places an emphasis on defense and is highly elusive. He’s young and continues to rise in the charts as he dominates opposition with every fight.
MMA isn’t only big in the West, it’s insanely popular in the East too. In fact, you can make the claim that MMA’s true home is in the Asia-Pacific region, and there is one true king of mixed martial arts – Shinya Aoki.
“The Grandmaster of Flying Submissions (Tobikan Judan)” is immensely talented, combining two deadly disciplines in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His stand up game may be a true weak point, but his ground game more than makes up for it. Aoki is notorious for breaking an opponent’s arm and afterwards giving him and the audience the finger. - Graphics by Teddy Pavon/Rappler.com