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8/16/2016: My Five Favorite Fighters to Watch in MMA History
The history of MMA has featured a significant number of highly entertaining and elite fighters, some of whom were the best of their respective time periods,
5. Anderson Silva: Silva during his prime was one of the most dominant fighters to have ever competed in this sport. With the exception of the few occasions where he opted to simply mess around with his opposition, he also provided some of the greatest highlights the UFC has seen. His fight with Forrest Griffin was an absolutely fascinating display of movement and accuracy, with his matrix-like dodges of Griffin’s attacks being followed up by pinpoint counter-strikes that Griffin never saw coming. He’s no longer that fighter, even though he continues to show flashes of his past brilliance, but his current downturn doesn’t take away from what he used to be.
4. Ronda Rousey: It’s easy to hate on Ronda Rousey, and easy to feel some level of schadenfreude in her knockout loss to Holly Holm last year, but there haven’t been too many fighters who have been more exciting to watch perform. Her rapid-fire finishes in Strikeforce and absolutely destructive armbars single-handedly opened the door for so many female fighters to gain respect and a platform in the UFC. You still never know exactly what you’re going to see in a Rousey fight, outside of a guarantee that it’s going to be worth watching.
3. Carlos Condit: A purveyor of supreme violence almost never in a bad fight, Condit’s been one of the most exciting welterweights to watch since before his days in the WEC. He’s got highlight after highlight to his credit, and though he’s never established himself as the best of the best in his field, he’s as must-see as they come at 170 lbs. Few fighters before or after him have had provided the types of highlights he has on a relatively consistent basis, and at his best there aren’t many who can touch him.
2.Georges St-Pierre: Say what you will about St-Pierre’s penchant for playing it safe down the stretch in his title reign, the man is one of the single best fighters to ever step into a cage. St-Pierre’s greatness shone through in his ability to exploit even the slightest of weaknesses in his challengers, finding the one thing they did poorly enough to take advantage of and preceding to do just that. Out-striking grapplers, out-grappling strikers, being damn near impossible to legitimately hurt down the stretch, St-Pierre did it all. Even though he lost twice in his career, he avenged each of those defeats in decisive fashion, and it’s only a select few who have even come close to having him in trouble throughout his career. Some didn’t find him all that exciting at times, but I was always fascinated by St-Pierre fights and what he was able to accomplish against a wide variety of opponents.
1. Jon Jones: While St-Pierre excelled at exploiting weakness, Jon Jones has made a career out of beating opponents where they’re strongest. He’s proven himself to be nearly untouchable in the light heavyweight field, only really in trouble once in the early going of the Alexander Gustafsson fight and the near armbar against Vitor Belfort. He continues to beat himself, and there’s plenty of reason to criticize the man outside of the cage. However, there isn’t anyone in the sport who has been able to match him inside of it, and his ability to beat anyone in any fashion he so chooses has made him perhaps the greatest in-cage fighter to ever compete in this sport.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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