On September 27, the UFC released one of their most talented MMA fighters in Aspen Ladd. The bantamweight fighter failed to make the 135-pound weight for her upcoming fight, which was canceled. Ladd, who has a 9-3 career MMA record, was scheduled to fight Sara McMann.
This isn’t the first time Aspen Ladd has failed to make the 135-pound weight. Last year, she failed to make weight in a fight against Macy Chiasson. She also failed to make that same weight in 2018 in a fight against Leslie Smith. Unfortunately, the UFC has finally had enough.
It didn’t take long for Aspen Ladd to find a new home, signing with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) for their 2023 season. The league was founded in 2018 and fighters take part in a regular season, postseason, and championship – opposed to the UFC, which is year-round.
Other Talented MMA Fighters in the PFL
Aspen Ladd went 8-1 as an amateur before joining Invicta FC in 2014 – she made her pro debut in a win against Ana Carolina Vidal. She made her UFC debut in 2017 and won her first three fights with the promotion. Unfortunately, she has only won one of her previous four UFC fights.
She now joins the PFL and will fight inside the newly-formed featherweight class – up until now, the PFL only had one women’s weight class (lightweight). Likewise, the PFL has five weight classes for men – featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight.
While the PFL continues to gain popularity among MMA fans, Aspen Ladd joins a growing list of talented MMA fighters on the promotion’s roster as more UFC stars make the transition to the PFL’s season format. Let’s take a look at 20 of the most talented MMA fighters in the PFL today.
20. Claressa Shields
Claressa Shields is one of the most intriguing PFL fighters. She’s still getting her feet wet in the MMA community after years of dominating the boxing scene – she has a 13-0 professional record in boxing with two of those wins coming by way of knockout. She joined PFL in 2020.
Shields has two fights under her belt, a win against Brittney Elkin for her MMA debut on June 10, 2021 and a loss against Abigail Montes on October 27, 2021. She hasn’t had an MMA bout in 12 months, but is 2-0 in the boxing ring this year. She returns to MMA this November.
19. Denis Goltsov
Denis Goltsov was a 2021 PFL Heavyweight semifinalist. He’s the first PFL fighter to secure an Ezekiel choke, which cuts off blood supply to the neck. The 32-year-old has a career 29-7-0 MMA record – he stands 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds with a 78” arm reach and 43” leg reach.
Goltsov has been terrorizing opposing fighters since joining the PFL in 2019. He finished that season with a 3-1-0 record and earned the No. 1 seed in the 2019 playoffs. He’s 4-0-0 since, having notched two wins in each of the past two years. He’s a combat Sambo world champion.
18. Antonio Carlos Júnior
Antonio Carlos Jr. is a 32-year-old fighter out of Joao Pessoa, Brazil. He stands 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds with a 79” arm reach and 42” leg reach. He fought in the UFC between 2014 and 2021, notching a 7-5-0 (1 NC) record in that time – five of his wins came by way of submission.
Carlos Jr. has a career 15-5-0 (2 NC) record as a professional MMA fighter – 11 of those wins coming by way of submission. He had one win and one NC during the 2021 season and was eventually named 2021 Light Heavyweight World Champion. He went 2-0-0 this past season.
17. Genah Fabian
Genah Fabian has dipped into the boxing and kickboxing scenes, but has dedicated herself to her MMA career since 2019. The 33-year-old stands 6-foot-0 and 155 pounds with a 74” arm reach and 39” leg reach. She fights out of Auckland, New Zealand and has a 5-3-0 record.
Before joining the PFL in 2019, Fabian was the 2018 Muay Thai World Champion. She had a 1-1-0 record in 2019, a 2-0-0 record in 2021, and a 1-1-0 record in 2022. While she’s just 1-2 in her last two fights, her two losses have come against two of the best women fighters in the PFL.
16. Chris Wade
Chris Wade, also known as the Long Island Killer, is a 35-year-old featherweight/lightweight who stands 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds with a 70” arm reach and 41” leg reach. He joined the PFL in 2018 and went 5-3-0 in his first two seasons. He went a perfect 2-0-0 in 2021 and 2-0-0 in 2022.
Wade is no stranger to the PFL playoffs, having made it four times since 2018 – three as a featherweight and once as a lightweight. He was a featherweight finalist, a two-time featherweight semifinalist, and a lightweight semifinalist. Now, he just needs to win that championship.
15. Natan Schulte
Natan Schulte, also known as Russo, is a 30-year-old lightweight who fights out of Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil. He stands 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds with a 69” arm reach and 40” leg reach. He has a 22-5-1 career record and has a bout against Jeremy Stephens in November.
Schulte began his PFL career in 2018 and went an impressive 9-0-1 in his first two seasons – winning the lightweight championship both years. While he’s just 2-2-0 since 2021, he’s still one of the most talented MMA fighters in the PFL and is worth watching every time he’s in the octagon.
14. Julia Budd
Julia Budd is a 39-year-old lightweight who fights out of British Columbia, Canada. She stands 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds with a 70” arm reach and 40” leg reach. She has a 16-4-0 career record as a professional MMA fighter and is scheduled to fight Aspen Ladd in November.
Budd joined the PFL in 2021 and won her debut against Katlin Young. She has struggled since then, losing to Genah Fabian in May after failing to make weight and suffering an injury ahead of her much-anticipated bout against Kayla Harrison in July. She can redeem herself against Ladd.
13. Lance Palmer
Lance Palmer is a 35-year-old featherweight who stands 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds with a 69” arm reach and 39” leg reach – he fights out of Columbus, Ohio. He has been one of the most talented MMA fighters in the PFL since it was founded in 2018, though he is struggling recently.
Palmer went a perfect 10-0-0 in his first two seasons – winning the PFL Featherweight Championship in 2018 and 2019. He’s just 1-3 since, but is coming off a win against Sheymon Moraes in June. He’s also a two-time WSOF featherweight champion and four-time All-American wrestler.
12. Emiliano Sordi
Emiliano Sordi, also known as DOGO, is a 31-year-old light heavyweight who stands 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds with a 77” arm reach and 45” leg reach – he fights out of Rio Cuarto, Argentina. He has had his fair share of ups and downs since joining the PFL in its inaugural season.
Sordi went just 1-1-0 in his first year in 2018, but put on an absolute show during the 2019 season. He finished with a 5-0-0 record and had five finishes en route to the 2019 PFL Light Heavyweight World Championship. He is just 1-2-1 since and is coming off two straight losses.
11. Omari Akhmedov
Omari Akhmedov, also known as Wolverine, is a 35-year-old light heavyweight who stands 6-foot-0 and 205 pounds with a 71” arm reach and 41” leg reach. He was signed to the UFC between 2013 and 2021 and has a 24-7-1 career record as a pro (nine wins in the UFC).
The 2022 season was Akhmedov’s first in the PFL and, boy, was it a good one. He went 2-0-0 in the regular season and defeated Josh Silveira in the 2022 Light Heavyweight Semifinal. He’s scheduled to fight Robert Wilkinson on November 25th for the 2022 Light Heavyweight Championship.
10. Brendan Loughnane
Brendan Loughnane is a 32-year-old featherweight who stands 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds with a 71” arm reach and 37” leg reach – he fights out of Manchester, England. He has been unstoppable since joining the PFL in 2019 and has a championship bout coming up very soon.
Loughnane went 2-0-0 during the 2019 season and 2-0-0 during the 2021 season – he lost to Movlid Khaybulaev in the championship that year. He came back with another 2-0-0 record in 2022 before defeating Chris Wade in the semifinal. He fights Bubba Jenkins on November 25th for the championship.
9. Clay Collard
Clay Collard, also known as Cassius, is a 29-year-old lightweight who stands 6-foot-0 and 155 pounds with a 74” arm reach and 41” leg reach – he fights out of Burley, Idaho. He had an impressive 2-0-0 season in 2021, but lost to Raush Manfio in the 2021 lightweight semifinal.
Collard opened the 2020 season with a victory against Jeremy Stephens, but lost to Alexander Martinez back in June – missing a spot in the playoffs. He’s someone that can make a comeback next season, especially considering he’s only 29 years old with 10 career knockouts.
8. Ray Cooper III
Ray Cooper III is a 29-year-old welterweight who stands 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds with a 70” arm reach and 40” leg reach – he fights out of Pearl City, Hawai’i. He has been terrorizing the welterweight division ever since the PFL’s inaugural season and is a multi-time champion.
He went 2-0-0 in 2018 and made it to the welterweight finals, but lost to Magomed Magomedkerimov. He made it back to the finals in 2019, this time beating David Michaud. He won the title again in 2021 after another undefeated season, but went just 1-1 during 2022.
7. Bubba Jenkins
Bubba Jenkins, also known as Bad Man, is a 34-year old featherweight who stands 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds with a 72” arm reach and 39” leg reach – he was born in Virginia Beach, but fights out of Las Vegas, NV. He’s a former Brave champion and D-1 NCAA wrestling champion.
Jenkins went 2-0-0 during his first season in the PFL in 2021, but lost to Chris Wade in the semifinals – losing out on a shot at the $1 million prize. He went 2-0-0 again in 2022 and beat Ryogi Kudo in the semifinals. He’s fighting Brendan Loughnane on November 25th for the 2022 championship.
6. Larissa Pacheco
Larissa Pacheco is a 28-year-old women’s lightweight who stands 5-foot-6 and 155 pounds with a 69” arm reach and 37” leg reach. She was the PFL runner-up in 2019 – her first year in the promotion – after going 1-1-0 during the season. She lost to Kayla Harrison in the finals.
She went 2-0-0 in 2021 and 2-0-0 again in 2022 – defeating Zamzagul Fayzallanova and Genah Fabian this year. She faced Olena Kolesnyk in the semifinals and beat her for the second time since 2021. She’s now scheduled to fight Kayla Harrison for the championship on November 25th – a rematch from 2019.
5. Ante Delija
Ante Delija, also known as Walking Trouble, is a 32-year-old heavyweight who stands 6-foot-5 and 233.2 pounds with a 79” arm reach and 41” leg reach – he fights out of Zagreb, Croatia. He’s the protege of Mirko Cro Cop and is making a name for himself in the new promotion.
He made his PFL debut in 2019, a win against Carl Seumanutafa. He then sent 1-1-0 in 2021 and defeated Denis Goltsov in the semifinals before losing to Bruno Cappelozza in the finals. He went 2-0-0 this season and is scheduled to fight Matheus Scheffel in the 2022 heavyweight finals on November 25.
4. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Olivier Aubin-Mercier, also known as the Canadian Gangster, is a 33-year-old lightweight who stands 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds with a 71” arm reach and 42” leg reach – he fights out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He fought in the UFC between 2014 and 2019, and joined the PFL in 2021.
Aubin-Mercier went 2-0-0 in his first season with the promotion and followed that up with a 2-0-0 season this year. He defeated Alexander Martinez in the 2022 lightweight semifinals on August 5th and is scheduled to fight Stevie Ray in the lightweight championship on November 25th.
3. Rory MacDonald
Rory MacDonald, also known as The Red King, is a 33-year-old welterweight who stands 6-foot-0 and 170 pounds with a 76” arm reach and 42” leg reach – he fights out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He made his pro debut at 16 years old and is a former Bellator champion.
MacDonald went 1-1-0 in his first season with the PFL in 2021, but lost in the semifinals to Ray Cooper III. He went 1-1-0 again this season (2022) and, once again, lost in the semifinals – this time to Dilano Taylor. He’s one of the greatest welterweight MMA fighters in the entire world.
2. Anthony Pettis
Anthony Pettis is one of the biggest names to join the PFL. Also known as Showtime, he’s a 35-year-old lightweight who stands 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds with a 73” arm reach and 40” leg reach – he fights out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s a former WEC and UFC lightweight champion.
Pettis has struggled since joining the PFL, but don’t count him out just yet. He lost his first two fights with the promotion in 2021 before finally earning his first PFL win in 2022 against Myles Price. Unfortunately, he lost his second fight in 2022 and the semifinals to the same person – Stevie Ray.
1. Kayla Harrison
Kayla Harrison is unstoppable – enough said. She’s a 32-year-old women’s lightweight who stands 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds with a 66” arm reach and 41” leg reach – she fights out of Coconut Creek, Florida. She’s undefeated in her MMA and PFL career (like we said, unstoppable).
Harrison has won the past two women’s lightweight championships, leaving no room for anyone else in the division. She defeated Marina Mokhnatkina and Kaitlin Young this year before beating Martina Jindrova in the semifinals. She has an opportunity to three-peat against Larissa Pacheco on November 25th.
Who Are the Most Talented MMA Fighters in the World?
The PFL is exciting to watch, especially if you’re bored of the way the UFC handles business. Even with its recent growth and the signing of Aspen Ladd – among others – the UFC remains the superior promotion with the best fighters in the world. The UFC is still king of the octagon.
Today, some of the most talented MMA fighters are Kamaru Usman, Charles Oliveira, Ciryl Gane, Rose Namajunas, Islam Makhachev, Max Holloway, Glover Teixeira, Beniel Dariush Brandon Moreno, Marina Rodriguez, Julianna Peña, Dustin Poirier, and Movsar Evloev.
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With that said, Aspen Ladd has a fresh opportunity to build on what has already been a successful MMA career. She’s one of the most talented MMA fighters in the PFL right now and will contend for the PFL championship as a featherweight. Her first fight is on November 25th.
Jose Aldo Announces Retirement, Joining These 20 Other Retired MMA Greats
After a legendary 18-year career, Jose Aldo officially retired from the MMA on September 18, 2022 – joining the many retired MMA greats that came before him. He spent most of his career dominating the featherweight division, but also competed in the bantamweight and lightweight.
Aldo joined the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) in 2008 and was named the fourth and final featherweight champion before merging with the UFC in 2010 and becoming the inaugural UFC featherweight champion. All in all, he defended his title nine times between 2009 and 2015.
Not only that, but Aldo went on an impressive 18-fight win streak between 2006 and 2014 before his crushing loss to Conor McGregor. He retired with a 31-8-0 career MMA record and spent a total of 5 hours, 34 minutes, and 33 seconds in a UFC ring – the 17th-most all-time.
Aldo Now Joins These Other Retired MMA Greats
Winning a professional MMA fight doesn’t come easy to anyone – in fact, many fighters will go their entire career without a victory at the highest level. What Jose Aldo has been able to do over the past 18 years is incredible, racking up 31 wins in the sport and only losing eight times.
Even after his legendary run in the featherweight division, he moved down to the bantamweight division and came one fight away from a title shot before retiring. Sure, he got knocked out by McGregor in 13 seconds, but that was just one small road bump on a long road of success.
Jose Aldo retires a legend in the sport and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all-time – and perhaps THE greatest featherweight of all-time. Let’s see how Aldo’s resume stacks up against some of the other retired MMA greats that have come before him.
20. Michael Bisping
Years Active: 2004-2018
MMA Record: 30-9-0
Michael Bisping made his professional MMA debut in April 2004 and emerged as an intriguing prospect after winning the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 3. After winning that title, Bisping went on a three-fight win streak in the UFC, proving he belonged on MMA’s biggest and brightest stage.
Bisping finally got his belt opportunity on June 4, 2016 in a rematch against Luke Rockhold – he accepted the fight on just 17 days notice. Not only did Bisping defeat Rockhold by KO/TKO, but he defended his title against Dan Henderson before losing it to Georges St-Pierre.
19. Frank Shamrock
Years Active: 1994-2000, 2003, 2006-2010
MMA Record: 23-10-2
Frank Shamrock made his professional MMA debut in Japan (Pancrase) in 1994, beating Bas Rutten as the clear underdog. After several years with Pancrase, Shamrock made his UFC debut in 1997 against Kevin Jackson for the inaugural UFC Middleweight Championship.
After Shamrock defeated Jackson, he defended his belt four times vs. Igor Zinoviev, Jeremy Horn, John Lober, and Tito Ortiz – two of which by KO/TKO and two by submission. He retired after this legendary run, returned in 2003, retired again, returned in 2006, and retired in 2010.
18. Cain Velasquez
Years Active: 2006-2019
MMA Record: 14-3-0
Cain Velasquez made his professional MMA debut in 2006 with Strikeforce and made his UFC debut two years later in 2008. He earned a championship bout against Brock Lesnar in 2010, which he won by KO/TKO. Unfortunately, he failed to defend the title vs. Junior Dos Santos.
Velasquez eventually got his revenge in a 2012 rematch for the title, defeating Dos Santos by unanimous decision. He defended the title against Antonio Silva and Dos Santos in a rubber match. He finally lost in 2015 to Fabricio Werdum and fought his final UFC fight in 2019.
17. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
Years Active: 1999-2015
MMA Record: 34-10-1 (1 NC)
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira made his professional MMA debut in 1999 with World Extreme Fighting and eventually won the WEF Heavyweight Superfight Championships. He then had stints with Fighting Network Rings and PRIDE – where he fought between 2001 and 2006.
Nogueira made his UFC debut in 2007 and won the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship in 2008 before losing it to Frank Mir later that year. He struggled to win after that, but he will forever be remembered for his dominance in PRIDE and impressive grappling techniques.
16. Henry Cejudo
Years Active: 2013-2020
MMA Record: 16-2-0
Henry Cejudo made his professional MMA debut in 2013, but he was already an Olympic gold medalist and well-established freestyle wrestler by that point. He challenged for the UFC Flyweight Championship in 2016, but lost the bout to all-time great Demetrious Johnson.
Cejudo got a second chance at the belt in a 2018 rematch, winning the fight and becoming the first fighter to win an Olympic gold and UFC title. Later that year, he won the UFC Bantamweight Championship and became the second fighter to defend a title in two different weight divisions.
15. Matt Hughes
Years Active: 1998-2013
MMA Record: 45-9-0
Matt Hughes made his professional MMA debut in 1998 after a successful NCAA wrestling career and made his UFC debut in 1999. A 2-1 start earned him a shot at the Welterweight Championship in 2001, which he won and successfully defended five times (until 2004).
Hughes regained the title in 2004 after beating Georges St-Pierre and went on to defend the title two more times. At the time, his seven defenses were the most all-time and he would go on to defeat all the welterweight contenders at least once. He’s now inducted into the Hall of Fame.
14. Bas Rutten
Years Active: 1993-1999, 2006
MMA Record: 28-4-1
Bas Rutten made his professional MMA debut in 1993 with Pancrase in Japan and continued with the promotion until 1998, when he signed with the UFC. He had his first UFC fight in 1999 – a win against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka – and won the Heavyweight Championship later that year.
Rutten was forced to retire shortly after due to doctor’s orders, but made a return to the octagon in 2006 – a win against Ruben Villareal. He was 21-0-1 in his final 22 fights and popularized the ‘liver shot,’ both by punch and kick. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015.
13. Wanderlei Silva
Years Active: 1996–2013, 2017–2022
MMA Record: 35-13-1 (1 NC)
Wanderlei Silva made his professional MMA debut in 1996 with Brazilian Vale Tudo Fighting (BVF). He continued to dominate over the next two years before signing with the UFC in 1998. He lost his first fight and went on a five-fight win streak, but lost to Tito Ortiz in a title fight.
After his loss to Ortiz, Silva joined PRIDE and went 26-4-1 (1 NC) between 2000 and 2007. He rejoined the UFC towards the end of 2007 and went 4-5-0 over the next six years. While his UFC career wasn’t the greatest, he put together one of the best careers in PRIDE history.
12. Tito Ortiz
Years Active: 1997–2012, 2014–2017, 2018–2020
MMA Record: 19-12-1
Tito Ortiz technically hasn’t retired yet, but he has already promised a retirement fight by the end of 2022 – so we’re including him on this list. He made his professional MMA debut in 1997 with the UFC and went 3-2 in his first five fights – losing to Frank Shamrock in a 1999 title bout.
Ortiz earned another shot at the Light Heavyweight title in 2000, defeating Wanderlei Silva and defending it five times (until his 2003 loss to Randy Couture). He went on a five-fight win streak between 2004 and 2006, but struggled to win in the UFC after that. He also fought in Bellator.
11. B.J. Penn
Years Active: 2001–2014, 2017–2019
MMA Record: 16-14-2
B.J. Penn practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for several years before making his professional MMA debut with the UFC in 2001. He started his career 6-1-1 and had two title opportunities early – a loss to Jens Pulver in 2002 and a draw to Caol Uno in 2003. Things turned up for him in 2004.
In his third title opportunity, Penn became Welterweight champion in 2004 after beating Matt Hughes. He later became Lightweight champion in 2008 and defended that title once. He regained the lightweight title in 2009 and defended it again, but struggled the rest of his career.
10. Dan Henderson
Years Active: 1997-2016
MMA Record: 32-15-0
Dan Henderson made his professional MMA debut in 1997 at the Brazil Open Lightweight Tournament – which he won. He made his UFC debut later that year and won his first four fights with the promotion. He was 17-5-0 at one point before receiving his first championship bout.
That day came in 2008 against Quinton Jackson, but Henderson lost by unanimous decision. He earned another title bout in 2009 vs. Anderson Silva, but lost by submission. He won 7 of his next 8 fights, but struggled through the rest of his career – losing another title bout in 2016.
9. Randy Couture
Years Active: 1997-2011
MMA Record: 19-11-0
Randy Couture made his professional MMA debut in 1997 with the UFC and quickly rose to fame within the promotion. He earned his first title bout later that year and would go on to become a three-time Heavyweight champion and two-time Light Heavyweight champion.
Throughout his legendary career, Couture appeared in 16 title bouts – the most all-time. He is the oldest fighter to ever be named champion, doing so at 43 years old, and was the fourth fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. He’s one of the greatest MMA fighters ever.
8. Chuck Liddell
Years Active: 1998-2010, 2018
MMA Record: 21-8-0
Chuck Liddell made his pro MMA debut in 1998 after a successful college wrestling career. After going 1-1 in his first two fights, he went on an eight-fight win streak and earned his first title bout against Randy Couture in 2003. He lost, but it wouldn’t be his only title opportunity.
Liddell had a short stint with PRIDE before returning to the UFC and earning another title bout in 2005 – a rematch vs. Couture. Liddell won it this time and defended his title four times before eventually fading out of the UFC. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 10, 2009.
7. Rickson Gracie
Years Active: 1980−1984, 1994−2000
MMA Record: 11-0-0
Rickson Gracie earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt at the age of 18 and is in line to earn his red belt – the highest honor in jiu jitsu. He started fighting competitively at the age of 21 and earned a gold medal at the 1980 Pan American Championships, representing Brazil.
Gracie went undefeated in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and No-Hold Barred (NHB). He also went undefeated in MMA, including nine wins by submission and two wins by knockout. One has to imagine what his career would’ve looked like if he was active during the days of the UFC.
6. Royce Gracie
Years Active: 1993–1995, 2000–2003, 2006–2007, 2016
MMA Record: 15-2-3
Speaking of the Gracie family, let’s not forget about Royce Gracie – half-brother of Rickson. Royce made his professional MMA debut in 1993 with the UFC and, much like his brother, won his first 11 fights. He only won two of his final six fights, but his legacy was already cemented.
Gracie is one of the pioneers of modern-day mixed martials arts. He helped popularize Gracie jiu-jitsu, also known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and revolutionized the way fighters approached their fight. He had a legendary rivalry with Ken Shamrock and is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame.
5. Ronda Rousey
Years Active: 2010-2016
MMA Record: 12-2-0
Ronda Rousey made her professional MMA debut in 2010 at King of the Cage after a short amateur career and impressive judo career – which included an Olympic bronze medal. She joined Strikeforce in 2011 before becoming the first female to sign with the UFC in 2012.
Rousey was immediately named the inaugural UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and made her debut in a historic fight vs. Liz Carmouche in 2013. She won her next six fights in the UFC, but lost the final two matches of her career to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
4. Daniel Cormier
Years Active: 2009-2020
MMA Record: 22-3-0 (1 NC)
Daniel Cormier enjoyed an impressive freestyle wrestling career before making his professional MMA debut in 2009 with Xtreme MMA. He joined Strikeforce later that year and went 8-0 over the next four years – at which point he signed with the UFC and began a legendary career.
He won his first four UFC fights, but lost his first title bout to Jon Jones in 2015. Several months later, he won the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship and defended it three times. He also won the Heavyweight Championship in 2018 and defended his title twice. He was a beast.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Years Active: 2008-2020
MMA Record: 29-0-0
Khabib Nurmagomedov made his pro MMA debut in 2008 and joined the UFC in 2011 after dominating the Russian and Ukrainian regional circuits. He won his first nine UFC fights before finally earning his first title bout in 2018 – a win by unanimous decision vs. Al Iaquinta.
Nurmagomedov defended his title three times against Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. He vacated the title in 2021 after announcing his retirement from MMA. One year later, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame as one of the greatest to ever fight.
2. Anderson Silva
Years Active: 1997-2020
MMA Record: 34-11-0 (1 NC)
Anderson Silva made his professional MMA debut in 1997 in Brazil and compiled a 6-1-0 record before signing with PRIDE in 2002. Silva made his way to the UFC in 2006 and was already named middleweight champion by October of that year. He quickly proved his worth.
He won his next 14 fights – a 16-fight win streak in total, the most all-time – and defended his title 10 times – also an all-time record – in that span. He won just one of his next eight fights, but he will forever be remembered for his historic and legendary streak between 2006 and 2012.
1. Georges St-Pierre
Years Active: 2002–2013, 2017
MMA Record: 26-2-0
Georges St-Pierre made his pro MMA debut in 2002 and signed with the UFC in 2004 after achieving five straight victories. He won his first two UFC fights and earned a title bout vs. Matt Hughes, but lost by an armbar submission – he did, however, win the title rematch in 2006.
St-Pierre was unable to defend his title, but regained it from Hughes in 2007 and went on to defend it a near-record nine times – until vacating it in 2013 when he retired. He returned to the UFC in 2017 and won the middleweight championship before retiring for the final time.
Are There Any Soon-To-Be Retired MMA Greats?
The UFC has seen 14 notable fighters announce their retirement this year – including another several dozen that were released. Aside from Aldo, some of the other retirements this year are Donald Cerrone, Uriah Hall, Roxanne Modafferi, Luke Rockhold, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk.
Of course, there are also several other fighters that could announce their retirement at any moment – including Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Amanda Nunes, Kevin Holland, Frankie Edgar, Holly Holm, Stipe Miocic, and Miesha Tate.
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It’ll be interesting to see how long these fighters continue their career, but one thing’s for certain – they’ll all be retired MMA greats one day. Until that time comes, let’s hope we see some good fights in the near future and let’s all tip our hats to Jose Aldo on his much-deserved retirement!
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