Every fan has his or her own favorite fighter. But there are a group of fighters who stand out from the rest by consistently putting on the most exciting fights each time out.
The most exciting fights to me are those in which there are sustained periods of combat, in which the athletes use all of the tools at their disposal. Yes, a great standup war is exciting, but a truly great mixed martial arts bout includes kicks, punches, elbows, knees, wrestling, scrambles, throws and jiu-jitsu.
That said, these are my picks as the 20 most exciting UFC fighters to watch. I’m picking active fighters only, so that leaves out the great Chris Lytle. In honor of the former UFC welterweight star, who consistently earned post-fight performance bonuses from the UFC for his exciting fights, I’ve dubbed my inaugural list of the UFC’s most exciting fighters as “The Lytle List.”
1. Chan Sung Jung — If I was going to take a person to a fight and turn them into a mixed martial arts fan, I’d bring them to see the man known as “The Korean Zombie.” If you want to see a fast knockout, check out the Zombie. His KO of Mark Hominick is, at seven seconds, tied for fastest in UFC history. If you love submissions, you’ll love Jung. He became the first fighter in competition to pull off the Twister when he submitted Leonard Garcia in Seattle last year at Ultimate Fight Night 24. And if you like flat out brawls, who can forget his epic battle with Garcia at WEC 48? For my money, Jung is the most exciting fighter in the UFC, and that’s saying a lot.
2. Joe Lauzon — Lauzon has won 11 fight night bonuses from the UFC in his career, which puts him second between middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s 12 bonuses. Lauzon has won six Submission of the Night awards, four Fight of the Night awards and one Knockout of the Night. But sometimes, bonus totals can be misleading. A guy may be the only one on a particular card to get a knockout or a submission and, thus, he wins the award by default. That doesn’t mean the fight was exciting. That’s not the case, though, with Lauzon, whose fights are regularly the most action-packed on the cards he’s on.
3. Diego Sanchez — Whether he’s going by ‘The Nightmare,’ or ‘The Dream,’ Sanchez is money when it comes to putting on exciting fights. His 2006 bout with Karo Parisyan remains one of the best bouts in UFC history. His 2009 match with Clay Guida was picked by many as the Fight of the Year. The only downside to being a Sanchez fan is that he is hurt so much because of his fierce style, he doesn’t compete as often as we’d like.
4. Donald Cerrone — He’s a veteran of the fight night bonus awards. He landed Fight of the Night five times while in the WEC and twice in the UFC. He’s also had a Knockout of the Night and a Submission of the Night. He uses all aspects of the game and fights at a frenzied pace.
5. Leonard Garcia — Cerrone’s best friend, Garcia was a largely unknown when he debuted in the UFC at UFC 69 on April 7, 2007, against Roger Huerta. That was a breathtakingly brutal fight and it set the tone for the kind of fight he’d put on. His first fight with Jung might be the greatest in WEC history.
6. Nate Diaz — Diaz has won five Fight of the Night and five Submission of the Night honors. His bouts are consistently high-paced and technical, and getting more exciting all the time. Diaz is willing to take risks in order to finish and that increases the enjoyment level of his bouts.
7. Anderson Silva — He is the greatest fighter of all-time and leads the UFC with 12 post-fight bonuses, including seven Knockout of the Night Awards. Silva has had some stinkers, such as his wins over Patrick Cote, Thales Leites and Demian Maia, which is why he’s not higher on this elite list. But Silva has had his share of electrifying bouts and because of that, is a must-see fighter.
8. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua — The former UFC light heavyweight champion gave fans a glimpse of what was to come in 2005 when he engaged in an epic match with ‘Little Nog,’ Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, in PRIDE. His fight with Henderson is regarded as the best in UFC history and his knockouts of Lyoto Machida and Chuck Liddell were jaw-dropping.
9. Dan Henderson — Henderson has the wrestling ability to take an opponent down, smother him and grind out a win. Fortunately, he doesn’t use it that way. Henderson would rather use the power in his fists to win his matches. His one-punch knockout of Michael Bisping at UFC 100 might be the most famous KO in UFC history. Many regard his win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 last year as the greatest fight in UFC history.
10. Jon Jones — Jones would be higher on this list if he had any competition. The best fights are the ones in which there is drama and in which the tide ebbs and flows from one side to the other. Jones has been so much better than the rest of the field, there has been no ebb and flow. Still, Jones is an aggressive, offensive-oriented fighter who tries crazy moves and usually pulls them off.
11. Nick Diaz — He comes to fight and he delivers amazing action time after time.
12. Clay Guida — Guida would be much higher if not for that stink bomb of a fight he put on in Atlantic City, N.J., his last time out against Gray Maynard. He’s engaged in some incredible duels over the years against the likes of Roger Huerta, Diego Sanchez and Benson Henderson.
13. Gray Maynard — In his early days, when his technique wasn’t as good as it is now, he used his physical power to make his fights exciting. As he developed, he became a heavy-fisted fighter who was hungry for knockouts.
14. Anthony Pettis — Who can forget the ‘Showtime Kick,” the move that won him the WEC title and made him a cult hero? Pettis has a variety of moves in his arsenal and is a consistently fun guy to watch.
15. Melvin Guillard — As UFC president Dana White might say, Guillard just brings it. His aggressiveness may cost him fights, but he’s a joy to watch because he is never in a dull match.
16. Benson Henderson — The UFC lightweight champion has incredible submission defense and is able to fight off submissions that seem destined to put him to sleep. But he is an excellent offensive fighter whose power and physical strength are factors in his success.
17. Frankie Edgar — His fights with Gray Maynard are classic. His match with Benson Henderson was a classic. His bout with Tyson Griffin was a … Do you see a trend here?
18. Junior dos Santos — The UFC heavyweight champion is as easy-going as it gets outside the cage. But when the bell rings, he’s a demon whose power and boxing technique make him one of the sport’s elite KO artists.
19. Jim Miller — The submission ace has great cardio and he uses it to fight at a high pace in which he’s constantly looking to finish.
20. Demetrious Johnson — I value power and Johnson isn’t particularly powerful, so I dropped him a bit on my list. But he’s exceedingly fast and his fights are featured by crazy scrambles and frenetic activity.
There are a lot of entertaining fighters who didn’t make out. I hated to leave off Stephan Bonnar, whose bout with Forrest Griffin at the finale of Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter” essentially saved the sport.
There were many others who are deserving, but these are my picks for the UFC’s most exciting fighters.
Leave your choices in the comments.
See the article here:
‘Korean Zombie’ tops ‘The Lytle List’ of writer’s most exciting UFC fighters