Any test that involves ranking fighters is always tough because of variances in promotions, weight classes, competition, era of sport, historical context etc. I have written both a list and the reasoning for my choices. Please look for my article on this topic in the next edition of MMA weekly and FC fighter. That being said, here is my list.
1. Matt Hughes
2. Royce Gracie
3. Fedor Emelianenko
4. Anderson Silva
5. Bas Rutten
6. Georges St. Pierre
7. Wanderlei Silva
8. Tito Ortiz
9. Chuck Lidell
10. BJ Penn
1. Matt Hughes- Most UFC title defenses in history (tie at 5), Most UFC Wins (tie at 16), most title victories (9), 2 6 fight win streaks in his career. Numbers speak for themselves. By the way, all against top level competition.
2. Royce Gracie- Only true loss was Sakuraba, and that was simply by exhaustion after 6 rounds of fighting. He fought Hughes well out of his prime, and the sport evolved so much between his first fight in the UFC and his last. Needless to say, he is also THE pioneer of the sport.
3. Fedor Emelianenko- Most would argue he should be higher, and for good reason. However, his victories over proven competition are lacking. In PRIDE, he was unreal, however, when the fighters who he beat came to the states, they did not fair well. The sport has been evolving at a tremendous pace, and he has yet to show his face against top notch competition. That being said, he has one loss, and faced the best of the best in the organization in which he fought.
4. Anderson Silva- Holds UFC records in consecutive title victories (t-6) and longest winning streak (10 and counting). Some losses in PRIDE, but relatively early in his career. Has never lost the UFC title.
5. Bas Rutten- 22 fights without a loss to end his career. Won UFC title, however had to retire due to injury. Very overlooked and sometimes forgotten because he did not fight in PRIDE or the UFC. Unbelievablebody of work against the best of competition.
6. GSP- At this point, maybe the most dynamic fighter in MMA. As for his career, he has faced the best of the best, losing to Hughes (as a young fighter) and Serra (no excuse). 6 title victories, tied with Anderson and Tito for second most all time.
7. Wanderlei Silva- Wanderlei was tough to place. He went 18 fights in PRIDE without a loss which is incredible. However, he cannot win in the UFC. Even in his prime, he lost to Belfort and Ortiz in the cage. Again, most of his fights were in pride, and you cannot discount his career there.
8. Tito Ortiz- Again, hard to place. The most overlooked aspect when ranking fighters is looking at the total body of work. Tito is not now what he once was. He has lost recent fights. However, 6 Title wins including 5 consecutive defenses, 14 total wins, all against the top competition earlier in his career. The game has changed, Royce could not win now, but he could when he was in his prime, and that must hold weight.
9. Chuck Liddel- Punch drunk late in his career, but look at history. Two 7 fight win streaks, 16 total wins (UFC record), 5 title wins.
10. B.J. Penn- He has had a long career, and has suffered only one loss in his weight class. He has been willing to step up to face heavier competition, but unfortunately to his detriment.
Too many to list.