Loads of digital ink and video and again when bodily media truly mattered, actual ink was spilled over varied listicles and arguments over who was the most effective striker. Again when boxing was king, you had journal columns extolling the virtues of Julian “The Hawk” Jackson and Mike Tyson and George Foreman with their clubs-for-fists. Hell, we’re most likely nonetheless underneath isolation orders and also you’ve received six minutes to kill, go watch this:

Completely fabulous, savage work. Makes for excellent copy and even higher spotlight.

However because the sub-title talked about, the axiom to fight sports activities is to “hit and never be hit.” It’s apparent why we not often discuss in regards to the second half of that motto — it’s much less thrilling, doesn’t win a combat on the drop of a hat, and is commonly so much more durable to see. But it surely’s time to present a bit like to the most effective defenders in combined martial arts (MMA).

I actually needed to troll the viewers a bit and truly rank them as if which means something, however that’s all subjective and I don’t actually get a kick out of trolling you all. A lot. So this listing might be offered alphabetically. Don’t get mad as a result of some bizarre choice is greater up on the listing than your favourite, blame their dad and mom for not altering their final title.

Israel Adesanya

The present 185-pound UFC Middleweight champion with a stellar kickboxing background is clearly the most effective stand-up fighters within the recreation right this moment, that’s about as apparent a press release as one will get. It isn’t simply his incoming hearth that makes him so harmful, it’s his fancy footwork and nice head & waist motion that lets him snipe opponents practically at will.

It doesn’t matter what gameplan opponents have tried up to now, whether or not it’s been to crowd him the best way Kelvin Gastelum and Brad Tavares did or rush like Derek Brunson or attempt for the counter like Yoel Romero, he’s finished an impressive job at shutting down most or all of what opponents have tried to do to him. Izzy does a fantastic job of feinting, which shuts down counter strikers, switching stances, which neutralizes individuals unfamiliar with the best way to combat vs southpaws, hand-fighting and trapping opponents lead palms and his takedown protection is among the many greatest within the division.

In the event you care to sit down via an almost hour-long video (you possibly can most likely cease after about 20 or 30 minutes, to be trustworthy), he went on IG dwell, smoked a bowl and drank some beers whereas speaking via the Tavares 5-round choice. You possibly can actually get a good suggestion of all of the issues I’ve introduced up up to now and extra.

Dominick Cruz

“The Dominator” is coming off his commonplace three-year absence on account of accidents and has been thrust right into a title shot towards two-division champ Henry Cejudo. Actually, Cruz might be one of many first names you’d ever consider when it comes right down to nice protection, as a result of his fancy footwork can be among the many most notable and really seen options of his recreation.

Cruz has not often been hit exhausting by anyone, save his final opponent, Cody Garbrandt, who did a completely excellent job of taking away Cruz’s most popular angles and setups whereas additionally throwing tons of punches in bunches at each alternative. There are some nice movies on the market if you happen to actually need to get into the trivialities of his fleeting quick footwork patterns.

Whatever the failure in his previous combat, he managed to go the space and nonetheless win spherical 5, having regained his timing and rhythm. Cruz leads all Final Combating Championship (UFC) bantamweights in his signature strike protection (minimal 5 UFC Fights and 350 Strike Makes an attempt by Opponents), with opponents lacking 70.9% of the time. Wonderful when you think about the pace in that division.

Phil Davis

This may not be a reputation that instantly springs to thoughts when this topic comes up, however the long-time mild heavyweight contender’s defensive credentials rank up there with a few of the best on this sport. Has Davis been outstruck? Sure. When he bumped into individuals he couldn’t outgrapple (Bader, Evans, Johnson), he’s gotten outpointed and misplaced. So his inclusion on this listing shouldn’t be with the belief that he’s a clean, barely flawed fighter like lots of the others you’ll see – he simply principally by no means will get hit exhausting.

Phil combines freakish size together with a hanging antagonistic fashion that lends to plenty of issues: boring fights and little harm chief amongst them. While you’re such a grappling risk that you realize he needs the takedown, you don’t overextend in your toes. In reality, you are likely to bunch up and throw much less. For causes equivalent to this, Davis leads all present and former fighters within the LHW division in sig strike protection. Be happy to look at some spotlight movies if you wish to see some middling hanging, a number of takedowns and some cool submissions.

Demetrious Johnson

“Mighty Mouse” is the flyweight GOAT. The previous UFC champion who now resides in ONEFC has been in 34 skilled MMA fights and whereas I haven’t seen all of them, he’s by no means gotten beat up on the toes that I can recall outdoors of his draw with Ian McCall (that Ian ought to have received had been it not for the screwup in counting) manner again in 2012.

Being a 125-pounder, he naturally possesses superb pace, however his little bit of burst and grappling risk makes opponents reluctant to open up towards him. It is a theme from a few of the least-hit individuals on this complete sport. The higher the grappling risk and talent to take care of high place, the much less seemingly they’re to get hit on the toes usually. Johnson is without doubt one of the pound-for-pound greatest throughout combined martial artists within the historical past of this sport, and his resume is second to none. And he hasn’t misplaced a combat standing in eight years.

Chuck Liddell


Lyoto Machida

You knew it was coming. “The Dragon”. One of the elusive, but profitable strikers within the historical past of this sport. The epitome of “hit and never get hit”. The proprietor of quite a few spotlight reel knockouts over the likes of Rashad Evans (his solely KO loss for the primary 13 years of his profession), Thiago Silva (solely KO loss for the primary 10 years of his profession), Ryan Bader, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort whereas solely dropping a sparse three knockouts over a 17-year profession.

Nobody on this sport is untouchable, and everybody on this listing has gotten touched up not less than as soon as. However Machida’s footwork and elusive in-and-out motion has led given him a storied profession with only some lowlights. Yea, he received obliterated by Derek Brunson (actually?!) and there’s no disgrace in consuming a flying knee from Yoel Romero or some vicious proper palms from Shogun Rua. The Machida Period might be remembered each for his successes and failures, however overwhelmingly as one of many very best to ever dwell as much as the motto “hit and never get hit”.

Anderson Silva

Anderson is a tricky embrace to me on this listing, however he spent the overwhelming majority of his profession as a demigod on the toes, infrequently taking harm. Fairly frankly, if this listing consists of somebody like Machida who’s been straight KO’d 3 times, then it ought to embrace Anderson, who’s appeared like MMA’s personal Neo at occasions, regardless of a few of his foibles and losses.

Look, Silva was an absolute genius and a madman. If he fought somebody who was sluggish, good gravy did he embarrass them. Nonetheless, a part of what he additionally dropped at the desk wasn’t simply nice reflexes, however an insane means to roll with any punch that may get via mixed with a completely iron chin. There’s a fantastic story that Jorge Rivera has from his combat towards Anderson again in Cage Rage. They tied up in a clinch and Rivera simply unloaded on Silva. Clear blasted him with 4 pictures proper to the chin. Silva took them, smiled at him and winked. That’s when Rivera knew he was fucked.

It’s superb stuff, however gamemanship is a two-way avenue, and we will’t fake it didn’t chunk him within the ass towards Weidman. It took a selected skillset to bother “Spider”, however he did have hassle with individuals who would do managed swarms at him. The Weidman loss is the apparent instance, however opponents from Nick Diaz to Chael Sonnen to Israel Adesanya would discover continued moments of success after they would keep above their toes and never overextend; after they’d combine up feints and same-hand strikes repeatedly to mess together with his bob and weave.

I’m not placing in a spotlight, you possibly can see all of it in your head. Put up it within the feedback part if you would like, however everyone knows the Forrest Griffin GIF. Sheer brilliance, the likes of which this sport had by no means seen.

Alexander Volkanovski

“The Hulk” is your latest UFC Featherweight champion and a person who not often will get hit clear. The possessor of stable motion, footwork, gameplanning and total mixture of expertise has been identified to eat a shot every now and then, however has additionally spent years in a row not often getting hit clear.

Whereas he’s definitely not an untouchable, unhittable wizard, going full Matrix on opponents like a main Anderson Silva, his final three fights has been a assassin’s row of Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway, and Volkanovski got here out of all three of them not solely with a win, however comparatively unscathed. Yea, he will get minimize on his left eyebrow a bit, however that’s about the one knock on the person. All three of these opponents – 145 pound terrors, the lot of them – all received crushed up on the toes by the higher all-around fighter.

In the event you watch a Volkanovski spotlight, you’ll discover clip after clip of the person darting out and in, slipping and countering counters just like the fistic genius he’s.

Honorable Mentions

There are definitely a number of nice fighters that you can argue must be on this listing, nevertheless it’s my listing and so they’re not.

The place’s “Wonderboy” Stephen Thompson? I thought of together with him. He’s made very credible fighters look unhealthy as they’ve swung at air for rounds at a time. A modern-day Machida, however with a shorter profession and no championship credentials to again them up. He’s additionally been dropped repeatedly to a man who throws nothing however two overhand rights per spherical and he’s 0-1-1 towards him (Woodley). Very not too long ago, he received knocked out by a featherweight.

Georges St. Pierre practically received placed on the listing, as a result of he had a dominating profession, having solely been caught as soon as, towards the Spherical Mound of Pasta-Feuled Hooks, Matt Serra. The difficulty I had with this was by god did that man put on harm poorly. Individuals like BJ Penn and Anderson Silva had leather-based pores and skin who infrequently appeared torn up even if you happen to dropped a operating garden mower on them. GSP possessed the pores and skin toughness of a moist tissue.

Perhaps it was the many years spent huddling in heat jackets out of the chilly, Canadian winters, however even in wins, he appeared like a lasagna half the time. He clearly received hit and did these hits do harm. Perhaps it’s unfair, however so is life.

Genki Sudo nearly made this listing as effectively, together with his oddball fashion and grappling-heavy method, however he would nonetheless often get wanged and danged by lots of the higher strikers he confronted. He did a fantastic job avoiding harm a good period of time, nevertheless it was extra his unorthodoxy that troubled individuals, not a selected defensive motion or 5. Nice man, however not on the listing.

I nearly put the Mild-Heavyweight G.O.A.T. on right here, as Jon Jones has by no means been knocked out, and even misplaced to anybody however himself and Steve Mazzagatti, however his flaws with lengthy, lateral fighters are getting demonstrated repeatedly (Gustafsson, Reyes). Like Davis, he possesses freakish size and talent to manage distance with footwork, however what separates these two are the eyepokes and a relentless buzzsaw of teeps, indirect kicks and elbows from all angles. Jones was the toughest minimize to make, and if a good chunk of his protection wasn’t unlawful, he’d be on it.

The ultimate exclusion was Michael Web page. He’s appeared so much like Adesanya and Silva at occasions, however he’s crushed jabronies. Dougie Lima made him do the Dougie. Appear like Izzy or Spider towards some top-flight comp, and I’ll take it again.

There you’ve it. I miss your favourite? Inform me about it down under.