We are still putting all of our top lists together as we round out the end of this year. Here I enlisted the help of Charles and Rich to add their own personal lists along with mine. We are talking about the ten very best fighters of this decade. The interesting thing about these lists is that the fighters on these lists are much different than the top fighters of the previous decade. It'll be even more interesting to think about the next decade and wonder how different the top fighters then will differ from the ones we have listed below. Check it all out after the jump.
1 – Fedor Emelianenko – We can criticize his choice of opposition and his outlandish demands in his bargaining but what we can not criticize is his ability and skill. Fedor has by far had the greatest decade of any other fighter. He’s virtually unblemished in his career and outside of a very shortlist of heavyweight contenders, he’s beaten every top heavyweight mixed martial artist in their prime! ‘The Last Emperor’ may fall short of the pound-for-pound lists these days due to his inability to compromise a deal with the UFC and fighting opposition within the top of the heap at heavyweight but outside of that, he’s easily the best fighter of this decade.
2 – Wanderlei Silva– I will say this, I am not a Wanderlei Silva fan. Probably one of the few people who is not a fan of his. However, I can not overlook the fact that for a long period of time he was the most feared 205-pounder in the world, hell, he was one of the most feared fighter’s at any weight in the world. Having fought guys way undersized as well as heavyweights that made him look ant-like, he never ever backed down from a challenge and most of the time was victorious in his endeavors. I may be going on a limb here but during his hayday I’d say Silva had more epic match ups than any other fighter in this top 10. Though his career has slowly dwindled to decline status, he still remains one of the greatest fights of the decade.
3 – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – A no-brainer for one of the fighter’s of the decade, Big Nog/Minotauro has defied the odds on so many occasions we lost count. His immeasurable heart coupled with his top notch jiu jitsu has made him one of the most potent heavyweights of all time. I may be miscalculating but within the decade his only losses have come to Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, and Frank Mir. Not a bad group of guys to have fallen short to. He is also the ONLY fighter to have held both Pride and UFC gold in his career. Another great accomplishment for a great fighter.
4 – Chuck Liddell – I’ll say it, Chuck is THE face of MMA. If you envision MMA, most likely Chuck’s Mohawk is somewhere in the back of your mind. His legendary light heavyweight run in the UFC implanted him as a hall of famer and his ability to almost effortlessly knockout some of the best 205ers from around the world also helped. Although he’s come on hard times in his late age, there’s no doubt he’s a fighter of this decade.
5 – Randy Couture – If you know of Randy Couture, him being a multiple champion in different weight classes within the UFC wouldn’t be surprising. However, the fact he’s accomplished this within the decade from his upper 30’s into his 40’s would be. Captain America might not have the prettiest record as far as top fighters go but what you can’t deny is that he’s fight numerous tough opponents and has either shown that he can hang or he’s embarrassed them in their bouts. A true ambassador for the sport, without Randy Couture, the decade would not have been as exciting or as glorifying for MMA, in my opinion.
6 – Matt Hughes – Love him or hate him, Matt Hughes for a good stretch in the UFC was THE man at welterweight. He captured the title and was seemingly untouchable at 170, finishing guys like Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn who had before not ever been stopped in their careers. While he suffers the same fate as Chuck and Wandy as his dominant days have come and gone, you can not even think about UFC throughout the 2000’s without mentioning Matt’s name.
7 – Anderson Silva – ‘The Spider’ has poisoned many opponents with his stinging knees and brutal precision. Considered the best pound for pound fighter for the last 2 or 3 years, Anderson has had a rocky 2000 but has hit an untouchable stride since coming to the UFC and basically running roughshod through their middleweight division and even leaving fighters in the light heavyweight division lying motionless and looking puzzled in his presence. Throughout this decade, Anderson I do say is the TRUE meaning of a pound for pound fighter having fought at 170, 185, AND 205 and being dominant in all three divisions.
8 – Georges St. Pierre – Slowly bypassing Chuck as the face of MMA, the young Canadian has kicked and punched his way through the 170 division. Having only lost twice in his career and avenging both losses he’s pretty much risen to a level NO ONE in that weight class can come close to. Sure we play out scenarios in our head just to make him seem human but each time he pretty much squashes that and destroys his opposition. Having crushed fighters like Matt Hughes (x2), Frank Trigg, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck, and Jon Fitch….it’s hard to question his name being amongst the top fighters of the decade.
9 – Takanori Gomi – While I had planned to put Dan Henderson here, you can not deny the fact that for much of the middle years of 2000, Gomi was thought to be the very best at lightweight. Although another guy that probably belongs on this list…BJ Penn…dismantled him, his run in Pride is as legendary as fellow Pride stars Wanderlei Silva & Fedor Emelianenko. There was a long period where no one believed he could be beat and even when he did, most deemed it a fluke. Now, much like his other Pride champions, he’s come to a crossroads in his career but still remains a threat in the 155 division and is still is amongst the best fighters of the decade.
10 – Mirko Cro Cop – I know, I know, he’s looked like crap since 2007…BUT he also left such a path of destruction in Pride against some of the best heavyweights ever assembled you can not question his spot here in the top 10. Here’s a guy that didn’t just beat but DESTROYED guys like Josh Barnett (THREE TIMES), Igor Vovchanchyn, Kazushi Sakuraba, Wanderlei Silva, Heath Herring, Mark Coleman and the list goes on and the fact that he finished all the aforementioned in devastating fashion should let you know what kind of a fighter he was. Winning the 2006 Openweight Tournament in Pride was the culmination of his achievements in Pride and in his career as well as having one of the most anticipated matches in history against Fedor and actually putting up quite a fight.
Fedor Emelianenko- 31-1 this decade (8 TKO’s; 16 Subs) Became PRIDE and WAMMA heavyweight champion.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira- 28-5-1 this decade (2 TKO’s; 16 Subs) Became PRIDE and UFC Interim heavyweight champion.
Chuck Liddell17-6 this decade (12 TKO’s; 0 Subs); Became UFC light heavyweight champion.
Wanderlei Silva 22-8-1 (17 TKO’s; 1 Sub); Became Pride champion at 205.
Quinton Jackson29-7 (14 TKO’s; 7 Subs); Became UFC and PRIDE light heavyweight champion.
Dan Henderson19-7 this decade (9 TKO's; 0 Subs); Became PRIDE champion at 205 and 185.
Anderson Silva25-4 this decade (15 TKO’s; 4 Subs); Became UFC middleweight champion.
Georges St. Pierre19-2 this decade (8 TKO’s; 5 Subs); Became UFC welterweight champion twice.
Matt Hughes30-1 this decade (10 TKO's; 13 Subs); Became UFC welterweight champion twice.
B.J. Penn15-5-1 this decade (6 TKO's; 6 Subs); Became UFC lightweight champion and UFC welterweight champion.
Kelvin Hunt(In No Particular Order):
Fedor Emelianenko-Simply the best fighter of this decade having run through any and all opposition.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria-If not for Fedor, Nogueira could quite possibly be the best fighter of this decade. His heart coupled with come from behind victories just makes you become a fan of the guy. One of the best heavyweights of all time.
Chuck Liddell-Liddell was the dominant light heavyweight in the UFC going undefeated for a 3 year span which amounted to 7 opponents getting knocked out during that reign.
BJ Penn-If BJ Penn would have stayed at lightweight the entire duration of this decade, he would probably be challenging Fedor for the title of best fighter of this decade. He's clearly the best lightweight on the face of the earth.
Matt Hughes-The most dominant welterweight of this decade. Hughes had a winning streak of 13 in a row before losing to BJ Penn in 2004. After that loss he put together 6 more wins in a row while also avenging the loss to Penn.
George St. Pierre-Quickly trying to supplant Hughes as the most dominant welterweight of all time. GSP has fought the best of the best in his division and beaten them all and he's not even 30 yrs old yet.
Anderson Silva-Anderson Silva has fought in multiple divisions and been dominant in all of them in this decade.
Shogun Rua-Shogun Rua was one of the most dominant light heavyweights in the world before a knee injury sidelined him twice. However, he's beaten some of the best of the best in the light heavyweight division while solving the Machida puzzle at UFC 104 to become the #1 light heavyweight in the world once again.
Wanderlei Silva-Silva was a huge star in the PRIDE organization and was the dominant light heavyweight there the same time Chuck Liddell was reigning in America. Silva fought them all from heavyweights Mark Hunt, Gilbert Yvel, Kazuyuki Fujita and Mirko Cro Cop to Kazushi Sakuraba. He star power transferred over to the UFC and he's still a crowd favorite.
Takanori Gomi-With winning streaks of 8 and 10 fights in a row. Besides BJ Penn, Gomi was thought to be the best lightweight in the world while he was tearing up the competition in Japan.