With an explosive night of fights from “Aldo vs. Faber” behind us, Heavy.com ranks the top 10 most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts today. If you’re a fan of lay and pray, then the guys on this list want nothing to do with you.
10. Miguel Torres
If Ralph Macchio and Chuck Norris had a kid, it would be Torres. Even with a two-fight slump, the former WEC bantamweight champion never fails to put on an exciting fight. His back and forth wars against Yoshiro Maeda and Takeya Mizugaki are among some of the greatest fights in WEC history. Even his recent defeats at the hands of Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez were entertaining to watch. Torres might not be a candidate for the top pound for pound fighter in the world anymore, but he sure is fun to watch.
9. Melvin Manhoef
Someone must not have told Manhoef that you can actually go to the ground in MMA, because the Dutch striker does nothing but stand and trade with his opponents. Forget about double legs and pulling guard, all Manhoef wants to do is knock his victims heads into the front row. The former K1 kickboxer is often compared to the legendary Mike Tyson for his relentless fighting style - though Manhoef has yet to bite off a chunk of an opponent’s ear like “Iron” Mike.
8. Nick Diaz
Stockton, California’s resident bad boy is the last person you’d want to meet in a dark alley. The current reigning Strikeforce welterweight champion is as tough as they come and always shows up to fight. Diaz has had incredible brawls with fighters such as Takanori Gomi, Karo Parisyan and Diego Sanchez long before stepping into a Strikeforce cage. Since working for Scott Coker, Diaz is coming off three exhilarating victories. Most recently the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt disposed of DREAM welterweight champ Marius Zaromskis with a violent TKO stoppage in the very first round.
7. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
In this sport, there are those who are martial artists and there are those who are fighters. Jackson is the epitome of a fighter in every sense of the word. He genuinely enjoys the idea of getting paid for beating the living daylights out of another man. Prior to jumping over to the UFC, “Rampage” was slamming opponents over in the PRIDE Fighting Championships as if he were literally trying to throw them through the floor of the ring. In Japan, Jackson had memorable bouts with notables such as Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, and Ricardo Arona. Upon entering the UFC, Jackson has knocked out almost everyone placed in front of him and has yet to be in a boring fight.
6. Diego Sanchez
Like others on this list, Sanchez can fight at a frantic pace for hours and never slow down. The fight of the night bonus has almost become synonymous with The Ultimate Fighter season 1 winner considering most of his fights in the Octagon are all-out wars. At “The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale,” Sanchez put on one of the craziest slugfests in UFC history against fellow cardio machine Clay Guida. Aside from that fight, Sanchez is also praised for his eventful performances against Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz.
5. Clay Guida
All humans tire out eventually, right? Well some would argue that Clay Guida is no human. In fact, Guida has better cardio than most aliens do. Not only does Guida have the gas tank of the Energizer Bunny on crack, but he also has an incredible threshold for pain. Some of “The Carpenter’s” most memorable battles include UFC fights against Tyson Griffin, Roger Huerta, and Diego Sanchez.
4. Leonard Garcia
Garcia’s insane bout against Chan Sung Jung at “Aldo vs. Faber” is just one of several Fight of the Night performances the Team Jackson featherweight has been a part of. Garcia’s last matchup with TUF alumni George Roop at WEC 47 also earned the FOTN bonus. Prior to dropping down to featherweight, Garcia was putting on wars against the likes of Roger Huerta in the UFC’s lightweight division. Yes, we admit that Garcia’s technique leaves much to be desired, but his reckless style is always highly entertaining.
3. Jose Aldo
This Brazilian wrecking machine fights the way that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva should fight. He’s an incredibly technical Muay Thai striker that constantly goes for the kill and is not satisfied until his opponents are lying on the mat looking up at the lights. Aldo has finished all but one of his WEC fights by way of thunderous knockout, including an eight second TKO over Cub Swanson with a flying knee. Recently, the featherweight champ is coming off a dominant performance over Urijah Faber that left Faber’s legs looking like they had been run over by a truck.
2. Chris Lytle
A part-time fire fighter out of Indianapolis, Indiana, Lytle has only one dull fight to his UFC resume. That was a stalemate against Matt Serra at the “Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale” in which Lytle dropped a split decision. Since then, Lytle made a promise to himself and to the fans to constantly go to war in the Octagon and that is exactly what he has been doing. Lytle has went for broke in recent bouts against Kevin Burns, Marcus Davis, and Paul Taylor. He doesn’t always pull out the victory, but he usually walks away with Fight of the Night – four of them to be exact.
1. Wanderlei Silva
“The Axe-Murderer” is not quite as dominant as he was back in his prime, but his ability to entertain the crowd is still at the highest level. In PRIDE, Silva was the most feared striker on the planet and collected a total of 15 knockout victories for the now defunct promotion. At one stretch from 2000 to 2004, 13 of Wand’s 15 fights ended by way of (T)KO! His time in the UFC has been rocky, but regardless of the result, Silva always fights his heart out and will go down as one of the most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts history.
Honorable Mention: Urijah Faber, The Good Anderson Silva, Jon Jones
Who did we miss? Who should be higher? Who should be lower? Lets us know in the comment section below.