13 Best Strikers In UFC History: Past & Present

If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

There’s nothing better than a crispy showcase of striking skills that’ll end the fight with a knockout.

Many fighters have shown striking pedigrees, but who is top of the list of the best strikers in UFC history?

Arguably the best striker in the UFC is Israel Adesanya. His long jab makes it impossible to close the distance to him; if you do, he’s also ready for short, juicy counters. Moreover, his signature lean-back left hook took various fighters like Paolo Costa and Robert Whittaker down.

Are you expecting your favorite fighter on this list? Dive in and find out if he’s good enough to be included.

13. Donald Cerrone

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is known for his vicious head kicks, making him a legend of the sport. Aside from the head kicks, he also high tremendous Boxing knockout highlights under his 36/17/0 professional record.

One of his most outstanding performances was when he silenced Alexander Hernandez after a series of trash talks before the fight. He finished the much younger Hernandez with his signature right head kick and sealed the fight with some vicious ground and pound.

Cowboy Cerrone has also struck with some of the UFC’s most renowned strikers. Despite losing all these fights, he showed heart and exchanged punches with Justin Gathje, Conor McGregor, Tony Fergusson, and Anthony Pettis.

Despite not having the chance to win a UFC championship and retiring after a series of heartbreaking losses, Cowboy has engraved his name in the list of the best UFC strikers. 

12. Kamaru Usman

The 2022 pound-for-pound king, Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. He is one of the most versatile UFC champions that can destroy you on the ground and also has the ability to land some bombs. 

Kamaru holds a 100% takedown defense record in the UFC. His fantastic takedown defense is a tool to force his opponents to stand up with him. As of his rematch against Covington last November of 2021, he has a 45% finish rate that shows how good he is in striking.

Some of his most impressive striking performances are in Usman vs. Covington 1, where he broke Colby’s jaw. His Gilburt Burns match-up is worth mentioning as he finished the fight with one stiff power jab. Furthermore, what he did to Masvidal in their rematch is outstanding; he slept the man like he was his son.

11. Cody Garbrandt

Former Bantamweight King Cody “No Love” Garbrandt gives no sign of love to his opponents. He’s known for his killer hooks that seem invisible to his opponent’s eyes. With his pure power and unbelievable speed, striking with this man can be considered a suicide mission.

One of his most unforgettable fights was when he won the Bantamweight gold against Dominick Cruz. Cody made the fight look like a striking clinic as he fed Cruz’s face with punches. 

He could’ve easily ended the fight with the first knockdown, but Cody chose to let his opponent stand and continue the slaughter. 

Another No Love fight that wowed the UFC community was against Raphael Assuncao. He put his back against the cage, dipped his head down low, and fired a solid right cross with lightning speed that landed on Assuncao’s jaw. Cody finished the fight 1 second before the second round was over.

10. Stipe Miocic

The record holder of the most Heavyweight title defense in UFC history, Stipe Miocic. He dominated the Heavyweight guys with his tactical and calculated style of striking. As of his last Francis Ngannou rematch last March of 2021, Miocic has a 75% knockout rate.

He showed how great his striking was during his rematch against Daniel Cormier to be a 2-time Heavyweight champion. Miocic is behind against significant strikes, but he remained calm and collected.

He adjusted his game plan in the middle of the fight and landed some solid hooks to the liver. He managed to stop Cormier in the fourth round.

Another finesse fight that Miocic finished was when he destroyed Fabricio Werdum. He knocked him out cold while moving backward. This shows what level Stipe’s striking is.

9. Francis Ngannou

Francis “The Predator” Ngannou is the world record holder of the strongest punch in the world. His punch is believed to be equivalent to being hit by a  full-speed Ford Escort. His power and undeniably long hands make Francis one of the scariest strikers on the roster.

What makes him included in this list is his true knockout power. Once he strikes with you, consider yourself done for. Take, for example, his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruk. Francis missed a lot of blows, but the moment he landed one fist, it was a ‘good night.

Fight after fight, Ngannou improved his technical ability making him more dangerous. He removed his reckless attitude in striking and changed into a more patient yet deadly predator that also served as the key to getting the Heavyweight belt.

8. Anderson Silva

Anderson “The Spider” Silva is the most entertaining striker who ever stepped foot inside the octagon. Unlike other strikers, Silva mixes up all sorts of possible strikes when he fights. From spinning moves to stepping elbows. You name it, he’ll do it, and he’ll land it.

One of his most sensational fights is against Vitor Belfort. Here he showed his speed and unpredictability when it comes to striking. Silva finished the fight with a swift front kick that found its home on Belfort’s chin. 

Silva continues to showcase his world-class striking on the big stage. He recently fought Tito Ortiz in a Boxing match. Silva knocked Ortiz out with a solid overhand right. This shows that Silva can still strike at a high level.

7. Alexander Gustaffson

Alexander Gustaffson was a Light Heavyweight elite that has high-level Boxing skills. He’s known for his long, strong hands and pristine footwork that elevate his striking game to a new level. Gustaffson is a Swedish National Boxing champion before the UFC.

One of his most electrifying fights is the two Jon Jones title fights. The first fight was so good that it became the 2013 fight of the year. 

Here Alexander shocked the world as he went to distance with Jon Jones. Aside from lasting five rounds, he also inflicted considerable damage to Jones.

Alexander showed how good his Boxing is compared to Jones. He managed to land several on-point crosses and straight that made Jone’s face swollen. Despite the excellent performance, Jones still went home with the victory.

The rematch was as equally good. Alexander still gave his best and became the other half of a never before seen striking showdown. However, Gustaffson got finished in the third round.

6. Sean O’Malley

“Sugar” Sean O’Malley is one of the largest rising stars in the Bantamweight division. He is known for his hand-down guard that lets him throw his strikes out of nowhere. He knocked everybody out in Dana White’s Contender Series to work his way into a UFC contract.

Since entering the UFC roster, Sean has never failed to entertain the fans with his signature extravaganza. Some of his most notable fights are against Moutinho and Almeida. 

He forced the referee to end his fight vs. Muotinho while standing after a barrage of undefended punches.

The Almeida fight was one of Sugar’s most brutal results of his striking. He knocked Almeida for the second time and threw a punch with his whole body weight, serving as the final on Almeida’s coffin.

O’Malley’s excellent striking is very effective because of his unpredictable footwork. He’s good at bouncing in and out, leaving his opponent confused on when to expect a shot.

5. Justin Gaethje

Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje truly lived with his nickname as he racked up dozens of striking highlight reels. Gaethje is known for his brutal fight style. He’s ready to exchange blows with anyone face to face.

The former interim Lightweight champ has some brutal finishes under his record. One of the best ones is his upset victory against Tony Fergusson. Gaethje made the fight look like murder with his haymakers and perfectly timed counter shots that shattered Tony’s face.

Back then, Gaethje was only throwing fist after fist without any hesitations. This reckless attitude caused him to lose several close fights. However, under Trevor Wittman, he improved his fight IQ and combined precision and patience with his killer striking skills.

Aside from the striking, Gaethje has a tank-like chin. That’s why he’s not afraid to trade punches because he knows he can take it all. A good example is his fight of the year performance against Michael Chandler. It’s a total dog fight.

4. Jon Jones

The most dominant Ligh Heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones, is known for his versatile fighting style. He can submit you, but most significantly, he can wreck your face with sharp elbows, knees, and all sorts of strikes available.

Jones is just one of many extraordinary black UFC fighters with an incredible set of achievements.

He has a 215cm reach, one of the longest in the entire UFC. He does an exceptional job at using this reach to his advantage by throwing jabs that are usually followed by an elbow, knee, or a stiff left hand.

His excellent reach is matched with long legs that he uses to kick someone’s head off. These legs are also used effectively to make a good distance, especially for opponents with a much shorter reach.

Some of the unfortunate victims of his top-notch striking are Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, Chael Sonnen, and Shogun Rua. 

3. Max Holloway

“I’m the best boxer in the UFC, baby!” a line made famous by former featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Halloway. Blessed is renowned for his accuracy when it comes to throwing his punches. He rarely throws a kick, but when he does, count it in because it’ll land.

One of the best, if not the best, Featherweight striking showcase is done by Halloway. This is during his main event match against Kalvin Kattar. Halloway’s performance in this match allowed him to set the record for most strikes landed in one fight, which is 447.

Max Halloway’s note-worthy wins are his bouts against Jose Aldo, Yair Rodriguez, Franky Edgar, Brian Ortega, and Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira.

Aside from the record above, Max Holloway also holds the most strikes thrown in the UFC and most significant strikes landed record. These records cemented his spot as one of the best strikers in the UFC.

2. Conor McGregor

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor is the organization’s biggest pay-per-view start. Conor is the record holder for the faster knockout on a title unification bout. He is also the first double belt holder in UFC history. Due to his entertaining striking showmanship, people loved watching his fights.

McGregor has achieved record-breaking pay-per-view digits. Moreover, he also put down a lot of top-level UFC fighters such as Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, Donald Cerrone, and Chad Mendes. Striking aside, Conor has a loud mouth toward his opponent, making people stay tuned with his fights.  

Conor represented the entire UFC in a Boxing match on a cross-over match-up against Mayweather. Conor fought well against a pro Boxer despite not having professional Boxing experience. He had ten dominating rounds against Mayweather. However, he got tired and lost via TKO.

Despite the losing streak he’s suffering after a series of defeats from Dustin Poirer, we can’t really disregard how good Conor’s striking actually is.

1. Israel Adesanya

Israel, “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya, is the best striker in the UFC. With his speed, smooth movements, long reach, and knockout power, he is undoubtedly a striking machine in the Middleweight division. His remarkable striking made him dominate the Middleweight for years now.

He’s known for his signature left cross while leaning back. This allows him to land a powerful counter while at the same time being evasive. He also has a lightning-speed jab that you will not see coming. 

Another weapon in his arsenal is his long legs that chop off his opponent’s legs and head. He knocked out Paolo Costa with a high, perfectly timed head kick that landed above Costa’s temple.

One of Adesanya’s near-perfect performances is against his rival, Marvin Vettori. Everyone expected this match-up to be head to head, but Adesanya organized a striking seminar for Marvin. Leg kick after leg kick, counter after counter, Adesanya turned his opponent into an unsuccessful wrestler. Israel won in a dominating fashion.

Now you’ve discovered our list of the best strikers in UFC, is there anyone you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments. Or time to keep reading on to learn about the most popular UFC fighters.

About The Author

Photo of author

Joe is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe is a passionate mixed martial artist in training, having studied Boxing, and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.

Learn more about the team

Leave a Comment

All UFC Weight Classes Explained In Order Trevor Wittman: The Best Coach In MMA? Conor McGregor Profile: The Notorious Rose Namajunas Profile: The Head Kick Queen What Martial Arts Does Batman Know?