Inside the sport of mixed martial arts is contained some of the world’s toughest fighters. With an overabundance of tough guys, very few fighters in MMA are viewed as anything but tough. It is a tough sport, but some fighters stick out as being incredibly tough and can give and take unbelievable punishment. Some of these guys claim to fame is that they are willing to fight anyone, anytime.
Yesterday, I posted MY list of the most famous fighters of all time. Today I want to do the toughest fighters of the modern day. According to Webster, the definition of a tough guy is “a menacing man.” My criteria is based on the following three things, all of which are rated on a 1-10 scale (with 10 being best): Activity – fighters need to be active, Adversity – need to have fought through adversity and Endurance – must have an unnatural endurance. So most of the guys on yesterday’s fame list like Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture and Royce Gracie won’t be on this list but boy do they deserve to be.
Most of what makes someone tough enough for MY list happens in the cage. Amazing comebacks, ability to take punishment and a killer’s instinct will carry the most weight in deciding who makes the top of the list. But special consideration was taken with guys who are misleading by outside the cage demeanor or appearance. Here is my list of MMA’s Toughest Fighters:
5. Nick Diaz
TOTAL SCORE: 22 (Activity 9, Adversity 7, Endurance 6 ) Nick Diaz is incredibly tough. He fought Joe Riggs at the hospital after their fight in 2006 and has something not nice to say about pretty much everyone he’s ever fought. His hardcore method to fighting matches up great with his world-class cardio and conditioning. Diaz pushes the pace in every fight and takes his opponent into tough territory with his 10-punch combos and mix of strikes to the body and head. He always wants to compete in the biggest fights possible, earning two UFC title shots in his last three fights. He has the biggest chip on his shoulder in all of MMA. He says that he does not even like to fight, but then claims the he’s just very good at it. His trash talk is enough to make the Muhamed Ali highlight reel. His ability to fight through blood is what makes him my pick for MY Toughest Fighters: Top 5.
4. Gilbert Melendez
TOTAL SCORE: 24 (Activity 8, Adversity 8, Endurance 8 ) Gilbert Melendez has been in the top three of the lightweight division for the last six years. His only loss in his last nine fights was by split decision to Benson Henderson in a fight that a lot of people thought he won. Remember the infamous Strikeforce brawl when “Mayhem” Miller ran into the cage after Jake Shield won a decision over Dan Henderson? Melendez shoved Miller, and a huge melee ensued on television. I laughed my ass off. His training crew is called the “Skrap Pack,” and they are all crazy enough to back it up. He’s always ready to fight, and there is always extra security every time someone from his camp fights. But most of all, he got the best of Dana White. He negotiated a deal with the UFC by signing with Bellator and he’s getting the first shot at Anthony Pettis’ lightweight title. Love this guy!!!
3. Frankie Edgar
TOTAL SCORE: 25.5 (Activity 8, Adversity 9, Endurance 8.5 ) Frankie is as tough as they come. He rallied back in his UFC lightweight title defenses against Gray Maynard after nearly being knocked out in the first round both times. He never quits, this guy. There is just simply no quit in him and is now ranked No. 3 in the featherweight division over Conor McGregor. He’s more mild-mannered than some on MY list, but he’s just as tough as anyone. Edgar doesn’t ever take the easy road and would rather be immediately thrown against the best of the best than take a give me fight. It’s this constant yearning to be the top fighter in the world coupled with his granite chin that makes Edgar one of the toughest guys to put away. And that is why Frankie Edgar is number 3 on MY list.
2. Dan Henderson
TOTAL SCORE: 28 (Activity 10, Adversity 8 Endurance 10 ) Dan Henderson put on one of the greatest fights of all time against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139, and the list of legendary fighters that he’s fought and beaten seems to go on forever. Ever heard of the H-bomb? How many guys have their own finishing move? He’s taken fights with the very best in the world consistently in all weight classes for the last 15 years He’s a legend in the sport and in a league of toughness all his own. And that is why he is number 2 on my list.
1. Roy Nelson
TOTAL SCORE: 29 (Activity 10, Adversity 10, Endurance 9) He’s only ever won in the UFC by KO or TKO, and he’s only ever lost in the UFC by decision. He has yet to be put away inside the Octagon, and he’s fought guys like Daniel Cormier, Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum. He can take a punch like no one else on the planet and his powerful one-punch knockout power is scary. He has a huge gut which puts him in his own category of adversity. His gray beard bleeds into his gray mullet and he walks out to “We Will Rock You” by Queen! Freddie Mercury is rolling over in his grave every time he sees that. He just can’t lose that gut because he eats so many punches throughout his fights. But he never seems to lose sight of the end goal, which for him is to land one big shot. Nelson shows up for whatever kind of party you want to throw. He made the top of MY list because outside of the cage, he’s so un-MMA. Dana White hated it when he won TUF. I loved that!!!
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