It’s an interesting time for the UFC. Fresh off a $4.2 billion sale to WME, the promotion boasts the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world, has held events in 15 countries, and regularly hands out six-figure purses to its competitors. In short, president Dana White’s organization has come a long way from the days of battling politicians and cable companies in the ‘90s.
For an idea of just how big the sport has become, Michael Bisping’s defeat of Anderson Silva at Fight Night 84 in London, was the top trending sporting event in the UK that day, ahead of the English Premier League and Six Nations Rugby championship. Of note, champion Bisping preceded the fight by telling Silva, “All the needles in your ass, all the steroids will not help you, you pussy.” So, it was basically must-watch TV.
But as the UFC soars to unprecedented popularity, several of the biggest stars who got it there are nowhere to be seen. Conor McGregor has seemingly exhausted the UFC’s supply of suitable opponents for him, opting instead to take up boxing Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (for a reported $75 million payout). Ronda Rousey may never fight again. Jon Jones just completed a lengthy suspension. Anderson Silva is past his prime. Nate Diaz’s return has not been confirmed, and Brock Lesnar has retired for a second time.
All of this, however, is probably welcome news to Dana White. UFC’s dominance over the MMA scene has made it a magnet for fighting talent, including the next generation of its greatest stars, many nurtured through the reality TV series The Ultimate Fighter, whose winner earns a coveted UFC contract. In short, for every McGregor or Diaz who rises to fame, there are dozens more Cody Garbrandts and Tyron Woodleys looking to step up and take their place.
Lets take a look at the best MMA fighters by weight class in the UFC, from flyweight all the way up to the big boys at heavyweight.