The Top 10 Heavyweights of All Time

Top Heavyweights
SAITAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 29: Fedor Emelianenko enters the ring prior to the match during the Bellator Japan - Fedor v Rampage at Saitama Super Arena on December 29, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

When the thought of this list first transpired, it didn’t seem as difficult as it ultimately was. There are so many different aspects to consider when determining who the best heavyweights of all time really are. Especially, when comparing careers that are in different eras.

Lists like the one complied here, come down to personal beliefs and matters of opinion. In fact, you can rearrange the top 3 and there’s not a solid counter-argument to be had. The three most important factors I looked for were: longevity, versatility, and what was their level of competition? When comparing two resumes, it needs to be factored in that MMA math is not a viable comparison for fighters. Without further ado, here are the top 10 heavyweights of all time.

10. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (38-11-2-1)

Right leg hospital. Left leg cemetery. Mirko Cro Cop was an exceptional kickboxer turned mixed martial artist. Best known for his career in Pride FC, Cro Cop displayed one of the best left high kicks the sport has ever seen. Coupled with great takedown defence, the Croatian was able to be victorious in the 2006 Open-Weight Pride Grand Prix. Cro cop has a resume full of top heavyweights, but he was never able to reach the top in the UFC. The only fighter on this list who’s never held a promotion’s heavyweight championship, Cro Cop will still be remembered as one of the pioneers of MMA.

Notable Victories:

  • Kazushi Sakuraba
  • Josh Barnett x3
  • Kevin Randleman
  • Mark Coleman
  • Wanderlei Silva

9. Randy Couture (19-11)

Winning the UFC heavyweight championship in his 4th professional fight, it’s remarkable to look back on the career of Randy Couture and not be amazed. The UFC Hall of Famer won the elusive belt on 3 separate occasions. The first-ever to become a UFC champion in two weight classes, “The Natural” posed an elite Greco-Roman style background. He also was a NCAA Division 1 All-American at Oklahoma State University. Couture with his wrestling background, coupled with dirty boxing in the clinch, became one of the most memorable fighters in UFC history. 

Notable Victories:

  • Vitor Belfort x2
  • Maurice Smith
  • Kevin Randleman
  • Pedro Rizzo x2
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Mark Coleman

8. Alistair Overeem (46-18-1)

The image of  “The Demolition Man” viciously body-kicking Brock Lesnar into oblivion at UFC 141 is still fresh in my head. On that night, in that octagon, it’s very possible that he would have beaten any heavyweight past or present. He is a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, DREAM Heavyweight Champion, and K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. Alike Cro Cop, Overeem was an elite kickboxer turned martial artist. “The Demolition Man” has been competing professionally since 1999 and is still a top 10 heavyweight in the UFC today. He was unsuccessful in his lone UFC title shot, but it would be a surprise to none if he’s able to climb the ladder once again. 

Notable Victories:

  • Vitor Belfort x2
  • Mark Hunt x2
  • Fabricio Werdum x2
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Frank Mir
  • Junior Dos Santos
  • Andrei Arlovski

7. Junior Dos Santos (21-7)

The rise of Brazilian heavyweight Junior Dos Santos from 2008 to 2012, in which “JDS” captured the heavyweight championship was about as dominant of a 4-year stretch a fighter can possibly have. Starting his UFC career at 9-0, Dos Santos was viewed as one of the best knockout artists the sport’s ever seen. The Brazilian was on the wrong side of the most memorable trilogy in heavyweight history, however his resume is nothing to bypass. “Cigano” is regarded as one of the best boxer’s in MMA. Dos Santos is also a black belt in BJJ despite never owning a submission victory in the UFC. 

Notable Victories:

  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Mirko Cro Cop
  • Shane Carwin
  • Cain Velasquez
  • Frank Mir
  • Mark Hunt
  • Stipe Miocic
  • Derrick Lewis

6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-10-1)

From one great Brazilian to the next, “Minotauro” was the first heavyweight champion in Pride FC’s history. An astounding 21 professional victories by submission, Big Nog carried an element that is still cherished to this day. By defeating Tim Sylvia to capture the UFC Interim Championship, Nogueira became the first fighter to win a championship in Pride Fc and the UFC. “Minotauro” displayed elite BJJ, coupled with above-average boxing was one of the premier heavyweights of his era. 

Notable Victories:

  • Mark Coleman
  • Dan Henderson
  • Mirko Cro Cop
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Randy Couture

5. Fabrício Werdum (23-9-1)

Yes, I know. Another Brazilian heavyweight with world-class BJJ. No I’m not talking about Dos Santos or Nogueira. The beholder of the most memorable submission in Strikeforce history, Fabricio Werdum comes in at #5. An IBJJF gold medalist, Werdum converted to mixed martial arts with a world-class grappling background. Werdum spent his career in the UFC, Pride and StrikeForce. When Fabricio Werdum entered the octagon in front of 21,000 fans in Mexico City, most believed he would fall short in unifying the division. He then sank in a guillotine choke and the rest was history. Werdum has arguably the best list of wins, however a back-and-forth career keeps him looking from afar. 

Notable Victories:

  • Alistair Overeem
  • Antonio Silva
  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
  • Mark Hunt
  • Cain Velasquez

4. Daniel Cormier (22-2)

This position may very well change in the next 3-6 months. If Daniel Cormier hadn’t spent most of his UFC career in the Light Heavyweight division it’s certainly possible he’s higher on this list. Daniel Cormier was an Olympic level wrestler when he made the transition to MMA. Cormier started his career with Strikeforce, winning the Heavyweight Grand Prix back in 2012. The trilogy awaits with Stipe Miocic, if Cormier comes out on top now there’s a nice debate on which of the two teammates was the better heavyweight. 

Notable Victories:

  • Antonio Silva
  • Josh Barnett
  • Dan Henderson
  • Anthony Johnson x2
  • Alexander Gustafsson
  • Anderson Silva
  • Derrick Lewis
  • Stipe Miocic

3. Cain Velasquez (14-3)

That teammate that was referred to, was none other than Cain Velasquez. It’s a difficult discussion because Velasquez’s career left a lot to be desired. Cain Velasquez dominated every contender he faced to start his UFC career. He dismantled Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 to win the heavyweight championship. An injury and an overhand right ended the title reign shortly after. However, Velasquez went on to regain the title in his rematch against JDS. A future hall of famer, injuries derailed Cardio Cain’s career. Like so many other great athletes, the question of what if will always be associated with Velasquez. 

Notable Victories:

  • Cheick Kongo
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Antonio Silva x2
  • Junior Dos Santos x2
  • Travis Browne

2. Stipe Miocic (19-3)

Remember earlier it was mentioned about Cormier’s spot in the rankings? Stipe Miocic is why. The current UFC heavyweight champion holds the record for title defences and is still riding high off of the rematch victory over DC. A resume that’s complied of multiple top heavyweights, Miocic has an argument for the best heavyweight in UFC history. Miocic was able to avenge two of his career losses, and also hold wins over 4 members of this top-10 list. Historically speaking, the trilogy bout has historic ramifications that need answering. 

Notable Victories:

  • Mark Hunt 
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Alistair Overeem
  • Junior Dos Santos
  • Francis Ngannou
  • Daniel Cormier

1. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6-1)

“The Last Emperor” is such a fitting nickname for the #1 heavyweight of all time. Over a decade long span, Fedor Emelianenko compiled a record of 31-1 with that lone loss coming from a cut in 2000. The former Pride FC heavyweight champion never displayed his talent in the UFC. One of the fights that happened way too late in his career was his bout with Rampage. Even to this day, it’s still viewed to be one of the biggest fights that should have happened in their prime. The Russian would still be able to show his talents against former UFC champions, stopping both Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia in Affliction. Granted, The Last Emperor’s run in Strikeforce did not go as planned, but what he was able to do in his career in Pride FC was legendary. 

Notable Victories:

  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria x2
  • Heath Herring
  • Mark Coleman x2
  • Kevin Randleman
  • Mirko Cro Cop
  • Mark Hunt
  • Tim Slyvia
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Pedro Rizzo

That compiles the list of the top 10 heavyweights of all time. It goes without saying, the heavyweight division is one of the most historical in the sport. Previous promotions like Pride and Strikeforce have produced some of the top heavyweights we’ve ever seen. 

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1 COMMENT

  1. […] Couture would go on to have a well-regarded corridor of fame caliber profession and turn into an enormous popular culture sensation as properly. Halme was not strictly only a professional wrestler earlier than heading into this bout. He had been having a good run as a boxer since 1995 (would finally get a win over the properly regarded Iran Barkley) and he additionally would seize a few nationwide heavyweight championships in his native Finland. […]

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