Boxing is one of the core foundations in what makes an elite knockout artist in mixed martial arts. While the top fighters in the world blend their craft with punches, kicks, takedowns and submissions, crisp hands are at the forefront of many an elite combatant’s game.
Here is a look at the five best pure boxers the UFC has to offer in the current landscape. And if you’re interested in dropping some money on any of these bad boys, then use bet365 bonus code for your bookie needs.
Honorable mentions: Jorge Masvidal, Jose Aldo, Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz
5. Alexander Volkanovski
The current featherweight champion uses an all-around game, that well-roundedness a key reason to his ascent to the top of the 145-division. Many believed wrestling was the hallmark of Alexander Volkanovski‘s game, but the Aussie has made steady improvements to his hands during his run. Volkanovski used his stand-up to defeat Max Holloway via unanimous decision in their first encounter, which is the bout where Volk became champion. He turned Holloway aside again in a controversial rematch, implementing more of his wrestling than he did the first time.
Volkanovski’s boxing has become an underrated part of his game, but having gone fist-to-fist with Holloway twice, as well as knocking out Chad Mendes and decisioning Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega, it’s time Volkanovski gets his due.
4. Conor McGregor
Owner of one of the scariest left hands in the whole sport, Conor McGregor became the UFC’s first double-champion on the back of his striking. While McGregor possesses a deadly arsenal of kicks, it’s his boxing that led to knockouts of Jose Aldo, Dustin Poirier, Eddie Alvarez and Chad Mendes. McGregor relies more on precision and timing than raw power. His brand of boxing has proven effective, as it has led to him holding gold at featherweight and lightweight.
McGregor’s boxing even earned him a match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017. Mayweather, arguably the greatest boxer of all time, defeated McGregor via 10th round TKO.
3. Petr Yan
Petr Yan can best be described as a snowball that turns into an avalanche. Yan starts slow, gauging where he holds advantages over his opponent. Before his foe knows it, Yan is drowning him in volume and power by the mid-second round and on. Yan has one of the best all-around games in the entire sport, from vicious hands to deadly ground and pound.
Yan stood and traded with Jose Aldo for several rounds before TKO’ing the arguable featherweight GOAT with ground and pound in the fifth round. “No Mercy” was also getting the better of bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in the stand-up before he fired an illegal knee, leading to his disqualification.
Yan is set to meet Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 in an interim bantamweight title fight in what promises to be a striker’s delight.
2. Max Holloway
As pure of a boxer as it gets in mixed martial arts, the former featherweight champion has used his fast hands to brutalize many an opponent. Max Holloway first grabbed the belt with a TKO of Jose Aldo. He followed that performance with another TKO of Aldo. He also holds TKO wins over Brian Ortega and Calvin Kattar, where he picked apart both men over the course of several rounds.
Holloway has won many a war of attrition with his hands, drowning opponents in pace and volume. There aren’t many men he has failed to beat. Volkanovski, McGregor earlier in his career, and the next (and final) man on this list.
1. Dustin Poirier
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier has a pair of the cleanest hands in all of mixed martial arts. He blends in kicks, wrestling and jiu-jitsu, making him a well-rounded fighter, but his hands are his calling card. He has proven himself a must-watch fighter anytime he steps into the Octagon. Poirier took a decision over Max Holloway to claim the interim lightweight strap in April 2019, using his superior power to best “Blessed” in a close scrap.
“The Diamond” avenged a TKO loss to McGregor with a knockout in the duo’s rematch at UFC 257. He was then getting the better of McGregor again in the trilogy before McGregor’s leg broke. Poirier also holds finishes over Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Diego Ferreira and Bobby Green as well as decisions over Dan Hooker and Jim Miller.
Poirier will look to put his aptitude of the “sweet science” to the test yet again when he faces lightweight champion and BJJ ace Charles Oliveira for the title at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.
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