The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has produced some incredible fighters since its launch in November 1993. Men and women from all corners of the globe strive to earn a contract in mixed martial arts elite promotion. There are some legitimate superstars among the current UFC ranks, some of whom will go down in MMA history as one of the sport’s greats. However, it is only after retirement that some UFC athletes gain the accolades and admiration they deserve. The following trio of retired UFC fighters is right up there with what fans call the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) of their divisions.
1. Georges St-Pierre
Canadian Georges “Rush” St-Pierre is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history. St-Pierre was a phenomenal fighter, one who those enjoying online betting on UFC fights flocked to wager on because victory was all but guaranteed. St-Pierre was a three-time UFC Welterweight Champion and is one of only a handful of UFC greats that have won titles across two weight divisions.
St-Pierre retired from the UFC in December 2013, doing so with an impressive 25-2 record from his professional career. The Canadian legend won eight fights by knockout, five by submission, and 12 by decision. He returned to the octagon for one last fight in November 2017 and defeated Michael Bisping with a technical submission before completely retiring from competitive fighting.
Only Matt Hughes and Matt Serra managed to stop St-Pierre in his tracks. Both defeats came in title fights, but St-Pierre, being the legend that he is, avenged them by beating them both in rematches. Indeed, he knocked both of them out.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Russian superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov is frequently called the best-ever lightweight UFC fighter of all time, and it is easy to see why. The man affectionately known as “The Eagle” retired with a perfect 29-0 record, going unbeaten throughout his professional fighting career, including 13 UFC battles.
Nurmagomedov began his professional MMA career in September 2018 and managed to rack up four victories in the space of a month. His wrestling-based style imposed relentless pressure on his opponents, with Nurmagomedov often forcing them against the cage before locking up their arms and legs to prevent them from escaping. Throughout Nurmagomedov’s career, 19 of his 29 victories came via knockout, TKO, or submission.
MMA commentator Joe Rogan, a black belt-level expert in Brazilian and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, once called Nurmagomedov the most terrifying lightweight contender in the world.
Nurmagomedov retired from the UFC in March 2021, vacating the UFC Lightweight Championship. Sixteen months later, Nurmagomedov was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Since his retirement, Nurmagomedov has moved into coaching, being a cornerman, and becoming an MMA promoter. He may no longer fight, but Nurmagomedov is very active in mixed martial arts.
3. Jon Jones
Jon Jones is arguably the most naturally talented fighter the UFC has ever seen and will likely ever see, but the controversial American’s actions inside and outside the octagon often overshadow his incredible talent. Jones was meant to face the winner of the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout between Francis Ngannou and Stipe Miocic but decided to hang up his gloves after a disagreement with UFC supremo Dana White over pay.
Jones only lost one of his 28 fights, doing so against Matt Hamill in December 2009. Judges disqualified Jones for illegal elbows, just one of many controversies that plagued Jones’ otherwise fantastic career. The man known as “Bones” failed four drug tests while under contract with the UFC. Jones has also been arrested for a hit-and-run incident and domestic violence, among other indiscretions.
Despite the negativity surrounding him, Jones earned legendary status in the UFC. He retired having successfully defended his titles 11 times, had the longest unbeaten streak in the UFC (18), and had the most consecutive wins in the UFC Light Heavyweight division (13), among several other records.
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