What makes a fighter exciting? Is it throwing caution to the wind and constantly pushing forward? Is it finishing fights? Is it winning titles? The answer is simply yes.

To be an exciting fighter, it takes a mixture of all these things and more. While everyone has their preferences as to what they find exciting, the one common denominator is fighters who realize MMA is more than just an athletic competition—it’s a show. Being exciting is about not being afraid to take a risk or sell out for the finish.

Ultimately, being exciting is not about wins and losses, but rather making a connection with the fans through performance in the cage. All the fighters on this list have done that. These are the fighters fans can’t help but watch over and over.

No. 10 – Chris Lytle (31-18-5)

Even though he never won a title,Chris Lytle’s name resonates with every UFC fan. They knew who Lytle was because he was never in a boring fight. He was an extremely talented fighter, but he could never put enough wins together to make a run at the belt. During his time with the UFC, Lytle did earn plenty of other honors. He was awarded “Fight of the Night” six times, “Submission of the Night” three times and “Knockout of the Night” once, for a total of 10 “Fight Night” bonuses.

No. 9 – Anthony Pettis (17-2)

They don’t call Anthony Pettis “Showtime” for nothing. This young man isn’t just the reigning UFC lightweight champion, he is one of the most electrifying fighters to ever compete in MMA. What makes Pettis so exciting isn’t just the fact that he is a finisher, but rather what he is willing and able to execute during a fight. Just look at the aptly named “Showtime Kick” from his 2010 “Fight of the Year” against Benson Henderson. Late in the fifth and final round of their WEC lightweight title fight, Pettis landed an amazing jump kick to Henderson’s face after launching himself off of the cage.

No. 8 – Carlos Condit (29-8)

There are very few fighters in the world who are as dangerous as Carlos Condit, and even there are fewer who are as well-rounded as the former WEC welterweight and UFC interim welterweight champion. An astonishing 27 of his 29 career wins have come by way of stoppage (14 knockouts and 13 submissions). Condit is one of those rare fighters who are programmed to not just finish fights, but do so in spectacular fashion. One of the best examples of this is his UFC 132 flying-knee knockout of Dong-Hyun Kim.

No. 7 – Bas Rutten (28-4-1)

Most fans today know Bas Rutten more for his hilarious stories and announcing than for his fight career, but make no mistake: Rutten was an absolute killer. A former UFC heavyweight champion and three-time King of Pancrase openweight champ, Rutten was one of the sport’s pioneers and one of the first true MMA fighters. He became just as dangerous on the ground as he was on his feet. In 33 career fights, Rutten only went the distance on five occasions and owns 25 career victories by stoppage (12 knockouts and 13 submissions). Although Rutten ended his career with more wins via submission, he will always be known as one of the most devastating strikers in MMA history. The best example of his striking prowess can be seen in his bout against Jason DeLucia at Pancrase: Truth 6. Rutten folded DeLucia with his patented liver shot.

No. 6 – Takanori Gomi (35-9, 1NC)

“The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi is a living legend in the world of MMA. A former Shooto welterweight and Pride lightweight champion, Gomi is truly the fighter that put the lightweight division on the map. His high-pressure, attacking style and devastating knockout power is what endeared Gomi to the fans. That and his unorthodox, swing for the fences striking style. Gomi was at his best in his “Fight of the Year” submission victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri at Pride Bushido 9.

No. 5 – Jon Jones (20-1)

Although Jon Jones may be one of the most polarizing figures in MMA today, there is no question the current UFC light heavyweight champion is one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport. Watching Jones fight is like watching any great artist at work—everything he does has a purpose. Much like fellow young UFC champion Anthony Pettis, Jones is so exciting to watch because of his ability to do the unexpected. Jones regularly utilizes techniques most other fighters won’t even attempt—just look at his use of the spinning elbow.

No. 4 – Anderson Silva (33-6)

Before Anderson Silva got caught while taunting Chris Weidman, the Brazilian was easily the greatest fighter on the planet. With three “Fight of the Night” awards, two “Submission of the Night” honors and an unbelievable seven “Knockout of the Night” awards, Silva was everything you could want in a champion. What made Silva so great was his ability to make elite fighters look like amateurs. Silva had a knack for exploiting the tiniest openings and ending fights. Look no further than his UFC 126 title defense against Vitor Belfort. Silva knocked Belfort out with a front kick to the face.

No. 3 – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (22-9)

Better known to fans as “Shogun,” Mauricio Rua is a knockout machine. Nineteen of his 22 career wins have come by way of knockout. The former UFC light heavyweight champion and Pride Middleweight Grand Prix champion was—and still is—the epitome of controlled chaos. With an iron jaw and aggressive Chute Boxe blitzkrieg style, Rua has long been a fan-favorite in the world of MMA. The best example of why Rua is beloved by fans the world over is his UFC 139 loss to fellow Pride legend Dan Henderson. For five full rounds, the two men battled back and forth in one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

No. 2 – Kazushi Sakuraba (26-16-1, 2NC)

Kazushi Sakuraba was Pride FC in so many ways. He would fight anyone, anytime, anywhere—he was always game. Sakuraba also embodied that pageantry of Pride with his elaborate ring entrances and his pro-wrestling-esque feuds. He will always be remembered for his epic battles with various members of the Gracie family, but Sakuraba’s true greatness can best be seen in his kneebar victory over Carlos Newton at Pride 3. Sakuraba was a brilliant grappler and one of the toughest men on the planet, attributes he demonstrated when Marius Zaromskis literally kicked the ear off of his head.

No. 1 – Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1NC)

Where his former Chute Boxe teammate Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was controlled chaos, Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was just simply chaos. If there was a belt ranking system for violence, Silva would be the red belt. No one in the history of MMA fought with the intensity and bloodlust that Silva did. Of his 35 career wins, 27 have come by way of brutal knockout. With powerful hooks and ruthless knees, Silva ruled the Pride middleweight division for eight years. Silva’s greatest career moment came during his knockout victory of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to defend his Pride middleweight title at Pride 28. Silva delivered knees so violently that when Jackson fell unconscious into the ropes, he was stiff as a board.

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  • Misha Rozhkov

    korean zombie and diego sanchez are misssing (more interesting than Gomi at least)

  • BRAD

    I think Anderson should be number 1 or number 2… Sakuraba was fun to watch because he was smaller and scrappy and shotgun was just brutal in his pride days, but Anderson did things no one thought was possible at the time or would ever dare to do.

  • Saul Garcia

    Diego Sanchez should be in the top five he may not get the W all the time but its always a war when he steps in the octagon same with Gilbert Melendez.

  • djdeuceflush .

    I would replace condit, with Hendo or Fedor.

    • GiinoStenLund

      Haha noway..
      Hendo is borring as fuck.

      • Jaha ja, du springer runt och är ond internationellt också!! :(

        But yes, no way, Hendo should not be on the list.

  • AdamBoss

    Good list, but one glaring omission: Donald Cerrone!

    Others that could also make the list: Urijah Faber, Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, CroCop… the list goes on and on!

  • Diaz brothers?

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