Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is an unforgiving sport. If you’re not tough enough, you can suffer severe consequences. Yet although the fights can seem cruel, one thing’s for certain: people love it—and fighters live it.

But what does it take to be tough on the cage?

This is why we’ve compiled ten of the toughest MMA fighters, physically and mentally.

  1.       Dan Henderson

The forty-one-year-old MMA superstar has no holds barred. Throughout his thirty-seven years of fighting, he has never been knocked out or TKO’d. Above all that, he competes above his natural weight class and wins all his battles anyway.

There’s no denying it—Dan Henderson was indestructible. He defeated Fedor Emelianenko, a feat you can’t push aside.

  1.       Fedor Emelianenko

Emelianenko excelled as the best heavyweight of years 2003 through 2009. He was unstoppable. He took power punches flush and fought a 365-pound kickboxer. Emelianenko faced all kinds of opponents, yet he always found a way to smash them all.

Although he took a beating from tough opposition, like Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson, Emelianenko stood right back up.

  1.       Anderson “The Spider” Silva

“The Spider” fought his best fights through 2006 to 2012. In fact, Silva went 17–0 when most notable middleweight fighters joined the UFC. UFC president Dana White referred to Silva as “the greatest mixed martial artist ever.”

People knew Silva for his traditional techniques, such as the side kick to the knees and front kick to the face. But despite his unparalleled movement, he knew how to take a punch. And it paid off throughout his career.

  1.       Chris Leben

The granite-chinned fighter lived by a philosophy: take a punch to give a punch. This earned him a legacy of durability throughout his career. Leben has only been knocked out once, and that was to Anderson Silva.

But being KO’d by the hailed greatest fighter in MMA history is understandable. It only proves Leben can take a beating and overcome it.

  1.       Wanderlei Silva

Wanderlei Silva is one of the hardest hitters in the MMA realm. Top MMA fighters can vouch for this. Wanderlei was intimidating on the cage. His berserker style of brawling beat twenty-seven opponents from middleweight through heavyweight.

Tito Ortiz couldn’t forget the hardest punch he ever felt. It was from Wanderlei during their UFC 25 fight. Ortiz stated it felt like “the earth had been turned upside down.”

  1.       Chuck Lidell

Lidell earned the better primes of all time. He defended his UFC light heavyweight belt four times. From 1999 to 2006, Lidell held an 18–2 record. He defeated the likes of Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Murilo Bustamante.

Fans and experts knew Lidell for his anti-wrestling skills. He avoided takedowns to prove he can knock people out. This made him a tough match on the cage.

  1.       Tito Ortiz

UFC saw Ortiz as its first true star right after the blackout era. Before his retirement in 2017, Ortiz fought with a fierce ground-and-pound style. It got opponents scrambling for their senses.

Since sustaining back injuries, Ortiz started to fall from the elite. From there on, it went on and off until the end of his career.

  1.       Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Nogueria is one tough fighter to take down. Frank Mir knocked him out and broke his arm. Despite this, Nogueria regained his reputation. Today, he’s regarded as one of the world’s best heavyweights in the world of MMA.

Here are more reasons that’ll prove Nogueira’s indestructibility: He took a vicious ground and pound from Emelianenko. His head bounced like a basketball off the canvas. He finished off formidable oppositions—Bob Sapp and Mirko Crop Cop. And a truck literally run him over as a child.

  1.       Georges St. Pierre

St. Pierre primed almost through his entire career. Since starting his career in 2002, he holds a 26–2 overall MMA record. Although he lost to Matt Hughes and Matt Sera, he avenged them in different ways later on.

  1.   Nick Diaz

Last but not least is Nick Diaz, MMA’s resident bad boy. Diaz has only fought since 2003, yet he’s been fighting the best of the best since. He’s stopped for no one. His rebel reputation only proves one thing: he is a force to be reckoned with inside the cage.

These ten MMA fighters are truly tougher than a good old AR-15. Are your favorites on the list?


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