5 Most Popular UFC Fighters of All Time | Explained
As the UFC has exploded in popularity, so has the fighters' popularity. In this page we will go over the most popular UFC fighters of all time along with what makes them so popular.
Table of Contents
1. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor is the most popular fighter in the history of the UFC. In fact, his incredible rise to stardom is widely credited for being a big factor in in the $4.2 billion acquisition by the agency WME.
McGregor has headlined 5 out of the 6 highest selling UFC PPVs of all time. He would trail blaze through the Featherweight division knocking out almost all of his opponents (except Max Holloway).
McGregor would be undefeated in the Featherweight division, and would eventually face Jose Aldo for the unification of the belt, who had not lost in 10 years. McGregor would stunningly knock him out in only 13 seconds.
He would then fight Nate Diaz and suffer a shocking defeat, and would avenge this loss before moving up to the 155 lbs division and TKO'ing Eddie Alvarez in a flawless performance.
This win would make him the first 'Double Champ' in the history of the UFC.
After this, he would set the world on fire by Boxing one of the greatest Boxers of all time in Floyd Mayweather, despite McGregor having an 0-0 professional Boxing record.
Despite losing this bout, he performed better than any of his critics expected, and their world tour press conference brought in record numbers.
McGregor would then have several controversial run ins outside of the cage, and then suffer consecutive defeats inside of the cage.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Nurmagomedov is widely considered as the best Russian UFC fighter of all time. He retired with an undefeated 29-0 record after defeating Justin Gaethje with a triangle choke.
Khabib is one of the most interesting cases of all time due to his unstoppable grappling prowess. As Mixed Martial Arts has evolved, so have the fighters, which naturally weeded out fighters who were very good at one martial art, but not so well rounded with the other martial arts.
Khabib's background as a 2 time Combat Sambo World Champion has allowed him to use his chain wrestling to overwhelm his opponents.
Essentially when Khabib was able to take down his opponents, they were never able to get back up during his MMA run.
Khabib effortlessly starched elite MMA fighters such as Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier.
He would retire in his prime after the death of his coach and father, despite being the #1 pound for pound fighter in the UFC rankings.
Khabib still keeps himself in the media as he has opened up his own MMA organization known as Eagle Fighting Championship.
To date, he has amassed more than 32 million followers on Instagram.
3. George St-Pierre
GSP is widely known as one of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA. Sporting a 26-2 record, he would dominate his opposition and avenge both losses in his career.
At the end of his career, he would make an impressive comeback after a 4 year hiatus by moving up a weight class and defeating Michael Bisping for the UFC Middleweight championship.
GSP would famously come out in his Gi (Before the Reebok/Venum deal) and headband before every fight.
St-Pierre was extremely popular due to his skills, physique and seemingly unstoppable UFC run.
4. Nate Diaz
The Diaz brothers are known as some of the most unique humans on planet earth. Their attitude to fight anyone, the bad boy persona, their granite chin, their volume striking and never-ending cardio has broken dozens of opponents over the years.
Nate Diaz in particular skyrocketed in popularity when he would call out Conor McGregor for a fight, and pull off a shocking upset via rear naked choke.
Their attitude to never back down from anyone or anything, really resonates with fans especially due to their authenticity. Part of this is due to the fact that Nate Diaz is from Stockton, California and has had a rough upbringing.
Although his UFC record is not that impressive, their willingness to engage a fight against any fighter, along with their out of the cage antics have made them a household name.
5. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey would bring Women's MMA into the mainstream. Rousey is a former Bronze Medal Olympian in Judo, who would transition into the UFC.
In her UFC run, she would rack up a 12-2 record, and all 12 wins would be via KO/TKO and/or Submission.
Having the ability to finish every opponent that she faced, along with her looks (in a sport dominated by cauliflower ears and scars), allowed her to skyrocket in popularity.
Rousey would look so unstoppable that long-time commentator Joe Rogan would exclaim that she could probably beat 50% of men in the Bantamweight division.
Rousey would be the first female UFC champion, and would also appear in several films, television series and video games.