5 Worst Strikers in MMA History | Everything You Need to Know

Over the history of Mixed Martial Arts, there have been fighters whose striking skills have puzzled fans.

In this page, we explain who the worst strikers in MMA history are, and explain why they made the list.

Table of Contents

  1. CM Punk
  2. Ben Askren
  3. Ryan Hall
  4. Demian Maia
  5. Ronda Rousey

1. CM Punk

CM Punk would be one of the biggest WWE stars to transition into Mixed Martial Arts, however, he would have nowhere near the success that Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley did inside the Octagon.

Unlike Lesnar who had a Division 1 All-American wrestling background, CM Punk had no Martial Art accolades, strictly training MMA for two years before making his UFC debut.

In his first fight against Mickey Gall, Gall would pretend to load up for a haymaker punch before going for the takedown.

Punk would easily fall for the bait, get taken down, and be submitted in the first round.

In his second and final fight, Jackson would go the distance with Mike Jackson, and in those 15 minutes fans would see CM Punk's overall game.

His striking was unfortunately not very good, there was little technique or power, and he had little understanding of the range and even feints.

In the 20+ years that I've watched the UFC, I've never seen someone seem so unprepared and lack that much skill in an MMA fight.

Even in the early days of the UFC, before uniforms and weight classes, these fighters were at least all respectable in one specific martial art.

Punk's MMA coach would even comment:

“I think he should continue training kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, but training for a [MMA] fight is too hard. I wish he would go on to compete in jiu-jitsu because you face opponents at your age, your skill level, your belt rank, so you don’t fight someone more experienced than you. That’s my recommendation for him.”

2. Ben Askren

During his prime, Ben Askren was one of the most dominant MMA fighters in the world.

Askren was arguably in his prime during his Bellator and One FC stint where he would amass a 12-0 MMA record, and hold the Bellator belt for almost 3 years. 

Before his MMA career, Askren was also an Olympian, a 2-time Division 1 National Champion, and won a gold medal in 8 out of 11 main events in his wrestling career (In the other 3 events he was a silver medalist).

However, Askren's game would be based exclusively on achieving a takedown, getting his opponent to the ground, and submitting them or using his ground and pound to overwhelm them. 

His striking game was non-existent, except for when he used his ground and pound.

It was never more evident than when he would fight Damien Maia, another fighter not known for his striking.

The two would engage in a striking battle throughout portions of the fight, and Askren would instantly become a meme.

Askren would decide to punch from any position, not caring whether it had any power or technique, with his non-striking hand down as well, with the only goal being reaching Maia's face.

3. Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall is a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has more gold, silver, and bronze medals in Jiu-Jitsu competitions than most people can count.

He also may just generally be one of the smartest and most thoughtful humans in the world, evidenced by his interview on the Lex Fridman podcast.

Hall would eventually transition to MMA, but unlike most successful wrestlers/grapplers that would use their boxing to set up takedowns...

Hall would mainly use reverse side kicks and spinning hook kicks, to set up his rolls into leg entries, as he looked for the leg-lock finish.

His awkward style has frustrated many opponents, to the point where they would decline fights, and Hall would voice his frustration on not being able to find a match-up.

However, those kicks were seemingly as far as his striking game was able to develop, as he would almost exclusively use this during fights.

Any time that he was put in a position to use his boxing, it was evident that he was uncomfortable and his striking showed it.

Ilia Topuria would take advantage of this weakness as he would partially catch Hall's leg after a kick attempt, and follow him to the floor.

Topuria would end up giving Hall his first stoppage loss.

4. Demian Maia

Maia is known to be one of the greatest grapplers of all time, not just in MMA, but in the history of combat sports.

Having achieved gold in ADCC, along with multiple golds (and silver) medals in the Jiu Jitsu World championships, he has extensive knowledge in all facets of grappling.

Naturally, Maia would base his entire MMA game around grappling.

Maia would on rely on only using his striking to set up his reliable single-leg takedowns, to engage in a grappling transition with his opponents.

The most amazing part with Maia is that he didn't even need to get his opponents on the ground, he just needed to get in a grappling exchange.

For a period of his career, he would take the backs of his opponents while they were still standing, and then use a rear-naked choke to finish the fight.

However, as good as his grappling game was, his striking game left much to be desired.

Maia was very stiff and predictable when striking, mainly using a jab-cross combination throughout his career.

Maia's lack of striking success would be most evident in his record.

Out of his 28 wins, only 3 of them would be knockouts, and 1 of them was due to his opponent suffering a rib injury.

5. Ronda Rousey

Although Rousey's training footage of her punching technique is what many fans point to, to show that she wasn't a good striker, it's much deeper than that.

Ronda Rousey is known to be one of the best female MMA fighters of all time.

The former Olympic Bronze medalist in Judo would win all 12 of her professional MMA fights via a finish.

On most of her opponents, Rousey would use her elite Judo skills to close the distance, take them down and submit them via her patented arm bar.

However, on a few opponents, she would mainly display her striking skills, and fans would catch a big glimpse of it beginning with her fight against Bethe Correia.

Make no mistake about it Rousey has powerful hands and was able to knock out Correia, however, it's clear that her striking defense wasn't developed.

Although Rousey was able to repeatedly land hard shots, she would enter the range almost recklessly, and eat punches on the way as a result.

Her head movement would be non-existent.

Additionally in the beginning of her fight, rather than setting up a power punch, she decided to just throw it (and miss).

Fans point to this knockout being one of her biggest downfalls later in her career, as fans believe that after this win Rousey believed that she no longer needed to improve her striking.

This theory has some merit, as Rousey's striking never improved substantially after this fight, and then she would lose via TKO and KO in her next (final) two fights of her career.

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