5 Worst Strikers in MMA History | Explained
There have been many elite strikers that have dominated in MMA, but there have also been very not-so-elite-strikers who have found success.
In this page, we will go over the worst strikers in MMA history, and explain why they made the list.
Table of Contents
1. CM Punk
CM Punk would be one of the biggest WWE stars to transition into Mixed Martial Arts.
Unfortunately for him, he would have nowhere near the success that Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley did inside of the octagon.
Unlike Lesnar who had a Division 1, All-American wrestler as a background, CM Punk was almost just a normal person trying out the MMA scene.
Although CM Punk would sign to the UFC, and strictly train for two years before making his UFC debut...
He would look very lost and amateur-ish during his actual fight.
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 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 a MMA fight.
Even in the early days of the UFC, before uniforms and weight classes, these fighters were at least all respectable at one specific martial art.
“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, defeating fighters such as Douglas Lima and Shinya Aoki (47-9) throughout the way.
Askren would also hold the Bellator belt for almost 3 years.
He was also an Olympian, 2 time Division 1 National Champion, and has won a gold medal in 8 out of 11 main events in his wrestling career (The other 3 events he was a silver medalist).
However, Askren's game would be based exclusively off of 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.
You can be the judge for yourself.
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 as 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 gold (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 knock outs, 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 as 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 knock out 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.