Mma The Best Martial Artists in History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
95.1k votes 14.8k voters 467.1k views 183 items

List Rules Only Martial Arts stars, MMA is fine. No boxers nor fictional characters.

The best martial artists in history are some of the most successful, most famous and toughest fighters to ever compete. These tough guys are UFC champions, movie stars and icons in the fighting world. Whether you're a fan of the Chinese greats like Bruce Lee, the MMA front-runners like Chuck Liddell or anywhere in between, it's hard to argue that all of these men are highly skilled in their various disciplines.

Martial arts is one of the widest classifications for combat sports out there. Typically, martial arts describes fighting styles originating in Asia but can describe everything from activities containing strike attacks like tae kwon do, karate, kung fu ad capoeira to grappling activities like judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and even sumo wrestling. It is perhaps the wide range of disciplines that makes mastering martial arts so difficult.

Action movie fans may enjoy seeing stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li compete on the silver screen but some may not know that before these talented men were Hollywood favorites, they were leaders in the Chinese martial arts world. Bruce Lee is arguably one of the best martial artists ever and helped the sport gain popularity. In part, Lee opened the door for tough guys, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, to become some on-screen martial arts legends.

But there's much more to martial arts than what you see in movies. In modern times, the UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) company in the world and is home to some of the best MMA fighters to ever compete. UFC Hall of Fame members such as Randy Couture, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrocks have inspired younger fighters like Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Fedor Emelianenko to become some of the toughest professional fighters ever.

Is it fair to compare some of the greatest fighters like Bruce Lee to Anderson Silva without having the two men compete head to head? Maybe not but that's where you come in, folks. Tell us which fighters you think are the best in history by voting for your favorite, adding those not listed and re-ranking this list your way below!
list ordered by

1
8,131 909
Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 33 (1940-1973)

2
4,063 1,747
Jackie Chan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 64

3
4,016 1,499
Jet Li is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 55

4
3,928 766
Yip Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 79 (1893-1972)

5
2,550 1,768
Chuck Norris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 78

6
3,148 834
donnie yen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

7
1,520 1,347
Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

8
1,300 1,043
Georges St-Pierre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

9
1,877 1,054
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 76

10
1,999 689
tony jaa is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

11
1,653 1,347
Jean-Claude Van Damme is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

12
1,611 857
Michael Jai White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

13
1,078 781
Royce Gracie is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 52

14
1,006 936
Fedor Emelianenko is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

15
1,144 609
scott adkins is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

16
1,385 806
Jason Statham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jason Statham

17
985 331
Morihei Ueshiba is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 86 (1883-1969)

18
765 306
Huo Yuanjia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Huo Yuanjia

19
1,374 1,206
Steven Seagal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 66

20
659 388
Wong Fei-hung is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

21
590 672
Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
kylebairdsen added age 31

22
502 243
Brandon Lee is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Barry Bird added

23
559 233
Masutatsu Oyama is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Masutatsu Oyama

24
436 208
Masahiko Kimura is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

25
572 392
Hélio Gracie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 96 (1913-2009)

26
458 242
Jigoro Kano is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 78 (1860-1938)

27
381 182
Yang Lu-ch'an is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 73 (1799-1872)

28
440 206
Bolo Yeung is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 72

29
546 528
Randy Couture is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 55

30
734 504
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 52

31
317 182
Chojun Miyagi is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

32
470 420
Bas Rutten is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 53

33
536 556
Chuck Liddell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 49

34
293 155
Masaaki Hatsumi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

35
340 210
Gichin Funakoshi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Gichin Funakoshi

36
174 146
Joe Lewis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 31

37
293 192
Choi Hong Hi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

38
61 298
Chris Leben is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
geyyy added age 38

39
419 382
Lyoto Machida is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 40

40
123 63
Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪) is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
xiaoli-song added Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪)

41
213 465
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

42
231 195
Don the Dragon Wilson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Don the Dragon Wilson

43
309 268
Cung Le is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 46

44
335 415
B.J. Penn is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 40

45
307 384
Mirko Filipović is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

46
253 410
Wanderlei Silva is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

47
249 338
Jose Aldo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

48
246 339
Cain Velasquez is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

49
250 364
Matt Hughes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 45

50
253 332
Ken Shamrock is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 54