Mma The Best Martial Artists in History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
94.2k votes 14.6k voters 465.1k 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
8,045 901
Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 33 (1940-1973)

2
4,016 1,731
Jackie Chan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 64

3
3,980 1,487
Jet Li is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 55

4
3,883 759
Yip Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 79 (1893-1972)

5
2,520 1,752
Chuck Norris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 78

6
3,118 827
donnie yen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

7
1,507 1,334
Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

8
1,288 1,027
Georges St-Pierre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

9
1,856 1,042
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 76

10
1,974 683
tony jaa is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

11
1,638 1,333
Jean-Claude Van Damme is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

12
1,590 850
Michael Jai White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

13
1,069 775
Royce Gracie is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 52

14
997 930
Fedor Emelianenko is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

15
1,127 605
scott adkins is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

16
1,372 799
Jason Statham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jason Statham

17
972 331
Morihei Ueshiba is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 86 (1883-1969)

18
755 305
Huo Yuanjia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Huo Yuanjia

19
1,365 1,192
Steven Seagal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 66

20
650 387
Wong Fei-hung is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

21
586 665
Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
kylebairdsen added age 31

22
491 242
Brandon Lee is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Barry Bird added

23
552 233
Masutatsu Oyama is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Masutatsu Oyama

24
430 208
Masahiko Kimura is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

25
568 390
Hélio Gracie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 96 (1913-2009)

26
454 241
Jigoro Kano is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 78 (1860-1938)

27
378 181
Yang Lu-ch'an is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Died at 73 (1799-1872)

28
431 205
Bolo Yeung is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 72

29
544 525
Randy Couture is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 55

30
728 500
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 52

31
313 182
Chojun Miyagi is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

32
468 419
Bas Rutten is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 53

33
534 553
Chuck Liddell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 49

34
291 155
Masaaki Hatsumi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

35
337 209
Gichin Funakoshi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Gichin Funakoshi

36
174 144
Joe Lewis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 31

37
290 192
Choi Hong Hi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

38
61 296
Chris Leben is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
geyyy added age 38

39
417 379
Lyoto Machida is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 40

40
212 460
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

41
120 62
Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪) is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
xiaoli-song added Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪)

42
228 192
Don the Dragon Wilson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Don the Dragon Wilson

43
308 267
Cung Le is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 46

44
335 413
B.J. Penn is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 40

45
307 382
Mirko Filipović is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

46
253 408
Wanderlei Silva is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

47
248 337
Jose Aldo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

48
246 338
Cain Velasquez is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

49
250 362
Matt Hughes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 45

50
252 330
Ken Shamrock is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
age 54