mma The Best Martial Artists in History  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
89.9k votes 13.9k voters 454.3k views 182 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!

1
7.660 850
Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bruce Lee Died at 33 (1940-1973)

2
3.772 1.645
Jackie Chan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jackie Chan age 64

3
3.780 1.418
Jet Li is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jet Li age 55

4
3.658 731
Yip Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Yip Man Died at 79 (1893-1972)

5
2.394 1.672
Chuck Norris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Chuck Norris age 78

6
2.927 796
donnie yen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

7
1.449 1.276
Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

8
1.217 975
Georges St-Pierre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

9
1.761 996
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Muhammad Ali age 76

10
1.571 1.302
Jean-Claude Van Damme is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

11
1.880 665
tony jaa is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

12
1.512 826
Michael Jai White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

13
1.028 750
Royce Gracie is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Royce Gracie age 52

14
970 906
Fedor Emelianenko is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

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15
1.064 588
scott adkins is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

16
1.296 768
Jason Statham is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jason Statham

17
931 321
Morihei Ueshiba is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Morihei Ueshiba Died at 86 (1883-1969)

18
715 295
Huo Yuanjia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Huo Yuanjia

19
1.319 1.140
Steven Seagal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Steven Seagal age 66

20
622 379
Wong Fei-hung is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

21
545 607
Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
kylebairdsen added Ronda Rousey age 31

The Best Current Heavyweights Fighting in Bellator

22
533 227
Masutatsu Oyama is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Masutatsu Oyama

23
447 229
Brandon Lee is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Barry Bird added Brandon Lee

24
406 204
Masahiko Kimura is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

25
547 384
Hélio Gracie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Hélio Gracie Died at 96 (1913-2009)

26
438 239
Jigoro Kano is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jigoro Kano Died at 78 (1860-1938)

27
361 180
Yang Lu-ch'an is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Yang Lu-ch'an Died at 73 (1799-1872)

28
413 200
Bolo Yeung is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bolo Yeung age 72

The Best Current Light Heavyweights Fighting in Bellator

29
526 512
Randy Couture is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Randy Couture age 55

30
688 473
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Mike Tyson age 52

31
455 410
Bas Rutten is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bas Rutten age 53

32
301 178
Chojun Miyagi is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

33
514 541
Chuck Liddell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Chuck Liddell age 49

34
277 152
Masaaki Hatsumi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

35
327 206
Gichin Funakoshi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Gichin Funakoshi

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36
164 138
Joe Lewis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Joe Lewis age 31

37
281 189
Choi Hong Hi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

38
57 285
Chris Leben is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
geyyy added Chris Leben age 38

39
408 370
Lyoto Machida is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Lyoto Machida age 40

40
200 429
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

41
300 263
Cung Le is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Cung Le age 46

42
217 187
Don the Dragon Wilson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Don the Dragon Wilson

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43
328 404
B.J. Penn is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
B.J. Penn age 40

44
108 60
Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪) is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
xiaoli-song added Zhang Songxi(Wu Dang)(张松溪)

45
303 375
Mirko Filipović is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

46
247 402
Wanderlei Silva is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

47
240 330
Jose Aldo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

48
239 333
Cain Velasquez is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

49
243 358
Matt Hughes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Matt Hughes age 45

50
240 321
Ken Shamrock is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Ken Shamrock age 54