mma The Best Martial Artists in History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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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
7,262 776
Bruce Lee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bruce Lee Died at 33 (1940-1973)

2
3,527 1,515
Jackie Chan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jackie Chan age 64

3
3,546 1,324
Jet Li is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jet Li age 55

4
3,440 677
Yip Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Yip Man Died at 79 (1893-1972)

5
2,236 1,549
Chuck Norris is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Chuck Norris age 78

6
2,708 729
donnie yen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

7
1,359 1,161
Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

8
1,114 865
Georges St-Pierre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

9
1,632 924
Muhammad Ali is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Muhammad Ali age 76

10
1,478 1,229
Jean-Claude Van Damme is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

11
1,777 626
tony jaa is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

12
965 713
Royce Gracie is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Royce Gracie age 52

13
1,417 781
Michael Jai White is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

14
932 864
Fedor Emelianenko is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

15 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

15
1,207 710
Jason Statham is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jason Statham

16
868 294
Morihei Ueshiba is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Morihei Ueshiba Died at 86 (1883-1969)

17
998 553
scott adkins is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

18
654 274
Huo Yuanjia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Huo Yuanjia

19
1,251 1,055
Steven Seagal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Steven Seagal age 66

20
561 363
Wong Fei-hung is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

21
484 523
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
491 219
Masutatsu Oyama is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Masutatsu Oyama

23
380 206
Brandon Lee is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Barry Bird added Brandon Lee

24
521 367
Hélio Gracie is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Hélio Gracie Died at 96 (1913-2009)

25
368 195
Masahiko Kimura is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

26
412 230
Jigoro Kano is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Jigoro Kano Died at 78 (1860-1938)

27
500 494
Randy Couture is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Randy Couture age 55

28
331 172
Yang Lu-ch'an is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Yang Lu-ch'an Died at 73 (1799-1872)

The Best Current Light Heavyweights Fighting in Bellator

29
375 186
Bolo Yeung is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bolo Yeung age 72

30
631 438
Mike Tyson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Mike Tyson age 52

31
435 395
Bas Rutten is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Bas Rutten age 53

32
490 523
Chuck Liddell is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Chuck Liddell age 49

33
278 169
Chojun Miyagi is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

34
257 144
Masaaki Hatsumi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

35
313 195
Gichin Funakoshi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Gichin Funakoshi

The Very Best Pop-Tart Flavors

36
146 127
Joe Lewis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Joe Lewis age 31

37
52 264
Chris Leben is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
geyyy added Chris Leben age 38

38
269 182
Choi Hong Hi is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

39
393 359
Lyoto Machida is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Lyoto Machida age 40

40
177 394
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

41
288 250
Cung Le is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Cung Le age 46

42
316 389
B.J. Penn is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
B.J. Penn age 40

The Best Colombian MLB Players Of All Time

43
195 177
Don the Dragon Wilson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Don the Dragon Wilson

44
91 53
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
294 361
Mirko Filipović is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

46
236 390
Wanderlei Silva is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

47
231 315
Jose Aldo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

48
230 321
Cain Velasquez is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History

49
237 346
Matt Hughes is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Matt Hughes age 45

50
228 308
Ken Shamrock is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Martial Artists in History
Ken Shamrock age 54