Most Effective Strikers in Each Division: Letting The Stats Decide

Most Effective Strikers in Each Division: Letting The Stats Decide

Striking can be shown in various forms. We have the basics such as the jab, cross, hook, roundhouse, elbow and knee. Those aspects are predominantly saved for the stand up striking although as we all know in MMA striking is also a major part of the ground game, just the sheer thought of getting caught with a big punch on the ground can make some fighters shell up and leave them vulnerable to other attacks. I’m sure we’ve also all heard the old adage of punching a black belt in the face makes him a brown belt and so on, point being striking is a loose term not reserved solely for stand up guys but also for fighters who excel at ground and pound. In this article we will be looking at the guys with the most effective striking in the UFC in terms of gaining a stoppage due to strikes, whether it be a knockout or the much more frequent technical knockout. Striking isn’t just for the ‘K1 level’ fighters anymore, everyone who has a fist, an elbow, knee or a shin is looking to get that quick stoppage and here in this article we have the guys who get the job done time and time again. Here is the criteria we are going to use….

  • Only KO/TKO wins attained in the UFC will be counted
  • All forms of KO/TKO will be counted for this article
  • Only current UFC fighters are eligible
  • Must have had at least 5 UFC Fights
Honourable Mentions
Unfortunately not all fighters could make it on to the list as some didn’t meet the criteria and some were just unlucky having slightly less than the leading fighters, but they still deserve a mention so here goes.
Not many fighters have made the impact that Conor McGregor has over the last 18 months, the buzz and hype surrounding McGregor is loud and I personally feel it’s justifiable. McGregor has racked up 3 stoppages due to strikes in his first 4 fights inside the Octagon. If he can follow up his most recent win of Dustin Poirier with a victory over Denis Siver (If all goes well for the Irishman) that will probably be enough to earn him a shot at Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, time will tell if that comes to fruition. Other strong candidates that narrowly missed out include a couple of Heavyweights in Junior Dos Santos, with 7 wins from 10 being due to strikes and Matt Mitrone who has earned 7 of his 8 Octagon wins due to strikes. Those guys along with Robbie Lawler, Donald Cerrone, Johny Hendricks and Max Holloway just missed out in their respective weight divisions.
  1. Edson Barboza: 5 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 9 UFC wins
  2. Ross Pearson: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 8 UFC wins
  3. Joe Lauzon: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 11 UFC wins
  1. Edson Barboza: 55.5% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Ross Pearson: 50% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Joe Lauzon: 36.3 of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
Lets start of with the Lightweight Division, one of the most talent rich divisions which is host to many talented strikers. Atop the heap we have one of my personal favourites, Edson Barboza, I thought that one was a fairly obvious choice given his Muay Thai pedigree. Ross Pearson will be proud of his standing, the Brit fighter has some excellent counter boxing along with some incredible head movement. So… I’m not sure how this happened but Joe Lauzon takes home the 3rd spot. Lauzon has more than likely earned his spot on the list due to the sheer number of fights he has had in the Octagon but I still think he will take that win. One guy who has been decimating people on the feet, especially recently is Donald Cerrone, he just missed out due to having 4 KO/TKO wins in his 12 victories inside the Octagon. Anthony Pettis is one of the most evolved strikers in the game but has yet to have enough fights to earn himself a place on the leaderboard. I can see either Cerrone or Pettis leapfrogging Lauzon and possibly Pearson sometime in the near future.
  1. Matt Brown: 9 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 12 UFC wins
  2. Thiago Alves: 7 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 12 UFC wins
  3. Jake Ellenberger: 5 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 8 UFC wins
  1. Matt Brown: 75% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Jake Ellenberger: 62.5% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Thiago Alves: 58.3% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
Some small surprises here with the fact that Hendricks and Lawler both narrowly missed out on placing in the top three, both have 5 KO/TKO wins in 11 and 9 respectively. Matt Brown has earned himself the top spot, his tenacity and finishing ability are almost unmatched in the UFC, he went about it the hard way but Brown is now considered a top fighter in one of the UFC’s deepest divisions. Thiago Alves is a fighter many people enjoy watching, I certainly do, He has found himself onto the leaderboard and will be looking to add to his tally when he faces Jordan Mein in January, a fight thats surely gunna be fireworks. This was a tiny bit surprising as Ellenberger has been trigger shy recently but he was known for a time to be a hard hitting wrestler, He looks to have left those days behind, mostly since his move to train with Glendale Fighting Club which for me has hindered his striking more than helped.
  1. Jeremy Stephens: 5 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 10 UFC wins
  2. Cub Swanson: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 6 UFC wins
  3. Chad Mendes: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 7 UFC wins
  1. Cub Swanson: 66.6% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Chad Mendes: 57.1% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Jeremy Stephens; 50% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
Jeremy Stephens is renowned as a heavy hitter amongst the lighter weight classes and he has turned that into earning himself a place at the top of the leaderboard. Cub Swanson is always exciting and has some very good striking, beating fighters such as Ross Pearson and Denis Siver, who are good strikers in their own right. It has earned him a spot amongst the divisions best. Duane “Bang” Ludwig is a man who’s almost single handidly responsible for improving the fortunes and striking of the entire Team Alpha Male. Chad Mendes is one of those fighters who has profitted from that training. Other fighters such as the previously mentioned Conor McGregor and Max Holloway, who has 4 KO/TKO wins from 7, will be looking to take the places of Mendes, Swanson and Stephens. One omission which is a little surprising because he has the potential and is probably the best technically sound striker in the division is Jose Aldo. If he finds his WEC form and gets his killer instinct back I can see him becoming a part of the leaderboard pretty easily.
  1. Anderson Silva: 11 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 16 UFC wins
  2. Vitor Belfort: 10 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 13 UFC wins
  3. Mike Bisping: 9 KO/TKO victories out of a total of 15 UFC wins
  1. Vitor Belfort: 76.9% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Anderson Silva: 68.7% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Mike Bisping: 60% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
So the Middleweight division is home to some of the best strikers in the sport and the stats reflect that, the former longtime Middleweight champ Anderson Silva heads up the que with the explosive Brazilian lion Vitor Belfort sitting just behind him. Mike Bisping is a turn up for the books earning himself the third spot. I can see a lot of people feeling aggrieved about that but the stats don’t lie so I guess you guys will have to lump it. Those Three guys sit pretty much head and shoulders above all the others in the division although I do see Lyoto Machida and Yoel Romero making an impact in the division but at their age time may be against them to overtake any of the top Three. All things said the Middleweight division has enjoyed a new lease of life since Weidman became champ, which is certainly going to make the division that much more interesting.
  1. TJ Dillashaw: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total 7 UFC wins
  2. Francisco Rivera: 2 KO/TKO victories out of a total 3 UFC wins
  3. Eddie Wineland: 2 KO/TKO victories out of a total 3 UFC wins
  1. Francisico Rivera: 66.6% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Eddie Wineland: 66.6% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. TJ Dillashaw: 57.1% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO

The UFC’s Bantamweight division certainly has some fearful strikers in it’s midst but although fighters like Michael McDonald (2 KO/TKO victories in 5 wins. Where’s he gone by the way?) and Renan Barao (2 KO/TKO’s in 7 wins) have big power they have yet to turn that into a high number of KO/TKO victories. Francisico Rivera is a massive puncher at the weight and has earned his spot as well as current UFC Bantamweight champ and another Bang Muay Thai product, TJ Dillashaw. Eddie Wineland places Third but I expect the guy who last defeated him Johnny Eduardo to be looking to overtake him at somepoint in the near future. A guy who I see a lot of potential in is Thomas Almeida, his combinations are a sight to behold and he throws them with lightning speed, he’s certainly on eto keep an eye on. The Bantamweight is looking very interesting lately with the return of Dominick Cruz, and TJ Dillashaw is looking red hot at the minute. I guess Assuncao is going to have to wait for that title shot. It’s unfortunate for him but thats how the chips have fallen.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Anthony Johnson: 7 KO/TKO victories out of a total 9 UFC wins
  2. Shogun Rua: 6 KO/TKO victories out of a total 6 UFC wins
  3. Alexander Gustafsson: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total 8 UFC wins
  1. Shogun Rua: 100% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Anthony Johnson: 77.7% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Alexander Gustafsson: 50% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO

There are some big hitters in the Light Heavyweight divison so it’s surprising at the little amount of KO/TKO wins there are to be honest. Rumble is in first place although most of those wins came from his time previous when he was a Welterweight, so that leads us to Shogun who has impressively won all of his victories via KO/TKO. Gustafsson comes in third place with half of his wins coming by KO/TKO. Jon Jones just missed out on the running having gained 4 KO/TKO victories out of 14 wins. The obvious omission is Dan Henderson who although world renowned for his power surprisingly only has 2 wins by KO/TKO in the UFC. Other fighters I expect to have an impact in the future include Glover Teixeira, Jimi Manuwa, Rafael Cavalcante and I was impressed with Jan Blachowicz on his Octagon debut.

  1. John Dodson: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total 5 UFC wins
  2. John Lineker: 4 KO/TKO victories out of a total 5 UFC wins
  3. Joseph Benavidez: 3 KO/TKO victories out of a total 8 UFC wins
  1. John Dodson: 80% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. John Lineker: 80% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Joseph Benavidez: 37.5% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO

So onto the little guys. Who says that the Flyweights don’t pack a punch. With fighters like John Dodson and John Lineker heading the que and Joseph Benavidez placing in third. Even outside the top three you have another guy named Kyoji Horiguchi who missed out due to not having enough fights under his belt. He looks to be quite the prospect and more than capable of knocking a few heads in the division. Admittedly the division isn’t too deep for guys stopping fights due to strikes but it has more than enough pace and excitement to make up for it. some people don’t really enjoy watching the little guys but I find them very entertaining.

  1. Cain Velasquez: 9 KO/TKO victories out of a total 11 UFC wins
  2. Andrei Arlovski: 8 KO/TKO victories out of a total 12 UFC wins
  3. Roy Nelson: 7 KO/TKO victories out of a total 7 UFC wins
  1. Roy Nelson: 100% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  2. Cain Velasquez: 81.8% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
  3. Andrei Arlovski: 66.6% of total UFC wins by KO/TKO
I saved the big guys for last as the division had around Six names to choose from that could have been on the leaderboard. It came down to the Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez who had a very impressive total, along with Andrei Arlovski and Roy Nelson who make up the other Two places. Guys like Matt Mitrione, JDS and Gabriel Gonzaga all just missed out with 7 KO/TKO victories but getting those in more fights than it took Roy Nelson. Other guys who look likely to add to their already impressive stoppage count are guys like Mark Hunt, Travis Browne, Fabricio Werdum and Ben Rothwell. The Heavyweights are pretty much guaranteed to always have that depth of KO/TKO stoppages as the guys are just so huge. I’m certainly not complaining anyway, who doesn’t love a good one-hit KO?
Total KO/TKO Rankings


All of the above is statistically accurate, no subjectivity has come into play in this article. Those are the most productive fighters in their respective division in regards to KO/TKO victories. Hope you enjoyed the read. Until next time…..

Written by Ryan Thomas MMA enthusiast/predictor/gambler and writer




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