Regular readers of the GOAT series will know the drill by now. Today we’re tackling who is the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time. With Daniel Cormier facing off against Stipe Miocic in a hotly-billed rematch later this year, maybe we’ll finally get an answer to this trending topic.
Defending UFC champion Daniel Cormier, Soviet veteran Fedor Emelianenko, Cleveland native Stipe Miocic and pressure fighter Cain Velasquez are all worthy options for the best heavyweight of all time.
Daniel Cormier (22-1-0, 1 NC)
Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion and former Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion. DC is currently ranked the #1 pound-for-pound king by the UFC. Cormier holds famous victories over MMA legend Anderson Silva, Stipe Miocic, Derrick Lewis, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and even former boxing world champ Lucas Browne.
Fighting out of the legendary American Kickboxing Academy, the 40-year-old trains with fellow heavyweight Cain Velasquez, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former titleholder Luke Rockhold. The former Olympian is a world-class wrestler and utterly dominant on the ground. Cormier saps the energy of his opponents with an arsenal of different takedowns. The freestyle wrestler mostly shoots for the single leg, dumping his opponent to the floor and following up with savage ground-and-pound. Considered a smaller heavyweight due to his background in the light heavyweight class, the explosive stocky fighter uses his power punching to close the distance and pressurise his opponent. DC utilises his wrestling skills to land significant strikes in the clinch, landing a mixture of devastating body shots and uppercuts.
Cormier is undoubtedly the heavyweight top dog of the UFC division, with his only loss coming at light heavyweight to fellow GOAT and bitter rival Jon Jones. Although he wasted time chasing a superfight (and massive payday) with WWE wrestler and former UFC champ Brock Lesnar, DC will next fight Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 in a possible retirement fight. The last time they fought DC knocked Miocic out via first-round KO to claim ‘champ champ’ status as he also held light heavyweight gold at the time.
Fedor ‘The Last Emperor’ Emelianenko (38-6-0, 1 NC)
Fedor ‘The Last Emperor’ Emelianenko is the former PRIDE heavyweight champion, PRIDE heavyweight grand prix champion and WAMMA heavyweight champion. Fedor defended his PRIDE title three times and throughout his long career he has beaten the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Frank Mir, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt.
Born in the then Soviet Ukraine, Emelianenko began his MMA career in early 2000. Fedor is a well-rounded heavyweight, combining simple heavy boxing with his Judo and Sambo skills. A fearless fighter, Fedor patiently waited to exploit his opponent’s defence with great throws and deft inside trips to down opponents. He mostly threw jumping lead hooks that defined his illustrious career. His strict discipline allowed him to adapt and defeat fighters at their own pace, using impeccable timing to land his hammer fists. Fedor rampaged through the heavyweight elites throughout his career and is still a top contender today despite his age.
The 40-year-old recently competed in the 2018 Bellator heavyweight grand prix, putting in a solid performance and reaching the final only to lose the title fight to current champion Ryan Bader.
Naturally, his durability and legendary granite chin has weakened over the years but the Judoka is still a gritty veteran capable of trading shots with some of the world’s hardest hitters.
Stipe Miocic (18-3)
The part-time firefighter is considered by many fans and pundits alike to be the greatest heavyweight of all time. Stipe Miocic is the former UFC heavyweight champion who defended his title three times, the most in the history of the UFC’s heavyweight division. Miocic holds wins over Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt.
Fighting out of Ohio and training at Strong Style Fight Team, the college wrestler has a massive 80-inch reach. Stipe mostly stands tall in full guard and uses his strong boxing defence to adapt to his opponent’s gameplan. Miocic throws jabs to distract his opponent whilst teeing up his looping slugs. He also mixes up his attacks with some savage low kicks to wear down other fighters. Miocic predominantly relies on his boxing ability although he is a very competent wrestler with solid takedown defence. Indeed even if Stipe is taken down he manages to scramble away. The powerful athlete has great conditioning which allows him to establish top control on the mat.
For some reason, Stipe has never had the ‘WOW’ factor the UFC top brass crave. He’s been in some amazing brawls including an entertaining slugfest against Overeem which saw the former champ come back from being knocked down to score a quick KO victory in the first round. Miocic has patiently waited for a rematch with Cormier after losing his heavyweight title to DC in a super fight. He now gets the chance to reclaim his belt on August 17th.
Cain Velasquez (14-3)
Cain Velasquez is the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion. Teammate of fellow heavyweight Daniel Cormier, Velasquez has beaten Brock Lesnar, Travis Browne, Junior dos Santos and Ben Rothwell.
The AKA wrestler redefined the heavyweight style combining his natural skills on the ground with his swarming stand-up. One of the quickest athletes on the UFC roster, Velasquez’s insane cardio allows him to pressurise his opponents with aggressive striking. He constantly moves towards other fighters peppering them with stinging jabs and powerful combos. This forward momentum pushes opponents against the fence where Cain’s wrestling background takes over. He mixes up levels and grinds away at their cardio with brutal punches and short knee kicks to the body. Despite his All-American training, Cain rarely threatens a submission, instead using his grappling to strike from top mount.
Cain’s relentless pressure has left him more injury-prone than many other heavyweights. His highly decorated career has been blighted by various injuries such as severe back problems. Nevertheless, on his day Velasquez is one of the most exciting UFC fighters to watch. He most recently suffered a devastating knockout loss to Francis Ngannou in his most recent comeback fight however Cain seemingly has no intentions of retiring just yet.