Are you wondering who the best boxers in UFC history are?
In this article, we’ll look at the 15 best boxers in UFC history and the things making their MMA boxing so effective.
- Best Boxers in UFC History (MMA Boxing)
- Adrian Yanez
- Alexander Gustafsson – “The Mauler”
- Anderson Silva – “The Spider”
- Arnold Allen – “Almighty”
- Cody Garbrandt – “No Love”
- Dustin Poirier – “The Diamond”
- Holly Holm – “The Preacher’s Daughter”
- Jorge Masvidal – “Gamebred”
- Junior Dos Santos – “Cigano”
- Max Holloway – “Blessed”
- Petr Yan – “No Mercy”
- Stipe Miocic
Best Boxers in UFC History (MMA Boxing)
There have been plenty of amazing boxers throughout UFC history as it’s such an essential skill to victory, much like wrestling.
This list will focus on the best boxers in UFC history whose style would be considered boxing-heavy. This is because there are many fighters who have great boxing, but who have more of a kickboxing or muay thai style and therefore wouldn’t be considered boxers.
Also, it’s hard to rank the best boxers in UFC history as they’re in different weight classes and their MMA boxing skills will never be tested against one another. Therefore, in alphabetical order, here’s the list of the 12 best boxers in UFC history.
Height: 5’7” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Bantamweight
Adrian Yanez is one of the newer UFC fighters on the list but has already earned his place. After entering the UFC in 2020 via winning on the Contender Series, Adrian Yanez has an undefeated record of 5-0, courtesy of his technical boxing skills.
Some of the key features making Yanez’s boxing so great are:
- Parry with the right and counter-left hook from the orthodox stance
- Elite composure paired with intelligent forward pressure and patience – he reads his opponents and never rushes in
- Precision punching combined with an economical style – helps him stay tight with his defense and energy efficient as he never overswings
- Speedy combinations and blitzes to finish opponents
- Lethal counter hooks when anyone closes the distance on him
Overall, Yanez sees himself as more of an MMA boxer and has absolute faith in his ability to use it effectively against opponents with a more varied attack.
He watches breakdowns of elite boxers to see what he can take from their game and add to his own, and he’s openly said he enjoys making his opponents miss and paying for it. Yanez is a future bantamweight title contender in 2023.
Alexander Gustafsson – “The Mauler”
Height: 6’5” | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Alexander Gustafsson started his martial arts career as a boxer at the age of 10 and although he transitioned to MMA in 2006, he returned to boxing in 2008 and won various amateur boxing tournaments at the age of 21.
He was set to continue a career in boxing but the UFC offered him a contract he couldn’t refuse.
Gustafsson’s MMA boxing is great for notable reasons such as:
- Short and long-range unorthodox uppercuts that connect with amazing accuracy because they have zero tell (unreadable)
- Standing 6 ft 5, Gustafsson has the footwork and movement of a welterweight fighter (170 lbs)
- Great head movement and fluidity when boxing in the pocket
- Sharp technical jab combined with his height and reach keeps his opponents at a distance
- An ability to find shots around and through a guard with combinations
Gustafsson has 11 knockouts and 4 decisions in 18 MMA wins and has had brilliant knockouts such as the one against Teixeira where he finished him with 3 right uppercuts, a slip, and a right hook.
He also came mightily close to defeating Jon Jones because his boxing was brilliant throughout. Gustafsson fought for the title three times, but will likely go down as the best fighter to never have won a UFC title.
Anderson Silva – “The Spider”
Height: 6’2” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Middleweight
Anderson Silva is one of the all-time UFC greats and his exceptional boxing played a big part in his success. His boxing contributed to his 16-fight UFC win streak, which is still the UFC record, and his 10 consecutive title defenses.
Key features of his MMA boxing are:
- One of the greatest evaders through head movement and footwork
- Unbelievable timing and accuracy with counterpunches
- Sharp speed of combinations
- Mixes up his boxing with punches thrown from unusual angles
- Patience, discipline, and high fight IQ meant he never rushed his punches and would methodically pick his opponent apart
- Enters with great feints and a snappy precise jab
People may argue Anderson Silva’s boxing was so good because his muay Thai and more specifically his knees, kicks, and elbows were mixed in, and this versatility made his boxing more effective.
However, since retiring from MMA in 2020, Anderson Silva has gone on to professional boxing at the age of 45 (now 47) and has beaten Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, the former WBC middleweight champion. This shows that without his muay Thai skills, his boxing is elite on its own.
Arnold Allen – “Almighty”
Height: 5’8” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Featherweight
Arnold Allen started his martial arts career as a boxer and was training with elite boxers who’ve gone on to win belts – so he has good boxing experience and it can be seen in the UFC as he’s unbeaten and on a 10-UFC win streak.
This 10-win streak is tied with Alexander Volkanovski and 3 behind record holder Max Holloway with 13 – so he’s in good company there.
Arnold Allen’s MMA boxing is great because:
- Great blitzing combinations after reading the distance
- Amazing power for a featherweight (145 lbs)
- Elite defensive skills against strikes with a high elbow guard and angle changes – 2nd for active featherweights with the highest significant strike defense of 66.7%
- Great movement and fluid footwork sliding backward after striking
- A counterstriking style where he uses the jab to score and draw out his opponents and counter advances with the lead right hook and left cross
Arnold Allen does his talking in the cage and his MMA boxing is delightful to see. In just a few years he’s established himself as a featherweight contender by beating the likes of Kalvin Kattar, Dan Hooker, and Gilbert Melendez.
Cody Garbrandt – “No Love”
Height: 5’8” | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Bantamweight
Cody Garbrandt has been boxing since the age of 4, and before transitioning to MMA, Cody Garbrandt was an accomplished amateur boxer with a record of 32 wins and 1 loss.
Cody’s MMA boxing is great because he has:
- Great at evading strikes with silky footwork and head and body movement
- Unbelievable speed and power with single shots and combinations – in 12 MMA wins he has 10 Knockouts and 2 decisions
- Counters with brilliant timing and precision accuracy
- Elite composure and calmness
- Sharp vision allows him to see every shot and slide out of range
Cody Garbrandt become a UFC bantamweight champion by beating Dominick Cruz but soon fell to many defeats because despite his MMA boxing being on point, he has a weak chin and lacks the variety many MMA greats have.
Dustin Poirier – “The Diamond”
Height: 5’9” | Reach: 72” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Lightweight
Before Dustin Poirier ever considered MMA he was boxing, believing it to be his future profession and you can see it in his style.
He started boxing in 2007 at the age of 18 but soon transitioned to MMA 2 years later. Dustin has been hugely successful in MMA mostly thanks to his MMA boxing skills.
Making Poirier’s boxing so great is:
- Sharp flowing combinations
- One of the most powerful punchers in the lightweight division (155 lbs) – especially his left hook from his favored southpaw stance
- Relentless boxing pressure along with a great chin and durability
- Great patience allows him to pick his shots
- Great defense despite firefighting in the pocket; with slips, great footwork, and a 52 blocks defense using elbow frames and a high guard to block, parry, and shell
To further stake his claim as one of the best in UFC history, Dustin Poirier has beaten the likes of Max Holloway, Dan Hooker, Bobby Green, Justin Gaethje, and Conor McGregor twice – many of the best boxers.
Holly Holm – “The Preacher’s Daughter”
Height: 5’8” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Bantamweight
Not only is Holly Holm one of the best boxers in UFC history after becoming the UFC bantamweight champion, but she’s also one of the best female boxers too.
Before MMA, Holly Holm was a world boxing champion in three weight classes with a total of 18 title defenses, which includes the WBF, WBC, WBA, and IBC world titles. She’s in the International Boxing Hall of Fame and remains the only UFC fighter to have been a UFC and world boxing champion.
Holly Holm’s boxing is great for several reasons, such as:
- Experience from her elite boxing career
- Great head movement, footwork, and circling make her hard to hit
- Accurate and speedy counterstriking, specifically with the left cross
- Controls fights by managing distance and outscoring opponents
Overall, decorated as a boxer outside of MMA, Holly Holm transitioned to MMA and became a UFC champion in just 3 UFC fights; easily making her one of the best boxers in UFC history.
Jorge Masvidal – “Gamebred”
Height: 5’11” | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
Jorge Masvidal has been fighting professionally since 2003, so he’s had plenty of time to perfect the craft of boxing.
Even before this, he was well-known for being involved in street fights and organized backyard brawls that were made famous by himself and Kimbo Slice. Here, he would beat much bigger and older fighters because of his knack for boxing.
Making his boxing great is:
- Powerful hooks – Masvidal has knocked out 16 opponents in 35 wins
- His opponents know he’s boxing heavy, but it’s that good that they find it hard to counter – barring a few kick and knee knockouts, roughly 30 of Masvidal’s 35 wins have come through his boxing
- Electric hand speed even for combinations
- Picking his opponents apart with body shots
- Great boxing defense, durability, and a granite chin – Masvidal has only been knocked out twice in 52 MMA fights
Jorge Masvidal has outboxed Nate Diaz to win the BMF belt, who many consider one of the best boxers in the UFC, and he’s knocked out Darren Till, K.J. Noons (former boxer), and Donald Cerrone.
Junior Dos Santos – “Cigano”
Height: 6’4” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Heavyweight
Junior Dos Santos is a former UFC heavyweight champion and one of the boxers in UFC history, which made him one of the best Brazilian UFC fighters too.
Making Junior Dos Santos’ boxing so great is:
- Maintains crisp technique while punching with exceptional speed
- Ridiculous power, especially with the overhand right
- One of the best at setting up his power shots with feints, jabs, and body shots
- Great boxing on the back foot – JDS often sneakily throws powerful left hooks after acting hurt and retreating
- Of his 21 wins, 15 are by knockout, and 5 are by decision – showing just how boxing-heavy JDS is. Of these 20, only 2 were won with leg strikes
Junior Dos Santos is tied second with Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou for the most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history with 10.
He’s also first for the longest UFC heavyweight win streak of 9 (the second place has 7) and the most knockdowns landed (14) – two records unlikely to be beaten for many years.
Max Holloway – “Blessed”
Height: 5’11” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
Max Holloway is the self-confessed best boxer in the UFC, which he exclaimed while picking apart Kalvin Kattar with no look shots and evading any punches with great head movement.
Max holds many UFC records thanks to his spectacular boxing skills, such as the most significant strikes landed in UFC history (2975) and in a single fight (445).
Making Max’s boxing great is:
- Speedy combinations, slick footwork, and head movement
- Manages distance with his jab despite only having a 69” reach.
- Slips shots and counters with accurate timing and at different angles
- High fight intelligence and doesn’t load his shots with a lot of power; this means his shots are more accurate as he’s looking to hurt you by delivering a ridiculous amount of volume
- Granite chin, titan cardio, and relentless forward pressure
- Finds angles and has great setups too
If there was one complaint, it’s that his defense can be lacking at times and he gets hit a lot – but it’s his style to fight fire with fire.
Max Holloway has boxed his way to beating the likes of Anthony Pettis, Charles Oliveira, Brian Ortega, Frankie Edgar, Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, and Jose Aldo twice. That’s quite the resume backing his claim as the best boxer in the UFC.
Petr Yan – “No Mercy”
Height: 5’7” | Reach: 67” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Bantamweight
Ask 100 UFC fans and 100% of them would have Petr Yan in their top 3 boxers in the UFC – he’s that good. Petr Yan started boxing at 13 years old and continued training for 8 years until he became a Master of Sport in boxing (USSR achievement).
What makes Yan’s boxing so good?
- Switching boxing stance to kickboxing and from orthodox to southpaw; his boxing is effective because his opponents have to adapt to his switches
- Expert reading of a fight which means his boxing gets better as the fight goes on
- Boxes with defense in mind at all times, which is part of his high fight intelligence
- World Class technique with a great variation of punches
- Keeps his boxing simple but effective, he throws a lot of straight punches and has very little wasted movement
- Great power in his punches for a bantamweight (135 lbs)
- Slips and blocks expertly with slick head movement, footwork, and a high guard
Petr Yan’s a former UFC bantamweight champion and may have continued defending his title if he didn’t unintentionally knee a grounded Aljamain Sterling.
Overall, Petr Yan is the best boxer in the UFC and he’s the most likely fighter to have success in the sport of boxing because of his background and his display of boxing skills in MMA.
Height: 6’4” | Reach: 80” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Heavyweight
One of the best UFC heavyweights of all time, Stipe Miocic has achieved great success because of his boxing. Despite wrestling for much longer, Stipe only really uses his wrestling ability to defend takedowns so he can keep the fight standing and continue to box.
Before turning to professional MMA, with only 8 months of boxing experience, Stipe won the Cleveland Golden Boxes amateur boxing competition.
Stipe Miocic’s boxing is great because:
- He has elite confidence in his boxing – he uses his wrestling to keep fights standing where he implements his boxing style
- Of his 20 wins, 15 are by knockout and 5 by decision. Of his 15 knockouts, only 2 were not finished with boxing
- Evades strikes with excellent and nimble footwork for a heavyweight and sharp head movement – his lateral and in-and-out movement is unparalleled in the heavyweight division
- Perfect crisp technique – he never throws wild punches and is very energy efficient with his boxing
- Much like professional boxers, Stipe Miocic has insane cardiovascular endurance for a heavyweight, which allows him to pick apart his opponents with his boxing while they’re already tiring out
- Stipe stays lighter and leaner than many of his heavyweight opponents, boosting his already speedy boxing combinations
Stipe Miocic is a two-time UFC heavyweight and holds the record for most UFC heavyweight title wins with 6. He has outboxed and beaten Fabricio Werdum, Junior Dos Santos, Francis Ngannou, and Daniel Cormier twice.