Since Max Holloway‘s brilliant performance against Calvin Kattar, the question has been asked of who are the best boxers in the UFC today?
After all, the Hawaiian smashed records for most strikes attempted and landed, but to qualify as the best boxer in the promotion, more than offense is needed. The ability to evade is just as important in the heat of combat. Here is a list of athletes that have used their boxing best to advance their career. Additionally, the list illustrates the nuances of the “sweet science” by virtue of the stats behind each athlete.
5. Stipe Miocic
UFC Heavyweight Champion, Miocic is also a former Golden Gloves champion. Although his foundation is boxing, the firefighter has shown a well-rounded game inside the cage. However, most of his wins have been a result of his boxing. In fact, his hands carried him to a world title after he clipped Brazilian legend Fabricio Werdum. During a mad scuffle, Miocic knocked his opponent out while moving backward. Beyond the power he showed, it was boxing fundamentals that secured the victory. The ability to move backward while striking begets success since the opponent is often left off balance or out of position.
Miocic’s stats are a reflection of his career– evolution. In essence, the former Golden Gloves champion uses his foundation to continually improve. Despite age becoming a factor, the heavyweight has not slowed down. Since 2015, the heavyweight’s precision has improved. Against Mark Hunt, the boxer from Cleveland overwhelmed the “Super Somoan” and blasted him with a total of 113 sig. strikes over the course of five rounds. While the level of competition affects the ratio of sig. strikes landed, it didn’t for Miocic at UFC 241, where he exacted his revenge against rival Daniel Cormier, recording a career-best 123 sig. strikes landed.
4. Amanda Nunes
It would be criminal to exclude an all-time great like Amanda Nunes from the list of best boxers in the UFC. Why? The success she found with boxing led her to become a world champion. Then, the “Lioness” used her hands to cement her legacy when she destroyed two titans by the name of Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg. The 32-year old champion doesn’t take a lot of strikes, and when she returns fire, the shot is accurate. Her ability to slip and rip, and follow up with a 1-2 is sharp, just ask the thirteen opponents she finished while navigating through her career.
3. Alexander Volkanovski
Ever since Max Holloway declared himself the best boxer in the UFC while battering Kattar’s face without looking, many peers have taken issue with the claim. In particular, Dustin Poirier and the aforementioned Holloway have asserted themselves as indeed the best boxers in the organization. On the contrary, champion Alexander Volkanovski‘s numbers indicate that he has a rightful claim to that distinction as well.
|Stats Courtesy of ESPN||Dustin Poirier||Max Holloway||Alexander Volkanovski|
|Sig. Strikes Landed per Min.||5.59||7.26||6.02|
|Sig. Striking Accuracy||50%||46%||55%|
|Sig. Strikes Absorbed per Min.||4.17||4.58||3.31|
|Significant Strike Defense (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||54%||60%||60%|
Often times, when we think of the attributes that make the best boxers, the concept of hitting your opponent more than you get hit is paramount. UFC Featherweight Champion, Volkanovski comprises one of the few best boxers in the promotion. While it is true Holloway dominates in volume, Volkanovski lands over half the strikes he throws, and his strike absorption rate is incredibly low given the killers he’s faced. A major reason the Australian champion’s boxing is superb is because of the disparity between taking and giving damage throughout his UFC tenure.
2. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
At UFC 248 Jędrzejczyk went to war with UFC Strawweight Champion Weili Zhang. Above all, the fight delivered well beyond expectations, which were already sky-high. Actually, the Polish kickboxer threw a total of 360 strikes with 51% accuracy. However, this lone title fight is not an accurate portrayal of Jędrzejczyk’s boxing skills.
Jędrzejczyk closed the book on any question about her boxing as she has outstruck every opponent in the UFC except three champions (Namajunas, Zhang, and Valentina Shevchenko). The volume Jędrzejczyk starts with never fades. Known for her activity and constant movement, the 33-year old uses pace as a weapon. Before long, the accumulation of strikes begins to take its toll on any fighter. Despite losing three title bids, Jędrzejczyk’s overall output coupled with her strike absorption rate is a primary reason why she takes runner-up for the best boxer in the UFC.
1. Petr Yan – The Best Boxer In The UFC
Petr Yan represents the best boxer in the UFC. As a Master of Sport in Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, he is recognized as one of Russia’s most talented athletes. Undoubtedly, he left a lasting impression after his domination over the legendary Uriah Faber. During the fight, the 27-year old Russian switched stances mid-combination and topped the sequence off with a high kick to close the show. The performance propelled Yan into the title picture.
A single performance does not indicate an athlete is the best boxer in the UFC. But a consistent schedule of outstriking opponents in almost every fight under the UFC banner speaks volumes. Although Yan struggled with output against Jimmie Rivera (57 strikes landed for Yan to Rivera’s 73), his other six fights have resulted in him outgunning his opponents by a large margin.
With such a monstrous rate of offense, (6.32 strikes landed per min.) and such a low rate of strike absorption (3.25 strikes absorbed per min.), the numbers don’t lie. The young UFC Bantamweight Champion is dishing out the most punishment and taking the least.
Give us your thoughts on who you think should make the list of the best boxers in the UFC! Let MMANews know what you think, comment below!