The phrase "best in all of MMA" gets thrown around quite a bit. You hear BJ has the best boxing in MMA, GSP has the best MMA wrestling, Randy has the best Dirty Boxing in MMA. Those all may be true but maybe we should dig a little deeper then just using the same old cliches and phrases. Has the phrases above made us believe there true because we hear it so often? Or are they mentioned so much because there true?
In my opinion classifying the best Striker in MMA should be chosen based on numerous factors. The first factor is the ability of the fighter to finish fights. Why is this important? Because fighters need to finish opponents or be faced with the fear of going to a decision that can end in a controversial fashion. A good example of a very good striker not finishing fights at one point was Lyoto Machida. Sure he won alot of Unanimous Decisions but he was constantly knocked for his inability to finish a fighter. Now, as a fighter I understand some guys are just hard to finish because of the tough chins or just great fighters. Guys that come to mind are Jon Fitch and a Prime Big Nog. However, thats the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts we are required to evolve to solve complex problems like finishing different styled fighters with different skill sets. Strikers like Anderson Silva has finished 15 of 24 winning fights by KO/TKO and Paul Daley has finished 18 of 23 fights via KO/TKO.
Another important aspect of being an elite striker is your ability to also be a great striking defender. Guys who absorb alot of damage arent in my mind elite strikers. Striking isnt purely offensive. Melvin Manhoef is an amazing striker who just does not have the defense to back it up. Imagine Melvin with an iron chin, hell even Arlovski with a granite chin. Those guys would be monsters in their repective weight classes. Take a look at guys like BJ Penn. In his last few fighst at LW. How many strikes have been landed on him? Against Diego in 25 minutes it was something ridiculous like 8 strikes landed by Diego. BJ does this by setting up a dominant jab. Thats a sign of elite striking. Using an offensive maneuver to generate defense simultaneously. In the same breath, different direction look at counter punchers. Lyoto Machida as an example, even Anderson Silva. When Forrest came in to close Anderson made him pay. Time and Time Again. His unearthly defense created his overwhelming offense. Other examples of counter striking or defense leading to highly successful results is Rashad catching Chuck pressing forward with a huge overhand.
The last crucial component for me when I think of elite strikers is the abilty to set up the striking or setting up combinations. This may be the hardest to determine since fights happen and end so quickly at times. If I could post Gifs (sometimes I am technologically ignorant) I would post two. The Nate combo on Gouveia in the thrid round of their fight and then Diegos flurry to start the first round vs Guida. The Nate Combo showed what MMA striking is all about. Punches, Knees, Kicks, unorthodox methods like a double kick, a spinning back fist, the flying knee. Granted Wilson was gassed not many fighters can throw together such a combo. Not only did it end the fight but more importantly it never allowed Wilson to ever know where the next strike was coming from. If your just a boxer say like Rampage you never have to be very weary of kicks. So keep your hands high. Diego was cut brutally by a high kick from BJ because noone saw that coming. I mean seriously who really thought for one BJ would throw a high kick and for two would end the fight via head kick? Now the combo Diego put on Guida on the other hand was set up solely on being explosive and aggressive. Now some guys can get caught rushing in but Diego has a great chin and Guida hasnt shown one shot KO power. Diego threw hooks, straights, crosses, uppercuts and knees. All of which were absorbed by Guidas superb chin but the array of strikes kept Guida second guessing thus leaving him vulnerable. When they were serperated he threw the elbow and then delivered a head kick that crushed Guida. With a guy that dynamic you cant really see where the next strike will come from. Setting up isnt always associated with strikes, an elite striker can also use his striking ability to set up other things such as wrestling. Prime example, you know it... GSP. He is the best MMA wrestler due in large part to his striking. And vice versa. His striking is very good because of his wrestling. MMA isnt for strikers only. The most well rounded succeed.
With all that said, the only guys that I throw into a class of Elite are but not limited to Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Bj Penn, GSP and Paul Daley. Maybe some will raise a red flag to Daley but if the guy did BJJ with Anderson for a year the guy would be a monster in his weight class. His only KO loss was due to an injury and otherwise has been decisioned or submitted. But hey its all just my opinion what do you guys think? Who are the elite strikers in MMA today?