Our Facebook page did these top ten, individually posted and got millions of total views. But here they are all in one post. This top list goes only by Pride accomplishments and Pride related accomplishments.
Pride Month countdown! The 10 Greatest fighters in the history of PrideFC!
- Mark Coleman
Pride’s First ever champion, Mark Coleman entered Pride after winning 2 UFC tournaments and a UFC world title. He entered the Pride Openweight Grand Prix, winning it and re-cementing his status as number 1 heavyweight in the world.
After a 6 fight win streak in Pride though he ran into future 2x Pride heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and later into the other two members of Prides Holy Heavyweight Trinity, Fedor and Cro Cop.
He would never again be number one in the world but his ONLY losses in Pride were to Pride champions (not counting a glorified pro wrestling match in his first “fight” with Pride )
Pride Openweight Grand Prix- 2000
UFC 10 tournament
UFC 11 tournament
UFC heavyweight champion
Fastest win in prideFC history
One of only two men (the other being Dan Henderson) to win UFC and Pride tournaments
Record against Pride Champions- 1-5
- Takanori Gomi
Pride’s only lightweight champion, set the division ablaze with a 10 fight win streak in route to winning the lightweight Grand Prix and world championship. He had a couple losses later in his Pride run and was clearly passed prime when he debuted in the UFC. But there’s no doubt that this man was the best lightweight on earth for a period.
Shooto Lightweight champion
Pride Lightweight champion.
Pride Lightweight world Grand Prix champion
Record against Pride champions- 0-0
- Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Former PrideFC/UFC unified 205lbs champion
Former UFC champion
Bellator tournament champion
Chuck Liddell x2
Wanderlei Silva x2
Record against Pride champions- 3-4-0
Rampage made a name in Pride by racking up some huge wins against big names, stopping Chuck Liddell in Pride, and being a World Grand Prix finalist losing to Wanderlei Silva.
After leaving Pride and coming to the UFC “Rampage” rematched Chuck and finally became a world champion, KOing Chuck and become UFC champ. But Rampage still had a dream of winning the Pride championship.
Pride was purchased by the UFC and their champion- Dan Henderson came to the UFC and fought Rampage to unify the Pride and UFC belts. In the final fight in the history of the Pride middleweight title, Rampage Jackson won a close decision over Hendo and was even awarded a Pride belt, which he said is his favorite possession in the world, even above his UFC belts.
After this he still had a goal in mind, revenge on his two KO losses to Wanderlei Silva. And he got his revenge by KOing Silva twice. Once in UFC and once in Bellator.
Unifying the Pride and UFC belts and having one of the best win lists in all of mma cements Rampage’s legacy as an all time great
- Kazushi “The Gracie Hunter” Sakuraba
UFC tournament champion
7 wins against UFC champions
Most submissions in Pride (tied with big Nog)
Record against Pride champions- 1-4
After winning a UFC tournament, and becoming the first Japanese UFC champion, Sakuraba moved to PrideFC, a new company started in the late 90’s that was immediately making waves as the UFC was struggling near bankruptcy.
His legendary run really began when he became the first man in 50 years to beat a Gracie in public combat. A technical submission win over Royler Gracie. Ironically he beat both Royler and Renzo by kimura, the same move that Japanese Judo champion Kimura used to be Helio Gracie 50 years earlier.
After the win he called out Rickson, who didn’t accept. He went on to beat 4 Gracies as well as some Gracie students, including Vitor Belfort who started his mma career fighting under the name “Victor Gracie”.
His most notable win was when he became the first man to defeat multiple time UFC champion, Royce Gracie. The fight had No time limits and after 90 minutes Royce’s corner threw in the towel. This was part of Pride’s first ever tournament and Afterward Sakuraba was so exhausted he threw in the towel in his next fight, after going to a draw with the (at the time) number one heavyweight Igor Vovchanchyn. After fighting 1:45 in one day, compared to Igor’s less than 20 minutes, he wasn’t able to continue to the overtime round to break the draw.
Ironically, his biggest win destroyed the chance for him winning the Pride Openweight tournament. He was already considered #1 p4p before this But at only 183lb, this performance against the top heavyweight absolutely cemented him as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet.
When Pride decided to start a 205lbs division, the natural lightweight by today’s standards was considered a favorite to win the belt. He even defeated Rampage Jackson. But unfortunately he ran in Wanderlei Silva who bested Sakuraba on 3 occasions. He never won a championship in Pride, but he certainly had a period of time as the best fighter P4P. Too bad a fight against Frank Shamrock, the other guy considered the p4p best in the late 90’s/early 2000’s never came together.
And Unfortunately there were no championships in Sakuraba’s true weight classes at that time.
But world champion or not, the most popular fighter in Japanese history may also be the greatest.
- Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Pride MW World Grand Prix champion
UFC light heavyweight champion.
Record against Pridefc champions- 2-3
6 wins against UFC champions
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x3
Alistair Overeem x2
Shogun Rua set Pride Ablaze when he entered the middleweight world Grand Prix. His training partner Wanderlei Silva was the divisional champion and favored to win, but in an upset Ricardo Arona defeated Silva, leaving Shogun and Arona in the finals. Shogun finished Arona to become the Pride World GP champion.
Despite some struggles once moving to the UFC, shogun did win the ufc belt and became one of few men to win championships in UFC and Pridefc.
Shogun is on a short list of greatest 205er’s of all time and is still an active fighter, but plans to retire after his next fight.
- Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
Pride openweight World GP champion
Rizin world GP champion
K1 world GP champion
Record against Pride champions- 2-2-1
6 wins against UFC champions
Josh Barnett x3
Satoshi Ishii x2
Mirko Cro Cop made a name for himself in kickboxing but his stock in mma rose quickly when he beat contender- Kazayuki Fujita in his first fight. He rematched and beat Fujita again. He was matched up against pound for pound great- Kazushi Sakuraba, and with that win cemented himself in Japan as a true contender, despite the enormous size advantage.
After being undefeated in 9 fights he got a title shot at Antonio Minotauro Nogueira for the Pride interim heavyweight title. It was an impressive showing as he mostly dominated the number 2 heavyweight In the world, even landed his patented headkick on the BJJ ace. But As Nogueira has done so many times, he came from behind to submit Cro cop.
After winning 9 of his next 10 fights, including 3 wins against UFC champs, and beating Fedor’s brother he got another title shot, this time against Fedor. But once again he came up short in title fights, as he had done in kickboxing as well. Alway a top fighter but never a world title.
But it wasn’t over for him yet, he entered the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix, where some of the best fighters in the world competed including the number 2,3 and 4 heavyweights on the planet. When it was all said and done Cro Cop was finally a world champion, winning the Grand Prix.
His UFC run was less than stellar tho, after a Huge upset KO loss to Gonzaga, a later loss to Mir, Nelson and other losses it seemed his best days were behind him. He left the ufc with a 4-6 record. But after 3 wins outside the ufc he returned to rematch Gonzaga: Cro Cop avenged the loss but left the ufc afterward.
Cro cop after leaving UFC shockingly won a K1 world Grand Prix. The kickboxing title that eluded him during his prime and went to Rizin and won their mma Grand Prix as well.
Cro cop made his Bellator debut in 2019 against Roy Nelson. Cro Cop was undefeated in rematches and he tested this against Nelson, and it rang true again. After this win rumors of a fedor rematch were huge.
Sadly. Soon afterwards Crocop suffered a stroke and was forced to retire.
Cro Cop ended his career on a 10 fight win streak in mma, having won an mma tournament and a K1 World title in the twilight of his career.
It’s sad that he was forced to retire but what a Boss ending for a legend.
- Dan “Hendo” Henderson
Dan has wins over EVERY Man who held a championship in Pridefc from welterweight to heavyweight! Including tournament champions. That’s not a typo.
9 wins against UFC champions
One of two men to win UFC and Pride tournaments. Only man to win UFC/Pride/Rings tournaments.
Maybe the best win list in all of mma, championships in every promotion he ever fought in. His number would be higher if we counted his accomplishments outside of Pride related ones.
The most underrated career in history for this GOAT contender:
In his career Dan Henderson has 9 wins over UFC world champions, 6 wins over Pride world champions, 3 wins over Strikeforce world champions, as well as wins against other champions from Bellator, Rings, Pancrase, WSOF, and other major promotions
Dan himself was a 2 weight class Pride World champion as well as Pride world Grand Prix winner
UFC tournament champion
Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion
Rings Openweight Champion (rings was a major promotion in early MMA that decided their champions via tournaments)
Wins including some of the all time greats of multiple weight classes Including:
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua twice
Murilo Bustamante twice
Renato “Babalu” Sobral twice
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante
Murilo “Ninja” Rua
He’s also the first ever “champ champ” of a major organization.
He won a total of 4 MMA tournaments in his career.
Record against Pride champions- 6-3
He was a world class fighter all the way from his UFC tournament win in 1997, until his final fight almost 20 years later in 2016, a controversial decision loss in a title fight against Bisping, who he hurt on multiple occasions and nearly finished.
And he did it all while being undersized against most opponents.
- Antonio Rodrigo “Mintauro” Nogueira
Pride heavyweight champion
Interim Pride heavyweight champion
UFC interim heavyweight champion
Rings Openweight champion
Record against Pride champions 3-2-0-1
7 wins against UFC champions
Most top ten wins of any heavyweight in history (sherdog)
Only man to hold UFC and Pride divisional world titles within their own companies
Mirko Cro Cop
Heath Herring x3
V. Overeem x2
Bob Sapp (before he threw fights)
Kiyoshi Tamura x2
If you don’t have Big Nog in your top 5 heavyweights of all time, than you are sadly misinformed. One of the best resumes in history is held by the two time Pride champion.
Heart and Resilience are the words that best describe this man, who was ran over by a truck as a child and nearly killed. He wasn’t suppose to live but went on to become a legend. He proved from childhood he was tough, but he continued to prove that in adulthood
In his first 37 fights his ONLY unavenged loss was to fedor, and it’s safe to say that if there was no fedor it would have been Nog on top of the division for all those years. But Nogueira did have a couple years where he was considered the best heavyweight on earth. And an entire decade where he was top 5 in the world. Most of that time top 2. How many fighters were top 5 for a whole decade? Trust me, it’s a very short list, and no other heavyweight is on it.
Upon his PrideFC arrival, Nogueira was already the rings champion and considered one of the best on earth, twice beating V. Overeem. But the ONLY champion of Pride was Mark Coleman, and after his Pride world Grand Prix win he was once again considered the best heavyweight on the planet…. That was until he met Nogueira.
Nogueira dominated Coleman on the feet and subbed him on the mat, in an amazingly dominating win. His win earned him a shot at the Pride inaugural heavyweight title.
After winning the belt Nogueira racked up 5 more wins in a row, including avenging his only career loss, a controversial decision to Dan Henderson. In the rematch however, Nog submitted him.
But another heavyweight had quickly climbed the ranks and his name was Fedor. Nogueira was the favorite but Fedor won a unanimous decision taking Nogueira’s belt.
Nogueira then faced Ricco Rodriguez who was a top 5 ranked fighter and had just lost the ufc heavyweight title. Nogueira won a close decision earning him another title fight. Fedor couldn’t make the fight however so he was given an interim title fight against undefeated Mirko Cro cop. Nogueira had an amazing come from behind submission. To once again hold gold (or silver) but would lose to fedor again. He continued to stay highly ranked his duration In Pride, only losing a split decision to josh Barnett, but avenging it by unanimous decision.
(“Nogueira doesn’t lose, he just runs out of time to win” A common Saying about Nog in PrideFC and eluded to by Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadra )
After Pride closed Nogueira signed a deal with UFC. After an insane come from behind win against Heath Herring he was granted status as number 1 contender, being the highest ranked fighter in the entire ufc, even above their champion, Randy couture.
Couture however had left the ufc and had given up the belt, hoping for a fight with fedor outside the ufc but the ufc never formally stripped him.
So they decided to do an interim title fight between the two highest ranked heavyweights in the promotion, Nogueira and Tim Sylvia. Nogueira entered the fight noticeably slow looking and it seemed that all his back and neck problems, and damage from fighting were catching up to him. Nogueira was beaten up and battered, but the BJJ ace came through like always and submitted Sylvia to win the ufc belt.
Couture had finally came to terms with a ufc return, but instead of Making the Nogueira vs Couture superfight they opted instead to do Nogueira vs Mir and Couture vs Lesnar.
In a shocking upset frank Mir dominated Nog on the feet and TKOed the seemingly unstoppable Nogueira and took the belt from him. It was revealed later that Nogueira had been hospitalized two weeks before the fight due to severe staph infection. Many wondered how the fight would have looked if Nogueira were healthy, and if it was staph that cost him the fight, damage finally catching up to him or both.
UFC decided afterwards though to go ahead with Nogueira vs Couture. And in one of the greatest fights in ufc history, Nogueira mostly dominated couture, standing and then used sweeps to dominate the ground game. Nogueira looked a little slower than in his prime but far better than he had against Mir.
He was next matched against Cain Velasquez, and the speed difference was evident. And no doubt about it this time, Nogueira was KOed.
And that was the end of the top 5 run of Nogueira. From 2000 to 2010. For the first time ever, he wasn’t in the title conversation anymore.
But he did get a chance to avenge the Mir loss. And this time Nog dominated Mir standing, dropping him on his face in the first round. Many thought the fight should have been stopped. But as Nog hit Mir for the finish, Herb Dean was shouting for Nog to watch the back of the head even tho they seemed to be legal. Because of this Nog switched from finishing the KO to a guillotine attempt and it was a bad move. The larger Mir caught a kimura and Nog refused to tap, which resulted in a vicious arm break. The unfinishable Nogueira had now been TKOed and subbed by the same man.
Nogueira did come back back from this but went just 1-3 in his next 4 and retired.
He was inducted into the ufc hall of fame, and has been praised by Dana white as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. I would put him top 3 without a doubt.
If you never watched Pride, you missed out on some of the greatest fighters ever, and this is one of them.
- Wanderlei Silva
Pride middleweight champion
Pride middleweight world Grand Prix champion
Wins against UFC champions- 8
Rampage Jackson x2
(Draw with Cro cop, that had no judges. Silva mostly dominated Cro cop in this fight and would have been a win if there were judges)
Most wins, most KO‘s, longest unbeaten streak and most title defenses in Pride history
Wandy Had a record 20 fight unbeaten streak in Pride (yes longer than Fedor’s) and when it was finally broken it was by controversial split decision to the much larger Mark Hunt. In fact he beat every man he ever faced In Pride at middleweight.
UFC tried to put a dream fight together with Wanderlei and Chuck Liddell, As Dana thought Chuck was the best in the world, but to Do it Chuck had to enter the Pride Grand Prix tournament.
Chuck got finished by Rampage Jackson though in the tournament , who faced Silva. Silva KOed rampage and won the tournament. Chuck afterward defeated Randy couture and Tito and became the ufc champion. But everyone knew Chuck wasn’t able to do that in Pride.
The dream fight did eventually come to be though, but when it did both men were passed prime and had started putting some losses together. The fight was a classic, and a close fight. Wanderlei scored the only knockdown of the fight but with 1 round a piece Chuck used wrestling the final round to cinch the decision. It would be Chuck’s final win.
Wanderlei would continue fighting. Though passed prime he still seemed to have a lot more to give than Chuck at this point. He picked up some solid wins against Jardine, Cung Le, Brian Stann and Bisping in great fights, and had two wars with Rich Franklin. He wasn’t the killer he use to be and wasn’t as durable at the end of his ufc run, but he was still putting on extremely exciting fights.
Though being over 15 years passed prime, He’s still not officially retired. He had a 4th fight with rampage Jackson in Bellator and finally had a fight with Chael sonnen under the Bellator banner but he would lose both.
Every man will get passed his prime, and no one can be world class forever but when Wanderlei Silva was at his peak, he was probably the scariest man in the sport and if there were no Jon Jones could be considered the greatest of all time at 205. And he certainly is the greatest middleweight in Pride history, and the greatest 205er in a ring. And his overall Pride career was second to only one man….. only one emperor can sit on the throne above the rest…. But we will save that for tomorrow
- Fedor Emelianenko
Pride Heavyweight champion
Pride Heavyweight world Grand Prix champion
Rings Openweight world champion
Rings Openweight Grand Prix winner
7 years ranked 1 in the world
6-1-0-1 against Pride champions
9 wins against UFC champions
10 years undefeated
Effectively undefeated for 33 fights
16 fight undefeated streak in Pride.
Rampage Jackson (UFC/Pride unified champ)
Chael Sonnen (undisputed goat)
Frank Mir (2x UFC champ)
Pedro Rizzo (3x UFC title contender)
Andrei Arlovski (UFC champ)
Tim Sylvia (2x UFC champ)
Matt Lindland (long time #1 ranked middleweight)
Mark coleman x2 (UFC and Pride champ)
Mark Hunt (UFC/Pride title contender, K1 champ)
Cro cop (Pride and K1 champ)
TK Kohsaka pancrase champ
Minotauro Nogueira (UFC and Pride champ)
Kevin Randleman (UFC champ)
Heath Herring (Pride title challenger)
Sammy Schilt (K1 champion)
Babalu Sobral (strikeforce Champ)
Ricardo Arona (rings champ)
The Last emperor won the rings Openweight championship, the championship previously won by the likes of Dan Henderson and then current champion- Big Nog. After winning this he was seen as one of the best in the world, and signed to fight in Pride.
After going 2-0 in Pride he was matched with Pride heavyweight champion- Minotauro Nogueira. Nog was not only the best heavyweight in the world, but had just one loss, by close decision and had already avenged it.
Fedor was considered a threat but Nog was the favorite. The result however was shocking to many, as Nogueira was dominated, from inside the guard, a place where Nogueira was known to be extremely dangerous from. Nogueira’s chin was iron though and he made it to a decision.
Nogueira’s time on top was over and the Fedor era had began. And it would be a long one. Fedor continued to take on contenders and usually dominate them, including a total of 6 wins over Pride champions.
In 2007 Zuffa (UFC) purchased Pride and Fedor didn’t make a deal, instead he signed with affliction. There he fought the (at the time) number 2 ranked heavyweight in the world, and former ufc champ- (Arlovski) who had left the ufc on a win streak. He finished arlovski in one round.
He was also matched against former UFC champ- Tim Sylvia. Tim was coming off his title loss to Nogueira in the UFC, he asked for his release to take this fight and he got it. Bad move, fedor wrecked the number 5 heavyweight in the world in seconds.
Fedor was then suppose to fight Josh Barnett in affliction. Barnett was widely considered a top 3 heavyweight in the world, but Josh Barnett popped for steroids before the fight. Canceling the even and putting Affliction MMA out of business.
It was rumored fedor was signing with ufc and was going to fight Brock Lesnar for to unify the UFC and Pride heavweight belts after affliction ended. Dana tried to make the deal but because ufc refused co-promotion with M1, fedor signed with strikeforce.
Fedor’s first opponent was Brett Roger’s. An undefeated Prospect who recently KOed Arlovski and had cracked the top 10. It ended up being a surprisingly competitive fight in the first round, With Bret’s size giving fedor problems.
But in round 2 fedor sent his head into orbit, and the emperor remained the man.
Next up for Fedor was Fabricio Werdum, Werdum was a top ten fighter who had just beaten Bigfoot Silva, he was skilled but wasn’t seen as much of a threat to Fedor, but Werdum would prove the mma community wrong, Fedor dropped Werdum and rushed to the floor to finish (bad move) and got caught in a triangle, Werdum would submit fedor in one round. The aura of invincibility was over.
He would next fight Bigfoot Silva. But Silva cut from 290, and was effectively 55-60lbs heavier than fedor. After a close first round Silva got fedor down and the size and weight was too much. He finished fedor with a TKO.
Many blamed size for the loss, which was likely a huge reason for the performance. Fedor was 230 as a heavyweight, and many 205ers are that weight. So fedor was next matched up with 205lbs strikeforce champion- and former fellow Pride champion- Dan Henderson.
Dan was the 183, and 205 champion of Pride, and had to drink water to even make the 206 heavyweight minimum limit . Dan was also in his 40’s, was shorter than fedor and had less reach. So in this fight, weight wasn’t seen as a problem as fedor was the larger fighter.
The fight was an absolute war with both men rocking each other other, at the end of round 1 fedor dropped Hendo and like with Werdum gave chase to the floor to finish. And once again, bad move. Hendo would use a wrestlers escape and KO fedor with a punch he never saw coming.
Fedor would win 3 more fights outside strikeforce and retire.
3 and a half years later fedor returned to mma, winning 2 fights before signing with Bellator on a 5 fight win streak.
He was first matched with Matt Mitrione. After a rare double knockdown, mitrione recovered first and KOed fedor.
But Fedor wasn’t done yet, he entered the heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. And defeated Frank Mir and Chael sonnen (just kidding, Chael’s undefeated) to make it to the final. But he would lose to Bader by KO, leaving his dream of becoming heavyweight champion again unfulfilled.
Fedor returned again to face fellow Pride icon, in what may be the final battle of Pride champions that ever happens. Fedor won by KO in round 1 in a very strange performance for rampage.
Afterward fedor hinted that his career may soon be over.
He did come back to fight Bellator’s number 2 ranked heavyweight contender, Tim Johnson. Fedor won by first round KO in his home country of Russia.
As far as his overall career, I think he was one of the 5 greatest pound for pound fighters of all time. Definitely the greatest heavyweight of all time (sorry Stipe), and 100% the greatest mma fighter of all time in a ring where he is still today, effectively undefeated.
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