12up Logo12up Logo

12uppercut's 12 Greatest Fighters of the Decade in MMA and Boxing

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Conor McGregor
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor helped define this decade in combat sports. | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

As the second decade of our century comes to a close, 12uppercut is here to determine, out of all those who graced the ring and the Octagon over these 10 years, just who's the biggest and baddest of them all. We've assembled a list not of the "best" fighters of the decade in boxing and mixed martial arts, but the greatest. This isn't simply about who won the most bouts or earned the most money. Rather, we define greatness starting with this essential rubric: can you tell the story of the last 10 years in the fight game without this person? Do they have a particular cultural resonance that goes beyond their sport itself?

A special shoutout goes to brilliant fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Chocolatito Gonzalez, Demetrious Johnson, Cris Cyborg, and Vasyl Lomachenko for just missing out on our list. With that in mind, it's time to unveil our ultimate 12uppercut honor roll!

12. Wladimir Klitschko

Vladimir Klitschko
"Dr. Steelhammer" owns the record for longest combined heavyweight title reign in boxing history. | David M. Benett/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 11-2

4,383 days. That's how long Wladimir Klitschko reigned as heavyweight champion of the world. He wrapped his career with losses to Tyson Fury in 2015 and Anthony Joshua two years later, but that doesn't take much away from his monolothic reign in boxing's grandest division.

11. Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey became the first-ever female UFC Hall of Fame inductee in 2018. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 12-2

Ronda Rousey changed mixed martial arts forever. Nobody outside of Conor McGregor skyrocketed to the penthouse and became a mainstream media star as quickly (or dominantly) as she did. Her stunning upset loss to Holly Holm and subsequent beating at the hands of Amanda Nunes must be mentioned, but that armbar submission of hers lives on forever as one of the most savage maneuvers in the annals of the fight game.

10. Gennadiy Golovkin

GGG was one of the best knockout artists (and colorful personalities) of the decade.
GGG was one of the best knockout artists (and colorful personalities) of the decade. | Harry How/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 22-1-1

Big drama show!

9. Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes is No. 1 on 12uppercut's Universal Pound-for-pound Rankings. | Steve Marcus/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 15-3

The Lioness started the decade 5-3 in her first eight fights. She ended it as the GOAT. After all-time greats like Rousey, Holly Holm, and Cris Cyborg fought her, they were never the same. Bow down.

8. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor remains the single most marketable figure in mixed martial arts. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 18-3

The Notorious MMA has fought once in the last three years, but if there was ever an automatic name on this list, it's his. Conor McGregor helped redefine the kind of numbers a mixed martial arts pay-per-view could do, was the first UFC fighter to become a simultaneous two-division champ, and his 13-second KO stunner against Jose Aldo at UFC 194 will live on forever.

7. Georges St-Pierre

Georges St-Pierre's decade featured nothing but UFC title fights. He won all of them.
Georges St-Pierre's decade featured nothing but UFC title fights. He won all of them. | Mike Stobe/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 7-0

GSP has a case for being the single greatest mixed martial artist of all time. And while the decade before this one was certainly his best, he still went undefeated in the 2010s. Oh, and his final two fights saw him defend the UFC welterweight belt yet again, retire, unretire four years later to win the middleweight title in his first-ever fight at 185 pounds, and then retire again. That's about as vicious a mic-drop a single human being could possibly perpetrate.

6. Andre Ward

Andre Ward retired as the undefeated, unified light heavyweight champion of the world.
Andre Ward retired as the undefeated, unified light heavyweight champion of the world. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 11-0

The joke eventually came to be that Andre Ward only fought every leap year, but you simply can't argue with the sheer greatness. A unified champion at super middleweight and light heavyweight and a former Ring magazine No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter before retiring in 2017, Ward possessed (possesses?) one of the great left hands we've ever seen, and showcased an adaptability in the ring that couldn't be matched.

5. Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier
DC will eventually retire as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. | Steven Ryan/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 21-2 (1 no contest)

The UFC's second-ever simultaneous champion across multiple weight classes has lost to exactly two men: Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic, both all-timers themselves. Daniel Cormier's intelligence and all-around technique are rivaled only by his killer instinct. The man is a legend.

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 boxing record and ostentatious persona will live forever. | Al Bello/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 10-0

You don't have to like Floyd Mayweather, but you do have to crown him. And it's not like he made more money than god by accident, either.

3. Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao is a true all-time legend that just keeps defying the odds and winning fights. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 12-4

Pacquiao ahead of Mayweather?!? Yes, hear me out: first of all, Money ducked practically everyone until they were past their primes, including Manny. But all PacMan did with the rest of his decade (besides get robbed against Timothy Bradley and Jeff Horn) was defy Father Time and claim impressive wins against the likes of Chris Algieri, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner, and Keith Thurman, the latter of which is a legitimate candidate for 2019's Fight of the Year.

2. Jon Jones

DECADE RECORD: 16-0 (1 no contest)

"Jo(h)n Jones / You son of a gun / You call yourself a big, big man / And still you try to kill my hand / Jo(h)n Jones / You son of a gun."

--Rudy Mills, “John Jones” (1968)

1. Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez
Canelo Alvarez's evolution as a fighter is the story of the decade in combat sports. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DECADE RECORD: 23-1-1

Canelo Alvarez lost once this decade. It was against Floyd Mayweather, and he was only 22 years old. Since then, he's been the single finest boxer on earth. Nobody in the fight game can match his combination of skill, achievement and consistency over the last 10 years. No one.