The Baddest Man on the Planet: A Chronology
By Alex Larsen
All things considered, any man that wants to step into a ring or cage and fight another dude is a ‘Bad man’ in my book. The title ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ has long existed within the English lexicon without an exact definition. When you toss the phrase into Google, you get a whole bunch of results for Mike Tyson, some for Brock Lesnar and Fedor, and a sprinkling for the current UFC Champs. Since Tyson has turned to film-making and Broadway, there hasn’t been a clear cut ‘Baddest Man’ in over a decade. As an avid MMA historian, I decided to take up the task of chronicling and compiling a living timeline of who held the title “Baddest Man on the Planet” over the last decade. In a decade where MMA grew exponentially, nearly every year a different fighter staked a claim to the tag.
This timeline that I have designed will highlight moments in our sport where one fighter clearly classifies himself as the one and only ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’. These moments can run the gamut from a title run, a tournament win, or a series of vicious finishes. It isn’t easy to designate the Baddest Man when the phrase is thrown around so loosely by fans and pundits alike, but the meaning I draw from the title is that absolutely no fighter wants to stand across the cage or ring from the pronounced BMOTP when fight night rolls around. When the mere whisper of said fighter’s name makes another trained brawler weak in the knees, that man is the baddest dude walking the earth.
In putting this timeline together, I am taking into account win streaks, quality of opponents during the streak, ability to finish fights, and overall badassery and thuggishness.
Now let me take you back to a much simpler time, November of 2002…
Baddest Man on the Planet: Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz
I can’t think of any way better to start the BMOTP timeline than with the Huntington Beach Bad Boy himself. In November of 2002, Ortiz defended his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time. He won the strap in a bout with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25 back in 2000 and defended against the the likes of Kondo, Tanner, and Matysyenko during the next two years. Tito’s thuggish aura peaked with the drubbing he gave Ken Shamrock at UFC 40. Ortiz may have not fought the toughest guys available at the time, but you can’t argue with the results he gave us in the early days of the Octagon.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer” Silva
It just makes sense that the Baddest Man on the Planet is nicknamed The Axe Murderer doesn’t it??? After losing to Ortiz at UFC 25, Wandy went on an absolute tear and DEMOLISHED everyone in his path. His path of destruction reached a peak during the 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix. Silva was already the 2x defending PRIDE Middleweight Champ when he entered the tournament that featured the likes of Alistair Overeem, Chuck Liddell, Sakuraba, and Rampage Jackson.
In the first round, Silva did as he does, and beat the living crap out of Sakuraba. Then on November 9th of 2003, The Axe murderer went on to defeat Judoka Hidehiko Yoshida in an absolute barn burner where Yoshida used his gi to control Silva on the ground in the 1st round, but Silva earned the decision win by using his blitzing attack style to inflict serious damage in the second. Later that night, Wanderlei engaged fisticuffs with Mr. Rampage Jackson, and I still have nightmares about those knees, oh man, those knees… During this run, Wandy was damn near untouchable, his furious style, along with brutal PRIDE rules, made the Axe Murderer a force to be reckoned with.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Fedor ‘The Last Emporer’ Emelianenko
I am sure some of you out there would argue that as long as Fedor is breathing, he is still, and always has been, the Baddest dude around. Fedor was so dominant during his days in the ring that I could have picked him as BMOTP at nearly any point across this timeline. At PRIDE Shockwave 2004, an unusually energized Fedor tossed Big Nog around like a rag doll in a unanimous decision win. This victory unified the PRIDE Heavyweight belt and also served as the final for the PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix. Fedor nullified Nog’s advantage on the ground on route to another dominating victory for the Russian.
In The Last Emporer’s next bout he avenged his only career loss against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka by using his mitts to tenderize TK’s face, forcing a doctor’s stoppage. Fedor followed that fight by defending his Heavyweight belt against headhunter Mirko Cro Cop in one of the most entertaining fights in the history of the division. Fedor may look unassuming, but during this run, in the words of Mark Jackson, he was one BAD man.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua
Mere minutes after Fedor defeated Cro Cop, Shogun Rua used a demonic stomp to knockout Ricardo Arona and win the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix. Earlier that night, Shogun also had a little fight with some guy named Alistair Overeem.
Rua used a dominant ground and pound attack to earn a TKO over the Demolition Man. While holding the trophy for coming out on top of this star studded tourney, Shogun announced himself as the one and only BMOTP. Within the previous five months the Brazilian mauler had also defeated Lil’ Nog and Rampage Jackson in the earlier rounds of the Grand Prix. I consider the MW GP version of Shogun to be, one of, if not the most, dangerous fighters of all time. He was a viciously accurate striker with unparalleled athleticism that would give him the edge in any match up you threw at him. If I ever found myself stepping into a cage to fight another human being that had traveled through a time machine, the LAST human being I would ever want to be across from would be none other than the 2005 version of Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell
Ahhh, ‘The Iceman Era…. MMA really started to pique my interest when Chuck was the undisputed king of the sport, therefore I will always remember his reign fondly. Chuck was on a hell of a run prior to UFC 57, but when he used a savage right straight to beat Randy Couture for the second time in their three meetings, we knew that The Iceman was the toughest man walking this land. In a seven fight win streak spanning from April 2004 to December 2006, Chuck won every bout he entered by KO or TKO. He also managed to win and then defend the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship four times. The power in Chuck’s kickboxing during this era is stuff of legend, guys with so-called ‘iron chins’ would drop like bags of dirty laundry every time Liddell entered the cage. His dominance over the 205ers in the mid-2000s is what brought me to the sport and I can’t thank him enough for being born with hands of stone and a chin of certified granite. In my mind, Chuck is still the greatest 205 pounder to ever throw on a pair of gloves.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic
The PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix. Music to any MMA fan’s ears… While Chuck was dropping fools at will over in the US for the UFC, Cro Cop was putting together one of the greatest collective performances in the history of the sport.
The PRIDE Open Weight GP was filled with killers from top to bottom. Cro Cop finished the likes of Minowaman, the aforementioned Yoshida, a bulked up Wanderlei Silva, and finally Josh Barnett to take the Open Weight title. The Openweight GP is one of the most storied tourneys in MMA history, and any guy that comes out on top of that can call himself the Baddest Man on the Planet with little doubt.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson
UFC freakin’ 71. In my opinion, the entire arc of the sport changed when one crisp Rampage right hook landed flush on Chuck’s chin and the aura of the Iceman came crashing down. At the time, Rampage was coming over from his days in PRIDE and WFA where he created a reputation as a menacing striker and powerful wrestler. Coming to the UFC, he put Marvin Eastman to sleep with ease and was thrown right into the fire for a rematch with Liddell, who Jackson had already defeated back in 2003.
Many expected Chuck to continue his dominance over the division against the newcomer Rampage, but that savage right hand shocked the world. I have been an unabashed Rampage fan ever since and believe with every fiber of my being that he was the toughest SOB walking the earth when he sent Chuck packing and proceeded to howl at the moon. Jackson went on to unify the UFC and PRIDE titles with a convincing win over Dan Henderson. His next fight, against Forrest Griffin, is mostly struck from my memory, but I’m not the only person out there that thought Rampage should have retained his belt against the Ultimate Fighter winner that night. Regardless of that blemish on his record, Rampage came to the UFC and dominated in his early bouts. He wasn’t the most technical striker or strongest wrestler, but the guy could drop damn near every fighter in the organization if he connected with one of his patented bombs. Salute to you, Rampage, BMOTP in May of 2007.
Baddest Man on the Planet: BJ ‘The Prodigy” Penn
After suffering consecutive losses to the two greatest Welterweights of all time, the mercurial Penn decided to drop back down to 155 pounds to make a run at the Lightweight Title. Let’s just say it was a good decision for the Hawaiian brawler. After a stint coaching the fifth season of TUF, Penn avenged his first career loss against Jens ‘Lil’ Evil’ Pulver. Pulver initially beat Penn for the Lightweight title all the way back at UFC 35, but things were VERY different the second time around.
BJ used a relentless ground attack to submit Pulver in the second round at the TUF 5 finale. Next up for The Prodigy was TUF 2 winner Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson. All we remember is the blood. ALL THAT BLOOD. After ridding Joe ‘Daddy’ of a few pints of the red stuff, BJ submitted Stevenson in the second round t0 win the vacant UFC Lightweight Title and put together one of the most intimidating celebrations of all time. After being crowned the Lightweight King, Penn took on former Champ Sean Sherk at UFC 84 and proceeded to pick apart the Muscle Shark on the feet and eventually use a well-timed knee to end the bout at the end of the third round. As a 155 pounder, Penn was (and in my opinion still is…) one of the most dominant fighters to ever step in the Octagon. If it wasn’t for lackadaisical approach to training and ventures to fight at 170, Penn could still be sitting atop the Lightweight class. This run proved that he belonged at 155 and could finish anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Baddest Man on the Planet: Georges St. Pierre
Back in the day when somebody brought up a UFC Superfight, the hot topic was always Georges St. Pierre versus BJ Penn. These two tangled twice, with GSP winning on both occasions. In early 2009, both fighters were steamrolling through their respective divisions with relative ease. It was only right that the two titans would meet up in the Octagon again after GSP squeaked out a split decision win back at UFC 58.
In their second scuffle, GSP dominated Penn on the ground. St. Pierre took the Hawaiian down at will and endlessly rained elbows and punches onto Penn’s increasingly mangled face. The beating forced Penn to retire after the fourth round and left many to question his will to fight anymore. The beating that GSP gave to Penn that night was a serious ‘big brother’ moment, where the bigger guy took advantage of his size at all available opportunities At UFC 94, GSP convinced us that the first win against the Prodigy wasn’t a fluke and that he indeed, was the Baddest Man on the Planet, (even though he was Canadian…)
August 2009 to Present
Baddest Man on the Planet: Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva
We could go all the way back to UFC 64 and throw Anderson in the mix for the baddest dude walking on this big blue marble, but he really asserted himself as an MMA Jedi when he stole Forrest Griffin’s soul at UFC 101.
We all know Forrest is a tough guy that can take a beating, but Anderson made Griffin look like a puppy trying to fight a grizzly bear. Whether it was when he dodged Forrest’s attacks using the Matrix, or when he dropped Griffin with a jab as he was stepping backwards, we realized on that night that Anderson Silva was a full blown wizard in the cage. Silva had had an odd run leading up to the Forrest fight, with underwhelming performances against Thales Leites and Patrick Cote, but the annihilation he gave Forrest proved The Spider was as deadly as ever. And to this day, Anderson hasn’t lost a step in his finishing prowess. His last four wins have come by highlight reel stoppages, and no fighter in their right mind would want to step into the cage with Anderson right now. He is a living definition of the Baddest Man on the Planet.
I hope you enjoyed reading this treatise on the moniker that is the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is no doubt that at any point on my timeline there is an argument for Fighter X or Fighter Y to be proclaimed the world’s best, so I implore you to share your own opinions about the Baddest Man on the Planet in the comment section!