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B.J. Penn reacts after his submission victory over Matt Hughes during their welterweight championship bout at UFC 46 inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center on January 25, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

The Ultimate 30: All-Time Roster

Check Out The First 10 Fighters On The Ultimate 30: All-Time Roster

Who are the Ultimate 30, the standout athletes who graced the Octagon over the last three decades? Here’s a look at those who made their debut from 1993 to 2006.

Royce Gracie 

Dan 'The Beast' Severn battles Royce Gracie in eight-man tournament final during the UFC 4 event inside the Expo Square Pavilion on December 16, 1994 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Dan 'The Beast' Severn battles Royce Gracie in eight-man tournament final during the UFC 4 event inside the Expo Square Pavilion on December 16, 1994 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

You cannot possibly bring up the last 30 years of UFC history without discussing Royce Gracie. Here are some of his notable accomplishments: 

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  • Gracie’s November 12, 1993, performance marked a groundbreaking moment in combat sports history.
  • A commanding victory at UFC 2 followed his remarkable showing at UFC 1 and preceded a memorable series of wins at UFC 4, including a triumph over future hall of famer Dan “The Beast” Severn.
  • Two decades after UFC 1, Gracie was honored, along with Ken Shamrock, as the inaugural inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame.
  • Even today, Gracie remains an icon in the MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world, holding the highest submission rate in UFC history at 91%.
  • Gracie participated in the most UFC fights in a single night (4).

Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes (L) during their Welterweight bout part of UFC 123 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 20, 2010 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Matt Hughes (L) during their Welterweight bout part of UFC 123 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 20, 2010 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

A young man hailing from a farm in Illinois made his UFC debut in 1999 and eventually emerged as one of the most formidable welterweights in the sport’s history.

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  • Hughes won the 170-pound championship twice.
  • He was honored with two inductions into the UFC Hall of Fame (in the Pioneer and Fight wings), solidifying his status as one of the greatest fighters ever. 
  • Hughes holds the second-most title fights in welterweight history with 12 bouts.
  • Hughes holds the highest number of finishes in welterweight title fights with 8.
  • The third-highest number of finishes in welterweight history with 11.
  • Hughes defeated six champions.
  • He concluded his career with 45 victories in 54 professional fights.

“The Prodigy” BJ Penn

BJ Penn (R) of the USA grapples with Jon Fitch (L) of the USA during their Welterweight bout at UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
BJ Penn (R) of the USA grapples with Jon Fitch (L) of the USA during their Welterweight bout at UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

Only a handful of fighters can claim to have made their professional debut inside the UFC Octagon, and among them, BJ Penn stands out uniquely. 

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  • In his first bout against Matt Hughes in 2004, Penn took the belt from the reigning king of the welterweight division.
  • Even today, many credit this UFC Hall of Famer with bringing the lighter-weight divisions into the mainstream and inspiring a generation of fighters.
  • Penn was a double champ, earning titles in the UFC welterweight and lightweight divisions.
  •  Penn is tied with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson for the most successful lightweight title defenses in UFC history with three.
  • In 2015 Penn was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s Modern wing.

Georges St-Pierre

Georges St-Pierre celebrates his victory over Matt Hughes to win the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 65 at the Arco Arena on November 18, 2006 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Georges St-Pierre celebrates his victory over Matt Hughes to win the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 65 at the Arco Arena on November 18, 2006 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Any discussion about the all-time greats inevitably includes the initials GSP. 

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  • The welterweight division was his domain over a remarkable seven-year period.
  • GSP secured 12 welterweight title fight victories against some of the sport’s most renowned competitors.
  • After a four-year hiatus, GSP returned for one final challenge, moving up to the middleweight division to face champion Michael Bisping at Madison Square Garden.
  • In 2020, his Hall of Fame moment arrived, and his name was displayed in the Modern era wing. 
  • St-Pierre was a two-time UFC welterweight champion.
  • GSP collected one middleweight championship belt.
  • He holds the record for the most successful title defenses in welterweight history.
  • He is in a tie for the third-longest win streak in UFC history at 13.
  • The most takedowns in UFC history at 90.
  • GSP has the longest control time in UFC history at 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 4 seconds.

Robbie Lawler

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11:  Robbie Lawler reacts to his victory over Rory MacDonald in their UFC welterweight title fight during the UFC 189 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LL
Robbie Lawler reacts to his victory over Rory MacDonald in their UFC welterweight title fight during the UFC 189 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, made his Octagon debut in 2002, thrilling fans with his relentless attack and fight-ending power. 2013 marked a turning point in his career, returning to the 170-pound division for one purpose: the undisputed welterweight title. 

  • At UFC 181, that dream became a reality as he took the title from Johny Hendricks.
  • The UFC 189 rematch between Lawler and Rory MacDonald was a battle for the ages that took its rightful place in the UFC Hall of Fame.
  • In July 2023, Lawler closed out his historic career with a fitting send-off, as he scored a first-round TKO over Niko Price. 

Chuck Liddell

Chuck Liddell punches Vitor Belfort during their light heavyweight fight at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on June 22, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Cozzone/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Chuck Liddell punches Vitor Belfort during their light heavyweight fight at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on June 22, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Cozzone/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

In the early days of the Zuffa era, there was a need for a superstar. Enter Chuck Liddell. And though there have been plenty of stars, none is more significant than “The Iceman.”

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  • UFC light heavyweight champion.
  • Liddell successfully defended the light heavyweight title four times.
  • Fight Of The Year (vs Wanderlei Silva, UFC 79).
  • Liddell holds the most knockouts in UFC light heavyweight history.
  • In 2009, Liddell was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame Pioneer wing.

Forrest Griffin

Just when the UFC was in need of a battle of epic proportions, in walked Forrest Griffin, who engaged in an instant classic with Stephan Bonnar that was a game-changer for the sport.

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  • He was the first winner of The Ultimate Fighter as he defeated Stephan Bonnar.
  • Inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013.
  • Serves as the Vice President of Athlete Development at the UFC Performance Institute. 
  • UFC light heavyweight champion in 2008.

Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz (L) celebrates after defeating Ryan Bader (R) by submission in a light heavyweight bout at UFC 132 at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 2, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Tito Ortiz (L) celebrates after defeating Ryan Bader (R) by submission in a light heavyweight bout at UFC 132 at MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 2, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

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  • The first fighter to make 20 Octagon appearances.
  • Ortiz retired with a 22-12-1 record.
  • The debut of the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” took place in 1997 at UFC 13.
  • Ortiz was a coach on season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter.
  • Light heavyweight champion from 2000 to 2003.
  • On July 7, 2012, Ortiz was inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame’s Pioneer wing.

Randy Couture


  • In 2003, Couture was the first fighter to win a UFC belt in two divisions.
  • Two-time UFC light heavyweight champion.
  • Couture is the first three-time heavyweight champion.
  • Couture is the first five-time UFC champion.
  • 10 years after winning his first UFC title, Couture returned to claim another heavyweight title.

Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva | Greatest Hits
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Anderson Silva | Greatest Hits
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  • Silva is a former UFC middleweight champion.
  • Silva holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history.
  • His reign as champion lasted from 2006 to 2013.
  • Silva was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July 2023.