Khabib, McGregor, Poirier, Diaz: Who is UFC's greatest lightweight ever?

  • Kim Loe

UFC legend BJ Penn found it hard to hold his tongue after Khabib Nurmagomedov’s recent GOAT claim.

Despite Khabib naming Penn as the number two fighter of all time, behind himself, Penn has been quick to questions Khabib’s place as the greatest.

Penn disputes Khabib’s position at the top of the tree, mentioning his failure to go up through the weights, avoiding a fight with Kamaru Usman and retiring too early.

He said: “Fighters today get fame and don’t want to lose. I will fight anytime until the day I die… I went to Japan and Hawaii and fought in K-1 and Rumble on the rock at 170, 185 and heavyweight.”

Despite several defeats later on in his career, many still consider Penn to be a contender as the lightweight GOAT. True to his word, Penn took fights at four different weight classes, competed in both the UFC and K-1 and was a gold medalist at the World Jui-Jitsu Championship in 2000.

Following on from the debate between Penn and Khabib, GiveMeSport have decided to step into the debate and make a countdown of who we consider being the 15 greatest lightweights in UFC history.

Here we go then. Buckle up!



15. Yves Edwards

Aptly named the ‘Thugjitsui Master,’ Yves was a Bahamanian mixed martial artist. With over 60 professional fights, he had an incredible record of 42-22-1.

14. Jens Pulver

The first official UFC lightweight champion, Pulver was famed for his unique combination of wrestling and boxing, known as ‘sprawl and brawl.’

13. Kenny Florian

KenFlo is often considered to be one of the great technicians of UFC. Skilled in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, Florian was known for his ingenious game plans.

12. Nate Diaz


Younger brother to Welterweight great Nick Diaz, Nate has certainly made a name for himself at lightweight. The Stockton Gangster is one of UFC’s most fearless competitors, who is equally as comfortable on the mat or boxing it out.

11. Takanori Gomi

The Fireball Kid would have been ranking higher if we included his amazing record in Pride FC and his 10-fight winning streak between 2004-2006. Despite moving to UFC past his prime, Gomi still managed a record of 35-14-0.

10. Tony Ferguson

El Cucuy is an American MMA pro, who, up until recent losses, was looking to be a contender for a higher ranking. As well as being skilled in boxing, Muay Tai and Jiu-Jitsu, he also uses techniques from Wing Chun Kung Fu.

9. Conor McGregor

The Notorious would probably put himself as numero uno on this list, such is his incredible confidence. A two-weight champion skilled at multiple disciplines, sadly his controversies and mischief so often overshadow his fighting talents.


8. Sean Sherk

AKA the Muscle Shark, Sherk was an expert wrestler who often drew his opponent into submission. He was one of the first UFC fighters to win at multiple weight divisions.

7. Anthony Pettis

Known for his skills at taekwondo and boxing, Mr. Showtime has impressed in the UFC, fighting at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight. Previous to his debut, he was reigning lightweight champion at World Extreme Cagefighting.

6. Eddie Alvarez

If this was a list of the greatest Bellator lightweights, Alvarez would certainly be a few places higher. The first fighter to win championships in Bellator and UFC, ‘the Underground King’ had an impressive UFC record of 29-6-0, with his all-action fights rarely going to a decision.

5. Frankie Edgar

An outstanding wrestler, who was equally competent duking it out, Edgar successfully defended his UFC lightweight belt three times before deciding to take the challenge of dropping down the weight divisions.

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Jens Pulver

Can you get 20/20 on our random UFC fighters quiz? We doubt it...

4. Benson Henderson

Henderson shocked the UFC when he left for Bellator after 24 impressive wins. One of the most versatile and multi-skilled fighters to have graced the UFC, he also won world championship medals at Jui-Jitsu and the WEC championship.

3. Dustin Poirier

The current number one in the rankings, Dustin ‘Diamond’ Poirier has etched his name into UFC history after his much talked about trilogy win over McGregor. Best known for his boxing skills, he is also a black belt in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu.

2. BJ Penn

A legend at UFC and K-1, gold medalist at the World Jui-Jitsu Championships and a competitor over four UFC weight classes. No one can argue with BJ Penn’s place among the elites. If he had retired earlier instead of fighting way past his prime, he may just have gone down as the GOAT.

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Who can argue with the man himself? A champion in Combat Sambo, Judo and Wrestling, Khabib took the UFC by storm. With 29 wins and 0 defeats, he retired in 2020 with an undefeated record and as number one in the pound-for-pound rankings. It is a shame he seems to have retired while still in his prime, but for us, there is no doubt Khabib is the GOAT.

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