Aldo, McGregor, Holloway, Volkanovski: Ranking the greatest featherweights in MMA history

  • Tom Ward

Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway are set to finally get it on in a blockbuster trilogy bout.

The Australian MMA fighter will throw down with his old featherweight rival for a third time on July 2 in the co-main event of UFC 276 in Las Vegas.

But Holloway – who recently got married to his long-time partner Alessa Quizon – insists neither of them can lay claim to being the 145lb GOAT.

That is because he says Jose Aldo – the former UFC and WEC featherweight champion – is the only one who deserves such recognition.

He told MMA Junkie: “Not at all. A lot of fans, a lot of people are saying it. Do we forget the man Jose Aldo?

“The man got eight title wins. I have five title wins. Until someone can beat his records as a champion with the eight title wins, then they can consider themselves the GOAT in featherweight.

“I got five to get here. To get Alex for my sixth title win. That’s just the cherry on top.

“It’s cool I’ve got the wins, but the title defences are the title defences.

Alexander Volkanovski pictured dethroning Max Holloway

“That is the actual record. He got eight title wins, I’ve got five.

“We’re not that far behind him. Hopefully, I can catch him, we’ll see what happens. He’s the GOAT, bro.

“You can’t take it away. Just because he got gifted it, the event that the UFC bought out and he was the champion, it wasn’t a gift. I’m sure if they told him, ‘Hey you’ve got to fight for the belt.’

“He would’ve fought for the belt. That’s just the kind of guy Aldo is. Standup guy, hard worker, and hard fighter and the GOAT.”

So with that in mind, has ranked the greatest featherweights of all time.

Here, we run through the top 10 (with a little help from our friends over at Tapology).

Jose Aldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of his generation

1. Jose Aldo

Like Holloway says, put some respect on this man’s name.

There’s nothing to say about Aldo that hasn’t been said already, but it will be some time before anyone gets close to his record of eight title defences.

2. Max Holloway

Holloway, who lost his UFC crown after being narrowly beaten by Volkanovski in their second fight, has a third chance at revenge after losing to him twice before already.

The Blessed Express was left ruing what might have been after his close albeit controversial defeat to Volkanovski – having lost far more convincingly on the scorecards in their first encounter in December 2019, too. However, that should take nothing away from everything he has achieved in his mixed martial arts career so far, including two title wins and three title defences.

Alexander Volkanovski is the current UFC featherweight champion

3. Alexander Volkanovski

The current UFC champion makes up the rest of the top three following his devastating win over Chan Sung Jung in April.

Volkanovski currently boasts two victories over Holloway and can cement his position as one of the best ever if he beats the Hawaiian again for the third time.

4. Conor McGregor

Perhaps just as famous for his antics outside of the cage as well as inside it, there’s no escaping from the fact that Conor McGregor really was quite extraordinary during his come-up.

Interestingly enough, he also owns wins over three of the other people on this list.

Urijah Faber has not fought since his December 2019 loss to Petr Yan

5. Urijah Faber

A name who should be familiar to fans of that particular season of The Ultimate Fighter, Urijah Faber is widely regarded as one of the pioneers for helping establish legitimacy in the lighter weight classes.

He also has the best head of hair in the UFC by a country mile.

6. Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar has had a hard time of it as of late. Winless in two of his last three fights, he has also looked a little lost for answers as he tries to stop his current poor run of form.

But there should be no forgetting all that he has accomplished so far nor the level of competition that he has competed against.

Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway will run it back again at UFC 276 in Las Vegas

7. Mike Brown

Now known as one of the head coaches at American Top Team, it’s easy to forget just how good Mike Brown was back in the day.

He fought some of the best of his era and beat quite a few of them as well, including Faber (twice), Jeff Curran and Yves Edwards.

8. Brian Ortega

Brian Ortega just can’t seem to catch a break. First, he gets beaten to an inch of his life by Holloway. Then, he receives another beating at the hands of Volkanovski.

Were it not for the pair of them, there’s no doubt he’d probably the champion right now.

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Where was Conor McGregor born?

9. Chad Mendes

Nicknamed ‘Money’ in a nod to Floyd Mayweather, Chad Mendes unsuccessfully challenged for the UFC featherweight championship three times.

Now currently plying his trade in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, he also competed in collegiate wrestling out of the California Polytechnic State University, where he was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American and a Pac-10 Conference champion in folkstyle wrestling.

10. Chan Sung Jung

Jung, better known as ‘The Korean Zombie’, has been entertaining fight fans for many years now thanks to his all-action style of fighting.

It’s probably a little harsh having him so low down on the list, but considering the level of competition it’s hard to put him anywhere else.

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