The UFC is home to the greatest fighters in the world. Remaining undefeated in the top promotion requires an undeniable level of skill, and every member of this list has the potential to become a UFC champion in the future. Regardless, ranking undefeated fighters in different weight classes is challenging, given that I'm forced to find flaws in the flawless. Fighters like Muhammad Mokaev, Movsar Evloev, Tatsuro Taira, Michael Morales, Ian Garry, Azamat Murzakanov, Bruno Ferreira, and Gabriel Bonfim could soon grace this list with more continued success. Still, these five have yet to show as many holes in their respective fights and are further along in their journey to become top contenders. Let's get started.
My number one, most promising undefeated fighter in the UFC just capitalized on his place on this list with an impressive win against Josh Emmett this past Saturday. Ilia Topuria has all of the tools needed to contend for a UFC title and stay on top for many years to come. At just 26 years old, the Georgian monster based out of Spain has built a 6-0 record inside the promotion. "El Matador" is red-hot coming out of his war against Josh Emmett, where he even earned a 10-7 on a scorecard in one of the rounds. The scariest thing about this guy is that he's good everywhere. Topuria can submit you at a moment's notice but can just as quickly put your lights out with his heavy hands. He proved to be able to withstand Bryce Mitchell's wrestling, navigate through Ryan Hall's jiu-jitsu, and knock out Jai Herbert a weight class up, who is half a foot taller than him. This past weekend, we learned that he could go five rounds and keep a high pace leaving little to no weaknesses in plain sight.
Where is Ilia Topuria from? His family hails from Georgia, but he grew up in Alicante, Spain. He loves both countries equally, wanting to represent both on the big stage. We learned so much about Topuria in that Jai Herbert fight; I mean, this guy used to fight at bantamweight, and he came in on short notice against a decent lightweight, got rocked, and came back to finish him. We've seen fans lose faith in undefeated fighters like Ian Garry and Shavkat Rakhmonov when they get rocked, but I believe it's much more meaningful to see a fighter go through the fire and overcome it. Most fighters feel comfortable being the hammer, but not everyone can be the nail and still come out on top. Topuria employs a boxing style with a conservative stance, keeping a high guard and controlling the distance. He's not afraid to give one to take one because he knows he carries power with his punches and has a knack for finding his mark. Think Dustin Poirier with better jiu-jitsu. After a solid win against a guy who just fought for interim gold, Topuria has shown he is ready to face UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
At this point, we all know about the Swedish monster from Dagestan, who continues to run through his competition. Khamzat Chimaev has looked impressive in every one of his performances in the octagon, going 6-0 in his UFC run so far. "Borz" has shown an ability to dominate opponents across two weight classes, scoring finishes in all but one of his fights. While Chimaev has drawn little criticism for his performances so far, the one wrinkle that fans point out is his performance against Gilbert Burns. While Chimaev came out with the hard-earned win, seeing him struggle on the feet with a welterweight was a bit concerning since he is now choosing to set his sights on middleweight. Chimaev is the only undefeated fighter on this list to have been dropped in one of his fights. While Burns is also the highest level of competition that any of the fighters on this list have faced, it remains to be seen if Chimaev can hang on the feet with some of the scariest power punchers at 185.
Chimaev's grappling skill is near the top of the promotion, with a strong wrestling pedigree and an optimistic ability to find submissions. He's also displayed one-punch knockout power in both divisions, showing that he only needs one well-timed shot to end the fight. However, he still has plenty of room to grow on the striking side of things, especially defensively. Chimaev showed a low fight IQ in the striking exchanges with burns, leaving more to be desired regarding head movement and footwork. While no legitimate concerns are shown in his fights regarding his cardio, he still has yet to go five rounds in a fight, which could reveal other wrinkles in his game. Regardless of these potential flaws, we're nit-picking here; this guy's a beast.
The "Nomad" out of Kazakhstan is the only fighter on this list with all UFC finishes. Shavkat Rakhmonov was born in Uzbekistan and has gone 5-0 inside the octagon. Those wins have boosted Shavkat Rakhmonov's record to 17-0, and he won't stop until he gets to challenge for the welterweight throne. Fans didn't immediately fall in love with Shavkat Rakhmonov despite his finishing ways, but he eventually ended up on everybody's radar once he entered the rankings at 170. With two consecutive submission wins against ranked opponents Neil Magny and Geoff Neal, Shavkat has shown that he is ready for the next level of opponent at the weight class. Even before his time in the UFC, Rakhmonov scored big finishes and won belts in Russia, showing a high championship pedigree. He looms over the welterweight division as a highly ranked mystery man who nobody wants to fight, knowing they'd probably just be another victim in his path. With Colby Covington and Belal Muhammad ahead of him in the line of contenders, Rakhmonov may have to wait a bit longer to add another belt to his mantle.
Shavkat Rakhmonov has a deep bag of tools, dangerous wherever the fight goes. His 6'1" stature with a 77" reach allows him to employ his diverse set of kicks from range, and the power that he threatens with his shots allows him to control the action. On the ground, he acts optimistically on submission opportunities and even managed to choke Geoff Neal out of standing position his last time out. Rakhmonov possesses weaknesses similar to that of Khamzat Chimaev at this point in his career. While he's certainly powerful, he has shown a tendency to keep his hands down in standup exchanges and could benefit from more head movement and feints. His linear movement could get him in trouble, especially against a sniper like Leon Edwards. He also showed signs of fatigue in the Neal fight. While he's never had to fight past the third round in his professional career, questions about his ability to potentially go the distance still need to be answered. He sits at the three spot only slightly below Khamzat Chimaev due to his edge of MMA experience on Chimaev, meaning that Khamzat theoretically has a higher ceiling, despite a virtually identical floor. Still, Shavkat Rakhmonov could be the best fighter on this list.
Indeed, the most untested name on this list, don't mistake Umar Nurmagomedov for running from his competition like many fans do. The Dagestani prospect currently sits at the eleventh spot in the UFC Bantamweight rankings, with a 4-0 record in the promotion. He scored three finishes in those four fights, with his stock at an all-time high after a first-round knockout against Raoni Barcelos in his last outing. His last performance added an entirely new layer to his game, being the first knockout of his career. Nurmagomedov's grappling ability is possibly the best in the division, although Aljamain Sterling, Henry Cejudo, and Merab Dvalishvili would have something to say about that. While he needs more high-level competition to give fans the confidence that he will continue his winning ways, it's hard to blame a fighter for not having the experience when nobody in the rankings is willing to give it to him. His prayers were finally answered when he recently got matched against Cory Sandhagen for Umar Nurmagomedov's next fight. This August bout will finally give him a test inside the top 15. With a win, this opportunity will immediately put him in title discussions, given Sandhagen's fourth spot in the rankings.
The matchmaking surrounding Sandhagen vs. Nurmagomedov has opened the door for a larger conversation that encapsulates many high-level prospects of Dagestani descent, as many have struggled to find a booking and have therefore been offered to higher-ranked UFC fighters with a promise of higher compensation for the challenger with the more prominent ranking spot. Unranked Abus Magomedov is fighting seventh-ranked Sean Strickland, and unranked Ikram Aliskerov is fighting sixth-ranked Paulo Costa. While I'm sure that it may sometimes be the case that fighters don't want to fight those ranked below them, I believe that in the way of Dagestani fighters, it is more common to find that contenders don't want to risk their rank or their progress against fighters with that caliber of wrestling. By nature, the Dagestani fighting style makes opponents look worse than they are, thus not only running the risk of falling in the rankings but also the risk of falling hard. It's not their fault that they're so dominant, like Umar.
Many UFC fans from 2015 may be asking the same question: "What happened to Tatiana Suarez?" You'd be mistaken to forget about the American wrestling phenom from California. Suarez recently returned to UFC action after a four-year layoff, where she battled injury and thyroid cancer. After finally receiving a clean bill of health, Suarez returned to dominance with a submission win at a higher weight class than she is usually accustomed to. She returns to strawweight in August against former champion Jéssica Andrade, where she has an opportunity to climb all the way back up into the fifth spot of the division. Tatiana Suarez initially announced her arrival to the UFC on TUF season 23, where she made possibly the most dominant run in the show's history, sweeping every opponent with little to no danger en route to winning the entire show. She went on to go 5-0 afterward, including finishes over former strawweight queen Carla Esparza and current top pound-for-pound female fighter Alexa Grasso. Today, Tatiana Suarez's record of 9-0 has yet to be blemished.
Tatiana Suarez's striking isn't world-class, but her ground game is infinitely better than any other woman in the entire promotion; she has wrestling world championship medals and jiu-jitsu world championship medals. Because of the fear that she instills in her work on the ground, the striking aspect of the sport also begins to open up for her. Suarez will likely be the favorite in every fight she will fight going forward, barring her showing signs of a slowdown. Truly, Tatiana Suarez's greatest opponent is herself; if she manages to stay healthy, we could be looking at the next pound-for-pound female fighter in the UFC.