AJ McKee’s monumental victory over Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire in their featherweight title fight at Bellator 263 was the talk of the town this past weekend. ‘Mercenary’ took less than two minutes to submit the reigning champion and hand him his first loss since 2016.
With the win, McKee solidified his spot as the best featherweight in Bellator, but many believe he’s surpassed the likes of Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanvoski as well and is the best 145-pound fighter in the world right now. McKee also believes he’s the best, but he’s only 26-years-old and has a long road ahead of him. Maybe he’ll surpass all of his counterparts in the next five years, but in truth, he’s still far from being the best right now, let alone being the best of all time.
Here are the 5 best MMA featherweights of all time.
Max Holloway is the greatest featherweight of all time, and his achievements are a testament to that. Holloway is a former interim and undisputed champion, who’s defended his title three times. He has beaten Jose Aldo twice and holds wins over Anthony Pettis, Charles Oliveira, Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar. Three out of the five names mentioned in the previous sentence have won UFC belts in the past, while Oliveira is currently the lightweight king of the promotion.
Holloway is also one of the best strikers in the UFC and holds the record for the most finishes in UFC featherweight history, the most significant strikes landed in a fight and the most significant strikes landed by any fighter in the promotion. Although he has lost twice to reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway’s resume and the fact that he’s still only entering his prime make him our top pick.
« Je suis le meilleur boxeur de l’UFC »
– Max Holloway pic.twitter.com/VKJx8CRRQk
— Les Boxeurs du Dimanche (@BoxeursFR) August 2, 2021
The second place is taken by Jose Aldo, who now fights at bantamweight but he had an illustrious career at featherweight. It’s a fact that Aldo has been on a downward trajectory since his devastating 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor in 2015, but what he achieved prior to that is nothing short of phenomenal, and he’s surely one of the best MMA featherweights of all time.
Before losing to McGregor, Aldo hadn’t lost in over a decade, with wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Cub Swanson, Mike Brown, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, Kenny Florian and Chang Sung Jung. He arguably has the best resume at featherweight. The Brazilian’s a two-time featherweight champion with 7 consecutive title defences and three KO of the night awards.
Prime Jose Aldo was something specialpic.twitter.com/ymNN5QOQLv
— Ferdy G. (@ferdddaws) October 10, 2020
Say what you want about Conor McGregor, but he’s one of the best featherweights of all time. McGregor holds a number of records in the featherweight division. He’s a former interim and undisputed featherweight champion, who has won six performance of the night awards in his career.
He holds wins over the likes of Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier, Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo, whom he knocked out in only 13 seconds to unify the featherweight title. He’s never defended any title he won in his career, however, which weakens his case as the 145-pound GOAT.
Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire
The hype surrounding AJ McKee is real because he dispatched one of the greatest featherweights of all time in a couple of minutes. In some way, his win was reminiscent of McGregor’s win over Aldo in 2015. Would Freire’s fate be similar to Aldo’s? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no denying the fact that he’s the best featherweight outside of the UFC.
Freire is a two-time Bellator featherweight champion, with seven title defences and 19 wins in the featherweight division. He’s also the promotion’s lightweight champion and has the most title wins (10) in Bellator history. Freire hasn’t fought the same calibre of fighters as those mentioned above, but with his career achievements, he deserves to be on this list.
Two years ago today, Michael Chandler lost to ‘Pitbull Freire’ – he hasn’t lost since.pic.twitter.com/dEb2xxXxy3
— Alex Behunin (@AlexBehunin) May 11, 2021
Alexander Volkanovski has the potential to be the greatest featherweight of all time. He’s still relatively young and has many years ahead of him, but he’s on the path to greatness nonetheless, if all goes well for him.
He’s currently on a 19-fight win streak overall, with notable wins over Darren Elkins, Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway, whom he beat twice. He is now set to defend his title against Brian Ortega at UFC 266. He’s a one time and current UFC featherweight champion with one title defence. If he continues to pile up wins, he’ll surely move up in the GOAT rankings.
Here are our 5 best MMA featherweights of all time. Who do you have at number one?
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