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Top 20 Most Brutal MMA Fighters Of All Time

In case you haven't heard of Mixed Martial Arts, it's quite an awesome sport. It's about as close as human beings could get to legalizing fights to the death in civil society. Two expertly trained athletes hurling muscle and bone at each other's body, head and legs until one goes down or somebody taps out to a submission hold. While there have been very few deaths which could be directly linked to the sport, there are no doubt some fighters who, in a world like let's say, Mortal Kombat, could end the lives of their opponents in brutal fashion. They may not be able to pluck somebody's head (spinal cord intact) off their body, but they could come pretty damn close.

In honour of my tremendous temptation to run out and buy an Xbox One and a copy of Mortal Kombat X, I'm writing a list of the top 20 most brutal fighters in MMA history. Keep in mind though, that this isn't a list based off the best knockout artists. There are several fighters that, as this list will show, can be simply brutal without necessarily having any KO power. Submission artists are fully capable of inflicting tremendous pain on their opponents without rocketing a shoryuken to their jaw (wrong game series, I know).

Also, I'm not putting any limitations on where the competitors have fought to qualify. This will result in some names that may not be recognizable to the casual fan, but are still incredible brutal fighters who have to be mentioned on the list. And now without further delay, I present the top 20 most brutal MMA fighters of all time.

21 (Dis?)Honourable Mention: Keith Hackney

20 Chris Leben

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

19 Mauricio Rua

via enlapea.com

18 Junior Dos Santos

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

17 Edson Barboza

16 Masakazu Imanari

via shherdog.com

15 Vitor Belfort

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

14 Chuck Liddell

via espn.com

13 Ronda Rousey

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

12 Shinya Aoki

via fightingwords.ca

11 Quinton Jackson

via sportsinteraction.com

10 Fedor Emelianenko 

via mmasucka.com

9 Dan Henderson

8 Melvin Manhoef

via sherdog.com

7 Cain Velasquez

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

When he's not out with an injury, Cain (no nickname needed) Velasquez is a goddamn nightmare for any UFC heavyweight. It's bad enough that heavyweights carry the most power out of any weight class, but Velasquez also has the gas tank of a fit middleweight which allows him to go deep into later rounds when all other heavyweights are gasping for air.

6 Mark Coleman

via foxsports.com

5 Rousimar Palhares

via mmanuts.com

Earlier on this list, I wrote that Masakazu Imanari's nickname was the master of leg locks. If that's the case, then Imanari has stiff competition for that distinction in the form of "Toquinho" Rousimar Palhares. The only way one could describe Palhares is to imagine a completely unrestrained version of Imanari manifested itself in a Brazillian man's body.  Seriously look at him, would you want that guy anywhere near your leg?

4 Alistair Overeem

via mmafighting.com

3 Cristiane Justino 

via fcfighter.com

I don't care that a new Terminator movie is coming out. For my money, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino is the only cyborg worth talking about in 2015. Undoubtedly the most fearsome striker in all of Women's MMA, Justino doesn't defeat her opponents, she massacres them.

2 Mirko Cro Cop

via mmacentral.com

Right kick hospital, left kick cemetery, do I have to say more? This former Special Forces officer (yes Cro Cop isn't just a gimmick) plied his trade on the kickboxing circuit for years before entering the world and MMA and I'm sure his opponents wished he would have stayed there.

1 Wanderlei Silva

via esporte.com.br

Is he the most talented fighter ever? Not even close. Is he the most accomplished fighter ever? No. Is he the most brutal fighter ever? You're damn right. After all, who else can claim the name of "The Axe Murderer" and make you believe it, despite never actually wielding an axe?!

As the standard to which all other brawlers are measured to in MMA, Silva's feral nature defined his entire career ever since he stepped into the cage. The less rules (and drug tests) the better it worked out for Silva as in the PRIDE promotion he stomped, punched and soccer kicked his 203-pound opponents for over five years as their Middleweight champion. As far as his most brutal moment goes, we have a few options. Is it his three first round maulings of Kazushi Sakaruba? Or maybe its his soul stealing knee combos that left Quinton Jackson unconscious in the ropes?  Now that Silva has hung up his gloves for good, let's remember him not just for the drug test blunder at the end of his career, but also for the violent path he carved for MMA fans to enjoy forever.

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Top 20 Most Brutal MMA Fighters Of All Time