Unless your name is Phillip Miller, you can’t expect to go through a career in cage-fighting without losing at least once. So in honor of Fedor Emelianenko’s first legitimate defeat, we decided to take a look at the best MMA fighters who still have flawless records. Whose “0” will be the next to go? And whose win streak is just getting started? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section…
#1: SHANE CARWIN (12-0, all wins by first-round stoppage)
Notable victories: Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96 (TKO R1), Frank Mir at UFC 111 (TKO R1, won UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship)
Next fight: Brock Lesnar at UFC 116, 7/3/10
He may very well take his first loss this Saturday, but right now, Shane Carwin is the most dangerous undefeated fighter in MMA — as evidenced by the fact that no opponent has made it to the second round against him, and only two have lasted past the second minute. As he immediately showed in his UFC debut against Christian Wellisch at UFC 84, Carwin has a near-supernatural ability to generate power with his 4XL fists. Though he’s backed by impressive wrestling credentials, he’s only needed those hands to achieve victory in the UFC, knocking out top contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Frank Mir in his last two fights. Brock, get ready to have your chin tested.
Next fight: Bellator women’s 115-pound tournament quarterfinals, opponent TBA
One of the most effective submission artists in the history of MMA, “Mega Megu” owns the longest active win streak in the sport, but suffers from the same problem that Cris Cyborg is facing in the States — a scarcity of legitimate challengers. Now that she’s signed on for Bellator’s 115-pound tourney later this year, she can prove her reputation as a living legend who can do more than armbar pint-sized scrubettes in Japan.
Next fight: The winner of Lesnar vs. Carwin, date TBA
Velasquez is another member of the UFC’s new breed of heavyweights who, like Carwin, has never been outgunned in the cage and is still climbing towards his competitive peak. Known for his unstoppable takedowns and heavy hands, Cain’s quick thrashing of MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110 clinched his shot at the heavyweight belt. His next fight will put him up against an opponent with a skill-set similar to his own, and we’ll get to find out just how good Velasquez really is.
Next fight: August 21st, opponent TBA
Muhammed Lawal’s first MMA fight was against Travis Wiuff, a seasoned vet who held a 54-11 record at the time — and Mo kicked his ass. Lawal has been surpassing expectations ever since, and proved the haters dead-wrong in April when he won a very lopsided decision against Gegard Mousasi. Between his wrestling cred, punching power, and speed, he’s a truly dynamic fighter who could probably hold Strikeforce’s light-heavyweight belt as long as he wants to — but being the unofficial Moneyweight Champion of the World could lead him to some very dangerous opponents.
It’s easy to hate on a guy who’s gone to decision in his last six fights. But in his last two appearances against Huerta and Diaz, Maynard has shown more of a willingness to stand and strike with his opponents — and it’s worked just as well for him as his wrestling. Gray’s upcoming scrap with Kenny Florian at UFC 118 could earn him a title shot, possibly against Frankie Edgar, a guy he already beat. Could 2010 be the year of the Bully?
Next fight: TBA, possibly at UFC 119 in September
Ryan Bader got his start wrestling at ASU — just like Cain Velasquez — but it’s his rapidly improving standup game that sets him apart from the hordes of other wrestlers-turned-fighters. After going 7-0 in regional promotions, Bader entered the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter and ran through Kyle Kingsbury, Tom Lawlor, Eliot Marshall, and Vinny Magalhaes to win the 205-pound bracket. Subsequent decision wins over Carmelo Marerro and Eric Schafer proved that Bader is more than just a reality show fighter. His knockout of Keith Jardine at UFC 110 proved that he belongs among the best in the division.
Next Fight: TBA
A high-school wrestler turned jiu-jitsu specialist, Evan Dunham has been an underdog in all four of his Octagon appearances — and he’s played the spoiler every single time. The Xtreme Couture product first entered the Octagon as a late replacement at UFC 95, knocking out Per Eklund early in the first round. He then hustled out a decision against longtime MMA vet Marcus Aurelio at UFC 102, before shocking TUF 8 lightweight winner Efrain Escudero with a Submission of the Night-earning armbar at UFC Fight Night 20. And while many fighters refuse to go up against training partners, Dunham jumped on the opportunity to square off against Tyson Griffin earlier this month at UFC 115 — a gamble that paid off with an impressive decision victory. We’re not sure who he’ll take on next, but it might be time for oddsmakers to stop sleeping on this guy.
Next fight: TBA
He’s your worst nightmare — a Brit with takedown defense. After going 3-0 in the UFC, toiling away in prelim fights on European cards, Hathaway got a huge opportunity to welcome Diego Sanchez back to the welterweight division at UFC 114. The 22-year-old London Shootfighters product didn’t just beat Sanchez — he dominated him in every aspect of the match. Now he’s officially a player in the UFC welterweight division, and England’s next great MMA hope.
#9: SARAH KAUFMAN (11-0, 8 wins by KO/TKO)
Notable victories: Miesha Tate at Strikeforce Challengers 1 (UD), Takayo Hashi at Strikeforce Challengers 6 (UD, won the Strikeforce Women’s 135-Pound Championship)
Next fight: Roxanne Modafferi at Strikeforce Challengers 9, 7/23/10
Strikeforce’s 135-pound women’s champ may not get as much attention as Cris Cyborg — you can blame her patient, technical style and current string of decision wins — but she might be just as unbeatable as her heavier Brazilian counterpart. With her sharp boxing and airtight takedown defense, she has allowed her opponents to do absolutely nothing besides bleed all over the cage. Well-traveled veteran Roxanne Modafferi is as crafty as they come, and will present the toughest test of Sarah’s career, but if there’s a hole in Kaufman’s game we haven’t seen it yet.
Next fight: TBA; possibly Josh Thomson
Before we knew the name Court McGee, there was Lyle Beerbohm — a former meth-addict who found salvation through cage-fighting. As the story goes, Beerbohm became interested in MMA while watching The Ultimate Fighter at Washington State Penitentiary, started training in jiu-jitsu the day he got out of the joint, and had his first amateur MMA fight a week later. He went 12-0 as an ammy before turning pro in 2007, then won another 14 consecutive fights on the strength of his ground-and-pound and choke-submissions, including stoppage wins over UFC vets Gerald Strebendt, Rafaello Oliveira, and Duane Ludwig. (He also won all his fights in prison, by the way.) Beerbohm competes in awful-looking multi-colored shorts hand-sewn by his mother, which has earned him the nickname “Fancy Pants.” Mock him at your own peril.