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The Most Valuable NFL Teams

The pandemic threatened to force the NFL to take a step back for a while in terms of finances. Nonetheless, 2021 showed it was only so that the league could take a running jump to one of their most successful years in a while, with the most valuable NFL teams showing commensurate growth.

In March of 2021, the NFL signed a media rights deal worth a staggering $111.8 billion, which was an 82% increase from then-deals. This means that from now until 2032 when the deal ends, pay-out for each of the 32 NFL teams is going to increase from around $220 billion to around $377 billion.

In the next decade, it’ll be interesting to see how team valuations change around this period. As of 2022, this is how things stand in the league amongst the top 10 and bottom 10 teams.

1.) Dallas Cowboys: $7.64 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 10%
  • Owner: Jerry Jones

The Dallas Cowboys, also known as America’s Team, have been in the NFL since 1960. Current owner Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 from H.R. Bright for $140 million, equivalent to about $300 million today. They are one of the winningest franchises in all of football with five Super Bowls. 

2.) Los Angeles Rams: $5.91 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 26%
  • Owner: Stan Korenke

The Los Angeles Rams moved up one spot from 3rd to second this year, and a large chunk of their valuation comes from their stadium. SoFi Stadium opened in September of 2020 and the stadium cost a whopping $4.9 billion. 

3.) New England Patriots: $5.88 billion
  • 1-Year Change: 10%
  • Owner: Robert Kraft

Tied for the most Super Bowls all-time, the New England Patriots are one of the most elite football franchises the NFL has to offer. Current owner Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 for $172 million dollars. There was once a time where Robert Kraft thought about moving the team to Connecticut, but with a near $6 billion evaluation i’m sure he’s content with staying in Foxborough. 

4.) New York Giants: $5.37 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 24%
  • Owner: John Mara / Steve Tisch

The New York Giants are one of the oldest NFL franchises, with their inaugural season coming in 1925. They’ve enjoyed four Super Bowls, including two shocking victories over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Giants currently play at MetLife Stadium and have since 2010. 

5.) San Francisco 49ers: $5.18 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 21%
  • Owner: 49ers Enterprises

Although the 49ers may have only been in the NFL since 1950, they remain one of the most historic franchises. They have won five Super Bowls and dished out a number of hall of fame players such as Joe Montanna, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Terrell Owens just to name a few. 

6.) Chicago Bears: $5 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 25%
  • Owner: Virginia Halas McCaskey

The Chicago Bears just eclipsed the century mark as a franchise, with their first season coming in 1920. The Bears are one of the most popular NFL franchises despite only claiming one Super Bowl across 100+ seasons. 

7.) New York Jets: $4.8 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Woody and Christopher Johnson

Although the New York Jets only joined the NFL in 1970, they own the rights as Super Bowl III champions. Current owner Woody Johnson purchased the team in 2000 for a hefty $635 million. Although the Jets have seen minimal success over the years, they have one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports.  

8.) Washington Commanders: $4.78 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 12%
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder

The Washington Commanders were originally founded in 1932 and enjoyed a wave of success throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. They would win Super Bowls in 1982, 1987, and 1991. Dan Snyder purchased the team in 1999 and they have never been able to get back to that prior success. 

9.) Philadelphia Eagles: $4.7 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 21%
  • Owner: Jeffrey Lurie

There are few fan bases as passionate as Eagles fans. The team was established in 1933 and saw relative success pre-NFL merger, winning three NFL Championship games. The Eagles have been to three Super Bowls, most recently winning in 2017. 

10.) Denver Broncos: $4.65 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 22%
  • Owner: Rob Walton

The Denver Broncos saw a 22% increase in their valuation, and that number comes from the recent purchase from the Walton-Penner family. The Broncos were sold to the Walton-Penner family in 2022 for $4.65 billion, the most for a North American sport franchise ever. 

11.) Houston Texans: $4.63 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 21%
  • Owner: Janice McNair

There is no franchise younger than the Houston Texans, who have been an NFL franchise since 2002 (I’m older than the Texans!) They were founded in 1999 and were owned by Bob McNair who tragically passed away in 2018. Despite being one of four teams to never make a Super Bowl, the Texans are doing just fine with a valuation north of $4.5 billion. 

12.) Seattle Seahawks: $4.39 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 22%
  • Owner: The Paul Allen Trust

The Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976 and have been a relatively good team in recent memory. They enjoyed two trips to the Super Bowl, including a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. Despite trading franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are gearing up for the playoffs this postseason.

13.) Pittsburgh Steelers: $4.26 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 19%
  • Owner: Rooney Family

The Pittsburgh Steelers are tied with the Patriots for the winningest NFL franchise, with six total Super Bowls. The Rooney family has been the sole owners of the franchise since Art Rooney founded the team in 1933. It cost Rooney only $2,500 to purchase the franchise fee to create the team.

14.) Green Bay Packers: $4.19 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 19%
  • Owner: Green Bay Packers Inc.

The Packers are one of the original NFL teams and have one of the strangest ownership structures in professional sports. Fans can buy shares of the Packers when made available every couple of years. Owning a share gives you voting rights and an invitation to their annual corporate meeting.

15.) Las Vegas Raiders: $4.08 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 26%
  • Owner: Mark and Carol Davis

Although the Raiders jumped ship from Oakland to Las Vegas, they still have one of the most active fandoms in all of sports. The Davis family has owned the Raiders since purchasing it in 1966 for $180,000. Recently, the Raiders built Allegiant Stadium in Vegas which cost a reported $1.9 billion.

16.) Miami Dolphins: $4.06 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 15%
  • Owner: Stephen M. Ross

The Miami Dolphins have been an NFL franchise since 1966 and are home to one of the most famous football stadiums, Hard Rock Stadium. The team enjoyed a wave of success in the 70’s, winning back-to-back Super Bowls. Their 1972 campaign is the only undefeated season by a team to also win a Super Bowl. 

17.) Atlanta Falcons: $3.88 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Arthur Blank

The Atlanta Falcons have been an NFL franchise since 1966, reaching two Super Bowls in that time. They remain one of twelve NFL teams to never win a Super Bowl. Most recently, they suffered a heart-wrenching defeat to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. 

18.) Minnesota Vikings: $3.72 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Zygi, Leonard, and Mark Wilf

The Minnesota Vikings have been an NFL team since 1961 and are currently owned by the Wilf family. Despite the Vikings three Super Bowl appearances throughout the 70’s, they have no Super Bowl to their name. With a new young core at the helm, the Vikings could hoist their first Lombardi trophy in the near future.  

19.) Los Angeles Chargers: $3.62 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 21%
  • Owner: Dean Spanos

The Los Angeles Chargers, formerly the San Diego Chargers, joined the NFL during the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The Chargers made their move to Los Angeles around the same time the Rams jumped ship from St.Louis. Since joining the NFL, the Chargers have a single Super Bowl appearance in 1994, which they lost. 

20.) Kansas City Chiefs: $3.54 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 15%
  • Owner: Hunt Family

It’s no understatement to say that the Kansas City Chiefs are currently in their golden era. After winning the Super Bowl in 1969, the Chiefs would go 50 years before winning again in 2019. With a core of Patrick Mahome and Travis Kelce, I have a feeling there are more Super Bowls in the Chiefs future. 

21.) Baltimore Ravens: $3.44 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 11%
  • Owner: Steve Bisciotti

Despite only joining the NFL in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens are one of the most successful NFL franchises. They have compiled a record of 233-183-1 and have won two Super Bowls. Steve Bisciotti bought the team from Art Modell in 2003. 

22.) Carolina Panthers: $3.36 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 13%
  • Owner: David Tepper

Although the Carolina Panthers joined the NFL a year prior to the Baltimore Ravens, they have not seen an equal amount of success. The Panthers have never won a Super Bowl despite appearing in two. They are currently going through a rebuilding process and a Super Bowl does not look to be in the Panthers’ near future. 

23.) Tennessee Titans: $3.29 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 23%
  • Owner: Amy Adams Strunk

The Tennessee Titans officially joined the NFL in 1970 apart of the NFL-AFL merger, but have been a franchise since 1960. They have reached the Super Bowl once, losing to the St.Louis Rams in 1999. They are owned by Amy Adams Strunk, the daughter of Houston Oilers founder Bud Adams. 

24.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.28 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Glazer Family

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have joined the NFL in 1976, but have enjoyed more success than most teams. The Buc’s are 2-0 in the Super Bowl, winning in 2002 and 2020. They are currently captained by legendary quarterback Tom Brady, a large part of their 2020 Super Bowl campaign. 

25.) New Orleans Saints: $3.26 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 16%
  • Owner: Gayle Benson

The Saints have had a rollercoaster of a ride as a franchise in the NFL. They initially struggled, not winning a playoff game until their 34th season in 2000. They did claim Super Bowl XLIV behind the sensational play of Drew Brees. Since Brees and head coach Sean Payton retired the franchise has had trouble finding direction. 

26.) Indianapolis Colts: $3.25 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 15%
  • Owner: Jim Irsay

The Indianapolis Colts are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL, being founded in 1953. They have enjoyed success pre and post Super Bowl era’s, with over five championships. They won Super Bowls in 1970 as well as 2006. They are currently coached by former Colts lineman Jeff Saturday. 

27.) Cleveland Browns: $3.18 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 17%
  • Owner: Jimmy and Dee Haslam

The Cleveland Browns began as a AAFC team and were dominant, boasting a 47-4-3 record across four seasons. When the league folded they joined the NFL and have not found the same success. They are one of four teams to never reach a Super Bowl and were the second team to compile a 0-16 record after their 2017 campaign. 

28.) Arizona Cardinals: $3.17 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Michael Bidwill

There is no football franchise older than the Cardinals, first established in 1898. They would join the NFL in 1920, making them one of only two remaining original franchises. They have never won a Super Bowl despite reaching the championship game in 2008. 

29.) Buffalo Bills: $2.99 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 20%
  • Owner: Terry and Kim Pegula

Despite a levy of success throughout the 90’s, the Buffalo Bills are one of twelve NFL teams to never win a Super Bowl. Most notably, they reached the championship game four consecutive times from 1990-1993, but came short in all four games. They are currently led by all-pro quarterback Josh Allen and remain one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. 

30.) Jacksonville Jaguars: $2.94 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 11%
  • Owner: Shahid Khan

Despite being one of the youngest franchises in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars have enjoyed a good-bit of success in their short time. Since joining the NFL in 1996, the team has reached the playoffs seven times and even reached two AFC Championship games. 

31.) Detroit Lions: $2.86 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 17%
  • Owner: Sheila Ford Hamp

The Detroit Lions are one of the most historic NFL teams, having joined the league in 1930. Despite being an early player in the NFL, the Lions have seen relatively no success since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The Lions have only won a single playoff game since 1957 and have the longest postseason win drought in NFL history. 

32.) Cincinnati Bengals: $2.84 billion
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  • 1-Year Change: 18%
  • Owner: Mike Brown

The Cincinnati Bengals went through a rough patch in the 90’s and 2000’s, but have built an exciting young core today. The Bengals have reached three Super Bowls despite never winning the game. They are currently led by a young core of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase who helped carry the Bengals to an appearance in the 2021 Super Bowl. 

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The 22 Best UFC Fighters Of All Time

The UFC celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, and across their history, thousands of different fighters have fought for the organization. Currently, over 600 fighters are a part of the roster, many of them considered to be the best MMA fighters of all time.

The GOAT debate is fun no matter which sport you’re talking about, so for the sake of it, we decided to put together a list of the 17 best UFC fighters of all time, with a bunch of reasons why we believe so. Below you can check out a list of the best fighters in alphabetical order, and further below that; you’ll find the evidence.

  1. Amanda Nunes (21-4-0)
  2. Anderson Silva (34-10-0)
  3. B.J. Penn (16-14-2)
  4. Chuck Liddell (21-8-0)
  5. Conor McGregor (22-4-0)
  6. Dan Henderson (32-15-0)
  7. Daniel Cormier (22-2-0)
  8. Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1)
  9. Dominick Cruz (22-3-0)
  10. Georges St-Pierre (26-2-0)
  11. Henry Cejudo (16-2-0)
  12. Jon Jones (26-1-0)
  13. José Aldo (28-7-0)
  14. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0)
  15. Matt Hughes (45-9-0)
  16. Randy Couture (19-11-0)
  17. Stipe Miocic (19-3-0)
  18. Max Holloway (22-6)
  19. Michael Bisping (30-9)
  20. Valentina Shevchenko (20-3)
  21. Ronda Rousey (12-2)
  22. Rashad Evans (19-8)
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1. Amanda Nunes (21-4-0)

Women didn’t start fighting in the UFC until 2013, 20 years after the league began, and even then, it was after years of President Dana White swearing it would never happen. For that reason, women’s MMA is a little bit behind men’s MMA in the grand scheme of things, but you would never know it watching Amanda Nunes. Currently the reigning bantamweight and featherweight champion, Nunes has beaten every other bantamweight champ, every other featherweight champ, and the current flyweight champ, finishing many of them. Her being the GOAT in women’s MMA is genuinely undebatable.

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2. Anderson Silva (34-11-0)

Anderson Silva still holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history at a whopping 2,457 days, which is more than 6 years. In that time, he officially defended the middleweight title 10 times and it would have been 11 had Travis Lutter not missed weight. In most of those defenses, he stopped his opponent, including the classic front kick KO against Vitor Belfort and the last minute triangle armbar versus Chael Sonnen. Silva also boasts wins at light heavyweight. The Spider often made his wins look easy, often to a fault like when he toyed with Demian Maia instead of finishing him.

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3. B.J. Penn (16-14-2)

Looking at B.J. Penn’s record on paper or his recent losing streak, someone who didn’t watch his prime might think he was some sort of journeyman or gatekeeper, but that couldn’t be more wrong. It’s unfortunate that he kept fighting past his time but way back when he was the man. Most importantly, he boasts wins over other great fighters like Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, and Matt Hughes, the latter of which also appears on this list. When asked who he thought the best fighter of all time in the midst of his own reign, Anderson Silva answered that it was Penn. That’s respect.

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4. Chuck Liddell (21-8-0)

Just like Penn, Chuck Liddell’s most recent showing against Tito Ortiz in their 2018 trilogy completion fight is nothing to judge him on. He hadn’t had a win since 2007 when he took Wanderlei Silva to a decision in the Fight Of The Year, but his UFC title reign was incredibly impressive. He beat Randy Couture to win it and then defended the title multiple times, each time knocking out his opponent. The Iceman was also one of the first stars in the sport to transcend it, appearing in movies and known to those who didn’t even follow MMA.

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5. Conor McGregor (22-4-0)

Due to just how popular he’s become, there are two extremes you often hear about Conor McGregor. His biggest supporters will imply he’s the best of a generation, and his biggest detractors suggest he’s way overrated. As it often is, the truth is somewhere in the middle. The two greatest featherweights of all time are José Aldo and Max Holloway, and Conor has beaten them both. He also absolutely demolished Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title and proved he could make adjustments as an elite fighter should against Nate Diaz the second go around. He also gave Khabib his hardest fight. Whether you like it or not, Conor McGregor is a great fighter.

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6. Dan Henderson (32-15-0)

Becoming a champion in multiple weight classes has become the trend in the last few years and there’s obviously incredible value in it because all of those that have done it in the UFC appear on this list: Couture, Penn, McGregor, St-Pierre, Cormier, Nunes, and Cejudo. Though he never won a title in the UFC, Dan Henderson proved that he could go with the best of them at heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight and he’s easily one of the best UFC fighters to never have gold wrapped around his waist. He was also the first to ever finish Fedor with strikes.

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7. Daniel Cormier (22-3-0)

A former Olympic wrestler, when he was 13-0, he moved down to light heavyweight to let his friend and teammate Cain Velasquez reign at heavyweight. His only loss there is to Jon Jones, who he had great moments against, and when Jon vacated the title, he won it and beat contender after contender. Then he moved back up to heavyweight and finished Stipe in the first round to cement his all-time status. He announced his retirement after losing the trilogy to Stipe in a five round decision. 

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8. Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1)

As previously mentioned, there is great value in winning a world title in two different weight divisions, especially if you defend the title in both divisions. But there is something to be said for staying at the top of one division for years and years, and there might be no better example of that than Demetrious Johnson. He was better than a couple of generations of flyweights everywhere, despite them watching and studying him for years and years. DJ is undoubtedly the best flyweight of all time and one of the best and most skilled fighters ever.

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9. Dominick Cruz (22-3-0)

The greatest men’s 135lb fighter ever, Dominick Cruz’s 10 year reign would have been enough to land him a spot on this list but context is key. What makes it all the more incredible is the fact that he came back from multiple career-changing injuries to continue winning. His win over Demetrious Johnson at bantamweight is one of the best-aging in the sport and coming back to beat T.J. Dillashaw after having just 60 seconds of fighting under his belt in 3 years speaks for itself. At one point, Cruz was the UFC’s #2 P4P fighter with DJ, who he has a win over, being #1.

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10. Georges St-Pierre (26-2-0)

Ask a bunch of fighters and fight fans who the greatest fighter of all time is, and the answer you’ll get most commonly is probably Georges St-Pierre. GSP officially defended the UFC’s welterweight championship nine times, but more than numbers, he beat the best of his generation, including B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes, who both appear on this list. GSP lost twice in his career, once to Hughes and once to Matt Serra, but he later avenged both losses dominantly, proving to be the best 170lb fighter of all time. After four years out of the sport, he came back at 185lbs to choke out Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship, too, looking good as ever.

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11. Henry Cejudo (16-2-0)

The newly retired Henry Cejudo could have been any other flyweight that succumbed to Demetrious Johnson. Still, instead, after consecutive losses to DJ and Joseph Benavidez, he re-evaluated his game and came back with a new style that proved fruitful. With wins over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis, he had another shot at DJ and won a close fight, dethroning him. Then-bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw came down a weight class to fight him and got finished in 32 seconds, then Cejudo went up to challenge for the bantamweight title and defended it against Cruz before he retired. Wins over the 135lb GOAT and the 125lb GOAT, whenever they happened, put him in excellent standing in MMA.

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12. Jon Jones (26-1-0)

To this day, Jon Jones still holds the record for being the youngest champion in UFC history, winning the title at 23. That has always been a crazy stat, but after turning 23 myself, I fully realize just how insane it is. In his early twenties, he went on to dismantle everyone in his path, many of the legends, with ease, in what many still maintain is the best run in UFC history. The only loss on Jones’ record comes from a harsh disqualification in a fight he was winning, and he is considered to be an unbeaten fighter. On his streak now against the third generation of light heavyweights, Jones going up and having success at heavyweight would be all he needs to be considered the GOAT over GSP or Anderson Silva. He relinquished his light-heavyweight title, hoping to take his talents to the heavyweight division. 

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13. José Aldo (28-7-0)

The featherweight king, unfortunately, José Aldo doesn’t get the same respect as many of his peers do. Aldo first appeared in the WEC a few months before his 22nd birthday and looked like a killer immediately. From May of 2006 to December of 2015, he went 18-0, beating greats like Urijah Faber, Frankie Edgar, Mike Brown, Chad Mendes, and more. His 13 seconds loss to Conor McGregor and subsequent consecutive losses to Max Holloway seemed to do some irreversible damage to him, and he has lost 6 of his last nine fights. Still, he has looked great in many of those fights and is far from taking away from his legacy. Put some respect on his name.

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14. Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0)

There is a question in MMA about whether there is more value in being good at every aspect of MMA or being a specialist in one area. Current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov makes an excellent case for the latter. There is something to be said for the fact that fighters go into bouts with him knowing what his gameplan is and can still do nothing to stop his wrestling. With wins over Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, RDA, and Justin Gaethje, he continues to be the best lightweight right now and is well on his path to being the best lightweight of all time, doing so seemingly effortlessly. He is also the only fighter here without a loss on his record. Will he return for a 30th fight or will he stay retired, following his finish over Gaethje. 

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15. Matt Hughes (45-9-0)

Some great fighters never won UFC gold due to the dominance of another great fighter; names like Joseph Benavidez and Alexander Gustaffson come to mind. That quite easily could have been Matt Hughes, who had to go up against B.J. Penn and Georges St-Pierre, but that was not the case. He traded wins and losses with both of them, knocking both out early. His run was impressive, and managing to shine next to the bright lights of greats is a remarkable feat.

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16. Randy Couture (19-11-0)

Randy Couture first won the UFC heavyweight title in December of 1997, but he later vacated in. Then in November of 2000, he beat the late Kevin Randleman to win it back before losing it to Josh Barnett. Already achieving more success than most MMA fighters do, he moved down to 205lbs and captured gold there, becoming the first fighter ever to win UFC titles in more than one weight division. Just for this, Randy Couture is a legend in the sport and one of the best of all time.

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17. Stipe Miocic (20-3-0)

Being the most badass man on the planet was a title reserved for the heavyweight champion in boxing. Still, over the years, even Max Kellerman has admitted this title honestly should go to the UFC’s heavyweight champion. With his win over Francis Ngannou, Stipe broke the record for most consecutive heavyweight title fight wins. After quickly losing to DC, he made an incredible adjustment in their 2019 rematch to bring the gold back to Cleveland. Stipe is a look at the future of heavyweights in MMA and, with a win over DC in August, quickly becomes the best heavyweight in the organization, if not MMA history. 

Honorable Mentions
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18. Max Holloway (23-7)

There are few fighters with as tough a chin as the great Max Holloway. Boasting a 23-7 MMA record, that includes a stint as UFC Featherweight Champion. He would defend his Featherweight title successfully three times before losing to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 245. Holloway is currently the #12 ranked pound-for-pound fighter and remains a contender for the Featherweight title.

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19. Michael Bisping (30-9)

There are few Englishmen who’s resumé in the UFC competes with the likes of Michael Bisping. Bisping was the first British fighter to win a UFC championship when he defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. Bisping would retire from fighting in 2018, and would shortly be introduced into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019. Today, Bisping enjoys an acting career and was recently announced in 2020 that he would be the lead in the movie The Journeyman.

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20. Valentina Shevchenko (23-3)

There are few people on this earth who have stepped in the octagon with Valentina Shevchenko and come out victorious, as she boasts an MMA record of 23-3. She is the current Flyweight Champion and has defended that title successfully five times. She currently sits as the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC and it doesn’t look like she will be giving up that belt anytime soon.

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21. Ronda Rousey (12-2)

No fighter has done more to grow the fight game for women than Ronda Rousey. She was an Olympic gold-medalist competing in Judo before entering the UFC. In 2012, she became the first female fighter in the UFC and was giving the inaugural Women’s Bantamweight Championship. She would eventually lose the title after an epic seven-fight defense run, and would never get back to the mountain top. She was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018.

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22. Rashad Evans (19-8)

Rashad Evans made his name in the UFC by winning The Ultimate Fighter in early 2000. Despite being the shortest and nearly lightest of all competitors in his weight class, he still dominated and secured a spot in the UFC. His most remembered moment came at UFC 88 where he knocked out legend Chuck Lidell. Evans enjoyed a short stint as Light Heavyweight Champion before retiring in 2018. He was inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019.

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33 Sweet Gifts For Wrestling Fans

Season’s beatings are upon us, and wrestling fans are clamoring for hot merchandise! In the age of on-demand content and ultra-niche hobbies, a preponderance of exciting items is available to cater to every specific need, and pro wrestling is no exception. The tricky part about gift-giving, especially for wrestling fans, is parsing out what’s actually cool versus what’s tragically nerdy. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick shopping list for your holiday needs, ranging from custom items to outrageous fashions. testing version 2

1. MOX Book

In his transition from WWE to AEW, Jon Moxley has not only remained the star that he is but thrived in his new setting. His new book, MOX, is a candid look into his life and sees him telling stories about his early wrestling career, his tumultuous time with the WWE, and his new home. It’s a must-read for any Jon Moxley fans and fans of the business in general.

Buy Now, $17.83
2. Young Bucks: Killing The Business From Backyards To The Big Leagues Book

As the name suggests, this book takes readers through the Young Bucks’ journey from Southern California to the worldwide stage. The book rotates between the brothers’ perspectives and features their signature wit and charm that fans love them for.

Buy Now, $15.99
3. CM Punk shirt

CM Punk’s return to the ring felt like the biggest news story in pro wrestling in a decade. It captured and reinterested old fans and even impressed those that had been following diligently the entire time. Your giftee would probably love one of the Chicago wrestler’s new t-shirts to commemorate this era.

Buy Now, $24.99
4. Big E Art Print

Big E’s story is the type that dreams are made of and this beautiful art print by Rob Schamberger is an incredible piece that every fan around the world deserves. It’s called The Power and you can even watch a video of it being painted here.

Buy Now, $19.99
5. Bret Hart Funko Pop!

Funko Pops continue to be an incredibly popular choice for gifts and this one of the legendary Bret “The Hitman” Hart is one of the better options from the Funko line of pro wrestling figures. It shows him with his classic black jacket and pink shades and it’s perfect for any old-school wrestling fan.

Buy Now, $34
6. DND, I’m Watching Wrestling Socks

If you know that your giftee is into pro wrestling but not much more than that in terms of specific brands or wrestlers, perhaps it’s best to keep it light-hearted and vague. These funny socks could be the perfect choice in that scenario. The person you’re gifting them to can watch PPVs throughout winter while keeping their feet warm.

Buy Now, $6.99
7. WWE Matching Game

This game can be entertaining enough for adults and it’s easy enough for kids to learn. Cards are set face down with each player taking turns to turn a pair of cards face up, all the while trying to remember where the WWE superstars are and whoever matches the most wins. The game comes with 72 tiles.

Buy Now, $9.99
8. Randy Orton Christmas Throw Pillow

Randy Orton has maintained his position at the top for nearly two decades now, with his twenty-year WWE anniversary fast approaching. He’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame and as a result, any professional wrestling fan would appreciate this Orton Christmas-themed throw pillow. It makes reference to his “outta nowhere” finisher with a festive spin.

Buy Now, $29.99
9. Darby Allin High Tops

AEW wrestler Darby Allin has made a big name for himself in his short career, enough to make himself the target of CM Punk’s return match at AEW All Out earlier this year. If your giftee is a fan, get them these Allin high tops that are a great and unique gift. 

Buy Now, $99.99
10. Mick Foley Christmas Sweater

Every Christmas needs a good sweater and for pro wrestling fans, it’s hard to get much better than this Mick Foley-themed one. It reads “have a nice holiday,” a play on his popular catchphrase. A simple but great gift.

Buy Now, $34.99
11. WWE Championship Commemorative Belt

As a child who had the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship, I can confirm that there were few things more fun than pretending I was in a title fight, hitting moves, and taking bumps with an imaginary opponent on my grandparents’ bed and raising the belt at the end. You can give someone that experience this Christmas with the WWE Championship Commemorative Belt. It has the same prestigious feel as the belts you see on TV, despite being made from zinc alloy.

Buy Now, $329.99
12. Roman Reigns ‘Head Of The Table’ T-Shirt

The Big Dog has had a story with a bunch of peaks and valleys in his time with the WWE. For a while, many found it hard to cheer for him, seeing him as a representation of a larger problem with WWE’s creative team, but that’s in the past now. He’s arguably the face of the company and to celebrate that, you can get the Head Of The Table shirt for a Roman Reigns fan this Christmas.

Buy Now, $22.39
13. Sasha Banks ‘Boss Time’ Studded Ring Set

Sasha Banks is red hot right now and is well on her way to becoming a Hall of Famer. The current SmackDown Women’s Champion, a Women’s Grand Slam champion, and a Triple Crown Champion, any kind of Sasha Banks merchandise right now is a lock to put a smile on the face of a wrestling fan this Christmas. We picked out the Boss Time studded ring set but there are also slippers, water bottles, dog leashes, and more for sale.

Buy Now, $14.99
14. The Undertaker ’30 Years’ Poster

November 19th of this year marked 30 years since The Undertaker debuted in the WWE at Survivor Series. He’s had a long, illustrious career among many eras and has remained relevant in each one, a household name and one of the greatest to ever do it. To celebrate 30 years and mark ‘Taker’s retirement, WWE released a big line of merchandise that would be perfect for any pro wrestling fan. The Snoop Dogg collaboration t-shirts got some stick on social media, but they might be your thing if you’re into vintage tees. Along with those and the poster we like the most, there’s a pillow, a mug, a commemorative urn, a pin, a keychain, a belt, a costume, and much, much more.

Buy Now, $29.99×24-art-print
15. NITRO: The Incredible Rise & Inevitable Collapse Of Ted Turner’s WCW
Good Reads

The WCW era in pro wrestling was a short but sweet one and telling its story here is Guy Evans. Whether you were a fan through the late 1990s and early 2000s when it was functioning or not, his account will make you feel like you were right there in the heat of it. Eric Bischoff, former President of WCW, calls it “the most definitive, well written and thoroughly researched book on the rise and fall off WCW” and going further, Conrad Thompson, the host of Something To Wrestle and 83 Weeks, says it’s “without question the very best book ever written on professional wrestling.” If that’s not enough to convince you, nothing will be. It’s available as an audiobook too.

Buy Now, $29.95
Shop AEW

Considering how new AEW is, there’s a good chance that a hardcore pro wrestling fan has either seen every show that they’ve put on or hasn’t quite been convinced yet. Very few people will fall down the middle. Regardless of what side they stand on, an AEW DVD could be the right thing to put in their stocking this Christmas. They might want to relive some of their favorite shows, have some of the early shows documented with a physical copy forever, or maybe they want to give it a start in their own time.

Buy Now, $24.99
17. AEW Action Figures
Shop AEW

In just under two years, All Elite Wrestling has made a huge impact on the pro-wrestling world, as many expected them to. When I was a kid, playing with WWE action figures like Edge, Randy Orton and John Cena gave me hours of fun and had me running wild with my imagination. Now, AEW has released its own set of action figures. Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and Cody Rhodes are all on offer and sure to satisfy both kids who want to play with them and adults who see them as collectible pieces to display, either still in the box or out of it.

Buy Now, $24.99
18. Bray Wyatt ‘The Fiend’ Replica Mask

I don’t know about you, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw The Fiend on my screen. It was eery and reminded me of when The Undertaker debuted 30 long years ago. It felt like he was about to make an impact and a large part of the reason was the mask. I’m not afraid to admit it made me feel more uneasy than I should have as someone in my early twenties. If you’re looking to give someone the same feeling, then you can get them The Fiend’s mask this Christmas. You can either buy a standard replica for about $40 or buy the deluxe replica, with more details, for $200.

Buy Now, $24.95
19. WWE Network Gift Card

The WWE Network is a forward-thinking system that it’s safe to say we’ll see other huge names in sports adopt sooner or later. For just $9.99 a month, fans can watch thousands and thousands of hours of WWE programming on demand, including the month’s PPV with no additional costs. Whether you want to keep up with the weekly shows or reminisce and watch episodes of RAW or SmackDown from when you were a child, the Network is the place to be, which is actually why paying for someone’s subscription with a gift card is a perfect gift this Christmas. Since the WWE Network is no more in the US, this gift card is better off in the hands of your international brethren.

Buy Now, $29.97
20. WWE 2K Battlegrounds

The 2K website describes this new game as having “all-new, over-the-top, in-your-face action” and that’s really better than I could ever describe it. This is a left turn from the usual annual releases from 2K after the developers saw the series start to dwindle slightly in recent years. The pandemic didn’t help either. Instead of pressing on with the same game, they bring us this bundle of fun with plans to return to the standard simulator next year. This is to the WWE 2K series what NBA Playgrounds is to the NBA 2K series. A game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and benefits from it.

Buy Now, $21.50
21. Green Ant Lucha Masks
Ant Hill

CHIKARA’s resilient rookie is known for high-flying antics and acts of selfless bravery, but did you know he’s also a budding designer? This diligent bug sells replica masks and custom designs at fair prices, and you get the bonus satisfaction of knowing each one was 100 percent handmade. 

Buy Now, $35
22. Bullet Club Snapback

The Bullet Club will live on forever, no matter where past members of the faction appear. The group has legendary status in Japan and for $29.99, you can rock an official BC snapback from NJPW’s merch site.

Buy Now, $29.99
23. WWE Masters of the WWE Universe Grayskull Mania Bundle

It’s always been easy to imagine pro wrestlers as superheroes—and now Mattel has made this relationship quite literal. The rocky toy ring even has an absurd backstory to go with the redesigned high-fantasy grapplers: Can denim-clad John Cena save WWEternia (no, really, that’s what it’s called) from Terror Claws Triple H?! Only you can decide!

Buy Now, $69.88
24. Book It! Board Game
Foam Hammer Games

Book It! is the board game where you and a few friends become professional wrestling promoters. You’ll have to consider venues, signings, booking, ticket sales, and more as you try to win the most points.

Buy Now, $39.99
25. Sami vs Generico Dream Match Tee
Eric Shorey

Around the time El Generico retired from wrestling to run an orphanage in Tijuana, a lovable red-bearded fighter began appearing on NXT. Fans noting similarities between the two have dreamed of the day these legendary grapplers would one day fight, but no one seems to be able to track down the heroic luchador. Now, Sami’s raising money for victims of the current war in Syria with this collectible tee.

Buy Now, $22.99
26. Stone Cold IPA
Eric Shorey

WWE has distanced itself from the boozy Attitude Era but Stone Cold’s still going strong with his own brand of IPA, featuring “Citra, Cascade, and Chinook hops.” Give Santa a “Hell Yeah!” and throw that ol’ boy a brew from America’s favorite badass. 

Buy Now, $5.99
27. An Encyclopedia of Women’s Wrestling
Eric Shorey

LaToya Ferguson’s excellent and detailed profiles of the biggest names in women’s wrestling is a perfect gift for the brainy fan. The book is perfect for display on a coffee table but also functions as an informative primer for the stories of trailblazing athletes who don’t get nearly enough recognition for shaping the sport we know and love.

Buy Now, $14.93
28. Ric Flair Chalk Line Jacket
Eric Shorey

You may never possess the unique and cocaine-riddled charisma of Ric Flair, but you can at least cop his signature look with Chalk Line’s eccentric interpretations of classic pro-wrestling gear.

Buy Now, $74.99
29. Odd Sox Men’s The Outsiders Socks
Odd Sox

“HEY YO!” Rest in peace to the great Scott Hall. And it’s also worth showing the utmost respect to “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash. Any 90s wrestling fanatic you still know to this day will be forever grateful to you if you hook them up with this pair of NWO-branded socks. With these on your feet, you just gotta do the slow walk down the hallway just like Hall used to do back in the day.

Buy Now, $14.99
30. Too Sweet: Inside the Indie Wrestling Revolution

The independent wrestling boom was amazing to witness during the rise of Ring of Honor & various feds up until the current-day landscape. New York Times bestselling author Keith Elliot Greenberg does an amazing job chronicling the biggest indie wrestling feds, the major personalities that brought more eyes to each company, and the monumental moments that led to even bigger developments across the wrestling landscape. This book provides a deep inside look at how indie wrestling successfully progressed to where it is now.

Buy Now, $9.99
31. WWE Ultimate Edition “Macho Man” Randy Savage Action Figure

The “Macho Man” will forever be a pop culture icon and one of the greatest to ever do it within the legendary squared circle. If you’re in the market for one of the best-looking Randy Savage action figures out there, then this one should appeal to you or any other fans of the “Madness” out there. WWE’s line of Mattel-branded action figures is truly the best of the best due to just how amazingly accurate they all look in comparison to their real-life inspirations. This figure would surely look great on the mantle of any wrestling fan who’s big on Golden Era wrestling legends.

Buy Now, $45.95
32. Framed and Signed WrestleMania VI Poster

HWC Trading is a UK-based print and design studio that’s quite adept when it comes to offering signed memorabilia for avid movie, sports, TV, and music fans. Speaking of sports, this signed WrestleMania VI promotional poster should be right up the alley of anyone who still remembers where they were when Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior locked horns.

Buy Now, $29.99
33. Vintage WrestleMania Metal Tin Sign

Imagine spotting this gorgeous piece of work on somebody’s wall! You’ll immediately strike up an hours-long conversation about the good old days of wrestling with whoever decided to add this to their home decor. If you know someone that watches the main event of the very first WrestleMania every year just for tradition’s sake, this metal wall sign is tailor-made for them.

Buy Now, $12.98

ONE37pm may receive affiliate revenue from some of the links in this article.

Sports Strength

The 30 Best Gifts for Sports Fans

It’s never “just a game” to the sports aficionado in your life. Between throwing out stats or plays in the midst of everyday conversations and cutting off society whenever a game is on, their life doesn’t have meaning unless there’s some form of a ball on the field.

After years of being gifted tickets and team shirts, it’s never quite enough to satisfy their obsession. This dream gift list for a sports fan takes all the thinking out of your shopping with something they can cherish beyond a single moment in time.

1. Lakeside Memento Wall Storage Boxes

Instead of rediscovering old ticket stubs crumbled up in a drawer months later, keep the collection together in this wall storage box that turns memories into an intricate collage.

BUY NOW, $21
2. Kitboys Reconstructed David Beckham Soccer Jersey

This collection of rebranded and reconstructed jerseys showcases soccer teams from around the globe. Whether the final product is a mashup between two authentic kits or an original design, the periodic new drops every few weeks keep fútbol addicts on their toes. 

BUY NOW, $30-$160
3. Sharper Image Golf Club Drink Dispenser
Sharper Image

Golf automatically gets dubbed as boring unless you’re at Topgolf and boozed up to the max. To spice up a day on the green, add this “club” that fits in any bag. The faux driver doubles as an insulated drink dispenser that holds 48 ounces of any beverage, hot or cold. 

BUY NOW, $60
4. Personalized Video Message From Your Favorite Athlete

A meet and greet with sport’s most iconic figures might not be in the cards, but a personalized video shout out is just a click away. You can request a plethora of stars like NFL legend Doug Flutie or soccer megastar Darren Bent send video messages to a loved one that legit make it feel like the recipient is their friend. 

BUY NOW, $5-$500
5. Custom Air Pods Case

Whether you want your own personal jersey number or a tribute your favorite player on this AirPods case, the crisp detail on this little memento is small but mighty. Put a name on the top of the case to ward off anyone who wants it for themselves.

BUY NOW, $20
6. Foster & Rye Polyresin Baseball Bottle Holder
Foster & Rye

For the baseball-loving, wine-o in your life, this specially crafted baseball player holds their favorite bottle.

BUY NOW, $51
7. Vintage Sports Art
Row One

Nowadays, something being vintage automatically gives it some added flair, and this vintage sports art is no different. Tickets from the biggest moments in sports are blown up into colorful art pieces that add life to any dull space.

BUY NOW, $75-$200
8. Michael Jordan Fat Head

Hear us out. We know it might be a little off-putting to most to have a giant replica of Michael Jordan in your room, but a sports fan needs it for their altar. The reusable, high-graded vinyl sticker is so HD you can even see Jordan’s sweat.

BUY NOW, $25-$100
9. Hockey Puck Chillers
Bergo Design

Ice cubes are so last year. Instead of diluting your cocktails with ice, these hockey puck chillers keep your drink extra cold without sacrificing any of the flavors. 

BUY NOW, $15
10. Football Helmet Bottle Cap Holder

It’s as if it’s scientifically impossible to focus on football without a beer in hand. This map holds 63 bottle caps of America’s favorite game-day drink in a variety of colors to match your home team.

BUY NOW, $28
11. NFL Tailgate Kit Collection
Bed Bath & Beyond

As tailgating season dawns upon us, it’s critical to let the sports world know what side you land on. The set includes one table, two chairs and four cupholders, all of which are easily transportable. 

BUY NOW, $80-$100
12. Stance Socks
Stance Socks

Repping your team from head to toe is only possible by donning the loudest, most attention calling socks. In no other instance is it acceptable to have someone’s face on your feet.

BUY NOW, $20
13. Wall Mounted Recycled Ski Bottle Opener
Uncommon Goods

In an ode to winter sports, these ski bottle openers are cracking open brews to stick in your bottle cap map. You can feel good about your purchase, knowing it’s both handmade and recycled.

BUY NOW, $45
14. NFL Denim Jacket
Sports Fan Island

This one goes out to all the leading ladies that are presumptuously left out of the “sports lover” conversation. Delicate patchwork and a bit of glitter dawn this denim jacket that’s an embodiment of football meet fashion.

BUY NOW, $65
15. Lasercut Stadium Map
The Grommet

We all know someone who casually slips in where they’re from every opportunity they get. If you put on for your city every day, you deserve this highly detailed 3D stadium art. The laser-etched birchwood includes not only the most celebrated sports arenas but the outlying city that surrounds them. 

BUY NOW, $125-$185
16. NBA TV
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Porch pirates aren’t a factor in this gift with the fastest shipping known to man. Access to exclusive interviews, never before seen angles and blacked-out games come together in what’s basically a headfirst dive into the NBA world. Prepare to be ignored while they’re immersed in their basketball bubble. 

BUY NOW, $60 Annually
17. ‘New York Times’ Baseball Book
New York Times

Discover the glory days of every MLB team in a book that compiles all the greatest New York Times headlines. Every glory-filled moment is bound together in a book that hypes up a team even if they haven’t won a series. 

BUY NOW, $72
18. 25-Layer Stadium Lighted End Table
Stadium Views

Although this little table costs some serious dough, the chances of it being donated to Goodwill after a few uses are slim. Original word artwork gleams through the tempered glass surface surrounded by LED lights that replicate a stadium’s actual lighting. They’ll be obsessed for years.

BUY NOW, $600
19. Playful Sports Mugs
Uncommon Goods

Playing with our food might be what we’re all missing from our morning routine for an extra jolt of energy. We recommend the basketball mug where you can yell “Kobe” before swishing a piece of cereal through the hoop.

BUY NOW, $25
20. Ballpark Blueprints
Ballpark Blueprints

If they’re going to spend every free moment inside a stadium, they might as well get familiar with the architecture. These high-end blueprints give a look inside every detail of their heaven on earth. The designs are all original, crafted on museum-paper for a gift that’ll last throughout the years.

BUY NOW, $60-$210
21. Customized Wilson NCAA Black and Gold Basketball Size 29.5

This customized Wilson NCAA basketball is sure to make any sports fan happy. In addition to being great for both indoor and outdoor use, the ball can also be designed to have a customized name on it, making it a great gift.

BUY NOW, $60
22. Sports Icons Pillowcase – Football
Personal Creations

This custom pillow is the perfect touch for any football coach or player. The pillow can be designed to have the names of the coach/player on there, as well as the names of their teams making it a great gift for any football household.

BUY NOW, $18
23. Playful Sports Baseball Mug
Uncommon Goods

To follow the basketball mug, this baseball mug will also get the kids excited as the mug is shaped in the form of a baseball, and has a glove built in to “catch” whatever food/drink is in the mug. It could get messy, but it still makes a cool gift for those young baseball fans out there.

BUY NOW, $25
24. Gtracing Gaming Chair

If you know somebody who will be playing a lot of games (or watching a lot of games) this holiday season, then the Oversized Gaming Chair is perfect. The chair is super comfy, and will definitely make playing NBA 2K and Madden more enjoyable.

BUY NOW, $170
25. NBA2K23

Speaking of 2K, many people are waiting for the next gen to come out before purchasing this latest edition. The hardcopy version (or the money to buy it) would make a great gift to 2K fanatics anxiously awaiting for the next updates.

BUY NOW, $60
26. Home Plate Doormat
Uncommon Goods

What better way to reach “Home” than to have a home plate doormat waiting for you after a long day? The mat is a great gift for super baseball fans everywhere.

BUY NOW, $30
27. Golf Ball Whiskey Chillers
Uncommon Goods

This gift is self explanatory. The golf whiskey chillers help make your drink better, while giving you that “golf” aesthetic.

BUY NOW, $30
28. Spalding Mini Basketball Hoop

With a good percentage of kids being homeschooled this year, a mini basketball hoop would be the perfect addition to the house, and a great option for “recess.”

BUY NOW, $30
29. Record-Breaking Baseball Glasses
Uncommon Goods

While the baseball season is now over, it’s never too late to add some baseball glasses to your cupboards. With these glasses, you can still enjoy a nice cold beverage giving you that gameday feel. 

BUY NOW, $35
30. Nike Air Max 97

You can never go wrong with a classic. The Air Max sneakers are a staple to any shoe collection, and are a stylish and fresh new piece to add to your wardrobe.

BUY NOW, $170
31. Huupe

Imagine a Peloton, but for basketball. Just as Peloton brought dynamic spinning classes to your living room, Huupe gives you access to high-level basketball training without even leaving your driveway. The backboard doubles as an LED screen, which can lay on-demand lessons as well as livestream one-on-one sessions with basketball trainers around the world. To wit, Huupe tracks every shot you take, giving you real-time feedback on how to improve as you play. And yes, don’t worry: it’s all weather-proof.

Buy Now, $3,995
32. Nettie Pickleball Paddle Set

At this point, you’re probably a pickleballer—or, at the very least, pickleball-curious. Whereas most pickleball rackets are engineered primarily for peak performance, Nettie meets the average player on their own terms, making equipment that’s stylish and fun yet still high enough quality to dink deftly.

Buy Now, $149.99
33. Roger Angell Baseball Collection

Roger Angell was the best baseball writer of all time. These three collections of essays are his best work, making it the perfect gift for any baseball fan or bibliophile
Tokens & Icons

Crafted from pieces of seats at some of college football’s most historic stadia, these bottle-openers bring piece of homecoming to your home.

Buy Now, $125
35. Adidas Ultraboost

Since you can’t really wear your Yeezys anymore.

Buy Now, $190
Sports Strength

Who Are The Current WWE Champions?

One of the greatest accomplishments a professional wrestler can ever lay claim to is winning any one of their federation’s championships. The current landscape of World Wrestling Entertainment is home to several of the world’s top athletes, who all fight tooth and nail to get their hands on their associated brands’ titles. Raw, SmackDown, and NXT are all home to their own championships that stand out as the crowning achievements for whoever gets their hands on them. Let’s take a look at all the men and women that are proudly defending their titles and adding to the long lineage of each world-renowned belt. These are the current WWE champions holding their titles up proudly.

Championships and Their Brands

This is the full list of championships currently being contested for in WWE and what brand they are exclusive to:

  • RAW: WWE United States Championship and WWE Raw Women’s Championship
  • SmackDown: WWE Intercontinental Championship and WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
  • NXT: NXT Championship, NXT North American Championship, NXT Women’s Championship, NXT Tag Team Championship, and NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship
  • Raw and SmackDown: Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship, and WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
  • All Brands: WWE 24/7 Championship
Current WWE Champion Standings
  • Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns (Won on 04/03/22)
  • WWE United States Champion: Seth Rollins (Won on 10/10/22)
  • WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair (Won on 04/02/22)
  • Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions: The Usos – Jey and Jimmy Uso (Won on 05/20/22)
  • WWE Intercontinental Champion: Gunther (Won on 06/10/22)
  • WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey (Won on 10/08/22)
  • NXT Champion: Bron Breakker (Won on 04/04/22)
  • NXT North American Champion: Wes Lee (Won on 10/22/22)
  • NXT Women’s Champion: Mandy Rose (Won on 10/26/21)
  • NXT Tag Team Champions: Pretty Deadly – Elton Prince and Kit Wilson (Won on 09/04/22)
  • NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions: Katana Chance and Kayden Carter (08/02/22)
  • WWE 24/7 Champion: Dana Brooke (Won on 09/24/22)
  • WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Damage CTRL – Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky (Won on 09/12/22)
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Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns (Won on 04/03/22)

The biggest superstar in WWE at the moment is the all-powerful “Tribal Chief,” Roman Reigns. Ever since he made his comeback Payback 2020 and claimed the WWE Universal Championship, Reigns has gone on a tear and run through a mixture of modern-day superstars and bonafide legends. On night two of WrestleMania 38, he solidified his god status when he defeated Brock Lesnar to claim the WWE Championship and anoint himself as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. And since then, Reigns has steamrolled over even more worthy opponents and maintained his position as WWE’s current GOAT.

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WWE United States Champion: Seth Rollins (Won on 10/10/22)

Bobby Lashley enjoyed a pretty dominant reign as the United States Champion…that is until Seth Rollins swooped in to relinquish him of the title after Lashley was decimated by Brock Lesnar before their match. Rollins managed to get his hands on the top midcard title on Raw and is now running around with championship gold around his waist. And of course, he’s rocking the most luxurious attire all the while. The “Drip God” Rollins is swimming in plenty of finesse nowadays.

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WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair (Won on 04/02/22)

The “EST” of WWE has grown into one of the company’s marquee women’s wrestlers. After getting her revenge on Becky Lynch on night one of WrestleMania 38, Belair got her hands back on the Raw Women’s Championship. Her reign has seen her overcome the many odds that have been built against her by the likes of Lynch, Asuka, Carmella, and more. Belair is a gorgeous powerhouse that’s holding down the Raw women’s division as its proud champion.

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Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions: The Usos – Jey and Jimmy Uso (Won on 05/20/22)

Jey and Jimmy Uso have morphed into even more of a strong force now that they’ve aligned themselves with their blood relative in Roman Reigns. At Money in the Bank 2021, The Usos vanquished Rey and Dominik Mysterio for the SmackDown tag team titles. Then on the May 20, 2022, episode of SmackDown, they also got their hands on the Raw tag team championship once they beat RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle). And now, The Usos rule the WWE tag team roost as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions. THEY THEM ONE’S!

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WWE Intercontinental Champion: Gunther (Won on 06/10/22)

He’s seemingly unstoppable. He’s presented as indestructible. And to be quite honest, he’s definitely both of those things. The man formerly known as Walter is now exuding his dominance on the WWE main roster. And shortly after his arrival, Gunther destroyed Ricochet in order to win his first main roster prize – the legendary Intercontinental Championship. Gunther’s devastating chops, vicious big boot, and powerful powerbomb lay waste to everyone and everything. As long as he holds onto the IC title, it’ll be hard to wrestle it away from his grasp.

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WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey (Won on 10/08/22)

After a long hiatus, Ronda Rousey made her shocking return to WWE at the 2022 Royal Rumble. After months of competing against the likes of Charlotte Flair and Liv Morgan, Rousey finally earned herself the top women’s championship on the Blue Brand. Now that she’s the SmackDown women’s champion, she’s gone back to her badass ways and decided to focus more on breaking arms instead of pleasing the fans.

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NXT Champion: Bron Breakker (Won on 04/04/22)

The NXT rebrand has paved the way for a wealth of developmental talents that are building themselves into future Hall of Famers and WrestleMania headliners. At the forefront of that NXT movement is the son of Rick Steiner, Bron Breakker. After losing the NXT Championship to Dolph Ziggler without even getting pinned to lose it, Bron managed to steamroll through Ziggler to reclaim it on the post-WrestleMania 38 edition of Raw. Ever since that triumphant moment, Bron has been holding on strong as the top titleholder on NXT.

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NXT North American Champion: Wes Lee (Won on 10/22/22)

As a former member of the tag team MSK alongside Nash Carter, Wes Lee enjoyed two reigns as one-half of the NXT Tag Team Champions. But after Carter’s WWE release, Lee was forced to embrace his new role as a single competitor. At first, it seemed as if his newfound journey was aimless and filled with strife. But after getting into a better groove and further establishing himself as someone to watch on the NXT brand, Lee built himself up enough to compete in a five-man ladder match for the North American title at Halloween Havoc 2022. And during that match, he did the unthinkable by winning that title and staking his claim as one of NXT’s most entertaining prospects.

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NXT Women’s Champion: Mandy Rose (Won on 10/26/21)

Mandy Rose has finally found her calling as the undisputed queen of NXT. After returning to the developmental brand in July 2021, she’s transformed into a super confident heel that’s run roughshod over her rivals alongside her fellow stablemates Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne (Toxic Attraction). At the 2021 Halloween Havoc, Rose defeated Raquel González during a peculiar Trick or Street Fight to claim the NXT Women’s Championship.

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NXT Tag Team Champions: Pretty Deadly – Elton Prince and Kit Wilson (Won on 09/04/22)

NXT UK saw its unfortunate end in 2022, which led to most of its premiere talents making their way across the pond to the mainline NXT brand. On the tag team front, Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince and Kit Wilson) have made quite the splash now they regularly lock horns with NXT’s equally formidable tag teams. At Worlds Collide 2022, they prevailed over the NXT UK Tag Team Champions Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs, Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang), and the previous NXT Tag Team Champions The Creed Brothers (Brutus Creed and Julius Creed) in a Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Elimination Match to unify the NXT and NXT UK tag team titles. This duo now walks around as gracefully as possible with the NXT tag team titles around their beautiful waists.

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NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions: Katana Chance and Kayden Carter (08/02/22)

Now NXT has its own brand of women’s tag team titles! And after being introduced on March 10, 2021, the likes of Dakota Kai & Raquel González, Io Shirai & Zoey Stark, and Cora Jade & Roxanne Perez have worn those belts. Now, the exciting duo of Katana Chance and Kayden Carter hold the titles. And that championship victory came after they won the formerly vacated belts during a Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Elimination Match.

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WWE 24/7 Champion: Dana Brooke (Won on 09/24/22)

It’s pretty wild when you try to remember the last time you saw the 24/7 Championship being defended on any live episode of Raw and SmackDown. And that’s because Paul Michael Levesque’s newfound booking decisions for WWE have pushed the green and gold belt to the wayside (which is honestly an improvement for everyone involved!). Dana Brooke might as well retire with the belt at this point – she won it during a house show from Nikki A.S.H. that was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on September 24, 2022.

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WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Damage CTRL – Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky (Won on 09/12/22)

When Bayley made her grand return at SummerSlam 2022, she didn’t make her way back alone – she now terrorizes the babyface ladies on Raw alongside Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky, better known as Damage CTRL. On the September 12, 2022, edition of Monday Night Raw, both those incredibly talented ladies rose to the occasion to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship by defeating Aliyah and Raquel Rodriguez.

Sports Sports

The 32 Most Valuable Sports Teams In The World

Despite the pandemic, the value of the top 50 most valuable sports teams on the planet increased by 30% from 2021 to 2022, to a whopping $222.7 billion. Today, we’re taking a look at the top half of that list. Due to some ties in value, there are actually 32 teams on the list.

1. Dallas Cowboys, $8.0 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jerry Jones

Within the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have been the most valuable team since the late 2000s. When you take into consideration every sports team around, Real Madrid were the most valuable until 2016 when the Cowboys took over and they’ve been the most valuable team in the world ever since.

2. New England Patriots, $6.4 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots are the second most valuable team in the National Football League and this is still largely because of the Brady-Belichick era, but the franchise history of winning 6 Super Bowls and having arguably the best coach in league history also has a lot to do with it.

3. Los Angeles Rams, $6.2 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke

From 2020 to 2021, the Los Angeles Rams had a whopping 20% increase in their value, which was 6% more than the NFL’s average in that same time period. When you consider that they’ve since won the Super Bowl, the 107% increase in value over the last five-years shouldn’t seem too shocking.

4. New York Yankees, $6.0 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Steinbrenner family

You don’t have to know the first thing about baseball to know the New York Yankees and recognize their world-famous logo that is often seen on fitted caps and snapbacks. Their branding alone makes it no surprise that they’re the only MLB team worth over $4.1 billion, at a whopping $6.0 billion. All this, despite the fact that the team’s last championship was nearly 15 years ago.

5. New York Giants, $6.0 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: John Mara and Steven Tisch

Although they haven’t had a great run in recent times, the New York Giants’ history and the simple fact that they’re a New York team puts them high up on this list here and 4th on the list of the most valuable teams in their league.

6. New York Knicks, $5.8 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owner: Madison Square Garden Sports

The New York Knicks have been the most valuable team in the NBA for the best part of a decade. Through all of their struggles as a team, they remain beloved amongst New Yorkers. They took the spot as the most valuable NBA team from the Lakers when they signed an incredibly lucrative cable deal.

7.. Chicago Bears, $5.8 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: McCaskey family

A cool and unbelievable stat about the Chicago Bears when it comes to their value is that just over 100 years ago in 1920, they were purchased by George Halas for $100. No, that’s not a typo. That’s the equivalent of around $1,418, which is around a 249,000,000% increase in value.

8. Golden State Warriors, $5.6 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber

From 2016 to 2020, the Golden State Warriors had a growth of 147% in value, one of the highest among the top 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. This is largely due to their championship success in that period and it made them the second most valuable team in the NBA, above even the great brand that is the L.A. Lakers.

9. Washington Commanders, $5.6 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder

The Washington Commanders don’t have a great reputation as of late but their recent acquisition of Carson Wentz could do something to change that. Their rebuild period could be coming to the end but despite it, from 2016 to 2020, their value increased by 23%.

10. Los Angeles Lakers, $5.5 billion
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  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Jerry Buss Family Trusts and Phillip Anschutz

Not only is the purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers one of the best sports brands ever, but in 2012, the team signed a $4 billion, 20-year deal with Time Warner. This means that regardless of the trouble that they currently find themselves in, they won’t be losing any value or even growing at a much slower rate anytime soon.

11. New York Jets, $5.4 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Johnson family

New York is a massive media market so in spite of the lack of success that the Jets have seen in recent years, they remain in a top spot with a value of just over $4.8 billion. 

12. San Francisco 49ers, $5.2 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Denise DeBartolo York and John York

The 49ers didn’t see as much growth from 2020 to 2021 as many of the other teams in the league did and they have a low operating income, but the San Francisco football team remains one of the most valuable teams in the NFL, and sports in general. As the ride a wave of constant success, they remain very profitable.

13. Real Madrid CF, $5.1 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Two spots in-front of Barcelona is their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, coming in with a valuation of $5.1 billion, just $10 million more than Barca. For those that don’t follow soccer and don’t understand the scope of it, it’s truly hard to fathom how big this Spanish team is. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, this team topped the list of the most valuable sports teams. The El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona is one of the biggest and highly-touted rivalries in all of sports.

14. Las Vegas Raiders, $5.1 billion (tied)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  • Sports League: NFL
  • Owner: Mark Davis

Although the Raiders jumped ship from Oakland to Las Vegas, they still have one of the most active fandoms in all of sports. The Davis family has owned the Raiders since purchasing it in 1966 for $180,000. They have been playing in Las Vegas since 2020.

15. FC Barcelona, $5 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Not only is Barcelona the fifteenth most valuable sports team in the world, the 2nd most valuable soccer team in the world and one of the few non-American teams on the list, but in terms of revenue, they are the world’s richest club, with an annual turnover of nearly $800 million.

16. Philadelphia Eagles, $4.9 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jeffrey Lurie

This might be a somewhat surprising entry in the list for people but for the Philadelphia Eagles, their passionate fanbase and their recent Super Bowl win has done a lot for their $4.9 billion valuation. 

17. Houston Texans, $4.7 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Janice McNair

Considering the Houston Texans are one of just four NFL teams to have never made it to the Super Bowl, they’re doing a great job here with their valuation of $4.7 billion. They were founded in 1999 and were owned then by Bob McNair who tragically passed away in 2018.

18. Denver Broncos, $4.65 billion
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  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Rob Walton

The Broncos were recently aquired by Rob Walton and Walton-Penner group for a whopping $4.65 billion, giving them their valuation. On this list, they’re tied for 25th place with a couple of other teams in different leagues and sports entirely.

19. Manchester United F.C., $4.6 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Glazer family

Manchester United sat atop the list of the most valuable sports teams in 2010, 2011, and 2012, before they were knocked off the spot by Real Madrid. Even then, it took until 2019 for them to get knocked out of the top 5. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, Matt Busby is credited with rebuilding the team and setting the foundation for what they have become in the subsequent decades.

20.) Miami Dolphins, $4.6 billion (tied
(David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Stephen Ross

The Miami Dolphins look like a reinvigorated franchise behind the guidance of first year head coach Mike McDaniels. In 2008, Stephen Ross bought 50% of the Dolphins franchise and later purchased an additional 45% in January 2009 at a total value of $1.1 billion.

21. Seattle Seahawks, $4.5 billion
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  • Sports League: NFL
  • Owner: Paul G. Allen Trust

The Seahawks saw a peak in popularity and success in the early 2010’s, going to two Super Bowl’s and winning one. They were headlined by the “Legion of Boom”, the nickname given to their stifling defensive tenacity. Lumen Field where the Seahawks play is known as one of the loudest stadiums in professional sports.

22. Liverpool F.C., $4.45 billion
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Fenway Sports Group

Liverpool F.C. are very much a global brand and the team is notorious for having a lot of supporters all around the world. This is a large part of the reason that the team has a valuation of over $4 billion. LeBron James is also a minority owner of the club, acquiring 2% in 2011.

23. FC Bayern Munich, $4.28 billion
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  • Sports league: Bundesliga
  • Owners: Club members

If you’re an American sports fan, then grasping the way that soccer leagues work can be confusing. Luckily, you can read up about it here. Essentially, the Bundesliga is the premier soccer league in Germany and Bayern Munich is not only the most valuable soccer team there but the most valuable sports team in the country as well.

24. Manchester City, $4.25 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owner: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan

From 2016-2020, Manchester City saw a 108% growth in value, the 6th highest amongst the top 50 highest valued sports teams in the world. City became one of the top six in the 2010s and has since become a powerhouse not just in the Premier League or even soccer, but on the planet.

25. Green Bay Packers, $4.25 billion (tied)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
  • Sports League: NFL
  • Owner: Shareholders

The Packers are one of the original NFL teams and have one of the strangest ownership structures in professional sports. Fans can buy shares of the Packers when made available every couple of years. Owning a share gives you voting rights and an invitation to their annual corporate meeting.

26. Los Angeles Dodgers, $4.08 billion
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Guggenheim Baseball Management

The Los Angeles Dodgers are owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management who even if you haven’t heard of by name, you likely know the people associated with the brand. Of course, this team was originally the Brooklyn Dodgers and they moved to L.A. in the late 1950s. New York and L.A. are good homes for any teams, as the valuation shows.

27. Atlanta Falcons, $4.0 billion
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Arthur Blank

The Atlanta Falcons saw a wave of success in the 2010’s behind the quarterback play of Matt Ryan. They would tragically blow a lead in the Superbowl and never regain their spot back as a contending team. In February 2002, Arthur Blank bought the Atlanta Falcons, for $545 million.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers, $3.98 billion
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Sports League: NFL
  • Owner: Daniel Rooney Trust, Arthur Rooney II

The Pittsburg Steelers are tied with the Patriots for the winningest NFL franchise, with six total Super Bowls. The Rooney family has been the sole owners of the franchise since Art Rooney founded the team in 1933. It cost Rooney only $2,500 to purchase the franchise fee to create the team.

29. Minnesota Vikings, $3.93 billion
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
  • Sports League: NFL
  • Owner: Zygmunt Wilf

The Minnesota Vikings look to have what could be the greatest wide receiver the world has ever seen in Justin Jefferson, and he helps fill stadiums and sell jerseys. Zygmunt Wilf has owned the Vikings since he purchased the team from founder Red McCombs in 2005. Wilf, along with his brother Mark and four other partners, purchased the team for $600 million.

30. Boston Red Sox, $3.9 billion (tied)
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  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: John Henry, Thomas Werner

Since their establishment in 1901, the Red Sox have won 9 World Series, tied for the third-most in MLB history. Interestingly, they’re owned by the same owners as the aforementioned Liverpool F.C., Fenway Sports Group, whose client base includes LeBron James and Johnny Manziel amongst its clients.

31. Baltimore Ravens, $3.9 billion (tied)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Stephen Bisciotti

The Baltimore Ravens have been under intense contract talks with franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson, but have been unsuccessful at reaching a deal. They have steadily been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last two decades, winning two Superbowls. Bisciotti bought a minority interest in the Ravens from Art Modell in 2000, completing the purchase of the franchise on April 9, 2004.

32. Los Angeles Chargers, $3.88 billion
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Dean Spanos

The Charges moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017, and not many people seemed to notice. People did however notice the construction of SoFi Stadium, the more than $5 billion dollar stadium the Chargers built which stands at the forefront of sports, technology, and architecture.

Sports Strength

The 29 Best NBA Podcasts, According to A Huge NBA Fan

NBA podcasts come in different shapes and sizes. There are shows that are formatted in an interview style, and then there are podcasts that remind me of a DJ Khaled album with numerous guests and co-hosts. The association has a variety of entertaining characters in their players and in the media. There’s really something for everyone. From the in-depth NBA game breakdowns of the Dunc’d On podcast to the unfiltered stylings of the All The Smoke podcast, here are the 29 best podcasts according to me, a huge NBA fan.

1. ‘The Lowe Post’

If you’re looking to learn the deep inner-workings of the NBA on and off the court, you have to read ESPN NBA reporter Zach Lowe. One of the top voices of the NBA, Lowe has the best NBA podcast in my opinion. He has the right mix of X’s & O’s talk with the classic team-building conversation.

One of the hard parts in finding quality podcasts in the sports realm is the constant need to hyperbolize opinions and have hot take arguments. Lowe has the perfect balance of finding his voice while also providing nuance to an NBA discussion. I also appreciate the classic conversations with reporters like Howard Beck (What Up Beck? For the real ones) and Kevin Arnovitz which take deep dives across the league.

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2. ‘The Bill Simmons Podcast’

Though his podcast delves into different topics, I think Bill Simmons’ bread and butter still revolves around the NBA. Though I find that some of Simmons’ takes can be a bit hyperbolic, his appreciation and interest in the NBA shine bright through his show. With guests like Ryen Russillo, I always find Simmons’ NBA related talk enjoyable.

Simmons also created the Book of Basketball 2.0 podcast which is separate and takes a look back at NBA history with conversations about re-drafting drafts from 20 years ago and jaunts down memory lane.

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3. ‘Dunc’d On Basketball NBA Podcast’

Like the title says, I am a huge NBA fan. I’m looking for detailed information and breakdowns of the association. This includes everyone from the stars like LeBron James to the last guy on the bench. Co-hosts Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux have some of the deepest analysis of any podcast with breakdowns of every team, trade deadline conversations, and daily recaps of the previous night’s games. NBA novices will learn about the league listening to Dunc’d On.

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4. ‘All The Smoke’

Co-hosts Barnes and Jackson were known for their honesty throughout their playing careers in the NBA, so it only made sense that the two former Golden State Warrior teammates would start a podcast. The combination has worked out perfectly, with the unfiltered duo having some of the best interviews in the NBA world period. 

I find their interviews so revealing because they have such a strong chemistry and can get the most out of their guests. Hearing Draymond Green reveal when he felt Kevin Durant change was an eye-opening tidbit.

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5. ‘Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective’

One of the top NBA reporters, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is the lead of the Hoop Collective podcast that has nearly the entire collection of ESPN’s NBA reporters around the country.  The dry sense of humor of Tim “Banned” McMahon, the historical NBA reporting legend that is Jackie MacMullan, as well as the random banter that goes on makes this a fun listen.

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6. ‘Back to Back: An NBA Podcast’

A part of the Athletic network, the Back to Back podcast features a rotating cast of characters for a series of shows aired throughout the week. I enjoy the podcast because it has something for everyone. If you want to get down to data and analytics in the NBA, Nerder She Wrote is good, but if you want to hear a more laid back conversation, the Basketball Buds is one of the best back and forth dialogues.

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7. ‘The Woj Pod’

The preeminent NBA reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski mans one of the top NBA podcasts. A potpourri of the current happenings in the NBA rumor mill is what I’m usually listening for, but I find his interviews with players, coaches, and executives underrated. 

Woj does a great job of telling the entire story, like when he spoke with Nets forward Taurean Prince about being homeless while in high school, and his pathway to the NBA. Woj knows practically everything about the characters in the association, so I expect some illuminating factoids to be dropped.

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8. ‘Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles’

Former Los Angeles Clippers teammates Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson are real friends. Having come of age as youngsters in the association, Miles and Richardson share a ton of interesting stories from their AAU days to their careers in the NBA. Their conversations with everyone from Allen Iverson to Dwyane Wade makes for a rousing listen. Head tap to that.

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9. ‘JJ Redick Podcast’

The original NBA player podcaster, Redick is a trailblazer when it comes to NBA podcasting. Hosted along with Tommy Alter, it feels like Redick’s podcast has been hosted on 1,000 different sites throughout the past few years. He’s always been one of the best players at contextualizing emotions during big playoff games and placing the viewer in the mind of an NBA player.

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10. ‘No Dunks’

The original crew that was known as The Basketball Jones and then The Starters, No Dunks is a daily podcast that essentially continues what the team of Tas Melas, J.E. Skeets, Trey Kerby, and Leigh Ellis have been doing for quite some time. It’s one of the funniest basketball podcasts that finds a way to mesh the NBA with pop culture.

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11. ‘Pull Up with CJ McCollum’

One of the more polished NBA players on and off the court, C.J. McCollum hosts the Pull Up podcast with Jordan Schultz. A journalism major at Lehigh, McCollum has really good conversations with his peers around the league. The Carmelo Anthony episode that had McCollum and Anthony’s real-time reaction to the NBA season being postponed due to Coronavirus was an all-timer for me.

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12. ‘House of Strauss: An NBA Podcast’

One of the best NBA reporters, Ethan Strauss mans the House of Strauss podcast that covers a bevy of topics. I enjoy the podcast because Strauss speaks with really smart and thoughtful guests. The conversations go deeper than basketball, with conversations like Kevin Durant’s search for happiness in Golden State or how the unique rise to superstardom Stephen Curry came to be.

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13. ‘The Jump’

ESPN’s flagship NBA television show also appears in podcast form. Hosted by Rachel Nichols, I enjoy The Jump for it’s fun NBA talk and banter. Nichols always has had a great sense of what central themes should be discussed with her panelists.

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14. ‘Ledlow & Parker’

A Turner Sports production, Ledlow & Parker is a quality podcast. The tandem of Candace Parker and Kristen Ledlow is a fun pairing with good chemistry. They mix in NBA talk, as well as what’s happening off the court. 

Each episode has many layers to it, as Ledlow and Parker interview multiple guests throughout the show. You might catch an artist and NBA fan like Snoop Dogg, but there are also multiple ballers that appear on the weekly such as Victor Oladipo, Becky Hammon, and Sue Bird.

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15. ‘Hoops, Adjacent with David Aldridge and BIG Wos’

An OG and Hall of Famer in the NBA reporting business, there aren’t many reporters with the knowledge of David Aldridge. Aldridge and his co-host BIG Wos have a funny rapport with their guests and it has shown in conversations with guests like Charles Barkley and Bomani Jones.

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16. ‘Posted Up With Chris Haynes’

One of the current “player whisperers,” Yahoo Sports NBA reporter Chris Haynes hosts one of the top NBA related podcasts. Many of the top players, including Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard have gone on the show to chop it up with Haynes about their thoughts on a multitude of topics.

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17. RealGM Radio with Danny Leroux

I’m always looking for deep analysis on my Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks—yes, I’m a fan of both teams but that story is for another day—so I can enjoy what Danny Leroux has done with RealGM Radio. Expect detailed team breakdowns, draft, and trade discussions, and player evaluations.

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18. ‘The Habershow’

I enjoy how Habershow host Tom Haberstroh mixes statistical analysis with conversations about the top NBA stories. His sense of humor is on point, and he also gets great guests for a show that covers everything from injuries and rest in the NBA 

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19. ‘Inside the Green Room with Danny Green’

Current Los Angeles Laker Danny Green and his co-host Harrison Sanford take you through the life of an NBA player in this laid back podcast. A two-time NBA champion, Green is thoughtful and it shines through in the quality conversations he and Sanford have with a Hall of Fame level list of guests. The podcast’s recent episode speaking to a number of different players around the league about what they’re doing in quarantine was an enjoyable listen for me.

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20. ‘Winging It with Vince Carter’

When Winging It started, the podcast featured two teammates in Vince Carter and Kent Bazemore last season with Annie Finberg co-hosting. After Bazemore left the Hawks, Carter and Finberg kept the podcast going strong this season. One of my favorite episodes from the show recently was Lamar Odom. Odom’s story is really unique and Carter and Finberg did a great job of drawing a lot of interesting morsels from Carter’s friend and former teammate.

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21. Cookies Hoops

No other podcast sounds like Cookies Hoops, the basketball/media/New York culture/bucatini pod hosted by artist Andrew Kuo and writer Ben Detrick. Admittedly, there’s a nicheness to the podcast, but that’s the charm; Kuo and Detrick at once create their own mythologies (2000s New York, the perils of becoming a grillmaster) while disabusing publicly held ones (Jordan Originalism, dribble bias, the premise that Marcus Smart is good at stuff). Here, Ben Simmons apologia (which is 100% accurate, by the way) abuts with Dimes Square scene reports, mixes with red-pilling exposés into how the Little Green Hand of the Boston Media Mafia shapes the public NBA discourse. It’s not for everybody—but if it’s for you, it’s really for you. 

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22. Game Theory

The underappreciated gem of The Athletic’s podcast network, Game Theory is as comprehensive any basketball podcast could ever be. While most pods have a primary focus, Game Theory is able to cover nearly all aspects and levels of basketball with precision and expertise. Hosted by Sam Vecenie (The Athletic’s main NBA Draft expert), Game Theory covers the NBA as well as any one of the best NBA podcasts, college basketball as well as any dedicated college basketball podcast, and the NBA Draft as well as any NBA Draft podcast.

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23. The Dunker Spot

If you can tell your double drags from your Spain pick and rolls, The Dunker Spot is the pod for you. Hosts Nekias Duncan and Steve Jones Jr. are unabashed basketball nerds in the best way and giddily dive into the minutiae that other pods either ignore or never even notice in the first place. Additionally, The Dunker Spot is the rare mainstream NBA pod that treats the WNBA with the level of seriousness that it deserves; their coverage of both the NBA and the W is essential listening for anybody who wants to understand how and why basketball really works. 

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24. Thinking Basketball

Although Thinking Basketball doesn’t drop episodes as frequently as the other best NBA podcasts, it’s so exhaustive that you can excuse the absence of a regular drop schedule. In particular, host Ben Taylor pulls from a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of basketball history to properly contextualize and frame the league. Blending advanced stats (including his own proprietary metrics) with rigorous film study, Thinking Basketball is so rewarding because it’s the brainchild of somebody who has obviously thought very deeply about basketball. 

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25. The BBall Index

Hang around NBA Twitter long enough and you’ll inevitably stumble upon BBall Index’s incredible array of advanced stats, which catalog basically everything that can be cataloged on a basketball court. As such, the BBall Index Podcast is an invaluable resource, placing BBall Index’s data in a digestible, easily understandable format. 

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26. Slappin’ Glass

This is the closest you can get to sitting in on an NBA coaches meeting without actually sitting in on an NBA coaches meeting. While Slappin’ Glass isn’t explicitly about the NBA, each episode is an enlightening interview with a prominent coach about their coaching philosophy.

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27. The Old Man and the Three

The original “new media” pod, The Old Man and the Three is still the best in the genre. While most player-hosted pods feel more like branding exercises than actual content, JJ Redick is genuinely a great host; there’s a reason he’s quickly become a rising star at ESPN after retiring last season. Even if the interviews can be soft-pedaled, players are uncommonly open and honest with Redick and co-host Tommy Atler.

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28. Please Don’t Aggregate This

Jake Fischer—formerly with Bleacher Report, now with Yahoo Sports—is the only good scoopster. Whereas others in this genre seem to conceive of themselves as some hybrid of a CIA power broker and Varys from Game of Thrones, Fischer actually seems like a real person. It’s his job to know things and he wants you to know them too. As such, Please Don’t Aggregate This is the rare scoops-driven podcast that’s worth listening to because Fischer avoids the slimy politics and intellectual dishonesty that define other prominent news-breakers. 

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29. Indy Cornrows

Nominally a Pacers’ specific podcast, Indy Cornrows treats the Pacers as a launching pad for a broader examination of the NBA’s micro and macro trends. Hosts Mark Schindler and Caitlin Cooper know truly mind-boggling amounts of ball. 

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Sports Strength

How Much Do F1 Drivers Make?

Formula 1 is probably one of the most lucrative (and high-throttle) sports in the world. Combine that with the risk drivers are exposed to during each race and it’s no surprise that some of the 2021 drivers are paid tens of millions of dollars. So let’s answer the question: how much do F1 drivers make?

What is Formula 1 and What is it All About?

Formula 1 may seem complicated and some people might feel left out at first when hearing fans discussing cars, drivers’ race strategies, tire strategies, new technology, multiple acronyms like DRS or ERS and many other pieces of insider knowledge. 

Formula One, or F1, is a racing series held at different racing tracks all over the world. If you watch F1, you will notice that the cars look like the ones from the IndyCar Series. 

F1 cars are single-seaters, open-wheelers, open cockpit cars and the fastest in motorsport. These are just a few of the many rules set by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobil, FIA, or the International Automobile Federation. The FIA is the regulatory body of Formula 1 founded in 1904 in France. 

The organization revises, modifies and introduces new rules to ensure the safety of participants, promote fair competition, and guarantee that F1 fans get to see a spectacular race.

In the current 2022 season, 10 teams are participating in Formula 1. Each team has two cars and two drivers. Every team employs mechanics, engineers, designers and several other specialized staff. It is no surprise that a team has hundreds and sometimes over a thousand employees. 

The Drivers:

In total, there are 22 drivers competing in every race. Between the winning cars and the cars at the back of the field, there is a huge discrepancy in performance. Teams build their cars with money from sponsors and funds from the FIA. Like with lots of sports organizations, some teams just have more money than others. 

Drivers’ Salary and the Best-Earning Drivers:

There is also a noticeable difference in driver’s salary. Even though the drivers are all exposed to the same danger, some of them are earning tens of millions of dollars.

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Lewis Hamilton

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is currently driving for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team. Lewis and his team were able to dominate the competition for the past 6 years, beating record after record. His team backs up his performance with an upwards of $55 million-dollar contract, according to Spotrac. On top of his Mercedes contract, he has several sponsorship deals with brands such as IWC, Monster Energy, Bose, Puma and a fashion collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. All these deals combined are estimated to put more than $20 million in his bank account. Hamilton’s impressive brand building has put him in the position to be a top earning athlete across any sport.

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Fernanda Alonso

Fernando Alonso won the F1 Championship two times and he is also one of the most experienced drivers, not only because of his age, but he was also competing in the IndyCar Series and FIA World Endurance Championship. He left F1 in 2019 from the British Team Mclaren and is now back driving for the French Alpine F1 Team.

Under his current contract, Alonso earns $20.5 million.

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Max Verstappen

The 23 years old has a massive contract with his current team Red Bull Racing-Honda. In the 2021 season, he caused Lewis Hamilton a lot of headaches, winning 3 races in a row and surpassing Hamilton in the championship fight. He finished the season first, winning the 2021 championship. Since his Formula 1 debut as a 17-year-old, he has showed great performance, making him one of the biggest talents in Formula 1 history. Max Verstappen earned a five year, $55 million a year extension after winning the 2021 F1 championship.

What about the other drivers?

Let’s take George Russel as an example. He is a great driver, showing great performance with a car that’s not very fast. ROKiT Williams Racing is not able able to put a fast car on track or to pay Russel more than he is earning right now ($958,000) due to their financial problems.

Many factors affect the salary of a driver, and the salary of each team may vary greatly. Salarysport has a great record of most drivers’ salaries in 2022; check out the full table below:

  • Kimi Räikkönen ($7,525,000)
  • Antonio Giovinazzi ($684,000)
  • Max Verstappen ($19,500,000)
  • Sergio Pérez ($3,500,000)
  • Sebastian Vettel ($17,000,000)
  • Lance Stroll ($1,900,000)
  • Mick Schumacher ($600,000)
  • Nikita Mazepin ($500,000)
  • Daniel Ricciardo ($17,000,000)
  • Lando Norris ($1,500,000)
  • Lewis Hamilton ($60,000,000)
  • Valtteri Bottas ($11,000,000)
  • Fernando Alonso ($20,000,000)
  • Esteban Ocon ($4,600,000)
  • Nicholas Latifi ($950,000)
  • George Russell ($950,000)
  • Pierre Gasly ($1,900,000)
  • Yuki Tsunoda ($500,000)
  • Charles Leclerc ($30,000,000)
  • Carlos Sainz ($6,800,000)
Sports Strength

The History of the UFC Heavyweight Division

In combat sports, the title of Heavyweight Champion carries a special mystique. Whether it’s due to exceptional skill or stature or both, heavyweights are magnets for fame. Boxing has its Muhammad Alis and Mike Tysons; wrestling has its Aleksandr Karelins and Bruce Baumgartners. Mixed Martial Arts is no exception. Below, a complete list of UFC Heavyweight Champions since the inception of the division.

Mark Coleman (16-10 MMA, 7-5 UFC)

Feb. 7th, 1997 – Jul. 27th 1997

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Def. Dan Severn at UFC 12

Mark Coleman was–is–a maniac! (I mean that in the best way; I’ve met him and he’s awesome). After an accomplished amateur career that included two Ohio high school state titles, an NCAA championship and an appearance in the 1992 Summer Olympics, Coleman devoted himself to the then-new sport of MMA after stumbling onto a broadcast of UFC 1. 

Coleman started his combat sports career in his teens as a wrestler for Saint Joseph Central Catholic High School. After winning two state championships, he went on to wrestle at Miami University, in Ohio, before transferring to The Ohio State University and winning an NCAA championship. After placing 7th at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Mark happened to see the broadcast of UFC 1. From there, he dove headfirst into this new sport of MMA.

From the outset, Coleman dominated, thanks to a style that earned him the nickname, “The Godfather of Ground and Pound”. It was clear from the start of every fight that Coleman’s one goal was to take the action to the ground and strike his opponent unconscious or until they submitted. Thanks to his elite wrestling and ground and pound ability, he earned the first ever UFC Heavyweight Championship belt by defeating Dan Severn (101-19-7 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in a fight to unify the UFC Superfight Champion and UFC Tournament Champion titles. 

Though he was dominant early, his reign was short; Coleman lost his first and only title defense to a kickboxer named Maurice Smith. His stay may have been short-lived, but his impact is still felt to this day as one of the OG’s of MMA and one of the sport’s tactical trailblazers. 

Maurice Smith (14-17 MMA, 4-3 UFC)

Jul. 27th 1997 – Dec. 21st, 1997

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Def. Mark Coleman at UFC 14

Maurcie Smith’s title reign lasted just a little bit longer than Mark Coleman’s, as Smith notched one title defense against fan-favorite, Tank Abbott (10-15 MMA, 8-10 UFC). 

Prior to joining the UFC, “Mo” was an avid kickboxer. Although he didn’t officially make his kickboxing debut until he was 30 years old, Smith began training at 18. After nine kickboxing matches, a little Pancrase, and a stint on the regional MMA scene, Smith defeated Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman in his UFC debut, taking the title belt from Coleman and handing him the first loss of his UFC career in the process.Though he ended his career with more losses than wins, Smith etched his name into the history books by delivering one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.

Another (not so favorable) reason he’s going to be remembered is for his controversial loss to Randy Couture in his second title defense.

Randy Couture

(1) Dec. 21st, 1997 – Jan. 1998, (2) Nov 17th, 2000 – Mar. 22nd 2002, (3) Mar. 3rd 2007 – Feb. 2nd, 2008

Josh Hedges / Getty Images

Def. Maurice Smith at UFC Japan

“The Natural” Randy Couture captured the UFC heavyweight strap three times over his 14 year career and also defended it three times. Since August 2007, only one other heavyweight has reigned victorious in six title bouts (more on that guy later), and none more than that. 


Randy’s style was reminiscent of Mark Coleman’s, albeit with Couture being much more well rounded and technical than the “smash heavy” Coleman. Couture became champion for the first time by defeating Maurice Smith in a close, slow-paced fight, but didn’t hold the title for very long.  

In January 1998, Couture signed with Vale Tudo Japan and was stripped of his UFC title. In his return nearly three years later, Couture faced and defeated storied wrestler, Kevin Randleman. After defeating Randleman, Couture successfully defended his title against Pedro Rizzo (20-11 MMA, 10-4 UFC) not once, but twice in a row, as Rizzo was awarded an immediate rematch after a tightly contested first fight. After losing the title to Josh Barnett in March 2002, Couture regained the belt five years later for the third and final time, defeating Tim Sylvia. Couture managed to successfully defend his title for the last time against Gabriel Gonzaga (17-12 MMA, 12-10 UFC), but Couture’s title reign finally reached its end when he faced the ultimate hype train that is Brock Lesnar.

Though he never fought for a title again, Randy Couture remains one of the most legendary and successful heavyweights in the short history of the UFC.

Bas Rutten (28-4-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC)

May 7th, 1999 – June 1999

Josh Hedges / Getty Images

Def. Kevin Randleman at UFC 20

If you’re a fan of MMA, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen an ad with this incredibly spirited gentleman beating the shit out of this crazy-looking pad covered machine. If you haven’t seen it, you’re welcome (see Body Action System). 

Bas Rutten’s UFC career may have been short lived, but he was an astute veteran of combat having had 30 professional fights (all with pancrase) going into his debut. After he battered Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (41-33-2 MMA, 3-3 UFC), Bas got a title shot against Kevin Randleman. In a fight where position was dominated by Randleman, it was the accumulation of strikes that won the fight for Rutten who was fighting off his back nearly the entire fight. This split decision was met with heated controversy and resulted in the change of the judges official scoring system.

Bas vacated the title to drop to middleweight (now light heavyweight) to challenge to be the UFC’s first double champ, however, multiple injuries in preparation for his return led to the end of his UFC career.  

His stint in the UFC was short, but his impact on the sport is still felt today as he was recognized as one of the sports first great technicians, and was regarded for a time as the world’s greatest martial artist. 

Kevin Randleman (17-16 MMA, 4-3 UFC)

Nov. 19, 1999 – Nov. 17th, 2000

Susumu Nagao/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Pete Williams at UFC 23

Cue DJ Khalad. It’s time for “another one” with our next wrestler-turned-UFC Heavyweight Champion, Kevin “The Monster” Randleman. Like his mentor, former UFC heavyweight champ Mark Coleman, Randleman was a high school state champion in Ohio who then won two NCAA titles at The Ohio State University. Under Coleman’s tutelage at Team Hammer House, Randleman quickly climbed the ladder after making his UFC debut in 1999. 

After defeating former champ Maurice Smith in his debut and taking the controversial loss to Bas Rutten in his first attempt at gold, Randleman was awarded a second chance to fight for the crown once Rutten abdicated the throne. In his second attempt for the title, Randleman decisively defeated pete Williams in five rounds.

As champion, Randleman successfully defended the belt against Pedro Rizzo (unanimous decision) before losing to multiple time champ, Randy Couture by TKO. Over the next 10 years he fought for the UFC, PRIDE and Strikeforce before retiring at the age of 39. In 2016, he tragically passed away due to heart failure, but his legacy as one of the UFC’s toughest fighters lives on. 

Josh Barnett (35-8 MMA, 7-3 UFC)

Mar. 22nd, 2002 – Jul 26th, 2002

Photo by Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Randy Couture at UFC 36

Josh Barnett has been wildly successful in his time as a martial artist, but his career has been marred  by controversy. 

With 29 of his 35 wins coming by KO/TKO or submission, Barnett has been able to put away most of his opponents, including a TKO of Randy Couture to claim the title belt in March, 2002. Still, Barnett would be stripped of the title a few months after the fight after flunking his second steroid test of that year. 

This would be a common occurrence for Barnett throughout his career as he would go on to fail several more times. Although Barnett was one of the most prominent fighters to be caught juicing, he was hardly an anomaly; the UFC had rampant steroid usage problems during its early years, which has since necessitated the intervention of USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency). 

In 2009, Barnett, now on the Affliction circuit, again tested positive for steroids, spoiling a prospective fight against Fedor Emelianenko (40-6 MMA). 

Josh Barnett is a great fighter, there’s no debating that. He has defeated the likes of Mark Hunt (13-14-1 MMA, 8-10 UFC), and former champions Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir. The dude can fight, but he never had the chance to fully live up to his potential because he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stay clean.

Ricco Rodriguez (54-27-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC)

Sep 27th, 2002 – Feb. 28th, 2003

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Randy Couture at UFC 39

Ricco “Suave” Rodriguiez had his first fight in 1999 with his last coming in 2019. He’s successfully fought in three separate decades and, even at the relatively ancient age of  44-years-old, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he fought in fourth.  

After growing up between New Jersey and Staten Island, Ricco later relocated to California to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After a few years of competing in BJJ tournaments, he made his MMA debut in 1999. Within two years of starting in MMA, Rodriguezed amassed a 9-1 record before joining the chance to join the UFC. In his early UFC fights, Rodriguez took out perennial warriors Andrei Arlovski, Pete Williams and Tsuyoshi Kosaka, earning the right to challenge for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship against none other than the legendary Randy Couture. 

Despite being dominated by Couture for the bulk of the fight, Ricco Suave secured an early takedown with three minutes left in the fifth round, breaking Couture’s orbital bone with vicious elbows and forcing Couture to verbally tap out.  

Rodriguez was now a champion, but not for long—after defeating Randy Couture, Rodriguez lost his title less than 6-months later when he faced an undefeated Tim Sylvia. Sylvia KO’d in the first round and Rodriguez’s time in the UFC came to an end shortly thereafter once his contract expired in 2004. For the next 16 years, Rodriguez bounced around a variety of smaller circuits (even briefly transitioning to boxing), before retiring in 2018. 

Tim Sylvia (31-10 MMA, 9-4 UFC)

(1) Feb. 28th, 2003 – Oct. 15th 2003, (2) Apr. 15th 2006 – Mar. 3rd, 2007

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 41

Two fights and three rounds. That is all it took for “The Maine-iac” Tim Sylvia to capture UFC gold.

Well, kind-of… While it only took him the first round of his second UFC event, Sylvia had fought 16 times before joining the promotion. Originally a Karate kid who wrestled in high school, Sylvia played semi-pro football upon graduation until he fully committed himself to MMA.

After a brief three-fight stint on the amatuer circuit, Sylvia won his first 16 professional fights, with 10 of those victories coming either via TKO/KO or a submission. In his 15th pro fight, he KO’d Ricco Rodriguez to become the Heavyweight Champion and managed to successfully defend the title against Gan McGee in February, 2003. Unfortunately for Sylvia, he lost his belt to Frank Mir in his next fight, submitting after being put in an armbar in the first round. 

In 2005, Sylvia faced off against Andrei Arlovski for the vacant belt, but succumbed to an Achilles lock. However, Sylvia got his revenge against Arlovski the next year, knocking out the Belrusian in a rematch and reclaiming the title. Sylvia defended his throne against Arlovski (the final installment of their trilogy) and Jeff Monson, but eventually lost a unanimous decision to Randy Couture, who captured his fifth UFC Championship  in a unanimous decision.  

After his departure from the UFC, Tim fought another 14 times against varying competition, including another fight against Arlovski and one against Fedor Emelianenko (40-6 MMA). 

In 2015, Sylvia was denied medical clearance to fight and announced his retirement in the cage alongside his potential opponent. Although Sylvia hadn’t had enough, the doctors had.

Frank Mir (19-13 MMA, 16-11 UFC)

(1) Jun. 19th, 2004 – Aug. 12th, 2005, (Interim) Dec. 27th, 2008 – Mar. 27th, 2010

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Def. Tim Sylvia at UFC 48, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92 (Interim)

Like Randy Couture, Frank Mir is a recognizable name, fighting in the UFC 26 times over 16 years. 

A 16 year vet of the UFC, Mir got his start training at the American Kenpo school that his parents owned and then later turned to wrestling as a way to improve his American Kenpo performance. After high school, Frank met UFC matchmaker Joe Silva while training BJJ, who convinced Mir to try out MMA. Two fights and two wins later, Mir earned a shot with the UFC. 

After 6 UFC fights spanning 3 years (2001-04), he got a chance at gold in 2004, squaring off against Tim Sylvia for the vacant UFC Heavyweight title. Mir broke Sylvia arm in the first round. Yes, you read that right. Even though Mir had Sylvia locked up in a straight armbar, Sylvia refused to tap; for his troubles, Sylvia had his arm snapped into four pieces. F*ck that! 

Unfortunately, Mir broke his femur and torn multiple ligaments in his leg. Unable to unify and defend his interim title, Mir was stripped of his belt.  

When he finally came back a year and a half later in February, 2006,  Mir was upset by BJJ blackbelt Marcio Cruz (8-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), losing by TKO in the first round. After a turbulent two years, Mir spoiled Brock Lesnar’s UFC debut in 2008, earning him a chance to once again fight for the Heavyweight belt. Battling for the interim title against Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Mir knocked out the Brazilian with a flurry of punches. Sadly, Mir’s second attempt at defending his title only went marginally better than his first, with Brock Lesnar ground-and-pounding him during their rematch. 

Mir again fought for the interim title (2010), and then the undisputed title (2011), losing both bouts to Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos respectively. Since then, Mir is 3-7 in MMA and 0-2 in boxing (kinda – see Triad Combat). 

Andrei Arlovski (32-20 MMA, 21-15 UFC)

(Interim Promoted to Undisputed Champion) Feb. 5th, 2005 – Apr. 15th, 2006

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Def. Tim Sylvia at UFC 51 (Interim, promoted to undisputed)

“The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski is the first fighter on this list who’s still actively competing in the UFC. At 42, Arlovski has won 4 of his last 5 fights, most recently notching a victory in October, 2021

Bullied as a kid, Arlovski started Sambo, Judo, and Kickboxing at the age of 16, eventually winning the European Youth Sambo Championships. Shortly after his success in Sambo, Arlovski developed an  interest in MMA, which inspired him to develop other skills and become a more well-rounded martial artist. 

Winning seven of his first 10 fights, Arlovski matched up against Sylvia in 2005 to fight for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship that was created following Frank Mir’s motorcycle accident. In this fight, Arlovski faced Tim Sylvia and finished him with a straight ankle lock after dropping him with a vicious right hand. Arlovski now had gold around his waist!

While waiting for a unification bout against Mir, Arlovski defended his title twice, TKO-ing Justin Eilers (19-7-1 MMA, 1-3 UFC) in the first round and then doing the same to Paul Buentello (35-17 MMA, 3-3 UFC) in the second. As a result of these dominating performances and Mir’s continued absence, Arlovski was promoted and became the undisputed champion.

By this point, though, Sylvia had rebounded from his earlier loss to Arlovski, winning three consecutive fights and setting up a rematch between the two rivals. Ultimately, Sylvia would seize the belt by beating Arlovski in consecutive fights. Although Arlovski has remained a strong presence on the circuit after those losses to Sylvia and undoubtedly still has gas left in the tank (he wants to fight until at least 45), he hasn’t participated in any championship fights since he last lost to Arlovski. Let’s hope he can keep up his strong form and avoid a downward spiral to round out his career as many before him have.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-10-1 MMA, 5-6 UFC)

(Interim) Feb. 2nd, 2008 – Dec. 27th, 2008

Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Tim Sylvia at UFC 81 (Interim)

“Big Nog” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira practiced judô, boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu in his time growing up in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil. By the age of 25, he was set to make his mixed martial arts debut. Most of his early career was spent fighting for PRIDE, where he faced quite a few of MMA’s top contenders, notching wins over Dan Henderson (32-15 MMA, 9-9 UFC), former champ Ricco Rodriguez and Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1 MMA, 12-6 UFC).

In 2008, nine years and 35 fights into his MMA career, Antonio met and defeated Tim Sylvia (this dude, again??) to capture the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship in comeback fashion, pulling a guillotine choke shortly after being knocked down with strikes late in the third round. After winning the title, Nog and former UFC Champion Frank Mir appeared as coaches on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. After the season, Nogueira and Mir fought for the interim title where Mir won the lopsided affair by TKO in the second round. 

Since then, Big Nog traded wins for losses until hitting a three-fight skid that led to his retirement. Nogueira’s career was marked with him being a dominant force on the ground, with skills exceeding that of any other fighters at the time – and that’s how he should be remembered.

Brock Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC)

Nov. 15th, 2008 – Oct. 23rd, 2010

Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Def. Randy Couture at UFC 91

Our next champion is the WWE’s long-tenured bad boy, Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, like many before and after him, grew up an amatuer wrestler. He went on to compete at Bismarck State College, winning a national junior college title (NJCAA) in his sophomore year before transferring to the University of Minnesota. There, Lesnar became a two-time Big Ten Champion and a one time NCAA Champion. After college, Lesnar transitioned into professional wrestling where he made his debut for the WWE in 2002, just two years into his career.

Lesnar rose to stardom quickly, defeating Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson later that year to become the youngest WWE champion at age 25. Lesnar would spend five more years headlining WWE events before eventually making and winning his MMA debut in 2007. 

In just his 2nd MMA fight, Lesnar faced former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, in a test he would not pass, losing by kneebar. Next, he had a scheduled bout with Mark Coleman that unfortunately never happened due to a Coleman injury (can you imagine how insane those two would look fighting one another??). His replacement, Heath Herring (28-16 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was a formidable opponent, but undoubtedly a step down from Mir. This fight managed to go the distance with Lesnar taking the win by unanimous decision, and was more than enough evidence for the UFC that they could put the WWE star in a fight for the title (plus, dollar signs…)

In a fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, we saw the sports most heralded heavyweight champion of the time, Randy Couture, fall in the second round to MMA newbie Lesnar. Brock was able to keep the fight standing and after knocking down Couture with strikes, was able to capitalize and finish the fight by raining down punches. Through 2010, we saw Brock defend his title in two unification bouts, one avenging a loss against Frank Mir with punches, and another by finishing Shane Carwin with an arm-triangle choke. 

Though starting his career incredibly strong, Lesnar went on to lose his title to then-up-and-comer Cain Valezquez by first round TKO. After battling a bout of diverticulitis that required surgery, Lesnar returned to face Alistair Overeem and lost in the first round after taking multiple body shots. In his last fight with the UFC, he faced the storied Mark Hunt in a fight that he dominated, but was later overturned to a no-contest after Lesnar tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Though a comeback has been discussed, nothing has come to fruition and at this point, that’s likely a good thing. Lesnar’s time in the UFC was short lived, but nothing less than massively entertaining. With his showmanship and the experience he attained as a top WWE athlete, Lesnar certainly added some fun wrinkles to the UFC history books in the late 2000s.

Shane Carwin (12-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC)

(Interim) Mar. 27th, 2010 – Jul. 3rd, 2010

Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Frank Mir at UFC 111 (Interim)

Ding, another wrestler! Unlike his wrestling counterparts, though,“The Engineer ” Shane Carwin has a college degree and worked in mechanical engineering alongside his MMA career.

At Western State College, Shane pursued his degree while competing in both wrestling and football, becoming a NCAA D2 Heavyweight Champion and participating in the Senior Bowl in 1997. This guy can handle a lot at once!

That being the case, Carwin took his time and eventually made his debut in MMA in 2005. He took 8 fights over the course of two years, winning them all and earning his shot in the UFC. Between 2008-09, The Engineer fought Christain Wellisch, Neil Wain, and Gabriel Gonzaga, winning each fight in the first round and demonstrating spectacular punching power. This led to him having the opportunity to compete for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship against Frank Mir. 

Carwin’s punching power reigned supreme in a fight where he smashed Mir against the fence and proceeded to hammer him with short punches before falling to the ground and being finished off with ground and pound from the back. Carwin captured a piece of UFC gold and was set to unify the title in a bout against out next champion, Brock Lesnar. This unification didn’t go Carwin’s way, and he lost his following bout to Junior dos Santos, but he remains as one of the more powerful punchers in UFC history.

Shane Carwin never fought MMA again, but did fight a modified rules boxing match against skateboarder Jason Ellis in 2016, where he had his right arm duct taped to his body. Nonetheless–surprise, surprise–he still won by knockout.

Cain Velasquez (14-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC)

(1) Oct. 23rd, 2010 – Nov. 12th, 2011, (2) Dec. 29th 2012 – Jun. 13th, 2015

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Brock Lesnar at UFC 121

Cain Velasquez stands as one of the most intimidating forces to ever compete inside a UFC octagon. Sure, he has some blemishes to his record, but he still stands as one of the most gifted and awe-inspiring heavyweight fighters who ever was.

That said, can you guess what sport he started in? You might as well guess wrestling, because you’ll be right almost every time. After a high school career that saw him compile a record of 110-10, Velasquez went on to win an NJCAA National Championship for Iowa Central Community College before transferring to Arizona State University. There, he secured 5th and 4th place finishes at the NCAA tournament in his final two years (2005-06).

Right after college, Velasquez joined American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) and began training to take his first fight. That same year, he fought twice, winning his first two bouts within the first round due to strikes. That was enough to earn him a shot at the UFC; his domination continued as he rattled off eight wins in a row, including one over “Big Nog”, with only one of them not coming by KO/TKO. 

Enter “The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar. Though Brock started strong by landing a takedown, Velasquez eventually made it back to his feet and ended the fight with elite striking. Not only did he derail the Lesnar hype train, he captured UFC gold! Unfortunately, he tore his rotator cuff in the midst of the fight and was sidelined for a year before making his first title defense, which was against a Brazilian up-and-comer named Junior dos Santos. This fight was billed as an exciting clash but many expected Velasquez to dominate in retaining his title. Just one minute into the skirmish, it was a sweeping overhand by dos Santos that connected, put Velasquez down and led to the finishing sequence of punches. 

Though his title reign ended quickly, it wasn’t long before he was fighting for gold once again, defeating Antonio Silva 6-months later to earn another shot at JDS. This time, the fight went much more as expected, seeing Velasquez dominate dos Santos for all five rounds on his way to a unanimous decision win, where he landed double digit takedowns, and triple digit significant strikes. Once again, one of the most imposing forces in MMA was the UFC Heavyweight Champion.

After capturing the title for a second time, Velasquez was back to his finishing ways, defending the title against Antonio Silva and JDS, winning both before the bell thanks to his heavy hands. Then came Fabricio Werdum. Werdum had won the Interim title a few months before, as Velasquez had gotten injured in preparation for their initial title fight. Once they finally met in the octagon, Werdum was able to finish Cain by guillotine choke in the third round, marking the first time he had lost via submission in his nearly 10-year career. 

A rematch was scheduled for February of 2016, but both fighters needed more time as injuries arose. Upon his return, Velasquez faced and defeated Travis Browne (18-7-1 MMA, 10-7 UFC), but in another attempt to face Werdum, he was not cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission due to bone spurs in his back. 

Velasquez took one last fight in February 2019 against Francis N’Gannou, where, in 26 short seconds, a short uppercut dropped him and led to him to being finished by ground and pound.

Though Velasquez has yet to fight again, he is currently competing as a professional wrestler for Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and has made appearances in the WWE. He seems to be moving on from real fighting to opt more for entertainment, and good on him for continuing to use his athletic skills to bring something worth watching to the world.

Junior dos Santos (21-9 MMA, 15-8 UFC)

Nov. 12th, 2011 – Dec. 29th 2012

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Def. Cain Velasquez at UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos

Finally, enough with the wrestlers! “Cigano”, Junior dos Santos or JDS for short, grew up in Brazil training in capoeira before committing to BJJ at the age of 21. He turned pro just one year later (2006), winning his first 5 fights in little over a year’s time. After winning six of his first seven fights, he made his debut for the UFC as a clear underdog against Fabricio Werdum. In a stunning turn of events, JDS knocked Werdum out in under two-minutes, earning him the knockout of the year for the UFC. 

To follow the impressive start, Cigano followed with six wins in a row to fight for the title against the aforementioned Cain Velasquez. As we explored, it was a massive overhand that sent Velasquez tumbling and earned JDS his first UFC Heavyweight Championship. Six months later, he successfully defended his title against perennial contender, Frank Mir, defeating him with superior boxing and finishing the fight in the second round. 

Seven months later, JDS faced Velasquez for a second time and lost his title by unanimous decision. Though he would go on to challenge for the title a few more times throughout his career, Dos Santos has yet to capture it again and is most recently riding a four-fight losing streak against a row of killers (Francis N’Gannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Ciryl Gane).

In March of 2021, it was announced that JDS was being released from the UFC and we have since seen him also compete in professional wrestling, but for an organization called All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1 MMA, 12-6 UFC)

(Interim) Nov. 15th, 2014 – Jun. 13th 2015, (2) Jun. 13th, 2015 – May 14th, 2016

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Def. Mark Hunt at UFC 180 (Interim), Cain Velasquez at UFC 188 (Undisputed)

Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum’s venture into combat sports is unlike any others on this list; it started only after he was choked out in a triangle choke by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

Ouch. Talk about a blow to the ego. Luckily for Werdum, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s way more successful than Mr. Steal Ya Girl. 

Werdum made his professional debut in 2002, winning six of his first seven fights, the one blemish being a draw. At this time, Fabricio was competing in PRIDE, facing top competition pre-UFC (Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira). In 2007, Vai Cavalo made his UFC debut against Andrei Arlovski, losing by unanimous decision to the former UFC Heavyweight champ. Over the next seven years, Werdum would fight 11 times between the UFC and Strikeforce before putting together a four-fight win streak to earn the opportunity at the Heavyweight belt. Due to the fact that the champion of the time, Cain Velasquez, was injured,  Werdum instead fought Mark Hunt for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Title. Werdum finished Mark halfway through the second round, throwing a long knee from range, connecting perfectly to send him to the canvas. 

Finally, on June 13th of 2015, Werdum challenged for the UFC Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, defeating Velasquez by guillotine choke in the third round, and was declared the unquestioned champion of the heavyweight division. In his first and only title defense, he faced first-time title challenger, Stipe Miocic. While charging forward and throwing a flurry, Werdum was caught with a counter right-hand that sent him crashing into the canvas. He was out cold.

Since then, Werdum traded wins and losses through his final contract with the UFC, and in 2021 decided to go fight for the PFL (Professional Fighters League). His first and only fight with them was met with controversy as it seemed his opponent tapped to a choke prior to a fight ending sequence that left Werdum on the losing end. The fight has since been reviewed and overturned to a no-contest.

Stipe Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC)

(1) May 14th, 2016 – Jul. 7th, 2018, (2) Aug. 17th 2019 – Mar. 27th, 2021

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Def. Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198

Stipe Miocic is widely considered as the greatest UFC Heavyweight of all time. While capturing the title twice, he also defended it four times, including a record three in-a-row. No heavyweight in the world has dominated the top of the UFC Heavyweight division quite like Miocic. And guess what… we’ve got ourselves another wrestler!

Born in Euclid, OH, Miocic grew up a multi-sport athlete between football, baseball and wrestling. He went on to play baseball and wrestle between Cleveland State, Trevecca Nazarene, and Coker College. He was initially brought into Strong Style MMA to wrestle with former UFC contender, Dan Bobish, and soon began training himself. After becoming a Golden Gloves Champion and competing at nationals, the former NCAA Division I wrestler developed the tools to dominate those at his level, making his debut in 2006 and winning his first six fights by KO.

Such a run earned him a shot in the UFC. Between his UFC debut in 2011 and 2016, Miocic fought 10 times, winning eight fights, five of which were finished with strikes. This was enough to earn him a shot against the current champion, Fabricio Werdum.The fight was set in Werdum’s home country of Brazil and was attended by a notably hostile crowd that was eager to watch the challenger fall. Unfortunately for them, Miocic had other plans. Early in the fight, Werdum blitzed forward, leaving himself exposed. Miocic saw the opening and put Werdum out cold with one precise punch. A new champion was crowned, and Stipe brought a championship back to the city of Cleveland for the first time since 1964.

After defeating Werdum, Miocic defended his title three times against the often challenging Alistair Oveerm, Francis N’Gannou, and former champion Junior dos Santos. He then met UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier. Late in the first round, while escaping the clinch, Miocic exited with his hands low and caught a short shot that put him on the ground. The fight was over shortly afterward and Daniel Cormier was crowned champion. More than a year later, the two fought a second time, with this fight being one of the toughest in Miocic’s career. Although he was outmatched for much of the fight, Miocic found an opening by way of body shots late into the fourth round. By taking advantage and hammering Cormier’s body, he was able to land some ferocious shots to the head and put Cormier to the canvas for the win and the championship. Since both fighters had just traded wins, the UFC booked the trilogy, a third fight between the two. This time, in a much less damaging fight for both men, we saw Miocic grind out a very tactical, hard fought win, coming by way of unanimous decision. This fight marked Miocic’s record-setting 6th win in UFC Heavyweight Title fights and cemented him in the record books.

Daniel Cormier (22-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC)

Jul. 7th, 2018 – Aug. 17th, 2019

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Def. Stipe Miocic at UFC 226

Daniel Cormier’s successful career has been tied heavily to two individuals: Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones, the only two men to defeat DC over the course of his 11-year, 26-fight career. The last of his kind on this list, DC was an elite wrestler coming out of Lafayette, Louisiana. He started at Colby Community College, going 61-0, before transferring to Oklahoma State University. There he finished second in the country, losing in the NCAA finals to wrestling legend, Cael Sanderson. His final record at OSU was 53-10.

After college, Cormier competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finding success as an Olympic level wrestler. Following his Olympic achievements, he turned to training MMA. Though he finished his career as a heavyweight, he fought most of his career at light heavyweight. Cormier dominated nearly everybody in his early MMA career, starting in Strikeforce and compiling an 11-0 record before getting called to the UFC. Even then, he faced little adversity in his first four fights with the UFC. Then came Jon Jones. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you know who Jon Jones is and the ups and downs that come with one of MMA’s most outstanding and chaotic fighters. 

In this first title challenge for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, we saw DC lose a unanimous decision to the undefeated Jones. Months later, Jones was stripped of the title due to a felony hit-and-run, and DC was set to challenge for the title once again, this time against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (23-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC). After defeating Johnson by rear-naked choke, DC went on to defend his title three times, including a second time against Rumble Johnson. In between came another heartbreaking loss to Jon Jones, which was overturned to a no-contest, because Jones tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. As such, the title stayed in DC’s hands. 

After such a dominant reign at LHW, DC wanted to move up and challenge Stipe for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. In their first meeting, DC was able to capitalize on that short right hand when leaving the clinch to put down Miocic and secure the victory to win Heavyweight gold. Soon after, he defended his title successfully against “The Black Beast”, Derrick Lewis, winning by rear-naked choke. Then came the final two fights against Stipe that resulted in two subsequent losses and the retirement of one Daniel Cormier.

DC had a storied and successful career, a career marked by being on the other side of two extremely dominant champions. This does not denote his achievements, but many will remember him by being the other side of Jon Jones–and in my opinion, that’s a lot better than being Jon Jones.

Francis Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC)

Mar. 27th, 2021 – Present

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Def. Stipe Miocic at UFC 260

One of the most terrifying men to walk this earth, Francis “The Predator” N’Gannou is not a man from whom anyone wants to line up across the cage. Born and raised in a village in Cameroon, Francis worked in sand quarries, harboring dreams of pursuing professional boxing. By the age of 22, he started training and by 26, he took off to Paris, France to pursue professional fighting.

Once he arrived in Paris, he ended up at the MMA factory where he trained and lived at no cost. This is where Fernand Lopez, the MMA Factory’s head coach, convinced N’Gannou to pursue MMA instead. In 2013, Francis made his MMA debut. He won five of his first six bouts before garnering the attention of the UFC. Once there, he rattled off six wins in a row, many by landing huge strikes that sent his opponents crumbling. Thus, his title shot had arrived. In his first try at gold, he was tasked with facing Stipe Miocic. Although N’Gannou unloaded his full arsenal, he was unable to secure the victory, losing a unanimous decision to Miocic.

He then had one of the most slow-paced, not action packed fights in the UFC’s history against Derrick Lewis. Both being known for having insane knockout power, neither guy was willing to get too close or do too much in a fight that saw Lewis come out with the win (they should’ve both been given an L). Since then, he put together 4 wins in a row, all in the first round, where he connected with brutal punches that no man has been able to handle. Again, he earned an opportunity to challenge Miocic for the title. In this title challenge, we saw N’Gannou come out much more measured and calculated. He still threw the big shots, but he was charging forward and throwing less, opting to stay patient and pick his shots. A very scary sight indeed. This time around he was able to find the punch that would put Miocic down and garner him the UFC Heavyweight Championship. 

N’Gannou is scary, with nobody seemingly able to match the power he has in his hands. However, the newest UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion may have the recipe.

Cyril Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC)

(Interim) Aug. 7th, 2021 – Jan. 22nd, 2022

Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Hailing from La Roche-sur-Yon, France, Ciryl Gane grew up playing proper football and basketball but didn’t pursue either at a higher level. While working at a furniture store, he was introduced to Muay Thai and subsequently made his professional Muay Thai debut in 2016, winning by second round knockout. After winning four more in a row, he faced multiple time WBC MuayThai champion Yassine Boughanem and won the fight by decision–particularly impressive considering he had started fighting for only a few years.

In 2018, Gane made his professional MMA debut. He won three in a row before signing with the UFC. Under the UFC’s banner, Gane has won seven fights in a row, including a finish against Derrick Lewis, to capture the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship. We have since found out that Gane is a former sparring partner of Francis NGannou and possesses the physical tools to move in and around the Cameroonian–to land strikes and not be struck. Ultimately, though, Gane lost the belt to his former sparring partner.

Francis Ngannou

Jan 22., 2022 – present

Getty Images

By defeating Gane in an unanimous decision at UFC 270, Ngannou unified the belts and became the undisputed best heavyweight in the sport. Already the best African fighter of all-time, the Cameroonian will add to his legacy whenever he fights again, which should be some time early next year.

Sports Strength

What is Pickleball? Everything You Need to Know About the Sport of the Future

Pickleball, once the bailiwick of retirement communities and high school gym classes, is now the fastest growing sport in America. Since 2020, pickleball’s player base has increased by nearly 40%, with the lionshare of that growth coming amongst younger players. While the game started as a humble lawn game and is named after some guy’s dog, it has recently become a relatively big business with a robust professional tour. Last month, Tom Dundon (the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes and the front-man for the now-defunct Alliance of American Football) purchased the Professional Pickleball Association. Similarly, another upstart promotion, Major League Pickleball, has a coterie of big-deal investors that’s headlined by tennis legend James Blake and Marc Lasry, the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks.

 In other words, pickleball will soon be a big deal, if it isn’t one already. Here’s everything you need to know about the sport of the future. 

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is essentially the midpoint between tennis and ping-pong. Like tennis, it’s largely played on outdoor courts—a pickleball court is roughly the size of the deuce and ad boxes on a tennis court; like ping-pong, the game is played with paddles instead of racquets and the ball is made of plastic (a pickleball is essentially a wiffleball with a more uniform and predictable perforation pattern). It’s a lot of fun.

What are the rules?

The number one rule is to enjoy yourself! But seriously, the rules are simple—hit the ball over the net and don’t hit it out of bounds. Besides that, the rules are mainly mechanisms to make games and rallies more fun. Namely, the ball needs to bounce on both the serve and the return before any volleys are allowed and there’s a no-volley zone directly in front of the net on both sides.  

Scoring-wise, the most unique rule is that you can only score points when you or your team is serving. If the server wins a rally, they earn a point; if the returner wins the point, they then get to become the server. On the professional tour, each “game” is won by the first player/team to score 11 points and each match is won by the first player/team to win three “games.”

Who are the best players?

Ben Johns, a 22 year-old college senior, is probably the best pickleballer in the world, ranked as the number one men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles player in the world. He’s the George Mikan or Johnny Unitas of pickleball, the sport’s first superstar who introduces the game to a broader audience. Outside of Johns, other notable men’s players are Collin Johns (Ben’s brother and doubles partner) and Tyson McGuffin, the #2 men’s player and the tattooed bad-boy of pickleball.

On the women’s side, Catherine Parenteau is the top-ranked competitor. A former college tennis player at the University of Arkansas and Michigan State University, Parenteau transferred her focus to pickleball in 2016 once she ran out of college eligibility. Interestingly, Parenteau was introduced to pickleball by Simone Jardin, the head tennis coach at Michigan State who herself moonlights as an elite pickleballer.

What are the biggest pickleball competitions?

Honestly, it’s still kind of hard to say. At this point, pickleball’s structure is similar to that of pro boxing, lacking a single, centralized governing body. Of the three professional pickleball tours, the Dundon-backed Professional Pickleball Association and the Austin-based Major League Pickleball seem to have the most juice. The PPA is probably the sport’s closest analogue to the ATP or PGA and oversees the Champions Cup, the PPA Open, the Toronto Cup, the PPA Championships and The Masters, which are considered the five “majors.” Outside of the “majors,” the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah and the US Open are considered to be marquee events.

Alternatively, Major League Pickleball seems like a combo of a pickleball super-league and hype house. Whereas the PPA events are open to anybody who qualifies, MLP consists of only 32 of the best players (including Ben Johns and Catherine Parenteau) and has the biggest purse of any tournament. MLP also hosts all of its events at its homebase in Austin, Texas, giving it the capacity to produce its own social content and promote the sport. 

Where can I watch?

The biggest events are available on ESPN+ with the finals of those tournaments even broadcasted on ESPN or ESPN2. Beyond those events, the PPA and MLP both livestream their tournaments on Youtube; the next PPA tournament is the Riverland Open, which takes place from March 10th-13th.