When you see Jon “Bones” Jones in the UFC Octagon, it’s important that you get your bathroom break out of the way while Bruce Buffer is still in the middle of introductions, because what follows are 25 consecutive don’t-blink moments; 1,500 seconds during which something truly amazing might happen.
Jones is liable to do anything. Spinning back elbows, judo throws, suplexes only seen in pro wrestling—Jones is physically capable of pulling off even the most bizarre ideas. But that’s just the start. Any reasonable athlete can take instructions from a stunt coordinator and do some incredible things.
What’s exceptional is the way Jones melds his physical skill with his creative and artistic side. He’s not just a jock, he’s a jock who’s mentally flexible enough in the cage to even consider letting loose his inner Van Gogh.
Jones is an artist who paints in blood. It’s his opponent’s, but it doesn’t have to be. Other fighters, like Diego Sanchez, paint their masterpieces mostly with their own fluid—and it’s just as remarkable.
What follows are 25 of the most exciting fighters of the last 19 years of professional mixed martial arts. They come from diverse backgrounds in wrestling, jiu jitsu, boxing and even street fighting.
But they have one thing in common.
When they stepped into the cage, fans knew they were going to get one heck of a show.