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  • Writer's pictureJohnathan Ramsay

The 10 Best and Coldest Photos In UFC History

The 10 Best Photos In UFC History

Sean Strickland vs Israel Adesanya UFC 293

There’s been a lot of talk online recently about the best photos in UFC history or the coldest photos in UFC history or the hardest photos in UFC history - whatever you want to call it, we’re talking about the coolest photos of all time from the world's biggest MMA organisation. 

Because the UFC has been around since 1993, there’s a lot of cool photos to choose from, so almost everyone has a different top 10 list. In this list we’ll present ours, from a combat sports and fight photographer’s point of view!

What makes a good UFC photo?

Before we get into the list, it’s worth quickly covering what makes a combat sports photo. In one word ‘uniqueness’. There’s a million photos of dudes getting their jaws rocked. It happens just about every fight unless you’re watching some BJJ expert roll around for three rounds. So, some of the most iconic photos not only in UFC history, but in combat sports history in general, aren’t even of the fight itself. Often they’ll be from before or after the fight. A fighter looking ready for war or one that’s just had a war and came out of the other side with their head held high.

However, that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t unique fight photos. There’s a bunch of them too. Fighters pulling off incredible moves or freeze frames of moments that shocked the sporting world. In recent memory, Francis Ngannou standing over Tyson Fury as he hits the canvas is an incredibly iconic bit of combat sports photography. Not so much because it’s a unique shot or moment, but more so because of the context and the fighters involved. It’s what these photos mean that often makes them ‘cold’ or ‘hard’. It’s the subtext.

Anyway… media lecture over, let’s just look at some top quality combat sports photography shall we?

The 10 Hardest Photos in UFC History

10. UFC 294 Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2: The Shush

UFC fighter Islam Makhachev after knocking out Alexander Volkonovski

I was tempted to put this photo quite high on my list but I might just be suffering from some recency bias. However, it is a quality photo. Arguably the perfect fight photo. It virtually tells the story of the fight in one frame. The composition, with Makhachev humbly asking the crowd to be quiet with Volkanovski still recovering from the KO in the background, slightly out of focus. From a photography standpoint, it’s near perfect. Fight photography excellence! Number 10, number 1? What’s the difference?

9. UFC 126 Silva vs Belfort: That Front Kick KO

UFC Fighter Anderson Silva using a front kick

I know I said action shots aren’t always the best fight photos, but I also said it’s all about context. And the content of this freeze frame is one of the most iconic knockouts in UFC history by one of the most iconic fighters in UFC history. If you get a chance, rewatch this fight again man. Prime Silva is just such a delight to watch. Incredible knockout and one of the coldest fight photos of all time capturing the moment of impact.

8. Tony Ferguson smiling and bloody

UFC Fighter Tony Ferguson smiling with blood on his body between fight rounds

It’s photos like these that people often pick as their best fight photos of all time. Ones in between rounds that tell the story of the fight in one frame. The cult hero Tony Ferguson, covered in someone else’s blood, smiling with his signature fang mouth guard is just so iconic. This one captures both the personality of the fighter and the brutality of the sport. Without doubt one of the hardest UFC photos of all time.

7.UFC 239 Askren vs Masvidal: That Flying Knee KO

UFC Fighter Jorge Masvidal flying knee knockout of Ben Askren

This freeze frame perfectly captures the moment of impact on one of the most iconic and unique knockouts of all time. It’s an action shot, but it’s a unique one and that’s why it makes it onto our list. Masvidal flying in the air and perfectly clipping Askren with his knee was a one in a million shot and considering it happed about 5 seconds into the fight the photographer really had to be on their toes to get this epic fight photo.

6. WEC 53 Pettis vs Henderson:The Showtime Kick

Anthony Pettis flying super kick off the cage

Ok technically not UFC, but technically UFC because Zuffa, UFC’s parent company, also owned WEC. So don’t even bother complaining man. This one isn’t even the best photo in terms of composition or capturing the moment of impact, but it’s the best your gonna get and you’ve got to applaud the photographer’s efforts here. Pettis pulled that off the cage superkick out of nowhere, so the fact the photographer caught any of it deserves recognition as one of the hardest MMA photos of all time. This kick is probably one of the most viral MMA moments of all time too. Without a doubt it deserves to be known as one of the best fight photos.

5. UFC on ABC Holloway vs Kattar: “I’m the best boxer in the UFC!”

UFC Fighter Max Holloway vs Kattar telling him he's the best boxer in the UFC

This one might be a bit of a controversial pick because you really need to know the context to get why this photo is hard. The photo doesn’t really tell the story as such… but f**k it, it’s one of the hardest UFC moments ever therefore any photo of that moment should be considered hard. It’s my list, get over it. I’M THE BEST BLOGGER IN THE UFC! What a moment man, I could rewatch this time and time again. The passion and skill from Holloway as he picks apart Kattar is amazing.

4. UFC 234 Silva vs Adesanya: Bring It!

UFC Fighters Silva vs Adesanya in the cage as Adesanya poses

I love this photo but it’s also a bit of a weird one as Izzy’s pose makes it a sort of manufactured moment, if you get what I’m saying. He was purposely trying to create an iconic photo. Anyway, he and the photographer succeeded. You may say it’s cringe, but I’m saying it’s a cold UFC photo. It’s pretty high up on the list and I don’t care!

3. UFC 261 Usman vs Masvidal 2: Big KO

UFC Fighter Jorge Masvidal getting knocked out by Usman

This is the last and highest rated action shot on this list and I think it’s pretty obvious to see why. This is the perfect knockout photograph. The water and sweat flying off of Masvidal’s head and the fact both fighter’s faces are in the photo makes this the perfect action shot composition. It’s super dramatic, filled with emotion and tells the story of the fight in one frame. This is the hardest action photo you’ll find from the UFC as far as I’m concerned.

2. GSP and his stacked corner team

UFC Fighter Georges St-Pierre and his corner team in the UFC octagon before a fight

This photo is the one that really kicked off this debate online, with many claiming George St-Pierre and his stacked corner is the hardest UFC photo of all time. I’ve ranked it number 2, so I almost agree. It’s the expressions that really make this photo. GSP looking icy at his opponent, ready to kill, his corner looking over too with looks like ‘my guy is going to f**k’ you up. No one can deny this is one of the hardest UFC photos of all time, one of the hardest fight photos of all time. But for me, there’s one more photo that knocks it off the top spot.

1. UFC 196 McGregor vs Diaz: “I’m Not Surprised…”

UFC Fighter Nate Diaz celebrating after beating Conor McGregor

Nate Diaz celebrating to the camera, his face covered with the crimson mask after chocking out the biggest name in MMA, is my pick for the hardest UFC photo of all time. It tells not only the story of the fight but the story of Diaz as a fighter. He’s worn the storm, he’s been through hell, but he’s came out the other side victorious when everyone doubted him. This photo has been graffitied on walls in Stockton, California, made into countless art prints and dawns the walls of Gyms all over the world. For me, this is the hardest UFC photo of all time.

The best UFC photos of all time?

Let us know in the comments what your picks are for the best UFC photos of all time. Did any of your picks make our list, which ones have we missed? Let us know in the comments and keep an eye out for an updated list with your picks in future! 

We’ll also be creating more fight photography related lists in the future so be sure to check in regularly and follow RIDE Media on Instagram for updated and amazing fight photos. 

What is RIDE Media?

Muay Thai Fight Photography

RIDE Media is a photography and videography company based in the North East of England, Newcastle Upon Tyne, and operating throughout the UK. We specialise in fight photography, sport photography, fashion photography, portrait photography and so much more. We also specialise in videography including promotional videos, TikTok and Instagram reels, event videography and more.

We pride ourselves on offering affordable, high quality media solutions that you can rely on. If you need no-nonsense photography and videography services for yourself, your brand or business, get in touch today for a chat! 

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