Having a strong chin is a must for every fighter. The ability to take a shot and keep going is often the decisive factor in who takes the win when two fighters are too closely matched.
MMA has had its fair share of iron-jawed individuals who defy logic and come out unfazed after receiving vicious blows to the head. Today we will cover 10 of the very best chins in MMA.
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What Is a Strong Chin in MMA?
Having a strong chin in fighting means absorbing strikes to the head without falling unconscious. Some fighters can brush off man-killing blows, while others may crumple in a pile from the same shot.
The reasoning behind turning one chin into granite is multifaceted and debatable. According to brain injury science, each fighter has a limit to how much trauma the body can absorb before temporarily shutting down the power. Still, it’s not completely clear what constitutes this limit.
While neck muscles play a role in the ability to take a punch, especially when receiving a punch, the fact a fighter’s chin durability deteriorates means having an iron chin cannot be attributed to a single factor.
There is also a skill element to taking a punch that reduces its power. But it appears that the most important factor is an inborn quality and not something you can control or train.
Regardless of why some fighters can do it, the sight of a man enduring a beating and still plowing forward will always excite fight fans.
10 Best Chins In MMA history
It’s time to find out who has had their chin checked repeatedly and come out unscathed. Measuring something like this objectively is nearly impossible, but we can at least make a subjective list.
Some of these fighters eventually got knocked out. Still, you know that even the best chins eventually succumb to the punishment when you fight long enough. This fact has not only apparent practical evidence (remember Chuck Liddell?) but is also backed by science.
So, we will include fighters with jaws of steel in their prime, not only those who haven’t been knocked out.
It would be strange to see him here if we judge Tony Ferguson’s performances in the last couple of years. But before his brain finally caught up with all the punishment, Tony was the Boogieman incarnate.
Not one to prioritize defense, Ferguson was on a 12-win tear in the lightweight division. He brushed strikes like they were nothing and choked out or knocked out most of the men in front of him.
John Lineker has 44 professional fights and hasn’t been knocked out once. Nicknamed “Hands of Stone,” Lineker also has a chin of the same material tested by the highest level of opposition in the UFC and, more recently, in ONE FC.
Lineker is as tough as they come, but his chin as a bantamweight cannot be compared to heavyweights. Still, few men can take a punch like ONE FC’s bantamweight champion.
The Bulgarian might not come to the top of the heavyweight division, but he definitely has a championship-caliber chin.
The former Combat sambo and WSOF world champion took famous hard hitters like Junior Dos Santos, Derick Lewis, Ben Rothwell, and Tai Tuivasa to the scorecards with a style that doesn’t shy away from getting hit without tasting the canvas once.
Yoel Romero is made of steel. In his famous battles with Robert Whittaker, the Reaper said that he felt like he was hurting himself more from hitting Romero than he did the Cuban. The Soldier of God has proven superhuman in multiple ways, but his resistance to damage is legendary.
He has been head kicked by proven finishers like Whitaker, Paulo Costa, Chris Weidman, and Israel Adesanya, but none has managed to finish him.
Nate Diaz has insane cardio, slick jiu-jitsu, nasty slaps, and a granite chin. The only guy to absorb all of prime Connor McGregor’s best shots, not once but twice.
Nate has used his toughness and chin as a weapon throughout his entire 34-fight career and thoroughly deserves to be on this list despite having a single KO loss coming from Josh Thompson.
Nate’s older brother, Nick, shared the same DNA and overwhelmed his foes with indomitable determination, endless cardio, and a granite chin.
Few men are synonymous with an iron jaw like Mark Hunt, who is a genuine bulldozer and the walking embodiment of toughness. Very few heavyweights can absorb that amount of punishment like the Super Samoan.
He is perhaps the only man to endure multiple full-force head kicks by Mirco Cro Cop and keep fighting. Remember that even before Hunt entered MMA, he was fighting in K1 against the best strikers on the planet, like Semmy Schilt, Ernesto Hoost, and Jerome LeBanner.
Hunt has been knocked out multiple times. But if you watch a few of his fights, especially the war against Bigfoot Silva and his K1 battle with Ray Sefo, you will be amazed at the durability of his chin.
The other heavyweight brick head has got to be Roy Nelson. Big Country combined insane durability with grenades in his hands. Heavyweight fights end in a KO or TKO a whopping 55% of the time, so heavyweight chins are put to a much harsher test than fighters in lower divisions.
Nelson’s ability to take punches from the heaviest hands in the sport was remarkable. He was eventually cracked by none other than the brawler in the previous position, Mark Hunt.
The greatest light heavyweight fighter of all time, Jon “Bones” Jones, is known for his incredible well-rounded skillset, becoming the youngest UFC champion at 23. The longest title reign at light heavyweight and pretty much every significant record at that weight.
But in his 22 UFC fights, he has faced opponents that had almost 100 combined KOs and hasn’t been knocked down. As excellent and diverse as Jon’s skills are, his chin is also at an otherworldly level, and it deserves a lot more credit than it gets.
According to the official UFC statistics, Max has absorbed the largest total number of head strikes. With more than 1000 and has never been knocked down or out. You can’t argue that his opponents haven’t been the cream of the crop in two weight divisions.
With some of the best strikers like Connor McGregor, Jose Aldo, Dustin Poirier, and Alexander Volkanovski among them. Although this article is about durability, it would be fair to Max to say that he also holds the record of significant strikes landed, nearing 3000 of them at the time of writing.
Dan Henderson ascended to a truly legendary MMA career, half thanks to his H-bomb of a right hand and a half thanks to his steel chin. Hendo reaped tremendous success in Pride, Strikeforce, and the UFC, fighting as a middleweight, light heavyweight, and even heavyweight.
He pulled off an amazing upset over Fedor Emelianenko. Hendo was amazed by his ability to take punches across countries and organizations. No other 185 lb. fighter managed to stack up against high-level opposition from higher divisions and remain unscathed.
Hendo’s jaw was finally cracked when he was in his 40-ties by a TRT Vitor Belfort, and he suffered more kos after that, but for nearly 20 years, Henderson had the best jaw in the game.
Many more fighters could enter a list in a subjective topic like this. Rampage Jackson, Robie Lawler, Anderson Silva, Big Nog, and many other legends have proven they can take the best of punches and remain on their feet. Regardless of your version of the top 10 best jaws in MMA, every man on this list has an invaluable trait for a fighter: a granite chin.