BJ Penn 478x270UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is widely considered the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.  But who does Silva consider the best?

He was asked that very question on a UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman media conference call on Tuesday and his answer may surprise some.

“In my opinion, BJ Penn is No. 1,” said Silva.

Penn (16-9-2) is one of only two multi-division champions in UFC history. The former lightweight and welterweight titleholder routinely accepted fights outside of his weight class.  He’s competed as high as the heavyweight division against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, and fought him to a decision.  Penn defeated Renzo and Rodrigo Gracie in the middleweight division.  Penn is currently contemplating a return to fighting in the 155-pound weight class.

Silva gave his top four mixed martial artists.  Following Penn came “Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Royce Gracie,” said Silva.

Couture (19-11) is the other multi-division champion in UFC history and the first to accomplish the feat.  The former three-time heavyweight champion and two-time light heavyweight titleholder competed in a record 15 UFC title fights.

Liddell (21-8) was known for his one-punch knockout power.  The former UFC light heavyweight champion holds the record for the most knockouts in the light heavyweight division and is second behind Silva in most knockouts in UFC history.

Gracie (14-2-3) is the godfather of the UFC.  The jiu-jitsu specialist won the UFC 1, 2, and 4 tournaments.  He holds the record for most submission wins in UFC history with 11, and was the first face of mixed martial arts.

Couture, Liddell and Gracie are all UFC Hall of Famers.  Penn is no doubt a future inductee.

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