The 50 most dominant athletes alive

Our list of dominant athletes covers stars from all over the world whose superiority over their respective sports has led to unparalleled success.

Some of the names on here are mainstays — recognisable athletes who have reigned supreme in their sports over long periods of time and aren’t going anywhere.

Others are athletes who are on the rise, up-and-comers quickly proving that they are and will be forces to be reckoned with in years to come.

Check out our list of the 50 most dominant athletes alive below.

*Cork Gaines contributed to this list.

50. Miesha Tate

Steve Marcus/Getty

UFC fighter

Age: 29

Miesha Tate has won five fights in a row, dating back to 2014. Her most recent win was over Holly Holm -- who beat Ronda Rousey -- via submission. A rematch with Rousey, to whom Tate lost to in 2013, would be intriguing.

49. N'Golo Kante

Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Leicester City center midfielder

Age: 25

Kante was the best player on the best team in England this season, the speedy box-to-box midfielder who unlocked Leicester City's devastating counterattack by defending well and distributing even better. The Foxes' dream season wouldn't have happened without Kante, and now the French international is expected to sign with a bigger club in England.

48. Teddy Riner

Buda Mendes/Getty


Age: 27

Teddy Riner hasn't lost a match since 2010. The French heavyweight has won Olympic gold in 2012, six world championships, including the last three from 2013-15, and the 2015 World Masters.

47. Maya Moore

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Minnesota Lynx forward

Age: 26

In a down season, coming off the MVP in 2014, Moore still posted a gaudy stat line of over 20 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and nearly two steals per game. A bounce-back season should put her right back in the MVP mix in 2016.

46. Conor McGregor

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UFC fighter

Age: 27

Before a March loss to Nate Diaz, Irish featherweight McGregor had won 15 fights in a row, with the last six ending in TKO. His hold on the sport is such that he caused the fighting world to freak out when he faked his retirement over a dispute with UFC.

45. Draymond Green

Ezra Shaw/Getty

Golden State Warriors forward

Age: 26

Draymond Green is a question for which the NBA has no answer. The 6-foot-6 forward can play and guard all five positions, unlocking endless lineup possibilities for the Warriors. It's not unusual to see Green block a shot on one end, grab the rebound, bring the ball up the court, and dish it to a teammate or get it back to hit a three. He nearly averaged a triple-double in 2015-16.

44. Hope Solo

Jim Rogash/Getty

US Women's National Team goalie

Age: 34

Hope Solo is a stalwart. At last summer's Women's World Cup, she played every minute of every game (and conceded only three goals). At the 2012 London Olympics, she played every minute of every game. Same with the 2011 World Cup, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Don't expect anything else this summer in Rio ... even if she says she's reluctant to go because of the Zika virus.

43. Steve Smith

Ryan Pierse/Getty

Australian cricketer

Age: 26

Smith is the best cricketer in the world, plain and simple. Last season he was named the best player in Australia, and later on in 2015 won the Sir Garfield Sobers trophy, given to the best cricketer in the world. You don't need to know much about cricket to appreciate Smith's talent.

42. Lewis Hamilton

Clive Mason/Getty

Formula One driver

Age: 31

The British playboy and Mercedes driver continues to be the class of the Formula One circuit. When he's not driving around Los Angeles in a LaFerrari with Justin Bieber, he's winning World Championships. This year, he'll look for the three-peat, having won the 2014 and 2015 World Formula One Championship.

41. Clayton Kershaw

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher

Age: 28

Kershaw is looking to post his best season in what's already been, arguably, the most dominant six-year run in pitching history. He's currently posting a 1.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts to just four walks in nine starts this season. There isn't a more fearsome arm in MLB.

40. Tom Brady

Maddie Meyer/Getty

New England Patriots quarterback

Age: 38

At an age when many players are looking into retirement, Tom Brady keeps chugging along. Brady just posted one of his most efficient seasons in 2015, and regardless of a suspension to start the year, the Patriots figure to be vying for another Super Bowl again in 2016 because of Brady's agelessness.

39. Yana Kudryavtseva

Richard Heathcote/Getty

Rhythmic gymnast

Age: 18

Yana Kudryavtseva has been dominant since entering the senior ranks in 2013. The Russian gymnast has three consecutive world championships to her name with 16 world championship medals, 13 of which are gold. She'll be looking for more at the Rio Olympics.

38. Kevin Durant

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oklahoma City Thunder forward

Age: 27

There's only one player in the NBA to average more than 27 points, 45% shooting, and seven rebounds per game combined since 2011 -- not LeBron James, but Kevin Durant. Durant finished fourth in MVP voting this season, and yet it still somehow felt like he flew under the radar. The question now is whether he'll be in a Thunder uniform after this season.

37. Gwen Jorgensen

Buda Mendes/Getty

American triathlete

Age: 30

A former Ernst & Young accountant, Jorgensen is now the best female triathlete in the world at the Olympic distance, and it's not much of a competition. Not only has she won 13 of the last 14 triathlons she's raced, she's also earned gold at each of the last two World Championships. In 2012 at the London Olympics, Jorgensen suffered a flat tire on her bike and finished a disappointing 38th. She's the heavy favourite to win gold at Rio this summer.

36. Mike Trout

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Los Angeles Angels center fielder

Age: 24

Since 2012, Mike Trout has won an American League MVP and finished second place in MVP voting three times. What did you accomplish at 24?

35. Alex Ovechkin

Patrick Smith/Getty

Washington Capitals wing

Age: 30

Alex Ovechkin remains the NHL's most fearsome scorer. In 2015-16, Ovechkin led the Capitals to the best record in the NHL and the most points, all while leading the league in goals (for the fourth year in a row) and total shots, a skill unto itself.

34. Mo Farah

Dan Mullan/Getty

British middle-distance runner

Age: 33

Farah is the most decorated runner in British history, which is no easy feat. At the 2015 Worlds he won both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events. Prior, he also set the indoor record for the two-mile (8:03.04) and broke the European record for the half marathon (59:32.20). He may be 33, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. Expect big things at this summer's Olympics.

33. Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio Spurs forward

Age: 24

Leonard has always been a great defensive player, but this past season saw the Spurs' young gun take a major leap offensively. He was the best player on a 67-win Spurs team, finished second in MVP voting, and won his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award. The best two-way player in the NBA is the face of the future Spurs.

32. Michael Phelps

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Age: 30

The most decorated Olympian of all time came out of retirement in 2015 and picked up where he left off. Phelps swam at the US National Championships and swept all three of his events and swam the year's fastest times for each. At the Arena Pro Swim event in April, Phelps finished first in the 200 IM and 200-meter butterfly. He looks like he'll dominate again at the 2016 Olympics.

31. Lizzie Armistead

Bryn Lennon/Getty

British cyclist

Age: 27

She's having a perfect 2016 (four wins in four races), but Lizzie Armistead's run of dominance in the women's professional cycling circuit dates all the way back to the 2012 Olympics, where she picked up a silver medal in the road race not long after switching over from the track. In 2015, Armistead raced in 11 events and won nine of them (she finished first and third in the other two). A powerful sprinter and aggressive climber, Armistead is an all-around force.

30. Luis Suarez

Denis Doyle/Getty

F.C. Barcelona striker

Age: 29

What a prolific season it was for the Uruguayan No. 9 at Camp Nou. Forty goals in La Liga for Suarez this season is simply mind-boggling, as were the 14 goals he tallied in the final five league matches. Not since Diego Forlan in 2009 has a player not named Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi led La Liga in goals, but this year it belonged to Suarez. He promises to terrorize opponents this summer at the Copa America.

29. Rob Gronkowski

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

New England Patriots tight end

Age: 26

It's unusual for perhaps the NFL's best pass-catcher to not be a wide receiver, but that may be the case with Rob Gronkowski. The 6-foot-6 tight end is a matchup conundrum -- too big to slot cornerbacks onto, too fast for bigger defenders. Tom Brady, a quarterback known for turning anyone into a valuable receiver, said Gronkowski makes his life easier.

28. Monica Abbott

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Softball pitcher

Age: 30

Abbott is so dominant that in a league that squeezes 18 players under a $150,000 salary cap, she just earned the first $1 million contract in National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). The cost is worth it for a pitcher who posted a 0.31 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, and 149 strikeouts in over 90 innings while leading her team to a title last season.

27. Ashton Eaton

Ian Walton/Getty

U.S. decathlete

Age: 28

Eaton broke his own world record in the decathlon last summer, and come August in Rio, he will look to break it yet again. There's no event quite like the decathlon -- to win gold medals and world championships (as Eaton as), you need to be a well-rounded athlete capable of jumps, sprints, hurdles, throws, and more. In terms of pure athleticism, Eaton rivals anyone on this list.

26. Genzebe Dibaba

Ian Walton/Getty

Distance runner

Age: 25

Ethiopian distance star Genzebe Dibaba owns five world records after breaking the 26-year-old indoor mile record by four seconds in February 2016 at the IAAF World Indoor Tour. She also owns the 1,500 meters, having set both the indoor and outdoor world records in the event, and will look to become the first woman to sweep both races in Rio this summer.

25. Carli Lloyd

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US Women's National Team midfielder

Age: 33

Lloyd may be in the twilight of her career, but her goal in the final of last year's World Cup was the greatest goal in American soccer history. Does anyone even remember that she had a hat trick in the first half of the game against Japan, or just the half-field missile? Either way, Lloyd is at the pinnacle of women's soccer and, whenever she retires, will be hard to replace.

24. Gennady Golovkin

Harry How/Getty

Kazakhstani middleweight boxer

Age: 34

The undefeated middleweight champion of the world, Golovkin is an old-school brawler. Not only does he boast the highest knockout percentage in middleweight history (91%), he's also never in his life, as an amateur or professional over 375 fights, been knocked down. A fight against Canelo Alvarez is rumoured, and it would be the biggest in the sport since Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

23. Elena Delle Donne

Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Chicago Sky forward

Age: 26

Elena Delle Donne's third season was the best of her short career as she led the league in scoring with over 23 points per game on 46% shooting, to go with over eight rebounds, a steal, and two blocks per game en route to winning MVP.

22. Jordan Spieth

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Professional golfer

Age: 22

It's been an up-and-down 2016 for Spieth, but that doesn't take away from a fantastic 2015 that saw him win the Masters and the U.S. Open, and finish the year as the world no. 1. This year, a collapse at the Masters and some missed cuts have set him back -- all the way to world no. 2. In other words, Spieth is the future of golf.

21. Bryce Harper

Ezra Shaw/Getty

Washington Nationals right fielder

Age: 23

Injuries forced Bryce Harper's career to get off to a slow roll, but now that he's healthy, he looks like the mega-star MLB has been missing. In 2015, Harper hit .330 (fourth in MLB), with a .460 OBP (first), .649 SLG (first), 1.109 OPS (first), 9.0 WAR (first), to go with 42 home runs (third). He's already getting the Barry Bonds treatment at the plate.

20. Jason Day

Mike Ehrmann/Getty


Age: 28

Jason Day has slowly climbed the ladder in the PGA Tour to finally reach the world No. 1 ranking in 2016. Since a ninth-place finish at the U.S. Open last June, Day has six first-place finishes, including winning the 2015 PGA Championship. With Spieth's choppy start to 2016 and Rory McIlroy's struggles on the green, Day seems like the most stable force in golf.

19. Usain Bolt

Getty/Jed Jacobsohn

Jamaican sprinter

Age: 29

Even though he doesn't compete as frequently as many of his competitors, when Bolt takes the blocks, a win feels like a foregone conclusion. Last summer's world championship saw Bolt win the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m -- and he was having the worst season since before he won gold in Beijing in 2008. Is Bolt worried about the conditions in Brazil? Of course not. He says he's too fast to get bitten by mosquitoes.

18. Peter Sagan

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Slovak cyclist

Age: 26

Sagan won the green jersey for points at last summer's Tour de France, and followed it up with an even more impressive performance at the World Road Race Championship in Richmond, which he won in crafty fashion -- surging on an uphill cobblestone section and never looking back. His bike -- which is customised to reflect his world championship -- is the coolest in the game, too.

17. Patrick Kane

Bruce Bennett/Getty

Chicago Blackhawks winger

Age: 27

He's only 27, but Kane has already won three Stanley Cups over the course of his career, and a Conn Smythe Trophy. This season, he led the NHL in points, which won him the Art Ross Trophy. His handles and prowess around the net are second to none in hockey, even if the Hawks bowed out earlier than expected in this year's playoffs.

16. Cam Newton

Grant Halverson/Getty

Carolina Panthers quarterback

Age: 27

Cam Newton isn't the NFL's purest or best quarterback, but he embodies what every team wants at the position. He can make any throw, he's developed into a strong pocket passer, and when he flees the pocket, he's nearly impossible to bring down. He's a physical specimen that captained a 15-1 team and is quickly improving every one of his weaknesses.

15. Lydia Ko

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Professional golfer

Age: 19

Ko is the world's best female golfer, and well on her way to being one of the best ever. She's just 19, making her the youngest world no. 1 ever, and she already has 12 LPGA victories under her belt, including two majors. In September 2015, she shot a 63 -- the best score on a Sunday in the history of the LPGA. Expect big things from Ko this season, and for the next couple of decades or so.

14. Marcel Hirscher

Matthias Hangst/Getty


Age: 27

Marcel Hirscher remains the No. 1-ranked alpine skier in the world after a dominant 2015 that saw him win his fifth World Cup title, with eight more victories and ten other podium finishes, to go with his four world championships.

13. Cristiano Ronaldo

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid forward

Age: 31

It often feels like Ronaldo plays La Liga's second fiddle to Lionel Messi, but Ronaldo continues to be one of the best three players in the world. He scored a cool 35 goals in 35 matches for Real Madrid this season, and since his arrival in 2009 he has scored 260 goals. Later this month he'll have a shot at his second Champions League title with Real Madrid.

12. Jake Arrieta

Al Bello/Getty Images

Chicago Cubs pitcher

Age: 30

The reigning N.L. Cy Young winner has been so dominant this season that people are accusing him of taking steroids. He's 7-0 in eight starts, with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting just .153. How well the Cubs do come the playoffs will likely come down to how well he pitches. So far, Chicago fans have to be feeling pretty good.

11. Kohei Uchimura

Ian MacNicol/Getty


Age: 27

After winning his sixth consecutive world championship in 2015, USA Today's Nancy Armour called Kohei Uchimura the 'greatest gymnast ever,' noting the last time he finished second in the World Championships or Olympics, Aaron Rodgers hadn't ever started an NFL game. The Japanese gymnast has also won eight consecutive NHK Cups and gold in the all-around in the 2012 Olympics. He will be looking for more in Rio this summer.

10. Von Miller

Patrick Smith/Getty

Denver Broncos defensive end

Age: 27

It's rare to see a defensive player carry a team through the postseason, but that's exactly what Von Miller did in helping the Denver Broncos win the 2015 Super Bowl. The Super Bowl MVP had 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and directly led to two Broncos' scores in the NFL's biggest game. There's not a more fearsome pass-rusher in football right now.

9. Claressa Shields

Scott Heavey/Getty

American middleweight boxer

Age: 21

Shields burst onto the scene as a teenager at the 2012 London Olympics, winning gold in dominating fashion. She hasn't lost since. She's 68-1 with 18 KOs, and won the 2014 World Championship and 2015 PanAm Games, where she moved up to the light-heavyweight division. She's expected to cruise to gold in Rio.

8. LeBron James

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Cleveland Cavaliers forward

Age: 31

There's nobody else in the NBA who can control a game the way James can. Whether it's shooting, posting up, attacking the basket, facilitating, defending — James can pick his spots whenever and wherever he chooses. Coupled with seemingly everlasting physical superiority, he is still in a category unto himself when it comes to dictating a game.

7. Serena Williams

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

American tennis player

Age: 34

Sheer power alone makes it sometimes feel as though Serena Williams is playing an entirely different sport than her competitors. Although she lost in the Australian Open final, and missed out on a calendar slam last season when she fell in the U.S. Open semis, Williams is still the best female tennis player alive and soon to be the most decorated. With 21 majors, she's one away from matching Stefi Graff with the most all-time in the modern era. It seems inevitable that she'll pass Graff.

6. Lionel Messi

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

F.C. Barcelona forward

Age: 28

Messi is the best player in the world, full stop. His quickness, foot-skills, and vision around the field make his every touch must-watch TV, as he's capable of changing the entire flow of a game in a sudden whirl. The accolades are all there (he's won a record five Ballon d'Or trophies) but no matter how many trophies he wins and titles he earns, none seem to quite capture the magic of watching Messi move on the field. 'Poetry in motion' is pretty close.

5. Simone Biles

Ezra Shaw/Getty

American gymnast

Age: 19

Undoubtedly the shortest athlete on our list, what the 4-foot-9 Biles lacks in height she makes up for in thorough perfection on the mats, vault, and beam. She's already the most decorated gymnast in American history, and the only gymnast ever to win three-straight World Championships in the all-around competition. This summer, when she is introduced to the American public at her first Olympics, she's going to be a bona fide superstar. Expect to see her on every talk show soon, and more importantly, expect her to absolutely destroy her competition.

4. Breanna Stewart

Andy Lyons/Getty

Seattle Storm forward

Age: 21

Brenna Stewart was the best player on arguably the most dominant team in all of sports -- the UConn Huskies, who have won 90 games in a row. UConn won the NCAA Championship the last four years, while she led them in scoring and rebounds per game for the past three years. She was miles ahead of any other women's college basketball player, and as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, is expected to continue her dominance in the pros.

3. Stephen Curry

Ezra Shaw/Getty

Golden State Warriors guard

Age: 28

Stephen Curry has wrestled away the title of best basketball player in the world from LeBron James. His resume is enough to justify it: two-time MVP, first ever unanimous MVP, scoring champion, NBA champion, best player on a team that won more regular season games than any team in NBA history. And that's just the last two years. Perhaps more importantly, Curry is a game-bending force that's changing the way offenses and defences behave across the entire league. We've never seen anything like him.

2. Katie Ledecky

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Age: 19

Ledecky is already a force to be reckoned with in the pool, and she's not even of legal drinking age. She won an Olympic gold in the 800-meter freestyle at 15, has won nine golds in two World Championships, and owns three current world records. Her world record in the 800-meter freestyle is seven seconds faster than the next competitor, and she now owns the eight fastest times in the history of the event.

1. Novak Djokovic

Scott Barbour/Getty

Serbian tennis player

Age: 28

What a run Novak Djokovic is on. Last season, the world No. 1 won three majors in convincing fashion and lost in the finals of the French Open, meaning he was just one match shy of the elusive calendar slam. He's so good he sometimes seems almost robotic on court, returning serve better than just about anyone in the history of the sport and grinding out long, improbable rallies with great defence and sudden down-the-line winners.

His 11 majors already put him in conversation with the all-time greats, but if he can win the French this year and finally complete the career slam, that will put him in even more elite company. It will also mean he will have completed a DjokerSlam, for he would hold every major concurrently.

There's simply no doubt about it. Novak Djokovic is the most dominant athlete alive.

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