MMA fighters in the UFC need to be experienced in both striking and grappling. Muay Thai, Taekwondo, karate, boxing, and kickboxing are some of the best martial arts that can serve as a striking base. In this article, we will focus on kickboxing and who are the best MMA fighters that have used kickboxing in the UFC.
Best kickboxers in the UFC and MMA history:
- Mirko Filipović
- Anderson Silva
- Alistair Overeem
- Stephen Thompson
- Israel Adesanya
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk
- Edson Barboza
- Jose Aldo
- Mark Hunt
- Donald Cerrone
- Germaine de Randamie
We have to mention that the given list of best kickboxers in the UFC is not ordered. We took many factors into consideration, like their UFC and MMA resume, kickboxing resume, striking technique and diversity, striking accuracy and volume, etc. Also, worth considering is that when we say “kickboxer” we refer to both Dutch and American kickboxing, with some Muay Thai background as well.
So, let’s take a closer look at fighters who made it to the list.
Also, we made lists similar to this for every martial art. Take a look at best Muay Thai fighters in the UFC and MMA, best boxers in the UFC and MMA, best BJJ practitioners in the UFC, and best wrestlers in the UFC.
Best Kickboxers in the UFC and MMA History:
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
Division: UFC Heavyweight, Pride Heavyweight (retired)
MMA record: 38-11 (2 draws and 1 NC)
We start our list with one of the deadliest kickers in the history of MMA, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Cro Cop’s signature move was left high kick, once famously described as “right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery.” During his career, Mirko fought the best heavyweights of all time in the UFC, Rizin, Pride, Bellator, and K-1. He is widely considered as on the best MMA Heavyweight of all time.
Cro Cop is the 2006 Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix Champion, the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, and the 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix Champion becoming the second fighter in the world to win mixed martial arts and kickboxing championships and tournaments.
He started his career as an amateur boxer where he had 48-8 record with 31 wins coming by knockout. Mirko then proceeded to have a kickboxing career where he accumulated 26-8 record (13 KOs). In his glorious MMA career, Mirko fought 52 times, and he won 38 times. Out of his 38 wins, 30 come by a knockout, which is impressive.
Through his career, Mirko put dozens of his opponents to sleep using his head kick skills. Just take a look at the breakdown of his head kick technique:
Anderon “The Spider” Silva
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Divison: UFC Middleweight, UFC Light Heavyweight
MMA record: 34-10 (1 NC)
Anderson “The Spider” Silva in his prime is one the best fighter in the history of MMA. He is a former UFC Middleweight champion and holds the record for the longest title reign in the UFC history with 2457 days as the champion. His champion era began in 2006 and lasted all the way to 2013. In that span of time, he defended the title for the second best ever number of 10 times and won 16 times in the process.
Silva uses a combination of Muay Thai, Capoeira, and Taekwondo as his kicking base. Out of his 34 career wins, 23 come by knockout. Anderson Silva is one of the deadliest KO artists in history. His ability to put his opponent down anytime, from any angle is impressive. When it comes to kicking, he is one of the most creative MMA fighters ever.
To best describe Silva’s greatness inside the Octagon, just take a look at all the records he has. Second most title defenses in UFC history (Middleweight, 10 times); longest title reign in UFC history (2457 days); longest win streak in UFC history (16); most finishes in UFC Middleweight division history (11); most finishes in UFC title fights (9); most knockdowns in UFC history (18); most knockdowns in UFC title fights (10); most knockouts in UFC title fights (7). Anderson Silva truly is one of the all time greats.
Here is a compilation of Silva’s 5 best finishes inside the Octagon:
Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem
Division: UFC Heavyweight, Pride Heavyweight, Strikeforce Heavyweight, Dream Heavyweight
MMA record: 45-18 (1 NC)
Alistair Overeem might be the best kickboxer in the history of MMA. The Dutch kickboxer is a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, DREAM Heavyweight Champion, K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, and one of only two fighters to hold world titles in both MMA and K-1 kickboxing at the same time.
He holds dual victories over MMA legends Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, and Vitor Belfort. Overeem has also beaten former UFC champions Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir, and Brock Lesnar.
Alistair favors kicks to the body and legs, as well as knee strikes from the clinch, which have been described as “devastating.” His most famous finishing technique used to be the left knee to the midsection, by which he ended many fights, but Overeem switched to the left body kick instead in the late on his career. He is also proficient with left overhands and hooks once his opponents are worn down.
Out of his 45 career wins, 23 came by KO. Overeem also holds the record for being the only fighter to simultaneously hold three championship belts (Strikeforce, K1, and Dream).
You can check out in this compilation of KOs, just to see how dangerous Alistair Overeem is on his feet:
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson
Divison: UFC Welterweight
MMA record: 15-4 (1 draw)
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is the self-proclaimed “Nicest Mother F—er” in the game. But, when it comes to kicking his opponents, that can’t be said. Thompson is a former full-contact kickboxer who currently competes in the UFC Welterweight division.
He has a karate style based stance with kickboxing strikes included. “Wonderboy” is one of the most decorated strikers in UFC history. Thompson has an impressive 37-0 amateur kickboxing record, and an even more impressive professional kickboxing record of 58-0. He is undefeated in his kickboxing journey. “Wonderboy” also has a 5th degree black belt in Tetsushin-ryū Kempo, which is a style of Karate.
Here we bring you Thompson’s five best finishes in the UFC:
Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya
Division: UFC Middleweight
MMA record: 19-0
Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya is one of the most creative and profined strikers that have ever stepped foot inside the Octagon. He is a current UFC Middleweight champion with one title defence to his name.
Adesanya started his martial arts career in kickboxing where he was a Glory middleweight contender winner and King in the Ring two-time cruiserweight and heavyweight champion. During his impressive kickboxing career, Adesanya went 75-5. Of his 75 wins, 29 come by KO. He is not the hardest striker, but his repertoire, timing, and creativity of strikes are unparalleled.
When Israel arrived in the UFC in 2018. he took it by storm. In course of year and a half, he went from his UFC debut to winning UFC gold. In the process he went through half the middlewight divions KOing and outstriking the likes of Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, greatest middleweight of all time, Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum, former champ, Robert Whittaker, and lately, Yoel “The Soldier of God” Romero.
In his MMA career, he is undefeated with a record of 18-0 with 14 finishes to his name. Either by a KO/TKO or by outstriking his opponents through the whole fight, Adesanya has found a way to win every single time he fought in MMA.
Here is Adesanya’s journey to the UFC belt:
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Division: UFC Strawweight, UFC Flyweight
MMA record: 16-4
Joanna Jędrzejczyk is a Polish mixed martial artist and former Muay Thai kickboxer. She currently competes in the UFC Strawweight and Flyweight division. Jędrzejczyk competed in Muay Thai and kickboxing. During her kickboxing career, Joanna won five world titles and amassed a record of 27 wins with just 3 losses.
With 5 UFC Strawweight title defenses to her name, Joanna is the greatest woman UFC Strawweight champion of the all time. A decorated kickboxer, Jędrzejczyk is known for precise and calculated striking. She employs a strategy in MMA fighting. While standing with opponents, she constantly varies between high punches and body shots, also utilizing knees, elbows, and high front kicks.
To best describe Joanna’s striking greatness, we have to list her records. She holds the records for:
- Highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (+142 vs. Jéssica Andrade)
- 2nd-highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (+121 vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz)
- 3rd-highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (+117 vs. Valérie Létourneau)
- 4th-highest significant strike differential in UFC championship history (+113 vs. Cláudia Gadelha)
- Highest significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship fight (+225 vs. Jéssica Andrade)
- 2nd-highest significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship fight (+220 vs. Valérie Létourneau)
- Most leg kicks in a fight in UFC history (+78 vs Michelle Waterson)
- 2nd-most leg kicks in a fight in UFC history (+75 vs Jessica Andrade)
Not a single fighter in UFC history, male or female, has come close to Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Joanna also lands 6.3 significant strikes per minute, which is one of the biggest numbers in the history of MMA.
Division: UFC Featherweight, UFC Lightweight
MMA record: 20-8
Edson Barboza is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and former Muay Thai kickboxer who currently competes in the UFC Featherweight division. He began his combat sports career in kickboxing where he had a record of 25-3 (with 22 of those wins coming by knockout).
In his UFC career, 7 of his 12 wins are by KO/TKO. While fighting in the Octagon, Barboza might have the opponents like no other fighter in the UFC has ever had. He faced Donald Cerrone, Michael Johnson, Paul Felder, Tony Ferguson, Anthony Pettis, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kevin Lee, Dan Hooker, Justin Gaethje – almost all of the best lightweights of his generation.
Barboza is known for his dangerous kicking game. UFC commentator Joe Rogan has stated that Barboza is “probably the best kicker in MMA.” He scored the first wheel kick knockout in UFC history and is one of two fighters to finish multiple UFC fights via leg kicks. Barboza is also known for his effective use of switch kicks, which are probably the best one MMA fighter has ever had.
Edson Barboza’s finishes are some of the most brutal that have ever occured in the cage. Take a look at the top 5:
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Divison: UFC Featherweight, UFC Bantamweight
MMA record: 28-6
Jose Aldo is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and Muay Thai kickboxing specialist. He is a former two time UFC Featherweight champion, and one time interim UFC Featherweight champion. Up until his fight with Conor McGregor, Aldo was undefeated for over a decade, had 18 wins in a row, was UFC’s only Featherweight champion, and was the greatest featherweight of all time.
Aldo is best known for his devastating leg strikes and quick combinations. Jose has both the most wins and knockouts in UFC and WEC featherweight history, has landed a total of 691 significant strikes in the UFC and the WEC, and holds the record for the longest winning streak in UFC, WEC, Strikeforce and Pride featherweight history, with fifteen consecutive victories.
Take a look how devastating Aldo’s striking was in his prime:
Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt
Division: Pride Heavyweight, UFC Heavyweight
MMA record: 13-14 (1 draw, 1 NC)
Mark Hunt is a New Zealand mixed martial artist and former kickboxer. Hunt competed in both Pride and the UFC. He was a winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix. Often regarded as one of the hardest hitters in the history of MMA.
He had a kickboxing record of 30-13, with 13 of those wins coming by a knockout. During his MMA career, out of 13 wins, Hunt won 10 by a knockout earning two Knockout of the Night rewards inside the UFC.
Mark is best known as a brawler fighter and prefers a stand up game. He has a vicious left hook and right straight. Most of Hunt’s MMA career wins came via KO or TKO from punches. He has no submission wins or kicks KOs. Hunt also holds a knockout victory over Roy Nelson, who was taught to have one of the most durable chins in the combat sports.
Hunt is also well known as “King of Walk-Offs” because he used to walk away and stop attacks before the referee officially ended the match.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Division: UFC Lightweight, UFC Welterweight
MMA record: 36-14 (1 NC)
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is an American MMA fighter and former kickboxer. He is one of the fighters with most records inside the UFC and a true legend and fan-favorite. Currently, he competes in the UFC Lightweight and Welterweight divisions.
“Cowboy” began his martial arts career at the age of 20. He trained kickboxing and Muay Thai. Donald won few kickboxing tournaments with a perfect record of 28 wins and 1 draw. 19 of those wins are by knockout. Soon, Donald translated to the sport of MMA and joined the UFC. The rest is history.
Although never winning UFC Championship, “Cowboy” has always been at the top of the game fighting with the best, anytime, anywhere. His signature move is the head kick. Out of his 23 UFC wins, 10 are by knockout. To better illustrate Cerrone’s greatness, here are some of his records inside the Octagon:
- Most wins in UFC history (23)
- Most finishes in UFC history (16)
- Most post-fight bonus awards in UFC history (18)
- Most bouts in UFC history (34)
- Tied for most bouts in a 12-month period in UFC history (6)
- Second most wins in UFC Lightweight history (17)
- Third most finishes in UFC Lightweight history (10)
- Most knockdowns in UFC history (20)
Just as we said, although Donald has never won a championship belt, he is a true UFC Hall of Famer. Despite his career and age, he is still one of the most active fighters on the roster. That’s exactly why he is the fan favorite. He will fight anytime against anyone. During his extraordinary career, Donald has had a lot of finishes, here are some of them:
Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie
Division: UFC Bantamweight, formerly UFC Featherweight
MMA record: 9-4
Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie is a Dutch mixed martial artist and former kickboxer. She is the former UFC Featherweight Champion of the world, and currently on the best female bantamweights on the planet.
De Randamie might be the best women kickboxer in MMA of all time. During her kickboxing career, the Dutch fighter was undefeated with the astonishing record of 46 wins. 30 of those 46 wins are by knockout, which is something we very rarely see in women divisions. She is one of the best female kickboxing artists of all time.
Out of her 9 MMA wins, 4 are by knockout. She is the first UFC Featherweight women champion and holds KO wins over Larissa Pacheco, Anna Elmose, and Aspen Ladd. “The Iron Lady” also holds the record Fastest knockout in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division (16 seconds, tied with Ronda Rousey).
One fun fact of De Randamie is that she knocked out a man who was 40 lbs heavier than her in a pro boxing match.
We have come to the end of our list of the best kickboxers in the history of the UFC and MMA. There are a ton of other MMA fighters with maybe even better a set of kickboxing skills and techniques, but the ones on this list are those who are the most decorated and have the best resume inside the cage.
For the end, here is a compilation of some of the best knockouts in the UFC history: