muay thai fighters in ufc

11 Best Muay Thai Fighters in UFC

Muay Thai is one of the most prolific striking martial arts. Many successful UFC fighters use it as the base for their striking.

Watching round after round of UFC fights, I’ve developed a non-ranked list of 11 best Muay Thai fighters in UFC.

I’m not focusing on what they did before UFC, but how they’re using Muay Thai inside the Octagon.

Also, I made lists similar to this for a few more martial arts. Take a look at the best wrestlers in the UFCbest boxers in the UFCbest BJJ practitioners in the UFC, and best kickboxers in the UFC.

Donald Cerrone

Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone is one of the most popular fighters globally, known for his endurance, happy spirits – and incredible Muay Thai skills.

Cerrone rarely takes the battle to the mat even though he is a BJJ black belt. 

Instead, he dominates his opponents on the feet, using his incredible Muay Thai roots to destroy.

He has a stance that resembles the stance in Thai boxing (although slightly modified to suit takedown defense better) and is known to use switch kicks and elbows, both of which are very characteristic for Muay Thai.

After all, he did fight in Muay Thai before MMA.

Cerrone is an absolute legend of the sport, holding UFC records for most bouts (36), most wins (23), most finishes (16), most knockdowns (20), and many more. [1]

Jose Aldo

He might be at the deep end of his career, but no one can deny that Jose Aldo was once a force to be reckoned with.

He was one of the most dominant UFC champions ever, and he used his impressive Muay Thai to overwhelm his opponents.

His signature move is the brutal low kick he still has from training Muay Thai. That move indirectly enabled him to defeat so many of his opponents, as it limits movement and causes too much discomfort.

Aldo will go down as one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the UFC ever and one of the best MMA fighters in general.

Edson Barboza

Another low-kick fanatic on our list is Edson Barboza. The lightweight fighter was a part of some of the most brutal MMA fights in history.

His bout against Justin Gaethje was a brutal low kick after a brutal low kick, and neither fighter ever backed down until Gaethje delivered the final blow in the first round.

That was the case because Barboza still has that Muay Thai mentality every time he steps into the Octagon.

His stance is stiff and aggressive as he continually moves forward, searching for low-kicks, elbows, and knees.

Edson’s aggressive Muay Thai sometimes cost him the match but usually overwhelms and shatters his opponents.

Darren Till

Although he lost a couple of matches lately, don’t be fooled. The young middleweight Darren Till is one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the UFC.

He is big, strong, and has enough length to constantly pressure the opponent moving forward (as you would in Muay That) and still keep the opponent at a distance.

Darren competed in Muay Thai for a long time, and he uses his signature switch-kicks in the Octagon as well.

To add to it, he has some incredible clinch-striking skills, all stemming from his robust Muay Thai game.

He is still a young fighter with a lot of room to improve, but he’ll surely be a part of the UFC for years to come.

Jon Jones

Apart from all the controversy surrounding his prolific career, Jon Jones is one of – if not the best fighter in MMA history.

However, we rarely see him take his fights to the ground even though he’s an incredible wrestler – because his stand-up game is unmatched by anybody in the UFC.

His resume speaks for itself. He has 26 wins and only one loss, and that loss came via disqualification because of illegal elbows.

Many disagree with that DQ – even the UFC president Dana White tried to overturn the call, but with no luck.

His signature move is the spinning elbow, but he effectively uses all his “8-limbs” – arms, legs, elbows, and knees.

He was never a pure Muay Thai fighter, but he learned to use Muay Thai techniques effectively in his fights.

His long limbs allow him to dominate opponents from a distance, from the clinch, going straight, or spinning. You name it – Jon’s done it.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

One of the pioneers in women’s MMA fighting, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, is known as one of the best Muay Thai fighters ever in the UFC.

She was a world champion in Muay Thai before venturing into MMA and still uses her spectacular skills in the Octagon.

Her skillset includes wild elbows, knees, and a high-tempo pressure attack, very characteristic of Muay Thai.

Although the Polish superstar’s career might’ve reached its low point after losses to Rose Namajunas, Valentina Shevchenko, and Weili Zhang, she is still one of Muay Thai’s best fighters in the UFC.

She will remain one for as long as she is on their roster.

Valentina Shevchenko

Possibly the only other woman fighter in the UFC that can match Jedrzejczyk’s Muay Thai skills is the current UFC woman flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

She is a pure Muay Thai fighter that decimates her opponents with brutal low-kicks, clinch striking, and a relentless motor driving her forward each second of each fight.

The only fighter in the UFC that was able to beat Valentina is Amanda Nunes. She’s UFC’s dual champion considered by many to be the greatest woman MMA fighter of all time.

But, even the Lioness had trouble with Shevchenko on both occasions. The first one was a unanimous decision in a great fight, while the second was a split decision win for Nunes.

Shevchenko beat Jedrzejczyk in a title match a few years ago, and she was her biggest nemesis during their days of competing in Muay Thai.

The fact that women MMA isn’t as popular as men’s doesn’t change the fact that these two are at the top of any viable list of Muay Thai fighters in the UFC.

Johnny Walker

A few losses against Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov landed Johnny Walker firmly onto the ground.

However, his spectacular finishes in each of his other four UFC fights show us just how prolific he is in Muay Thai.

Walker first knocked out Khalil Rountree with Muay Thai elbows from the clinch.

Then, he finished Justin Ledet with a beautiful spinning back fist, only to smash Misha Cirkunov in an even more dramatic fashion, using a flying knee to the head.

He might still have some holes in his game, but he displayed some of the best Muay Thai in the UFC in recent years.

Ciryl Gane

Ciryl Gane is an undefeated up-and-coming UFC heavyweight with spectacular Muay Thai skills stemming from his strong Thai boxing background.

The French phenom is smashing the competition, earning three finishes in four UFC wins.

What stood out the most is Gane’s relentless Muay Thai aggressiveness and prolific striking, highlighted by an emphatic elbow knockout against the former UFC champion, Junior dos Santos.

Gane next displayed his skills against Jairzinho Rozenstruik where he completely dominated the stand up game of the fight and unanimously won the fight.

Thiago Santos

Thiago Santos presented a vast pallet of striking techniques after the UFC moved him from the middleweight to the light-heavyweight division.

He went to distance in a championship fight against Jon Jones, losing only by a split decision. Many people still think he came the closest to beating Bones ever, and that speaks for itself.

Santos is known for his aggressiveness and incredible striking skills from the clinch. Also, his footwork is very prolific, switching stances and throwing high-kicks with both his legs.

He is a great Muay Thai fighter and deserves more recognition from fight fans.

Paul Felder

One of the most exciting fighters in the UFC is Paul Felder. His Muay Thai fighting style always makes his fights interesting.

He is relentless and uses all sorts of striking techniques, including elbows, knees from the clinch, switch kicks, etc.

Felder never lets the opponent have an easy way inside the Octagon because he effectively cuts distance with his footwork. 

If you want to know just how aggressive his fighting style is, it’s enough to learn that 4 of his last five fights ended in a split decision.

He also has a couple of elbow knockouts on his resume, spinning backfists and heel kicks, and many more.

Paul had misfortune losses in his last two fights, but being a 35-year old lightweight fighter means he still has a few good years in front of him.

Honorable Mentions for Muay Thai Fighters in UFC

Although many of them never really competed in the sport itself, these fighters have incredible Muay Thai skills.

There are more great Muay Thai fighters in the UFC, such as Max Holloway and Thomas Almeida, but they tend to use other techniques more, so I’ll leave them as honorable mentions.

There is a reason why Muay Thai is considered one of the most brutal and effective martial arts in existence.

These fighters prove it regularly inside the Octagon, where all the martial arts are squared up against each other, and they still find success using their Muay Thai skills and techniques.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
Scroll to Top