Slowly but surely, UFC fighters coming out of France are becoming more dominant inside the Octagon. Guys like Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane are dominating the competition, but there are some fighters you didn’t even know have French blood.
Also, UFC has some pretty great new, young fighters fighting out of France that are already making a name for themselves but aren’t quite there yet. Here’s a list of the eight best French UFC fighters active right now.
Additionally, I’ll add a few honorable mentions that we need to acknowledge as all-time great fighters of French descent.
Best French MMA Fighters in the UFC Right Now
Charles Jourdain is a French-Canadian fighter coming out of Montreal. He’s only 25 years old, but he has shown that he has the potential to be a force in the featherweight division, although his UFC record stands at 2-2-1.
He knocked out the talented Doo Ho Choi, fought to a draw against Joshua Culibao, and lost a tight split decision against Andre Fili. He demolished Marcelo Rojo in his last fight with a vicious last-minute TKO, continuing to climb the featherweight ladder slowly.
There aren’t many “pure” French fighters in the UFC, but Ciryl Gane is a French native heavyweight fighting out of Paris, France. He has an untainted martial arts record so far, going 13-0 in kickboxing before transitioning to MMA, where he’s currently at 9-0 (6-0 in UFC).
He is on the path to UFC heavyweight gold, as he’s most likely getting a chance to become the interim champion quite soon. If he continues to dominate as he has so far, he’ll get a shot at real UFC gold in no time.
Although Dustin Poirier is officially an American fighter, he is of Acadian-French descent, coming out of Lafayette, Louisiana. Also, he’s one of the best UFC lightweight fighters of all time, never to become the undisputed champion. He was the interim champ, but Khabib Nurmagomedov stopped him there.
Poirier destroyed all-time greats such as Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, and Conor McGregor. He absolutely deserves to attack the gold once more and crown his fantastic career with a belt.
Yet another young French star on the rise, Fares Ziam, is only 24 years old but boasts a 12-3 MMA record at the time of writing this article. He lost his UFC debut but then got the next two wins, ensuring his stay in the promotion.
He comes from a family of martial artists, with his father being a retired professional boxer, brothers in Muay Thai, and stepdad in BJJ. He uses a little bit of everything in the Octagon and evolves each time we see him in the Octagon. There’s a lot of learning in front of him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets to the top in the next few years.
Francis Ngannou’s MMA journey is nothing short of spectacular. He’s actually Cameroonian but came to France with nothing, living homeless in the streets of Paris, trying to pursue a martial arts career to support his family back in Cameroon.
Now, he’s the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, and I can’t see anybody threatening his title reign any time soon. When he came to the UFC, he had nothing but power. Now, he developed an amazing technique and improved his grappling, and he’ll surely go down as one of the best MMA heavyweights of all time.
After losing a split decision in her MMA debut, Manon Fiorot has been nothing short of spectacular. She uses her incredible striking to dissect her opponents and knock them out one after another, finishing six of her seven wins via (T)KO.
Fiorot, coming out of Nice, France, knocked out both UFC opponents she faced in the women’s flyweight division. She has spectacular potential, and I believe she can finally be the one to jeopardize the reign of the long-time flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Marc-Andre Barriault is a French-Canadian fighter competing in the middleweight division in the UFC. Although his UFC career got to a rocky start, he showed his true potential after knocking out Abu Azaitar at UFC 260 just four seconds before the end of the fight.
He had also knocked out Oskar Piechota, but the fight had been overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for ostarine due to a tainted supplement. He’s just 31 and has championship belts in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions in the TKO promotion, and he could be a problem if he continues to work and grow.
Although he was born in Dagestan, Russia, Nassourdine Imavov grew up in Paris, France, where he still trains and lives. The 26-year old middleweight has immense potential to thrive in the UFC, as shown in his first two Octagon appearances.
He won his UFC debut and lost the second match against Phil Hawes. However, it was a really tight fight that ended in a majority decision. Imavov should return to action soon, and I’m sure he’ll show the progress he made and the potential to be a significant factor in the division.
Best French UFC Fighters In UFC History
Some of the guys that belong to the UFC all-time French fighters list are still active, so they are on the list above (like Ngannou, Poirier, or even Gane). However, some guys with a French heritage cannot be left out even though they are retired.
The first guy that pops to mind is Georges St-Pierre. GSP is a French-Canadian fighter fluent in English and French and is arguably among the top three best MMA fighters of all time.
He reigned the welterweight division for years, racking up nine title defenses in a row before going to the middleweight division and winning that belt as well – after four inactive years!
Another MMA fighter near the top on the all-time list, Daniel Cormier, also has French descent, coming out of Lafayette, Louisiana, just like Dustin Poirier. He’s one of the few fighters ever to be UFC double champions and lost only to Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic in his career – two legendary fighters that will go down as top MMA fighters of all time as well.
One more Lafayette, Louisiana native, Alan Jouban, has French descent too. Although he was never a champion, he was a fantastic fighter in his UFC days, giving us four Fight of the Night matches throughout his career.
Finally, I want to mention Cheick Kongo on this list, as he’s a native French fighter coming out of Paris that seemed to be on the verge of becoming the champion several times but always fell short in the end, both in UFC and Bellator.
Still, he has wins over incredible fighters such as Mirko Cro Cop, Pat Barry, Matt Mitrione, Alexander Volkov, and others, making him one of the best (or at least most well-known) French MMA fighters of all time.