Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is today a multi-million £ industry and growing. It’s been a legitimate sport in the States since around 1989, but has been slower to take off in the UK. That’s changing now though and thanks to early pioneers such as Ian Freeman (1st UK fighter to compete in the UFC), MMA has been steadily growing in the UK and Ireland since around 2003.
Today, almost every town and city throughout the British Isles has at least 1 MMA club, training some of the fittest fighters to compete on the world stage.
There are small MMA associations putting on events all over the world all the time where fighters can earn a few quid, but the 2 main global associations are UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and Bellator and a contract with either of these houses means a fighter is on his (or her) way to the top, provided they win fights that is.
To celebrate the rise of UK (and Ireland) MMA, I’ve put together what I believe to be the current Top 10, plus my Top 5 Prospects who have recently won contracts and are displaying world class performance.
So, with no further a-do, let’s get into it. Seconds out! Here’s the Top 10 UK / Irish MMA Fighters…
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No.1 – Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping
Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping is the most acknowledged and decorated fighter to ever come out of Britain.
He is also the most famous and recognised British fighter, aside perhaps from Ian Freeman.
Bisping is a jack of all trades in the cage with a brilliant engine.
No.2 – Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson
Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson has a good stand up game, with a strong chin.
He is a talented Thai Boxer and is consistent as a fighter.
No.3 – Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy
Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy was the 1st and remains the only Briton to ever have a title shot in the UFC against George Saint Pierre.
He enjoyed a good run of wins early on in his career, this was dampened by a losing streak, but he is now on a come back, proving to be as resilient and determined out of the cage as he is inside it.
No.4 – Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa
Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa has got fast hands and KO power.
He is yet undefeated, but needs to improve his engine to maintain this record.
No.5 – Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett
Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett is a veteran of the sport.
He has fought in all top organisations throughout the UK, Europe & USA.
If he wins his next fight against Michael McDonald, he could be in line for a title shot.
No.6 – John ‘The Hitman’ Hathaway
Apart from Bisping, John ‘The Hitman’ Hathaway has had the most fights in the UFC out of any other UK fighter and he’s still young.
He’s lost just 1 fight and has beat notable names such as Paul Taylor, Diego Sanchez, Rick Story.
No.7 – Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley
The career of Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley has taken some twists and turns. He entered the UFC but was released after 3 fight3 for throwing a punch at Josh Koscheck after the final bell. An unfortunately incident which Daley is paying the price for.
Regardless of this Daley has fought in most recognised associations including Cage Warriors and BAMMA.
He has 1 punch KO power in both hands, brings a great stand up game, and has had wins over Scott Smith and Martin Kampmann.
He’s got a lot of fights on his record and is a very experienced fighter.
No.8 – Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor
Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor is a young Irish fighter with unparalleled self belief.
With 13 wins to his record already and 12 of those by way of KO, it won’t be long before McGregor earns himself a title shot and is likely to become UFC Featherweight Champion.
No.9 – Tom ‘Kong’ Watson
Tom ‘Kong’ Watson has never been knocked out. He’s one of the toughest fighters in the world, with a big big heart.
He took part in the most televised MMA fight ever held in the UK when he fought and won ex-boyfriend of Katie Price, Alex Reid.
He is former BAMMA Middleweight Champion, former UCMMA Middleweight Champion and has recently signed with UFC.
He’s been around a long time and has much more to offer.
No.10 – Paul ‘Sassangle’ Sass
Paul ‘Sassangle’ Sass has won so many fights with a triangle choke hold, they named him after it!
That’s my Top 10. Not everyone will agree, so if you think the list should be in a different order, feel free to let me know.
Here’s my Top 5 to watch – put your money on these guys, they will not disappoint!