10 of the Greatest British Fighters in UFC History

10 of the Greatest British Fighters in UFC History

By Tim Witton
Friday, July 22nd 2022, 12:02AM, 3 months ago

This weekend sees the return of the UFC to England after a hugely successful event headlined by Tom Aspinall and Alexander Volkov earlier this year. Tom Aspinall continues to rise up the ranks and showcase why he has been touted as the biggest prospect coming out of the UK in years and he will have the opportunity once again to prove to the world that he is amongst the very best when he takes on Curtis Blaydes at the O2 Arena in London, England. Let's take this opportunity to look at ten of the greatest British UFC fighters of all time.

Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping knocks out Luke Rockhold to win the UFC Middleweight title. Credits to: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bisping knocks out Luke Rockhold to win the UFC Middleweight title. Credits to: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Currently the only British fighter to have ever achieved UFC gold, Michael Bisping shook the world when he upset Luke Rockhold on just 17 days' notice to become the UFC’s 8th Middleweight champion. Having been a perennial contender for years, Bisping had gone 17-7 in the UFC, coming up short in two separate title eliminator bouts previously. Things were looking like ‘The Count’ would be one of the greats to never achieve championship glory, but after a 3 fight win streak including a fight of the night against Anderson Silva, at the age of 37 years old Bisping jumped at the chance to take on the champion Luke Rockhold after Chris Weidman pulled out with a neck injury. Two heavy left hands made quick work of Rockhold, and Bisping cemented his place in the annals of UFC history with a belt around his waist.

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Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards weighs in for his fight against Gunnar Nelson. Credits to: Zuffa LLC
Leon Edwards weighs in for his fight against Gunnar Nelson. Credits to: Zuffa LLC

Holder of an impressive 11 fight unbeaten streak in the UFC (10 wins, 1 no contest) at the moment, Leon Edwards has shown he has what it takes to hang with the best in the world. The 6 foot tall Jamaican born Brit has been able to overcome names such as Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz, and Vicente Luque. The most recent person to taste victory in the UFC over Edwards is none other than current Welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, all the way back in 2015, in a grinding performance that saw Edwards eventually worn down over time. Since then, his clever use of his range advantages on the feet and significant improvements to his wrestling game has seen Edwards become an unsolvable puzzle since. Edwards and Usman will run it back with Edwards finally getting his first shot at a UFC title next month at UFC 278.

Arnold Allen

Arnold Allen lands a flurry against Dan Hooker. Credits to: Kieran Cleeves-Zuffa LLC
Arnold Allen lands a flurry against Dan Hooker. Credits to: Kieran Cleeves-Zuffa LLC

Another fighter on a hot streak at the moment, Arnold Allen is undefeated in the UFC so far, having won his first nine fights in the world’s premier organization, and his last 11 overall. Utilizing a high volume boxing attack founded on a heavy jab, alongside an opportunistic submission game, Arnold has been on the rise for quite some time. His most recent win against Dan Hooker was what could be considered a coming out party, as Arnold secured a strong first round standing TKO against a marquee name to put the division on notice and propel him further towards title contention. Allen has looked nothing short of excellent so far in his career, and sitting at number six in the Featherweight rankings, likely only needs one more win to secure a shot at the Featherweight title.

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Darren Till

Darren Till faces Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight title. Credits to: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Darren Till faces Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight title. Credits to: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While injury has been a common factor in recent years for Darren Till, it’s hard to deny the explosive impact the young fighter from Liverpool had when he burst onto the scene. Debuting in the UFC as a Welterweight, ‘The Gorilla’ went undefeated in his first six fights, picking up notable wins against Donald Cerrone and Stephen Thompson to set himself up for a title bout against then champion Tyrone Woodley. Till eventually came up short, and has since moved up to Middleweight to make a new run at the belt at a more comfortable weight class. Till was originally meant to be fighting this weekend, but yet another injury has forced him off the card, stalling the career once again for this bright prospect. At 29 years of age, time is fortunately still on Darren’s side to achieve a UFC title in the future.

Jimi Manuwa

Jimi Manuwa weighs in for his fight against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214. Credits to: Dave Mandel-Sherdog.com
Jimi Manuwa weighs in for his fight against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214. Credits to: Dave Mandel-Sherdog.com

The heavy hitting Jimi Manuwa signed with the UFC in 2012, as a lethal finisher sporting an 11-0 record with 11 finishes at the time. Jimi’s fights in the UFC were nothing short of chaos a lot of the time, with Jimi’s raw aggression and thunderous punches proving entertaining to watch for fans and difficult to face for opponents. Only one fighter ever managed to go the distance against Manuwa; none other than Poland’s Jan Blachowicz, who shared a win apiece with Manuwa in their two fights. Whilst Jimi’s raw aggression wasn’t enough to propel him near title contention, Manuwa’s ‘kill or be killed’ attitude saw him gain entertaining wins over Corey Anderson, Ovince Saint Preux, and the aforementioned Blachowicz, along with four fight of the night bonuses and a legion of fans.

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Dan Hardy

Dan Hardy faces down his opponent Chris Lytle. Credits to: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC
Dan Hardy faces down his opponent Chris Lytle. Credits to: Josh Hedges-Zuffa LLC

Debuting in the UFC back in 2008, the former Cage Warriors champ was the first ever British born fighter to gain a UFC title shot, having worked his way towards a showdown with Georges St Pierre on the back of a seven fight win streak including four wins in his first four UFC bouts. Unsuccessful, ‘The Outlaw’ fell on tough times following the title bout, losing his next three bouts before returning to winning ways with a bonus winning knockout of Duane Ludwig at UFC 146. After being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson syndrome in 2013, Dan Hardy did not continue fighting, eventually beginning a successful career as a commentator and analyst for MMA, including a stint as a UFC commentator. Hardy was medically cleared to fight again in 2018, and has shown interest in returning to the cage, but is yet to fight anywhere as of now. Hardy’s contribution to the MMA world both in and out of the cage is what helped shape the current wave of exciting and talented British prospects coming through today.

Ross Pearson

Ross Pearson faces down his opponent mid fight. Credits to: Zuffa LLC
Ross Pearson faces down his opponent mid fight. Credits to: Zuffa LLC

A 26 fight UFC veteran, Pearson is perhaps best known as the winner of season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter. Fighting in the UFC for a decade, ‘The Real Deal’ did struggle to find consistent success in the octagon, never managing to put a consistent win streak together in his career, but consistently gave highly entertaining fights against notable names such as Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, Gray Maynard and put on a fight of the night against Edson Barboza at UFC 134. Having retired from the sport in 2019, Pearson now coaches MMA in Australia, with up and coming Lightweight prospect Jamie Mullarkey representing Central Coast MMA where Pearson coaches.

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Molly McCann

Molly McCann is ecstatic after her victory against Luana Carolina. Credits to: Zuffa LLC
Molly McCann is ecstatic after her victory against Luana Carolina. Credits to: Zuffa LLC

One of England’s fastest rising stars, Molly McCann shot into the spotlight at UFC’s last card in London earlier this year with a captivating knockout of Luana Carolina, an electric spinning back elbow that sent Carolina crashing to the canvas and a beautiful highlight reel that will live on for the rest of McCann’s career. The brash, confident Liverpudlian has amassed a record of 5-3 in the UFC so far, with both of her last wins netting ‘Meatball’ performance bonuses. Molly seems to have found her groove and is coming into her own right now, and after previously flirting with the rankings back in 2019, is now primed to rise up and take on the best opposition the UFC has to offer.

Paul Craig

Paul Craig weighs in with his Scottish colours. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMA Fighting.com
Paul Craig weighs in with his Scottish colours. Credits to: Esther Lin-MMA Fighting.com

With a professional record of 16-4-1, Paul Craig has only ever gone to the judges one time in his entire professional career so far. Seemingly with a knack for truly coming alive in his fights only after getting rocked, it is a special sight to see Craig repeatedly pull out unexpected come from behind wins. Throughout his career, ‘Bearjew’ has made a habit of getting into wild exchanges that tire his opponent out, and ensnare them in a submission. It’s worked a charm, and after some mixed results early on in his career, Craig has amassed a current six fight unbeaten streak (5 wins, 1 draw). Holder of 7 post fight bonuses in the UFC, The Scotsman was most recently seen submitting Nikita Krylov with a triangle choke at the end of the first round in a signature comeback performance after nearly getting knocked out, and is currently the only person to defeat highly touted prospects Magomed Ankalaev and Jamahal Hill.

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Tom Aspinall

Tom Aspinall celebrates after finishing Alex Volkov in the first round. Credits to: Action Images
Tom Aspinall celebrates after finishing Alex Volkov in the first round. Credits to: Action Images

Five fights in the UFC, five devastating finishes, and a true marquee name on his record with his signature victory against Alexander Volkov proving that Tom Aspinall truly does rank amongst the best at Heavyweight. The soft spoken Manchester fighter has certainly looked the real deal in all of his fights so far, making it look easy against his UFC calibre opponents as he quickly dispatched them, even managing to secure a submission against UFC veteran Andre Arlovski, becoming only the second person to ever do so. It may have been a fast rise up the ranks for the young scrapper, but at 29 years old, Tom has already shown an elite and well rounded game with no weak points, blending high level striking, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu together. With many people touting Aspinall as a future UFC champion, Tom’s time could be now as he headlines his second UFC event in what will be an opportunity to throw his name into the ring for the crowded battle for the UFC Heavyweight title.

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