Asia has one of the richest martial art cultures in the world and is where many martial arts originated, with MMA originating from the Qin Dynasty in China, 2243 years ago.
And while the UFC is an American promotion on the other side of the world, there are many elite-level Asian UFC fighters having made their way to the pinnacle of MMA; but not quite as many as Mexicans, Brazilians, and Russians.
What Determines Which Asian UFC Fighters Make the List?
- UFC titles won and title defenses
- MMA record and other titles won
- Other records set
- Competition faced
- Fighting ability, entertainment, and influence in the UFC, (subjective)
- Future potential
Best Asian UFC Fighters
Here’s a list of the best Asian UFC fighters of all time in alphabetical order.
The list also features upcoming Asian stars, who made the list because of how good they are and their potential to become undisputed UFC champions.
Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie) – South Korea (17-7-0)
One of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC, he gets a bonus nearly every time he fights. His name Zombie comes from his ability to take punches and continue pushing forward aggressively, evidenced by him having 14 out of 17 wins by finishes and only 6 decisions in 24 fights.
The name Zombie might also indicate that he’s a brawler, but he’s one of the most technically sound strikers in the UFC; with black belts in hapkido, judo, and taekwondo.
Also, when it comes to striking he’s all-out offense. He uses his range extremely well and relies on head movement because he likes to keep his hands low and feet planted as a way to generate as much power as possible and keep his strikes coming from different angles.
Along with this, he has prestigious knockout power, which earned him the tied third-fastest UFC knockout of only 7 seconds against Mark Hominick. On top of this, he has dangerous submission skills, signified by a Bjj black belt and being the first and only UFC fighter to have a twister submission victory.
Because of his Bjj skills, he only has 1 submission win in the UFC because people avoid going to the ground with him. However, if he’s taken down he either threatens Bjj or uses his scrambling ability to get back to his feet.
Unfortunately, he had South Korean military service between 2013-2017, which put a halt to a promising start in the UFC, where he’d just fought and lost to Jose Aldo for the featherweight title. It also meant he had 3171 days between title fights; a testament to his nickname and his dedication to the UFC and MMA.
Despite not having the best record, the Zombie has faced the best fighters possible, with wins over Dan Ige, Frankie Edgar, Renato Maicano, and Dustin Poirier. He’s also one of the most popular UFC fighters ever, and his influence is one of the reasons the UFC became so popular in Asia and especially South Korea.
- Height: 5’7” | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
- 3171 days between title fights
- 14 out of 17 wins by finish (6 knockouts and 8 submissions)
- First UFC fighter to have a twister submission victory
- Tied 3rd fastest UFC knockout (7 seconds)
Da Un Jung – South Korea (15-4-1)
Da Un Jung, or SSeda, is a former HEAT light heavyweight champion and is undefeated in the UFC since joining in 2019, with a record of 4 wins and 1 draw.
He’s the next star out of South Korea after the Zombie and has the potential to go one step further and become the light heavyweight UFC champion. Dismissing his draw against Sam Alvey, he’s currently on a 14-fight win streak and has dominated throughout.
He’s very well-rounded, great on the feet, on the ground, and in the clinch. He has impressive takedowns, trips, control on the ground, and finishes fights with powerful and relentless boxing – he has 11 knockouts in 15 wins, as well as 2 submissions.
From what we’ve seen so far, SSeda also has championship-level composure and durability in the octagon; he’s taken powerful shots and remains calm under pressure, by keeping his defense tight and relieving pressure by throwing jabs.
He’s yet to be knocked out in 18 fights, and he’s also composed and patient when being the aggressor.
In 3 short years, SSeda has beaten straight beasts in the light heavyweight division, such as William Knight, Mike Rodriguez, and Kennedy Nzechukwu. He finished Kennedy with repeated vicious elbows through his guard when he had him backed up against the cage.
Being critical, he can seem slow at times and lacks efficient footwork, which he’ll need to improve if he wants to become a light heavyweight champion. However, he’s more of a boxer and very efficient with his movement, likely looking to reserve energy and focus on power by keeping his feet planted.
However, while Jung is relatively unknown at this point (July 2022), he’s said he wants to be the “best fighter Asia has ever produced”, and with the way he’s started, there’s reason to believe he can make it happen.
- Height: 6’3” | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light heavyweight
- Undefeated UFC record of 4 wins and 1 draw
- Former HEAT light heavyweight champion
Dong Hyun Kim – South Korea (22-4-1-1NC)
Dong Hyun Kim, or Stun Gun, is a former Asian UFC fighter who competed from 2008 to 2017, amassing a formidable 13-4 UFC record.
Dong was a highly skilled and decorated fighter, with black belts in judo, taekwondo, Bjj, and hapkido. He was a very creative and diverse striker, personified by his spinning elbow against John Hathaway which won knockout of the year (2014), as well as knockouts by slams, knees, and punches.
He was an aggressive striker who didn’t waste time in the octagon, with knockout power in his punches and kicks, aided by his 76” reach which was very long for the welterweight division. On top of this, the Stun Gun had a rock-solid chin and only lost by TKO three times in 27 MMA fights.
His greatest strength led him to become known as Cicada, which are flies that eat the sap of trees. He received this second nickname due to his style of taking fighters down and controlling them so they couldn’t escape, which is how he won many fights; 11 of his 22 wins are by decisions.
To take fighters down he mostly used judo throws and trips from the clinch, but he also took people down by effectively shooting for double legs and singles due to his long reach which allowed him to easily connect his hands together.
Throughout his 18-fight UFC career, he had a takedown defense of 71%, showing again how strong his grappling was.
Throughout his UFC career, he was very consistent and only lost to great fighters. He beat the likes of Erick Silva, Nate Diaz, Matt Brown, and John Hathaway, while he lost to Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley, and Colby Covington.
- Height: 6’2” | Reach: 76” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Welterweight
- First spinning elbow knockout in UFC history (vs Hathaway)
- 13-4 UFC record
Doo Ho Choi – South Korea (14-4-1)
Doo Ho Choi, or “The Korean Superboy”, entered the UFC in 2014 with three first-round knockouts and 2 performance bonuses, taking his MMA win streak to 12.
The Korean Superboy has a non-threatening look to him because of his baby face, with Joe Rogan saying he looks like “an adorable teenage boy”.
However, he’s an aggressive striker, who’s technically sound and has beautiful boxing. He has lightning-fast punches and sniper-like accuracy, which he sets up with disguised feints.
His distance management is second to none, where he stays out of range by probing with his left hand and slipping strikes with great footwork and then countering with great timing and powerful right straights and hooks.
In his first UFC loss against Cub Swanson, he showed how durable he is against a veteran, taking damage, recovering, and staying in the fight to the end. It also showed how composed he can be in the middle of a war, and how entertaining a fighter he is; taking 3 Fight of the Night bonuses in 6 UFC appearances.
Choi has great takedown defense and his scrambles are very good meaning he’s never held down for long, which is useful because he doesn’t have an elite ground or grappling game developed yet.
Unfortunately, after a 3-loss streak, he had to break from the UFC in 2019 for military service and was set to make a comeback in 2021 but had to withdraw due to injury. Hopefully, we see him return as he has fights on his contract and star potential.
- Height: 5’10” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
- 12-fight MMA win streak (3 UFC)
- 2016 fight of the year vs Cub Swanson
Kyoji Horiguchi – Japan (31-5)
Kyoji joined the UFC in 2013 from Shooto and went 7-1 in his first 8 fights. He’s a former Rizin, Shooto, and Bellator bantamweight champion, which is no easy feat.
Despite progressing up the UFC rankings and only losing to flyweight king, Demetrious Johnson, at 24 years old, Kyoji decided to sign with Rizin in 2016 when his contract was up due to being offered more fights, better pay, and the ability to fight as a star in his home country.
What made him great in the UFC and in his MMA career, is the raw power he has, especially when competing in the flyweight division where in 29 wins, 15 are by knockout.
Compare this to the best-ever UFC flyweight, Demetrious Johson, who has just 5 out of 30 wins by knockout, or current champion Deiveison Figueiredo who’s known for having unbelievable power, has 9 out of 21 wins by knockout.
He’s strong, quick, and aggressive, often charging across the octagon and being quite reckless, due to his confidence in his knockout ability.
He’s a black belt in shotokan karate, which he mostly uses in terms of footwork, movement, and evasiveness of strikes, while his powerful boxing is often his go-to for winning fights.
His strength also translates into impressive grappling and takedown ability, where he looks to finish with ground-and-pound, while rarely looking for submission attempts.
In the UFC his best win was against Ali Bagautinov, but outside he’s beaten Manel Kape, Ian McCall, and Kai Asakura.
It’s a shame his UFC career wasn’t continued due to money issues, because his level of talent needed to be tested against the best in the world. Nevertheless, it’s clear he’s one of the best Asian UFC fighters across MMA due to his multiple championship titles.
- Height: 5’5” | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Flyweight / Bantamweight
- Former Bellator, Rizin, and Shooto bantamweight champion
- 7-1 UFC record
Li Jingliang – China (19-8)
Also known as the Leech, Li is a former Legend FC welterweight champion and is a very experienced Asian UFC fighter, with 15 UFC fights behind him (10-5).
His greatest strength is his boxing and explosive knockout power, where he prefers to land bombing uppercuts and hooks; he doesn’t use many kicks. Li also has an ability to finish opponents by picking shots through gaps and using speedy and accurate ground-and-pound once he has an opponent hurt.
Of 19 MMA wins, 10 are by knockout, and 4 are by submission, where he’s also a BJJ black belt.
He’s an extremely entertaining fighter because he loves to trade punches inside the pocket, and like many of the other Asian UFC fighters, he’s always pushing the pace and pressing his opponent toward the cage. Due to this, he’s earned 4 performance of the night and 2 fight of the night bonuses.
His only weakness is grappling, which is why Khamzat Chimaev immediately went for the takedown to control him on the ground as he knew Li Jingliang is extremely dangerous on the feet.
His best win is against Santiago Ponzinibbio (which ended his 7 fight win streak), but apart from Chimaev, he hasn’t fought the greatest competition which is strange considering he’s been in the UFC for 8 years.
- Height: 6’0” | Reach: 71” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
- Former Legend FC welterweight champion
- 14 out of 19 wins by finish
Rafael Fiziev – Kyrgyzstan (12-2-0)
Rafael Fiziev, or Ataman, is a Kyrgyzstani and has been fighting with the UFC since 2019, quickly establishing himself as one of the scariest propositions in the lightweight division.
After losing his first UFC fight, he’s gone on a 6-win streak in impressive fashion, where his explosiveness, grappling, and superior athleticism became apparent.
In his first 5 UFC fights, he has a takedown defense of 95% because of his heavy hips and strong legs, which allows him to focus on offensive striking and grappling. His grappling is mainly in the clinch because he doesn’t shoot for takedowns too often as he prefers to keep fights on the feet.
Fiziev’s style and background are mostly as a kickboxer but he’s also trained in muay thai, taekwondo, boxing, sambo, and wrestling. He isn’t the tallest of lightweights, so he presses opponents and stays inside the pocket to negate the range, where he remains extremely composed and patient.
Here, he often stifles his opponents by using well-disguised feints and having an off-beat rhythm, complemented by his well-timed and super-fast boxing combinations, lightning-quick body kicks, and power. He also has the ability to evade strikes and is often seen leaning very far back to avoid high kicks.
In his short UFC tenure, he hasn’t had a boring fight and has impressive wins over Brad Riddell, Bobby Green, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Renato Moicano, where he continues to pick up bonuses every time he fights.
We’re yet to see Fiziev use any kind of Bjj, as he’s only a blue belt and has a lot of faith in his kickboxing. As he continues to climb the lightweight division and match against strong wrestlers, we’ll see if they can take him down and deploy jiu-jitsu against him, which is likely his only weakness.
- Height: 5’8” | Reach: 71” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Lightweight
- 6-1 UFC record and a 6-win streak
- Kickboxing record of 39-8 (29 knockouts)
Shavkat Rakhmonov – Kazakhstan (17-0-0)
Shavkat Rakhmonov, also known as Nomad, is a former M1 welterweight champion and an undefeated mixed martial artist. Since joining the UFC in 2020, Nomad is on a 5-fight win streak, which has seen him earn 3 performance of the night bonuses.
Shavkat is an extremely skilled martial artist with killer instincts, he has a 100% finish rate in 17 professional fights, 8 by knockout, and 9 by submission; where he’s only been to a third round twice in 17 fights. He’s extremely well-rounded and highly polished in all facets of MMA, without any evident weaknesses.
What sets him apart is his skill of striking a balance between not rushing to finish fights, which put a lot of naive fighters in danger, and not hesitating to pounce on an opening or an opponent’s mistake; he’s extremely calculated, composed, and unemotional.
His striking is slick, powerful, and scarily precise; you never see him wildly swinging or wasting movements because his fight IQ is superior. Another asset of his is cardio, but we’re yet to see this tested because he finishes everyone too early.
He’s also a brilliant grappler, who can take an opponent down any way he chooses and keeps top control very well, where he then executes submissions seemingly out of nowhere. Not only this, but defensively his grappling is also exceptional, and he’s yet to be taken down in the UFC; yet another 100% record.
So far in his UFC tenure, he’s beaten Alex Oliveira, Neil Magny, Michel Prazeres, and Carlston Harris, while most recently he easily dismantled Geoff Neal. The fact he’s been immediately put in the deep end and beaten elite opposition while being mostly unknown shows how highly the UFC rate Shavkat.
His next fight should be against someone in the top ten like Khamzat Chimaev because Nomad is now a contender, but a lot of fighters will be scared of him and likely reject the fight.
At just 27 years old he’s far from his prime, but he’s already one of the best Asian UFC fighters of all time and is continuing to develop every year.
- Height: 6’1” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
- Undefeated in MMA and UFC
- Former M1 welterweight champion
- Combat sambo & MMA master of sport
Song Yadong – China (20-7-1-1NC)
Song Yadong, or the “Kung Fu Monkey”, is China’s next UFC champion in the making. Having joined the UFC aged 19, he’s already racked up 5 years of UFC experience by the age of 24 and a UFC record of 8-1-1; before he’s anywhere near his prime.
Song has extreme explosiveness and speed, where his right hand is a laser beam, as evidenced by his one-punch uppercut knockout of Marlon Moraes. What aids his power is his mastery of both timing and footwork, as well as his high fight IQ.
If taken down, Song is one of the best scramblers in the UFC, as he always manages to get back to his feet and keep the fight where he likes it.
He’s coached by former champion Urijah Faber and trains with Team Alpha Male, who’s helped develop his grappling into becoming another strength of his; but we’re yet to see him tested much in this department.
Despite being so young, he has immense wins over Ricky Simon, Marlon Vera, Casey Kenney, and Marlon Moraes. The future is bright for the Kung Fu Monkey.
- Height: 5’8” | Reach: 67” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Bantamweight
- Joined the UFC aged 19 and has 11 UFC fights by 24 years old
Yan Xiaonan – China (16-3-0-1NC)
Yan Xiaonan, or Fury, is China’s second-best female UFC fighter, after Zhang Weili. She entered the UFC by going on a 6-fight win streak but recently lost her last 2 fights.
Her best attribute is cardio, allowing her to push and keep a relentless pace in fights and avoid fading throughout, helped by how durable and dogged she is.
Alongside this, she’s always outmatching her opponent in terms of volume, often finishing her opponents by overwhelming them with speedy combinations and flurries. This is a great skill to have in the strawweight division, where knockout power isn’t too common.
Being critical, Yan would be improved if she worked more on her striking technique, as she’s considered more of a brawler, and comes unstuck against opponents with more control, timing, and technique.
She also needs to improve her grappling and ground game, as Carla Esparza took her down within 5 seconds of their matchup and easily controlled her the whole fight, before finishing the fight in the crucifix position. This was partly caused by inexperience and the over-lunging into Carla who easily took the takedowns on multiple occasions.
However, she has been as high as #3 in the strawweight rankings and if she can work on these aspects, with her speed and power in the standup she can contend again and potentially become only the second Asian UFC champion.
- Height: 5’5” | Reach: 63” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Strawweight
- 6-fight UFC win streak
- Been as high as #3 in the strawweight rankings
Zhang Weili – China (23-3-0)
Zhang Weili, or Magnum, is a two-time UFC strawweight champion (current) and China’s first UFC champion. She won the UFC title in just her fourth UFC fight, and successfully defended it against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in the best UFC fight of 2020; a testament to how entertaining a fighter she is.
Making Zhang so great is her amazing boxing speed and body strength compared to others in the strawweight division, as she’s often thicker and more muscular than her opponents.
This strength translates into impressive takedown defense and powerful striking, where she has 11/22 wins by knockout, which is very high for a female strawweight fighter.
On top of this, she has a Bjj purple belt and 7 wins by submission, meaning just under 82% of her wins are by finish which is unparalleled in the strawweight division. Meanwhile, a decision determines 67% of female UFC strawweight fights.
Since training with Henry Cejudo in early 2021, her wrestling and mentality have improved massively. Before this, her takedown defense was very good but she didn’t use grappling offensively which made her one-dimensional.
While Weili has always been tenacious and dogged, she’s now more composed and focused, and her skillset is more well-rounded and complete because she incorporates offensive grappling.
Despite only fighting in the UFC since 2018, she’s beaten great fighters like Jessica Andrade, Tecia Torres, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice.
However, she’s lost twice to Rose Namajunas, who’s able to keep Zhang Weili at a distance with her height and reach advantage.
All things considered, she’s easily the best Asian UFC fighter and she’s definitely one of the most popular. Expect her to become the UFC strawweight champion once again.
- Height: 5’4” | Reach: 63” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Strawweight
- Former Kunlun Fight strawweight champion with 2 successful title defenses
- Former UFC strawweight champion with 1 successful title defense
- First Chinese UFC champion
- 21 MMA win streak (includes 5 straight UFC wins since debut)
These are the best Asian UFC fighters of all time, and while there’s only one former UFC champion on this list to date (2022), expect many more to come within the next few years.