11 Best Australian UFC Fighters (New Zealanders Included)

Are you wondering if there are any great Australian UFC fighters, considering the UFC is an American promotion on the other side of the world?

Let’s find out.

What Determines Which Australian UFC Fighters Make the List?

Australian UFC fighters make the list based on:

  • UFC titles won and title defenses
  • MMA record
  • Other records set
  • Competition faced
  • Fighting ability, entertainment, influence in the UFC, (subjective)
  • Future potential

Australian UFC Fighters Ranked

Here’s the list of the best Australian UFC Fighters to have made their way to America to fight in the UFC, starting with the best. 

This list also includes the greatest fighters from the Australian continent, so the best UFC New Zealand fighters are also included.

Alexander Volkanovski (26-4)

By far the greatest Australian UFC fighter, Volkanovski is quickly closing in on status as the best-ever UFC featherweight and one of the all-time greats.

If you were going to build the perfect featherweight in a lab, Volkanovski would be the creation. Making him so good is his stocky build, as he’s always the stronger fighter, meaning he’s nearly impossible to take down and he always dominates in the clinch and on the ground.

Due to his gifted strength, he’s often shorter than many of his featherweight counterparts, as he’s only 5’6” and the average height of the featherweight division is 5’9”. This is no hindrance though as he makes up for it by having one of the most positive ape indexes in the entire UFC.

His reach is 71.5”, 5.5” longer than his height which translates into great distance management and powerful striking. His opponents can’t get to him because he’s too strong, and he uses his reach, power, and speed to dominate them when striking.

Volkanovski knows his strengths and keeps his fighting style simple and effective, combined with an extremely high fight IQ, he can read the fight and dictate the direction and ultimately his opponent.

A standup fighter through and through, Volkanovski is a kickboxer but also has a black belt in Bjj where he uses this skill and knowledge on the ground to defend submissions and always stay one step ahead of his opponent.

He’s beaten Max Holloway 3/3 times, and he’s also beaten the Korean Zombie, Jose Aldo, and Brian Ortega. Holloway and Aldo are considered the best UFC featherweights of all time, and with his flawless performances against them, he’s only a couple of title defenses away from far surpassing them.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 5’6” | Reach: 71.5” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
  • 22 MMA win streak (12 UFC streak)
  • Undefeated in the UFC at 12-0
  • UFC featherweight champion with 5 title wins and 4 consecutive title defenses
  • 71.5” reach and a 5.5” positive ape index

Robert Whittaker (25-7)

Robert Whittaker, or “The Reaper”, is the second-best Australian UFC fighter of all time. He’s the former interim UFC middleweight champion, who also became the undisputed UFC middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title in 2017.

Whittaker has been in the UFC for a decade after winning The Ultimate Fighter welterweight tournament in 2012.

After 2 wins and 2 losses, Whittaker established himself as a middleweight presence by going on a 9-fight win streak, where he beat Yoel Romero to become the interim middleweight champion, and the first Australian UFC fighter to have a UFC title.

Making Whittaker one of the best is how exceptionally well-rounded he is, there’s no part of martial arts he isn’t great in. His greatest strengths are his grappling and boxing, which he uses to keep the fight on the feet and outstrike his opponents.

When boxing, he has excellent head movement and footwork, with a powerful snappy jab. Aiding this are great feints, timing, and a way of dictating the rhythm of a fight, which he interrupts with long unexpected lunges and a bouncy and elusive style of fighting.

His style of fighting and technique lends itself to his background and black belts in hapkido and goju-ryu karate, while he’s well versed on the ground due to his Bjj black belt.

Also, he’s hard to hit and if an opponent gets close he has the superior grappling to dominate in the clinch or take them down.

His favorite combination is the 1-2-head kick, which has been his most successful in getting him victories, 9 out of 23 of his fights have been by TKO/KO. His well-roundedness is illustrated by his 9 decision and 5 submission victories, he’s very calculated, durable, and wins any way possible.

His best wins are against Yoel Romero, Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum, and Darren Till, while he’s come unstuck twice against dominant Israel Adesanya, his only two losses since 2014.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’0” | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Middleweight
  • Former interim and undisputed UFC middleweight champion
  • 9-fight UFC win streak (2014-2018)

Tai Tuivasa (15-7)

After a blockbuster start in the UFC with three wins on the bounce, Tai lost his next 3 fights and his career was at a crossroads.

Fast forward to 2022, he’s riding a 5-fight win streak and has established himself as a heavyweight contender, beating the likes of Derrick Lewis, Greg Hardy, and Stefan Struve.

Making Tai dangerous is his knockout power and speed of boxing, knocking out his opponent in 13 of his last 14 wins. It’s also because he’s a highly fearless fighter and loves to push forward with confidence and get aggressive. He doesn’t rest on his laurels and always looks to finish fights.

In his fight against Derrick Lewis, we also saw how composed, durable, and great a chin he has, taking many punches from the UFC’s most proficient knockout artist and knocking him out with one short elbow strike; illustrative of the power he can generate.

We’re yet to see how proficient “Bam Bam’s” jiu-jitsu or cardio is because his fights rarely go the distance or to the canvas, but his grappling is great when it comes to clinching his opponent.

At just 29 years old, Bam Bam has plenty of years left to develop his game further, and really become a UFC great. He’s already one of the most popular UFC fighters, often seen shotting beers from fans’ shoes after a fight; what an entertainer.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’2” | Reach: 75” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Heavyweight
  • 5-fight UFC win streak
  • 13/14 by knockout (11/13 knockouts in the first round)

Jack Della Maddalena (16-2)

At just 25 years old and joining the UFC in September 2021 via the Contender Series, Jack has presented himself as a force to be reckoned with in the UFC welterweight division.

He was put in the deep end by the UFC and passed with flying colors, Jack has two TKO victories against two very good opponents, with his last win against Ramazan Emeev, a very strong grappler from Dagestan who hadn’t previously been knocked out in the octagon.

Jack was inspired by Wanderlei Silva to become a fighter, and if that’s anything to go by, we should expect many more blockbuster fights involving Jack. Growing up, he didn’t have any MMA gyms near him so he focused on boxing, which is his specialty.

He folded Emeev with 2 nasty body shots, which technically should have resulted in a KO win rather than a TKO. Because of his excellent boxing, he’s unafraid and stands directly in front of his opponent, using destructive body shots, relentlessly precise jabs, and great combinations.

when it comes to fighting he’s all business, bringing a lot of energy to the cage but never rushing to the point of putting himself in danger; he’s composed, calculated, and outworks his opponents with his shots. Most impressive is how he switches stances so smoothly and is equally as dangerous in both.

Along with his skill, Jack has a very respectful and humble demeanor and is going to be huge after a couple more fights.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 5’11” | Reach: 73” |Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Welterweight
  • 12-fight MMA win streak
  • Undefeated in the UFC

Jake Matthews (18-6)

Also known as “The Celtic Kid”, Jake has been in the UFC since 19 years old, when he joined in 2014. Still only 27, he’s getting better every time he fights and currently has an 11-6 UFC record.

Jake’s bread and butter is grappling, while he also has a Bjj black belt, making him a very well-rounded martial artist; evidenced by his 5 knockouts, 7 submissions, and 6 decision victories.

He has won against Diego Sanchez, Andre Fialho, and Li Jingliang, but up to this point has been inconsistent and lost to fighters who on paper he should be beating, due to being overly cautious and naive at times.

However, Matthews has the skillset and needs his mental game to come together, which appeared to happen against Fialho.

He looked very solid, composed, confident, and his striking had hugely improved against a dangerous opponent who had 13 out 16 wins by knockout. Jake said he was willing to get knocked out to showcase his new skills and put on his best performance yet.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 5’11” | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
  • 11-6 UFC record

Jimmy Crute (12-3-1)

Jimmy “The Brute” Crute, is another young Aussie who joined the UFC aged 22, in 2018. He got his shot after appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series and winning his fight in the first round via TKO. He’s a former Australian Hex Fight Series light heavyweight champion.

When striking, Crute likes to stay on the outside, stay sharp, remain patient, and utilize his power for knockouts rather than outscoring his opponent.

Crute doesn’t like to cut a lot of weight before fights as he likes to keep his power and energy at a maximum, and while he could possibly move down to middleweight, he’s not undersized for the light heavyweight division. 

This helps him with great takedown defense and strength while grappling; although he did come up short in these departments against undefeated Sean Brady.

Showing his talent and potential are his wins against veterans Paul Craig and Sam Alvey. Not many people can submit Paul Craig, in fact, it’s his only submission loss, while Sam Alvey had only been knocked out twice in 51 MMA fights before he met Jimmy.

However, his kimura win against Craig isn’t too surprising, Jimmy is excellent on the ground when it comes to submissions, he’s a Bjj black belt and is now tied in the UFC for the most kimura submission victories (2). He’s so great at the kimura because of his raw strength.

Unfortunately for Jimmy, he suffered a knee injury in his fight against Anthony Smith which kept him on the sidelines for 7 months. If he’d beaten Smith, he would’ve been close to a title shot. On his return he lost to Jamahal Hill, so we’re yet to see him hit his stride since his return from injury.

In the past, he’s had self-belief issues before entering the octagon, so if he can come back from the nerve injury and progress his mental game, Jimmy can become a top contender in the light heavyweight division in a couple of years because of his huge potential and skills.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’2” | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light heavyweight
  • Former Australian Hex Fight Series light heavyweight champion with two successful title defenses
  • Dana White Contender Series graduate
  • Tied most UFC kimura submission victories (2)

Jamie Mullarkey (16-7)

Jamie is another talented young Australian UFC fighter on the come-up, learning on the job, and yet to enter his prime.

On the Australian regional scene, Jamie became the UFN and Super Fight MMA lightweight champion, as well as the Brace featherweight champion. He fought against current featherweight king, Alexander Volkanovski, for the Australian Fighting Championship, but lost in the first round via TKO.

At just 27 years old, his skills are upgrading every time he enters the octagon, in part thanks to training with Volkanovski, who you can be sure is training with the best of the best.

A key part of Mullarkey’s style is to be pressuring his opponents, forcing them backward where he can use his insane cardio and height and reach advantage. Jamie is 6 ft tall with a reach of 74”; while the average in the lightweight division is 5’10” and 72”.

He’s a finisher of fights, out of 15 wins he has 10 wins by knockout, 3 by submission, and only 2 by decision. He has great combinations and closes distance effectively, smoothly transitions between grappling and striking, and has great versatility of strikes aided by constant feints.

His best wins are the knockouts of Khama Worthy and Devonte Smith, while he also has a decision victory over UFC legend Michael Johnson. He’s never in a boring fight and has had Fight of the Night twice, with his most entertaining fight against Brad Riddell which he lost by decision.

In the fight against Smith and Riddell, Jamie showed his extreme durability, as he was hit with their most explosive shots and continued to keep the pace and pressure on, especially against Smith until he got the knockout in round 2.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’0” | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Lightweight
  • Former UFN and Super Fight MMA lightweight champion
  • Former Brace featherweight champion

Casey O’Neill (9-1-0)

Casey O’Neill, or “King”, is Australia’s most promising female UFC star, and is currently undefeated in MMA. She’s only 24 and racking up wins at a crazy pace, going 4-0 since joining the UFC in 2019.

Her father is a professional kickboxer, so she started learning this art at the age of 4, before learning Bjj at the age of 13 where she’s now a brown belt, one away from a black belt.

Very unemotional and focused in the octagon, her style is extremely high pressure and in the face of her opponent. She doesn’t mind trading damage to hurt her opponent and win.

As she’s in the face of her opponent, it plays into her greatest strength, which is the takedowns and top control on the ground. She changes levels effectively and is a very strong grappler in the flyweight division, with an average of 2.6 takedowns per fight in the UFC so far.

Her scrambling is also high level, escaping a crucifix position against Antonina Shevchenko and getting back to her feet.

Not only this but her relentless pace sees her outstrike her opponent, with 8.6 significant strikes landed per minute in her first 4 UFC fights. She now holds the record for the most significant strikes in a women’s flyweight 3-round match after landing 174 against Roxanne Modafferi.

So far in the UFC, she’s beaten tough opposition, Lara Procopio, Roxanne Modafferi, and Antonina Shevchenko, with tougher tests upcoming since she’s now a top 15 UFC strawweight.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 5’6” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Flyweight
  • Best position: #12 in the UFC women’s flyweight rankings
  • Undefeated MMA record of 9-0

New Zealand UFC Fighters Ranked

Here’s the remainder of the Australian UFC fighters from the country of New Zealand.

Israel Adesanya (23-3)

Israel is another fighter still early in his career but is regarded as one of the greatest UFC middleweights and strikers of all time, and as the best current striker in the UFC.

He has exquisite timing, speed, precision, and counterpunching. His height (193 cm) and reach (80”) help him establish and control the range, and it’s hard for anyone to get inside after this.

He’s so technically gifted and ahead of his opponents when it comes to striking, that his opponents often freeze in front of him, almost mesmerized by his feints, speed, footwork, and stance switches.

This allows Israel to pick them apart, while they remain afraid of getting caught when rushing in because of his distance management and counterstriking.

After dominating the UFC middleweight division since his debut at UFC 221 (2018), racking 9 straight wins and 2 title defenses, “The Last Stylebender” attempted to become the fifth double champ, where he lost against a much heavier light heavyweight champion, Blachowicz.

It’s believed Adesanya’s grappling is his weakness and the loss against Blachowicz showed why some believe this. 

However, Blachowiz was roughly 20 lbs heavier and Adesanya hasn’t been tested much on the ground in the middleweight division because his striking is so great, and his takedown defense is high (78% over 13 UFC fights).

Since then he returned to middleweight and easily scored another 3 title defenses, in very one-sided fights. While he has a purple belt in Bjj, this is only used in terms of positioning and defense on the ground, because his submission offense is completely muted.

Israel is criticized for the number of decision victories he has, or lack of finishing prowess. However, criticism is only natural when you’re one of the all-time great UFC middleweights. It’s up to his opponents to outstrike him and get him fighting a different game, much like how Kelvin Gastelum and Blachowicz managed.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’4” | Reach: 80” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Middleweight
  • 5 consecutive UFC title defenses
  • Undefeated in the middleweight division (Only loss as a light-heavyweight)
  • Won 5/5 title defenses

Kai Kara-France (24-11-1NC)

Kai Kara-France, or “Don’t Blink”, has made himself one of the best UFC flyweights since joining the promotion in 2018. Kai became a martial artist after being bullied in school for his small stature, initially starting with Bjj at 10 years old before starting MMA a few years later.

His big move came in 2013 when he moved to Thailand at age 19 courtesy of a four-year scholarship to Tiger Muay Thai. He initially tried to get into the UFC by fighting on The Ultimate Fighter in 2016 but lost against Pantoja in the quarterfinals, eventually getting signed in 2018.

Since then, he’s amassed a 7-2 UFC record in impressive fashion, taking home 4 bonuses in 9 fights.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss him describes perfectly how fast his boxing is, which is why he’s third with the most strikes landed per minute (4.84) in the UFC flyweight division. It also refers to his fast starting, having 12 first-round finishes in his MMA career. 

His best route to victory is through striking and his favorite combination is the right uppercut and right hook, which he throws more effectively than any other fighter.

Aiding his striking is his complete confidence in his abilities and his durability. In the fight against Bonterin, he was badly hurt and in defense for most of the first round, before finishing him in the final five seconds.

Not much of a submission fighter, Kai has a blue belt in Bjj and is well versed on the ground because of this, only losing once by submission to Bjj specialist Brandon Royval.

Kai manages to keep the fight in his realm by having amazing takedown defense; he’s ranked third as a flyweight with 87% due to his amazing balance. This was the case against an elite grappler in Askar Askarov, who was mostly unsuccessful in taking down Kai, which led to Kai dominating on the feet.

Kai’s best wins are against Askar Askarov (previously undefeated), Cody Garbrandt (former champion), and Rogerio Bontorin (previously 16-2), three brilliant fighters; earning himself a rematch against former champion Brandon Moreno, which he lost last time by unanimous decision.

If he can win this fight he’s next in line to fight for the title against Deiveson Figueiredo.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 5’4” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Flyweight
  • 4 UFC bonuses in 9 fights
  • Third highest UFC flyweight takedown defense: 87%

Dan Hooker (23-12)

In the UFC since 2014, Hooker has been around the block and is one of the most popular UFC fighters ever. This is because whenever he fights he puts on a show, win or lose. 

In 21 MMA wins, he has 10 knockouts and 7 submissions and fights anyone the UFC asks him to, he backs himself against the best in the lightweight division.

Clear is Dan’s diversity of strikes, leaving his opponent guessing which strike is coming next. Whether it be knees, punches, low kicks, teep kicks, or elbows, he throws everything with knockout intentions, rather than being a point fighter. 

He also manages distance and range well as his height of 6 feet and reach of 75” are above the average in the lightweight division, as well as his jab being an effective weapon to keep his opponent at bay. Having said this, Dan likes to fight in a phone booth with dirty boxing and muay thai when he’s hurt.

Alongside this, Dan is a master of switching stances and is effective in both, which adds a further layer to his striking arsenal. He switches often and disguises it well, it goes unnoticed a lot of the time which allows him to continue his dynamic striking.

An absolute gladiator and one of the best chins to grace the octagon, he’s only been knocked out 3 times in 12 losses and is frequently in wars where he takes a lot of damage. His KO loss to Barbosa and his five-round slugfest with Poirier are amazing fights and show Dan’s durability and resilience.

Hooker on the ground is also dangerous, with a purple belt in Bjj and 7 submission wins, his best choke is the guillotine because of his long arms.

His best wins have come against Paul Felder, Gilbert Burns, Jim Miller, and Nasrat Haqparast, while he’s lost to beasts such as Dustin Poirier, Arnold Allen, and Islam Makhachev.

Fighter stats:

  • Height: 6’0” | Reach: 75” | Stance: Switch | Weight Class: Lightweight
  • Former King in the Ring middleweight kickboxing champion and WKBF X-Rules welterweight champion
  • 8 years in the UFC
  • Performance of the Night x3 | Fight of the Night x2

Honorable Mentions

These are the other great Australian UFC fighters, who didn’t quite make the list but have the potential to become great.

  • Megan Anderson (11-5)
  • Jessica-Rose Clark (11-8)
  • Tyson Pedro (9-4)

The Bottom Line

In 2017 Robert Whittaker made history when he became the first Australian to win a UFC title. Since then, Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski have followed; making three of the best UFC fighters in recent memory.

However, this is a very low amount compared to the amount of Brazilian and American UFC champions, but with the potential of many of the young stars on this list, the future looks bright for Australian MMA.

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