Are you wondering who the best Filipino UFC fighters of all time are?
In this article, we’ll examine the 3 best Filipino UFC fighters and present their backgrounds, achievements, fighting skills, and notable wins and losses.
Best Filipino UFC Fighters
As there hasn’t been much MMA talent coming from the Philippines due to their love for boxing and basketball, this article includes mixed ethnicity fighters who are at least half Filipino by descent.
1. John Dodson – ‘The Magician’ (24-13)
Height: 5’3” | Reach: 66” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Bantamweight
One of the shortest UFC fighters of all time, John Dodson is half African-American and half Filipino and is a two-time UFC title challenger.
He moved to New Mexico in his early teenage years and became a two-time state wrestling champion. His MMA career started after attending Jackson Wink MMA, where he’d go on to spend his career under the guidance of Greg Jackson.
During his time in the UFC, John Dodson showed the following skills:
- Explosive knockout power – 11 knockouts in 24 wins (very high for a flyweight)
- Powerful left hook and left straight to the body
- Great power and technique with check hooks
- Brilliant takedown defense which he uses to keep fights standing – 82% over 17 UFC fights
- Unbelievable athleticism and speed in everything he does – strikes, movement, footwork, and takedowns
- Speedy and neat footwork which allows him to cut angles and find his strikes (hence his nickname, the Magician)
- So hard to keep down because of his elite scrambling ability
- Fantastic chin – never been finished in his MMA career
John Dodson’s best wins came against Pedro Munhoz, T.J. Dillashaw, Nathaniel Wood, and Jussier Formiga.
On top of this, he was one of the very few fighters who gave prime Demetrious Johnson a run for his money, but he did ultimately lose to him twice.
His losses also came against Petr Yan, Marlon Moraes, John Lineker, and Merab Dvalishvili – though they were all at the later stage of his UFC career.
All things considered, John Dodson was a great entertainer and the best Filipino UFC fighter of all time. He has since gone on to compete in BKFC and Rizin FF.
2. Brandon Vera – ‘The Truth’ (16-10-1NC)
Height: 6’3” | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Heavyweight
Brandon Vera is a Filipino-American retired MMA fighter who was the inaugural ONE Championship heavyweight champion (2015) and the 2005 WEC heavyweight Grand Prix champion.
Brandon Vera was born and raised in Virginia, USA, to an Italian mother and a Filipino father. His martial arts background started with wrestling in high school and he went on to compete in NCAA Division I Wrestling.
He competed in MMA professionally for 20 years (2002-2022) in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight weight classes of ONE Championship, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), and the UFC.
Brandon Vera fought to a UFC record of 8-7-1NC between 2005 and 2013 and showed the following skills:
- Impressive Muay Thai striking and style
- Powerful and accurate knees in the clinch
- Short and powerful elbows against onrushing opponents
- Powerful and perfect technique with his body kicks from Southpaw
- Excellent straight, shovel hook to the body, and body/leg kick combination
- Long rangy straights
Overall, Brandon Vera was talented but he was a heavily hyped Filipino UFC fighter who failed to live up to the hype because he lacked the killer instinct and wasn’t amazing from his back.
He would’ve fought for the UFC heavyweight title against Tim Sylvia, but a UFC contract dispute meant Vera was replaced by Randy Couture.
His best UFC wins came against Frank Mir and Krzysztof Soszynski, while he had wars but ultimately lost to every serious fighter he ever faced. This includes Randy Couture, Jon Jones, Mauricio Rua, Fabricio Werdum, and Ben Rothwell.
Still, for the competition he faced and the fact he became the ONE heavyweight champion, Brandon Vera must be considered one of the best Filipino UFC fighters of all time.
3. Mark Munoz – ‘The Filipino Wrecking Machine’ (14-6)
Height: 6’0” | Reach: 71” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Middleweight
Mark Munoz was born in Japan to Filipino parents and moved to America at 2 years old. He competed in the UFC from 2009 to 2015 and the WEC between 2007 and 2009.
Munoz’s martial arts background started at the age of 13 in wrestling, where he went on to become a two-time All-American and the 2001 NCAA Division 1 National Champion Wrestler at Oklahoma State.
In 2009, Mark Munoz opened the Reign Training Center, where all-time great fighters such as Anderson Silva, the Nogueira brothers, Fabricio Werdum, Shogun Rua, and many more came to learn wrestling from Munoz.
Amazingly, Munoz didn’t start fighting until the age of 29 due to his focus on his wrestling career. Munoz also has a Bjj purple belt under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, one of MMA’s most deadly submission grappling specialists.
In his 6-year UFC career, Mark Munoz showed the following skills:
- Great knees in the clinch and when breaking from it
- Strong takedowns and chain wrestling where he attacks the legs more than the body – he has an average of 3.17 takedowns landed over 15 minutes in 17 UFC fights
- Ferocious ground-and-pound with a unique ability to land extreme power from the top control position
- Powerful overhand right
- Great submission defense – just 2 submission losses at the end of his career
- Grueling clinch work to tire his opponent
Overall, Mark Munoz had peaks and valleys in his UFC career, with great wins against Chris Leben, Tim Boetsch, C.B. Dolloway, and Demian Maia.
However, he lost to fighters with elite striking skills and solid takedown defense such as Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and Gegard Mousasi.
Unfortunately, he also lost some UFC fights because he entered them with injuries and needed to fight because of financial concerns. For example, he entered with a broken foot against Chris Weidman.
Nevertheless, with a 9-6 UFC record, Mark Munoz is a legend and will remain one of the best Filipino UFC fighters for many decades.
Despite a lack of Filipino UFC fighters, John Dodson, Brandon Vera, and Mark Munoz have represented their country well.
Other notable Filipino UFC fighters include Phillipe Nover (1-6 in UFC), Rolando DY (1-3 in UFC), and Ricky Turcios (2-1 in UFC).
As more talented Filipino UFC fighters join and prove themselves at the highest level, they will be added to this article.