Are you wondering who the best Muslim UFC fighters of all time are?
In this article, we’ll list the 7 best Muslim UFC fighters of all time and look at their martial arts background, credentials, talents in the UFC octagon, and the best fighters they’ve beaten and lost to.
Best Muslim UFC Fighters
Muslim UFC fighters are exceptional because they’re strong-minded people who strictly follow their beliefs because of their fear and respect for God. They’re intolerant of many views not aligning with their own, they’re especially disciplined in their training and diet, and they don’t take drugs or drink alcohol.
They also don’t let fame or money get to their head and distract them from their goal, which is to train, improve as a fighter, and win fights. Many people like to complicate things, and MMA is no different. With their simple formula, Muslim UFC fighters become elite and continue to elevate their names.
Ranked in order starting with the most elite, here are the 7 best Muslim UFC fighters of all time.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov – ‘The Eagle’ (29-0-0)
Height: 5’10” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Lightweight
Although he did retire early and didn’t fight enough title fights to cement his status as one of the GOAT MMA fighters, his ability was in that very elite bracket and he’s by far the best Muslim UFC fighter of all time.
Before MMA, Khabib was a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and he’s also an International Master of Sport in both judo and Sambo, as well as a black belt in judo.
His UFC career was 9 years long (2012-2021) and during this time he was extremely dominant, only losing two rounds, winning all 13 UFC fights, and securing 3 successful title defenses.
Making Khabib a great fighter was the following:
- As physically strong as an ox, which translated into unmatched wrestling where it looked as though he was a weight class above his opponents
- When wrestling, his head and body are often higher than his opponent’s to make them carry his weight
- Ridiculous speed on his double-leg takedowns (see vs Poirier)
- Immense top pressure and proficiency in ground and pound techniques
- Relentless pressure to open submission opportunities on the ground – 11 of his 29 wins were via submission
- The clinch game of a bear, coupled with speed and perfect technique with his judo trips and throws
- High fight IQ where he uses his jab to wear down his opponents while remaining patient to evade counters
This list goes on and could continue, due to the skill level and dominance Khabib displayed. His best wins came against Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Edson Barboza, Justin Gaethje, and Rafael Dos Anjos.
It’s just a shame he didn’t continue fighting and defending his title, which the greats such as Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, GSP, and Demetrious Johnson all did.
2. Islam Makhachev – (25-1)
Height: 5’10” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Lightweight
Islam Makhachev joined the UFC in 2015 and become the UFC lightweight champion in 2022. He then defended his title against the greatest featherweight of all time, Alexander Volkanovski in 2023.
Islam Makhachev’s martial arts background is in Sambo, where he’s an International Master of Sport and was also the combat Sambo world champion in 2016 at a weight of 74 kg (163 lbs).
He made his professional MMA debut in 2010 and has since shown the following skills:
- Easily gets opponents down with super quick level changes and securing the double leg, and he’s also exceptional with trips from the clinch
- Rock solid takedown defense so he can dictate where the fight goes – 90% in 14 UFC fights
- Powerful and accurate boxing, which he proved against great strikers – Charles Oliveira, Alexander Volkanovski, and Bobby Green
- An ability to notice and pounce on an opponent’s mistake in a flash
- Scary submission skills on the ground due to perfect technique and ridiculous strength – he has 11 submissions in 24 wins
- Elite composure
- Complete well-roundedness with zero holes in his game
Makhachev’s best wins have come against Charles Oliveira, Alexander Volkanovski, Dan Hooker, Arman Tsarukyan, Thiago Moises, and Bobby Green. He’s beaten everyone in the division except Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje – although they wouldn’t be able to defend Islam’s elite wrestling.
With a 12 UFC fight streak, shredded with huge rounded muscles, and good height for a lightweight, Islam Makhachev is a freak athlete and a completely well-rounded fighter.
If he manages to get to 5 title defenses, he’ll be considered better than Khabib and will take his place as the best Muslim UFC fighter of all time.
3. Alex Pereira – ‘Poatan’ (7-2)
Height: 6’4” | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
From São Paulo, Brazil, and known as ‘Hands of Stone’ (Poatan), Alex Pereira’s the former UFC middleweight champion and is an exceptionally skilled kickboxer who was both the Glory light heavyweight and middleweight champion.
He remains in 2023, the first and only kickboxer to have held simultaneous Glory titles from different divisions, and he’s considered one of the greatest kickboxers of all time.
His journey wasn’t easy, but it made him the fighter he is today. He grew up in a favela and dropped out of school at the age of 12, due to being directionless and becoming an alcoholic after hanging with the wrong crowd.
Alex Pereira converted to Islam in 2015, and fast forward to 2023, Alex Pereira has become very successful and has shown the following skills in MMA:
- Lethal kickboxing skills with insane power and accuracy – especially with his lead left hook, calf kicks, and piston-like jab
- Gets back to his feet fast if taken down
- So good at feinting and setting traps when he’s moving forward to set up his strikes – he’s a master of distance and boxing opponents in
- Stiff knees in the clinch
- Relentless and composed forward pressure to keep his opponents on the defensive
So far in his short MMA career, Alex Pereira has beaten Israel Adesanaya, one of the greatest MMA middleweights of all time, Sean Strickland, Bruno Silva, and Andreas Michailidis. On the other hand, while looking impressive in their rematch, Pereira lost to Israel Adesanya via round 2 KO.
Despite Alex Pereira not long transitioning to MMA, he’s easily one of the best Muslim UFC fighters because of his exceptional kickboxing skills and how he fast-tracked himself to the UFC title in just 4 fights. Now moving up to light heavyweight, he may soon become a two-division champion.
4. Khamzat Chimaev – ‘Borz’ (12-0)
Height: 6’2” | Reach: 75” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
Khamzat Chimaev is Dagestani by descent but of Swedish nationality after moving to Sweden at the age of 18 with his mother. He’s a devout Muslim who participates in Ramadan fasting and was fasting during his preparation for UFC 273 against Gilbert Burns.
Before transitioning to MMA, Chimaev was a three-time Swedish National Champion wrestler, a martial art he’s competed in since age 5. Since joining the UFC, Khamzat has won all 6 fights, where in his first 4 fights he landed 252 strikes and only received 2.
In his short UFC career, Khamzat Chimaev has shown the following skills:
- Relentless forward pressure and insane energy
- Rushes opponents right out of the gate – whether it be immediate takedowns or straight power punches – most of his opponents aren’t ready and can’t deal with it
- Elite wrestling where he gets takedowns at will and has a 100% takedown defense
- Finishing prowess – 5 knockouts and 6 submissions in 12 wins
- Standing 6’2”, Khamzat is very tall and has a lot of size and strength for a welterweight
- Lightning-fast strikes and level changes
- Powerful and nonstop ground-and-pound
Since his first UFC fight in 2020, Khamzat Chimaev has easily dispatched Li Jingliang, Gerald Meershcaert, and Kevin Holland, and won a war against the #2 contender at the time, Gilbert Burns.
Electric, intense, and still undefeated, it’s only a matter of time before Khamzat competes against the top 5 and for the welterweight title.
5. Magomed Ankalaev – (18-1-1)
Height: 6’3” | Reach: 75” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Ankalaev is a former WFCA light heavyweight champion and an International Master of Sport in Combat Sambo and amateur MMA. He was also the 2016 Akhmat FC Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and has been in the UFC since 2018.
So far in his MMA career, Ankalaev has shown the following skills:
- He uses his wrestling pedigree to keep fights on the feet by having brilliant takedown defense and dominant grappling
- Dominant and heavy top control on the ground
- Great footwork for a light heavyweight which he uses to avoid strikes and counter with accurate and powerful punches
- Technical kickboxer who maintains and controls the distance with the use of amazing front kicks down the middle, as evidenced by his knockout of Lungiambula
- Knockout power with his boxing – he has 10 knockouts in 18 wins
Despite losing his first UFC fight by triangle choke in the dying seconds to veteran Paul Craig because of a lack of concentration and Bjj awareness, Ankalaev sharpened his focus to go on a 9-fight win streak.
On this streak, he’s beaten great fighters such as Thiago Santos, Volkan Oezdemir, Ion Cutelaba, and Dalcha Lungiambula. In truth, Magomed Ankalaev should be the current light heavyweight champion, as he definitely beat Jan Blachowicz but was robbed of the decision.
6. Shavkat Rakhmonov – ‘Nomad’ (17-0)
Height: 6’1” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight
Shavkat Rakhmonov, also known as Nomad, is a former M1 welterweight champion and is an undefeated mixed martial artist. He’s a Master of Sport in MMA and Combat Sambo, and since joining the UFC in 2020, he’s been nothing short of spectacular.
So far in the UFC, Shavkat Rakhmonov has shown the following skills:
- Killer finishing instincts – he’s finished all 17 of his MMA fights and has only been to a third-round twice
- He’s extremely well-rounded and highly polished in all facets of MMA, without any evident weaknesses
- Doesn’t rush to finish but also doesn’t hesitate to kill when his opponent makes a mistake or an opening presents
- He’s extremely calculated, composed, and unemotional when fighting, which allows him to be very adaptable during a fight
- Powerful, accurate, and slick striking – especially his boxing
- 100% takedown defense in 5 UFC fights – this allows Shavkat to dictate the fight
- Excellent takedowns and top control where he executes sneaky submissions – he has 9 submissions in 17 wins
- His height and long reach for a welterweight allow him to maintain distance and utilize his striking skills effectively
Shavkat Rakhmonov has beaten Neil Magny, Alex Oliveira, Michel Prazeres, Carlston Harris, and Geoff Neal. With his talent and composure, it won’t be long before Shavkat is competing for gold in the UFC welterweight division.
7. Umar Nurmagomedov (16-0)
Height: 5’8” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Bantamweight
Umar Nurmagomedov was born in Dagestan, Russia, and is the cousin of Khabib, who has trained him throughout his undefeated run and development as a fighter.
Like many others in the region, Umar along with his brother, Usman Nurmagomedov, who’s the current Bellator champion, started freestyle wrestling at a young age. He eventually transitioned to Sambo and became the WCSF Combat Sambo world champion in 2015.
Alongside his dedication to wrestling, Umar also started Muay Thai and became especially proficient. Before joining the UFC in 2021, Umar went 4-0 as an amateur and remained undefeated when competing for Eagle FC and PFL.
So far in his MMA and UFC career, Umar Nurmagomedov has shown the following skills:
- Elite kicking – dynamic, snappy, and powerful – his teep and question mark kicks are things of beauty
- His kicks are made more effective because his opponents are leaning forward for fear of his takedowns
- Roundhouse kick from the lead leg in either stance
- Takedowns at will – with an average of 4 takedowns per fight in his first 4 UFC fights
- The expert timing of his level changes is second to none, usually ducking under his opponent’s jab or hook
- Great back tacking and submissions when he gets opponents down – 6 out of his 7 submission wins are by rear-naked choke
- Excellent striking defense supported by nimble footwork
- Effective in both southpaw and orthodox stances and switches often
So far, Umar has beaten Brian Kelleher, Sergey Morozov, Nathan Maness, and Raoni Barcelos.
With the success of his family members, Umar Nurmagomedov feels the responsibility to also succeed. This makes him a scary individual who’s only going to improve and will soon challenge for the UFC bantamweight title.
The Bottom Line
The 7 best Muslim UFC fighters of all time are all brilliant MMA fighters. A large part of their success comes down to how they support each other and also their religion. Their faith grounds them and teaches them discipline and how to turn down things negatively impacting their fight performance such as drugs and alcohol.
A clear pattern exists among those on this list, which is they have great records, and if the list were to continue, it would include other great Muslim UFC fighters such as Movsar Evloev (currently 18-0 undefeated), Askar Askarov (14-1), Rafael Fiziev (12-2), Belal Muhammad (23-3), and Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1).