UFC Fighters are well known for wearing their heart on their sleeve, and many do this by getting heavily tattooed.
In this article, we’ll look at the 20 best UFC fighter tattoos and the meaning behind their ink.
Best UFC Fighter Tattoos
While the subject of which tattoos are best is subjective, these particular UFC fighter tattoos have been picked for being either distinctive, aesthetically pleasing, meaningful, representative of something great, completely bewildering, or easily identified as belonging to a certain fighter.
We’ll also talk about a few of each UFC fighter’s best tattoos, rather than the ‘one best one’ as people have different tastes.
In alphabetical order, here are the 20 best UFC fighter tattoos seen in the promotion’s 30-year history.
Former Italian UFC fighter Alessio Sakara is another fighter with impressively detailed tattoos. His tattoos are dedicated to the Ancient Roman Empire after he was nicknamed ‘Legionarius’, meaning soldier in Latin, and his passion for Roman literature and history.
He has around 33 tattoos and counting, with his best ones being the complete back cover featuring the Legionarius, Gladius, and many of the famous buildings from the Roman Empire, such as the Colosseum.
On the front and spread across his chest is the Roman eagle, known as the king of birds and the symbol of imperial power, courage, and immortality. This represents Sakara’s connection to his ancestors and how he feels when fighting.
Above the eagle are the words, “Usque Ad Finem”, meaning to the very end in Latin. Also above the eagle on the right side of his chest is a portrait of Julius Caesar with the words “Veni Vidi Vici”, translating to I came, I saw, I conquered.
Above the chest on the left side is a Roman helmet and the Latin words, “nulli secendus”. These are the famous words used by US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, meaning second to none and representing her belief no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Alexander Volkov’s tattoo can either be seen as the best or worst. Volkov’s entire back is covered with an evil-looking samurai helmet, based on the confrontation between life and death, with Volkov saying it represents his alter ego.
This is easily one of the most distinctive UFC fighter tattoos, due to how large and intimidating it looks on a fighter standing 6’7” (201 cm), but also because Volkov’s completely free of any ink on his front. It’s a complete contrast and unlike any other fighter.
The artwork took two weeks to complete and after it was finished, Volkov said he didn’t want any more tattoos because of how painful it was.
Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili has an amazing variety of over 30 tattoos and takes the top spot for the fighter most committed to ink. He’s aiming to cover every inch of his skin with tattoos and has admitted not all of his tattoos have any specific meaning but that he finds them fun.
Some of his best are the two werewolves on his left arm and shoulder. One is very angry and the other is without eyes or any top teeth, while its bottom set is human teeth.
He also has a huge tattoo on his left leg above the ankle of UFC Hall of Famer, Urijah Faber. Fili said the tattoo resembles how he looks at Urijah Faber as a big brother and also as a testament to the Team Alpha Male personnel he trains with.
Another shocking tattoo is the weeping clown he has on his left forearm. It has a rope around its neck, a swollen shut eye, and is bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Although never clarified, the clown looks like the portrait of Emmet Kelly, the famous circus artist, and clown. This tattoo is extremely strange and along with the rest of his ink shows Andre Fili’s a little eccentric.
Some of his other great tattoos are:
- Bill the Butcher from the movie, Gangs of New York
- His parents as an elderly couple on the inside of his right arm
- Black cat on the left side of his neck
- A viscous-looking Doberman dog on the right side of his neck with earth in its mouth
- The Grinch, Darth Vader, Disney characters, the devil, and a flying rooster
Overall, Andre has a weird and beautiful collage of tattoos, very unique and independent from any other UFC fighter’s tattoos.
All of Showtime’s best tattoos are family portraits. They’re amazing pieces and show he has a great love for his family.
On his left pectoral he has a portrait of his mother and written alongside are the words, “All that I am or ever will be… I owe to my Mother”. This is an incredibly powerful and heartfelt tattoo and one of the reasons Showtime is one of the most popular UFC fighters ever.
On his right pectoral, he has a portrait of his daughter with her name and date of birth. On his left shoulder and arm, he has a portrait of his father as an angel with wings. Sadly, it’s accompanied by the date his father died after being stabbed during a robbery.
While these are all great-looking and meaningful tattoos, UFC fans also love the famous Showtime tattoo along the top of his back, representing his extremely fun fighting style and highlight-reel UFC career.
Charles Oliveira has 14 tattoos and counting. His most prominent tattoo is of his daughter, Tayla, on his left pectoral. It’s very detailed and easily seen. Above this on his neck are the Portuguese words “Jamais desistir”, meaning never give up. It’s very fashionable and perfectly describes his mentality in the octagon.
On his right forearm, Oliveira has a large rhino and a lion with excellent shading, although it’s a little dark and hard to see.
His best tattoo is the five horses on his left arm as you can see every detail on them. 3 of the horses have jockeys and carts accompanying them, representing Oliveira’s love for horses and horse racing.
Charles says everything about horses and riding them brings him great peace. It’s almost a form of meditation which helps him focus when fighting. In 2023, he also added an epic lion backpiece.
With over 35 tattoos as of 2023, Cody loves variety, which is at the top of his list when choosing his artwork. He has tattoos because he loves how they look and how artists can bring to life an abstract idea each person can see.
Getting tattoos was also a thing that pushed him to succeed as a fighter because he couldn’t see himself getting a job anywhere else because of how heavily inked he is. He also has them because he’s a spiritual being and believes tattoos can convey these beliefs.
His left hand has the words, “Only God Can Judge Me”, and his left forearm has Saint Michael stomping the devil. His chest has “Lord Have Mercy” and underneath this is a dove and an angel in the clouds. Cody has admitted he’s no longer a huge fan of his chest ink so he may have it removed in the future.
Most glaring is his neck tattoo of a blue diamond, representing his diamond-pressure abilities when competing and the life adversity faced as a fighter. The diamond is being carried by a pair of wings, showing his belief the sky’s the limit and a reminder to set himself high standards.
Cody has a grenade tattoo on his right hand, signifying the dropping of bombs and the power he has from the right side. After getting this tattoo done he broke his right hand in the next three fights.
His arm tattoos follow a color scheme and his entire right side is a traditional Japanese sleeve with vibrant colors. His left side is completely grey, with the standout piece being Jesus Christ on the cross.
On his right leg above the ankle, he has a tiger with a blade going through its jaw and out the top of the skull, while on the left leg, he has a roaring lion. Cody also has a 9mm pistol on his lower back, looking like it’s tucked behind his jeans and ready to draw.
McGregor’s best and most prominent tattoos are the crowned gorilla eating a heart on his chest, and the tiger on his stomach. McGregor has said the tattoos don’t have any specific meaning to him but he likes their uniqueness and how they look. The tiger looks extremely majestic and the gorilla looks crazy.
However, the gorilla tattoo was chosen because his hometown gym in Ireland uses a gorilla as its logo, Straight Blast Gym, and he also feels like the king gorilla which is why it’s crowned and eating the heart of its opponents.
And while McGregor doesn’t have a huge amount of tattoos, the few he does have are easily identified as his.
While a lot of UFC fighter tattoos are disorganized, hard to see, and look rushed, Sandhagen’s back tattoo is a thing of beauty as it’s clear and elaborate.
The artwork covers his whole back and represents what he calls a ‘Biblical Christian piece’. And while Cory has never revealed himself as religious or more specifically as a Christian, he’s a very spiritual and philosophical person who believes in the powerful and positive values religion promotes in its teachings.
The tattoo features three levels: the sea, mountains, and the sky, and the piece overall seems to be conveying both positive and negative aspects. On the negative side, there’s a graveyard with three crosses, there’s a small army, and the clouds are very overcast.
On the other hand, there are three flying dove birds in the sky, light trying to break through the dark clouds, and Jesus Christ holding the wrist of someone in the water; despite all of the chaos going on around him.
The artwork may convey different meanings and concepts to different people, which is another reason the tattoo is amazing.
While Swanson has a large array of amazing tattoos, his most prominent is his huge back piece. The tattoo is a religious piece because of his religious upbringing where he spent a lot of time in church.
The most notable things are the religious cross and his name Swanson at the top. The whole piece is a collage inspired by Gustave Dore’s Bible illustrations from the 19th century.
It features the battle between good and evil from various stories and represents Swanson’s childhood and the good and bad decisions he faced and made. The tattoo shows heaven and hell, and between these are demons and angels fighting, as well as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and two other men.
Swanson’s other famous ink is the palm tree tattoos on his stomach, signifying his birthplace, Palm Springs, California. Overall, Swanson’s tattoos have a lot of meaning and mostly resemble events and beliefs from his life.
Some argue Dustin’s tattoos aren’t the best, but there’s no arguing they suit him very well and many of them have a lot of significance. He had his first tattoo at 14 years old and now has roughly 30 in total.
Growing up, Poirier was raised by his mother and grandmother. Women have been the most important people in his life, which is why he has their names inked on him. They are, Glenda his grandmother, Jolie his wife, Deann his mother, and taking center stage is his daughter’s name printed on his right pectoral, Parker Noelle.
Also, Poirier is a Christian and has tattoos expressing his beliefs. He has the words, “Blood Bought Paid In Full” on the underside of his left forearm, meaning he’s a Christian and he’s forgiven for his sins. He also has a dove on his left arm and a portrait of Jesus Christ on his right arm.
On the inside of his right arm, Poirier has a cool-looking phoenix surrounded by red lightning, representing his rising up and continuing to fight. On the opposite arm, he has a dark Japanese oni mask, which he calls a Japanese war mask.
On his left pectoral, he has tiger stripes and three red Japanese characters in the middle, faced by a tiger on his left shoulder. The Japanese characters are the bushido code for the way of the warrior and are printed on his chest because he believes he has a warrior’s heart.
Not only is Ilia Topuria undefeated (April 2023), but he also has one of the best and most unique chest tattoos by far. It features a fierce tiger split down the middle by the emergence of a dark and strange-looking figure, potentially meant to be himself.
The tattoo likely represents how he has two sides and how both sides are menacing and ready to battle.
It also has a capitalized T with a crown on top and a set of wings, likely standing for his surname and how he believes he’ll become the king of the featherweight division.
Making it one of the best, is the detail, the black and red color contrast, and how it’s easily visible by not being overcrowded. It’s also unique and unlike any other fighter’s tattoo concepts, the fact a face is revealed behind a tiger.
During his 17 months away from the octagon due to having knee surgeries in 2020, Kevin Lee had a lot of time to think and recover. Not only did he recover but he also added one of the most unique and intriguing tattoos to the back of his head, which also runs down his neck to the other tattoo on his back.
The tattoo is a samurai helmet featuring three things representing Lee’s warrior mindset for life. At the bottom of the tattoo, it has the word “life” written, meaning warrior life.
It also has flames at the bottom which represent how it’s burned into him, and a helmet that looks as if it’s stitched onto the back of his head.
The idea behind the helmet tattoo was a job stopper so he could remind himself he spent the prime of his life as a fighter and that there’s no other job he can now do. It’s an extra commitment for him to continue working hard and remain disciplined in MMA.
The flames running down his neck blend well with the art on his upper back of a robotic lion with fire coming out of its tail and a red scarf wrapped around its neck. Lee hasn’t expressed the meaning behind the lion, but we can assume it’s because it looks great and symbolizes strength and power.
Former Japanese UFC fighter Kid Yamamoto fought in the UFC between 2011 and 2015 and unfortunately passed away in 2018.
During his time, he displayed unique and exceptional tattoos, despite their stigma in Japan relating them to the yakuza – an organized crime gang where members were obligated to get tattoos.
Originally on his chest, Kid had a pair of shaking hands, which he later covered with a black lotus from the MTG card trading game, and a redheaded sandhill crane, which has symmetrical wings leading to Japanese symbols on his chest.
Sandhill cranes are symbols of immortality, and Kid was portraying this in relation to his fighting career, while the black lotus from MTG is the most valuable normally printed card in the game.
UFC legend Mark Hunt appeared in his last 4 UFC fights with a brand new black and grey chest tattoo best described as haunting. It features three intimidating skulls with samurai helmets on and covers his whole chest.
It also blends well with the red flames from the tattoo on his left arm which is a devil rising from the fire.
The tattoo took over 10 hours to complete across 3 days, and Mark’s reasoning for the tattoo was his affinity with Japanese culture and history. He believes he has a samurai spirit, which inspired the tattoo he calls the Fallen Samurai.
While his best art, it’s not his most intimidating, as the black and grey horned devil on the front of his left leg takes its place. Mark Hunt clearly likes tattoos with a dark aspect to them.
Marvin is not heavily tattooed, which makes his Japanese sleeve stand out. His sleeve starts with a samurai on his left pectoral connecting to a dragon and tiger arm sleeve, mixed with waves, flowers, and the general Japanese sleeve inclusions.
The work was done by Lorenzo Casarin, an artist who specializes in Japanese-style tattoos, and it took over 4 years for the sleeve to be completed. Overall, making it one of the best is its simplicity, contrasting colors, exquisite design, and how all of these factors make it stand out.
Sean has quickly become one of the best UFC featherweights in a short timeframe after winning The Ultimate Fighter: Season 26 in 2017.
Along with this, he’s a very popular fighter because of his character and unique look. He has colorful hair and 14 or more tattoos over his body and face; he enters the octagon lit up like a fruit machine.
Not one of his best, he has his nickname ‘Suga’ above his right eyebrow. Most noticeable is the vibrant pink and green owl spread across his chest and reaching his shoulders. The owl tattoo signifies magic, mystery, and wisdom, representative of his character and fighting style.
Another great tattoo is the dragon tattoo on the left side of his stomach, covering the footsteps he had there before, which signified his children’s footsteps. Although a strange decision, it shows how concepts and meanings behind tattoos can be forgotten and changed.
At least he has a dragon to show for it. The tattoo was chosen to show ferociousness and rage, representative of his 11 knockouts out of 15 wins in MMA.
Atrocious or incredible are the feelings toward Brady’s tattoos, where he’s working his way to a ‘Japanese body suit’ because he loves their art and culture.
He’s admitted to being addicted to tattoos, and said, “I’ll be covering and removing tattoos for the rest of my life”. The only place he won’t have tattooed is the neck or head as his mom begged him not to.
Sean Brady’s back tattoo of the huge red Japanese Oni mask is his most prominent. Oni in Japanese folklore is a giant demonic creature, and the masks were previously considered as symbols of evil, but are now seen as warding off evil, as good luck, and striking terror into the hearts of enemies. Brady carries this with him into every UFC fight.
He got the $7-8,000 tattoo done for free as his artist sponsored him and in return, Brady markets the artist’s logo on his banners when he fights.
His left Japanese leg sleeve was done by his friend in return for private jiu-jitsu classes from Brady. It consists of a Japanese dragon spiraling up the leg, flowers, waves, and red high-voltage symbols.
The other immense tattoo he has is of the famous 1620 painting by Peter Paul Rubens, depicting Hercules strangling the Nemean lion, the first of his 12 labors. This tattoo is on the left side of his stomach and can be seen as representing his grappling-dominant approach to his UFC fights.
Dillashaw has around 12 tattoos and the ones on his right arm have amazing detail and a lot of meaning. Dillashaw loves his career as a UFC fighter and after every time he fights and wins, he gets a new tattoo done to symbolize a new relevant concept.
On his lower arm, he has a clock, used to symbolize the race against time and how he has to continue working hard; especially since he wants to become champion again after his 2-year suspension.
He also has a lion to represent being the king of the world and the former undisputed bantamweight champion. To further represent this idea the lion has its paw on a globe-shaped tattoo which is the infinity sign made up of snakes, and a rose in the middle to signify the fragility of life and the danger fighters face.
He also has a ‘butterfly bee’, which has the wings of a butterfly and the body of a bee, representing his fighting style of floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Along the same lines, he has the Greek goddess, Athena, wearing Medusa as a helmet symbolizing the wisdom and battle strategy used in his UFC career.
Lastly, in amazing detail is his wife’s eye, and in the eye is him holding the belt above his head, the night he won the title against Renan Barao. Above this is a white-tailed deer, symbolizing his growing up as a hunter and how he hunts his prey in the octagon.
Tom Aspinall has excellent chest and back tattoos. His chest tattoo features a gladiator in armor, equipped with a shield and spear, standing in front of the Colosseum in Rome.
For Aspinall, the tattoo symbolizes the gladiator he has within him and how he enters the octagon to fight, much like the gladiators did all those years ago.
His back tattoo is a Japanese oni mask surrounded by many colorful leaves. The tattoo isn’t finished yet and Tom hasn’t revealed its meaning to him. However, it’s a huge piece of artwork and for the amount of time and money it costs, it’s sure to be something meaningful to him.
Seemingly quite a bland tattoo, El Cucuy’s back tattoo is a favorite amongst fans because of its simplicity and how it’s easily identified as Ferguson’s tattoo. He has a cross at the top center of his back and huge pair of wings.
The cross represents his values as a Christian and his belief in God, while the wings represent how he’s escaping near-death experiences every time he fights and how he can fly away from defeat. Others may see the wings as representing his ability to fly around the octagon with his famous relentless pressure.