Have you been impressed by a certain black UFC fighter and are interested in the best black UFC fighters of all time?
In recent years, black fighters have been dominating at the highest level throughout the UFC, and have performed highly in the UFC since its inception in 1993.
Maybe it was the great generation of black fighters from the 90s and the 2000s who inspired the current black UFC fighters in their dominance at the top.
What Determines Which Black UFC Fighters Make the List?
Although it’s a subjective matter, there are principles fighters are judged by in order to be classified as the best. The following can be used:
- Titles won and title defenses
- MMA record
- Level of competition faced
- Other records set
- Fighting ability, entertainment, and influence in the UFC, (subjective)
Here’s the list of the best black UFC fighters of all time:
UFC Black Fighters
Jon Jones (27-1-0-1NC)
Considered the greatest UFC and MMA fighter to have lived, Jon ‘bones’ Jones takes the number one spot as the best black UFC fighter of all time.
Having never been stopped or outscored in his career, his only loss was a controversial disqualification (12 to 6 elbows) loss against Matt Hamill.
Jones is the youngest-ever UFC champion, being just 23 years old when he defeated Mauricio Rua at UFC 128. He’s also a two-time light heavyweight champion and holds the joint UFC record of 11 title defenses, split between two streaks of 8 and 3. In 2023, he easily defeated Cyril Gane to become the UFC heavyweight champion and now a two-division champ.
Jones also ranks #5 for most wins (20) in the UFC and holds the light heavyweight record for the longest winning streak at 13. He did win the 14th fight but the streak was broken due to the win being overturned and given as a no-contest against Daniel Cormier.
Lastly, Jones ranks second in most submission wins (6) in the light heavyweight division. What makes Jones the best is his ability to use his height (193cm) and reach (84.5in) to control the range, allowing him to see and avoid any strikes while striking his opponent many times over.
Many attribute Jones’s dominance to his unparalleled fight IQ – he knows what to throw and when to throw it and how to best position himself. His transitions are smooth, and he switches styles often; halting his opponents which often presents him with opportunities to attack.
Jones fights with constant forward pressure and throws everything viciously (especially knees and elbows) because of his muay thai skills. He doesn’t have any weakness and has barely been taken down during his UFC career.
Jones’s stats and records are tainted by his out-of-the-octagon controversies; resulting in him being stripped of the title three times. These include hit-and-run charges, testing positive for banned substances, domestic violence, drug driving offenses, and many others.
His records would be more impressive if not for his antics, therefore he stands as the best black UFC fighter of all time.
- 20 fights won (rank #5)
- Tied most UFC title defenses (11)
- Youngest ever UFC Champion (23 years old)
- Light heavyweight record for the longest winning streak (13)
- Most title fight wins (14)
- Fourth most title fight finishes (6)
- Height: 6’4” | Reach: 84”
Anderson Silva (34-11-0)
Named by many inside the UFC organization as the best or one of the best UFC fighters of all time. His records such as the longest title reign (2147 days) and longest UFC win streak (16) speak for themselves.
Silva was a counter-striker with great timing and striking accuracy, range control, and versatility of strikes. These skills were aided by his height (188 cm) and his long reach (77.5 inches); meaning he could strike opponents with ease.
Silva had unparalleled head and foot movement due to his speed and quirkiness; making him unpredictable and hard to hit. He was a complete martial artist and has black belts in BJJ, Taekwondo, and Judo.
When fighting he had an air of invincibility and supreme confidence. During his 16-fight win streak, he made some opponents look like amateurs; at times completely dropping his hands and using head movement as his only defense.
His only slight weakness was his wrestling, evidenced in his fight against Chael Sonnen. Ironically, he won the fight via submission in the fifth despite being taken down continuously and beaten up. His first loss in the UFC was at 38 years old; a testament to how great a fighter he was during his prime.
- Longest UFC win streak (16)
- Second most UFC title defenses (10)
- Longest title reign (2457 days)
- Most title fight finishes (9)
- Third most UFC KO/TKO wins (11)
- Height: 6’1.5” | Reach: 77.5”
Demetrious Johnson (31-4-1)
Known as the ‘Mighty Mouse’, Johnson is the best flyweight in the UFC’s history. He has the joint-most title defenses (11) with Jon Jones, however, Johnson’s were won consecutively. Also, he has the third most title fight wins (12) and title fight finishes (7), along with having the second-longest title reign in UFC history (2142 days).
Johnson was a great wrestler and holds the record of securing 10+ takedowns in three fights. He was so dominant he cleared the division twice over. He was a great all-around fighter known for his elusive movement, elite wrestling, striking, and jiu-jitsu (5 UFC submission wins).
His only two losses in the UFC came against two of the UFC greats, Dominick Cruz and Henry Cejudo. The level of competition he faced in the UFC was of the highest caliber, including wins over Henry Cejudo (TKO), Benavidez (twice), and Dodson (twice).
His best-of-all-time status is questioned because of his lack of personality inside and outside the octagon; he was known as a ‘fight and go home guy’. His PPV numbers weren’t great, because his size was smaller and less relatable to the average viewer.
However, he’s one of the greatest of all time and makes the top 3 best black UFC fighters with ease.
- Tied most UFC title defenses (11)
- Third most title fight wins (12)
- Third most title fight finishes (7)
- Second longest title reign (2142 days)
- Most takedowns in the UFC flyweight division (74) and third overall
- Record for 10+ takedowns in three fights
- Height: 5’3” | Reach: 66”
Daniel Cormier (22-3-1)
Daniel Cormier, or “DC”, is one of the best due to his status as double champ, by winning the light heavyweight and heavyweight UFC titles (1 of 4 double champ fighters). He was a USA Olympic wrestler and won his first 15 fights as an MMA fighter, after transitioning aged 30.
Cormier’s success came from his elite-level wrestling and strength, allowing him to secure takedowns with ease, whilst having incredible takedown defense. He also had powerful and precise boxing, and great ground and pound.
Combining amazing cardio and a great chin, he could outlast his opponents and keep constant forward pressure.
The level of competition he faced was high, beating four UFC champs, Miocic, Mir, Bennett, and Anderson Silva, while also recording wins over Gustaffson, Lewis, and Oezdemir. His only losses came against two UFC greats, Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic.
Aside from his positives, he’s been criticized as slow and looking labored at times. However, with his achievements and pioneering of the sport, he claims a spot as one of the best.
- One of four UFC fighters to become a double Champ (Light Heavyweight Champion and heavyweight champion).
- Won a championship belt in every promotion he has fought (UFC, Strikeforce, KOTC, Xtreme MMA).
- UFC Hall of Famer (inducted at UFC 274)
- Height: 5’11” | Reach: 72”
Kamaru Usman (20-3-0)
Despite his career being far from over (2022), Usman makes the top 5. He’s won all 15 UFC fights (5 title defenses), making him one behind the longest streak record of 16 by Anderson Silva. He’s currently #1 in the men’s UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
What makes Usman so good is his elite-level wrestling; being able to secure takedowns at will while boasting a 100% takedown defense over 15 UFC wins.
Kamaru has great boxing and one of the best jabs in the UFC. On top of this, he has champion-level composure and great forward pressure, always putting his opponents on the backfoot; where he then uses his clinch dominance against the octagon.
Even so, critics argue Usman has too many decision victories and that the level of competition he’s facing is lower than most of the greats. Despite this, he’s one of the best black UFC fighters of all time.
- Second longest win streak (15)
- 100% takedown defense
- First African fighter to win a UFC title (2019)
- #1 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings
- Top 10 UFC fighters with most title defenses (5)
- Height: 6’ | Reach: 77 inches
Israel Adesanya (24-2-0)
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.
What separates Adesanya is his elite-level striking. 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.
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 wrestling is his weakness and the loss against Blachowicz proved this. However, he hasn’t been tested much on the ground in the middleweight division because his striking is so great, and his takedown defense is high.
He’s also criticized for the number of decision victories he has or his lack of finishing prowess. Regardless, he’s one of the best black UFC fighters, and he silenced critics with his most recent knockout of Alex Pereira to reclaim his middleweight title at UFC 286.
- #3 in UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings
- Undefeated in the middleweight division (Only loss as a light-heavyweight)
- Won 5/5 title defenses
- Height: 6’4” | Reach: 80”
Derrick Lewis (26-11-0)
Known as the “Black Beast”, he’s the most vicious knockout artist in the UFC’s history, with 13 KO/TKO wins. He has insane power and great timing of knockout shots; aided by his composure and his ability to read his opponents.
He’s beaten some of the best, such as Ngannou, Volkov, and Oleynik, but lost to champion Daniel Cormier in his first title shot, and then to Ciryl Gane in his interim title fight; meaning he does not shy from facing top competition, but he’s just a step under the elite heavyweights.
The ‘Black Beast’ has been criticized for being slow and gun shy, due to his lack of combinations or volume of strikes. This means he struggles against fighters with great movement and speed of strikes, evidenced in his losses against Tuivasa and Gane.
However, his MMA record of 26-9–0 has seen 21 wins by knockout, and for this reason, he makes the list.
- Most UFC KO/TKO wins (13)
- 26-9-0 MMA record, 21 wins by knockout
- Former Bellator and Legacy FC Heavyweight Champion
- Height: 6’2.5” | Reach: 79”
Francis Ngannou (17-3-0)
Nicknamed the ‘The Predator’, he holds the record as the hardest puncher in the world, with Joe Rogan saying, “He’s the scariest guy I’ve ever seen”.
Ngannou is a knockout specialist due to his insane power and strength, aided by his long limbs, explosiveness, and great athleticism. Of his 17 MMA wins, he has 16 finishes – 12 KOs and 4 submissions.
His wrestling is a weapon, using it to great effect against the more speedy and skillful Ciryl Gane in his first title defense at UFC 270; showing he can switch styles and stick to game plans (formerly seen as one-dimensional).
Francis has fought against the best competition possible, beating former champions, Miocic, Valesquez, and Dos Santos, and has also beaten, Gane, Overeem, and Rozenstruik.
His weakness is jiu-jitsu, but he’s yet to be tested on the ground. In losses against Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic, he was criticized for being gun-shy and slow in movement, however, he has a long career ahead of him and comfortably makes the cut.
- Hardest recorded puncher in the world
- Current UFC Heavyweight Champion
- Third African UFC Champion
- #4 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings
- 16/17 finishes in MMA
- Height: 6’4” | Reach: 83”
Alistair Overeem (47-19-0)
Known as ‘the Reem’ or ‘the Demolition Man’, Alistair’s had an incredibly long career – 68 MMA fights in total, with 20 of those fights coming in the UFC. Overeem started training in MMA aged 15, and is still fighting aged 41; the length of his career shows how highly rated he is.
He’s the first fighter to hold kickboxing and MMA world titles simultaneously and is a former K1, DREAM, and Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
He’s regarded as an elite kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter, with devastating knockout power, and dominant clinch work, due to his size, strength, and elite technique.
Overeem is one of the most entertaining fighters, having only 8 decision results in his career of 68 fights. 42 of his 47 wins were finishes (25 Ko, 17 Submissions), showing he’s great also great with jiu-jitsu. Surprisingly, he never had a submission win in the UFC.
Also, Alistair fought high-level opposition, losing to Ngannou, Volkov, and Stipe Miocic in his only title fight (UFC 203), while he has wins over Dos Santos, Brock Lesnar, and Vitor Belfort.
Tainting his career, Overeem failed many steroid-related drug tests, which delayed fights against Brock Lesnar and had him removed from his title fight against Junior Dos Santos (UFC 146). Still, he’s a UFC legend and pioneer, making him one of the best to have done it.
- The first fighter to hold kickboxing and MMA world titles simultaneously
- Former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K1 Heavyweight Champion
- Lost in his only title fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 203
- Height: 6’4” | Reach: 80”
Ciryl Gane (11-2-0)
Nicknamed “Bon Gamin”, Gane’s early in his career but is hailed as a future heavyweight champion, after coming up short in his first title fight against Ngannou (UFC 270).
Representing a new style of heavyweight fighter, being light on his feet with the footwork and movement of a middleweight fighter; he’s hard to hit and has a lot more striking speed and output than his opponents.
It’s hard to argue against his reputation as the most skillful heavyweight in the UFC, in both striking and jiu-jitsu he stands alone.
His wrestling was tested in his title fight against Ngannou, which he lost due to being taken down multiple times. Despite this, Gane makes the list of best black fighters in the UFC because his skill is that good.
- #1 in UFC Heavyweight rankings
- TKO Major League MMA Champion
- Won the Heavyweight interim title vs Derrick Lewis at UFC 265
- Height: 6’4” | Reach 81”
Rashad Evans (20-8-1)
Rashad “Suga” Evans is a former UFC light heavyweight Champion (UFC 92), heavyweight winner of The Ultime Fighter 2, and is a UFC Hall of Famer.
He had speedy, accurate, and powerful boxing, best demonstrated by his perfect one-punch knockout of Chuck Liddell (UFC 88). Evans also had great wrestling, athleticism, and efficient ground and pound.
Despite not having the best MMA record, he faced the greatest competition, with wins over Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz, Michael Bisping, Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, and Rampage Jackson. While he also fought greats such as Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida but came up short against both.
It’s argued his peak was short and he should’ve retired earlier than he did, having lost his last 5 fights, and others have questioned his durability, composure, and defensive abilities. However, considering the people he beat in his prime, it’s easy to see how he’s one of the best.
- Became UFC Light Heavyweight Champion UFC 92
- UFC Hall of Famer
- Heavyweight winner of TUF 2
- Had a second light heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones but lost UFC 145
- Height: 5’11” | Reach: 75”
Aljamain Sterling (23-3-0)
Another fighter early into their UFC career with an impressive record, the “Funk Master” has all the tools to become one of the best. His greatest strength is his ability to take his opponents back, wearing them down with the body triangle lock and punches, and attempting rear-naked chokes.
He has extreme strength, athleticism, and explosiveness, resulting in his dominance in the clinch and wrestling exchanges. This often presents him with submission opportunities, which as a BJJ black belt he takes with ease (4 UFC submissions).
On top of this, he has great cardio, proficient striking skills, and great footwork that allows him to avoid strikes and find entries for strikes or takedowns.
He’s been criticized for having less than great striking and faking an injury in his title win against Petr Yan, in which Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee. Nevertheless, he defeated Yan in the rematch, and with his early success and promising future, he makes the list. He’s since beaten both T.J. Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo, cementing his place as one of the greats.
- Current UFC Bantamweight Champion
- Former Cage Fury Fighting Champion
- Height: 5’7” | Reach: 71”
Maurice Smith 12-14-0
An early pioneer of the sport, Smith is considered the first elite striker to become a UFC champion (UFC 14) and is known for laying the blueprint for how to fight wrestlers.
He defended his UFC title once and was an undefeated kickboxer from 1983-1992 when he was the heavyweight champion of many promotions.
Maurice excelled in striking while most fighters around him were predominantly grapplers and wrestlers. He inspired many martial artists to strike more and his influence on the sport saw him inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Criticized as having a very poor UFC and MMA record, Maurice Smith never had the complete skills to be the very best. But his legacy as a UFC and kickboxing champion and his influence on the sport and how it changed because of him cannot be understated.
- UFC Hall of Famer
- WKC Light Heavyweight Champion, WKA, ISKA, Heavyweight Champion
- EFC, UFC, Heavyweight Champion + 1 title defense
- 1997 MMA fighter of the year
- Height: 6’2” | Reach: Unknown
Tyron Woodley (19-7-1)
Known as “The Chosen One”, Woodley was one of the best because of his natural athleticism and huge size for the welterweight division, which translated into speed, explosive knockout power, and dominant wrestling.
He’s a former two-time All-American wrestling champion and UFC welterweight champion, defending his title 4 times.
He has beaten fighters such as Wonderboy, Darren Till, and Robbie Lawler, while coming up short against Usman, Burns, and Covington. He hasn’t beaten the best opposition compared to others and lost to the new crop of fighters who easily figured him out, eventually crashing out of the UFC with 4 straight losses.
Nevertheless, he was a UFC champion and defended his title 4 times, making him one of the best black fighters in the UFC.
- Former UFC Welterweight Champion
- 4 title defenses
- Two-time All-American Wrestling Champion
- Height: 5’9” | Reach: 74”
Quinton Jackson (38-14-0)
Known as “Rampage”, Quinton had a very long MMA career spanning 52 fights, and was a former UFC light heavyweight champion, with 1 title defense. He was also a Pride middleweight champion.
Rampage was a wrestling dominant fighter with immense strength, known for picking up his opponents and throwing them. His fighting style was aggressive and he had strong striking and knockout power.
He also had a solid chin and clinch game, with some describing him as a sprawl and brawl fighter. 20 of his 38 wins were by knockout, 14 by decision, and 4 by submission.
In the UFC he faced the best opposition possible, beating great fighters such as Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, and Wanderlei Silva. While losing to Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and Jon Jones (6 champions).
Jackson was known for rustling feathers, which included feuds with multiple fighters and speaking up against the UFC before his retirement. Some say he was an overrated fighter and his personality carried him over.
Overall, he entertained fans with his unique fighting style and personality, helped pioneer MMA worldwide with his longevity, and became a UFC champion; therefore remaining one of the best black UFC fighters.
- Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion + 1 title defense
- Pride Middleweight Champion
- Height: 6’1” | Reach: 73”
Other Best Black UFC Fighters Completing the List
- Uriah Hall
- Phil Davis
- Jared Cannonier
- Derek Brunson
- Curtis Blaydes
- Yoel Romero
This is a comprehensive list of many of the best black UFC fighters in the promotion’s history, and while subjective, many of the fighters can be classified as the best when judged by the principles outlined at the top of the article.