Top 7 European MMA fighters in history
Welcome to another episode of Primal MMA. My name is Eric and today we have a special episode for you! It wasn’t that long ago that you would struggle to name 5 world-class European UFC fighters. There was England’s Michael Bisping and of course ‘The Notorious' Conor McGregor from Ireland.
Recently European fighters have not only risen up the UFC rankings but many have claimed UFC gold.
Let’s take a look at the top 7 European MMA fighters in history, But before we dive into it make sure you are subscribed and leave a like and comment and I will personally reply back to you.
Number 7 Stefan Struve
At 7'0", he is the tallest fighter in the UFC, and tied for the longest-reach in the UFC with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
Growing up in the Netherlands, Struve played football until the age of 14. When Struve's brother took him to the local martial arts gym, he decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts (MMA) instead. Struve had his first and only amateur MMA bout at age 16, and won via head kick knockout.
Struve made his professional debut for the GFN organization when he was 17, fighting John De Wilde at Gentlemen Fight Night. By late 2008, he had racked up a record of 16–2, losing via injury to Romualds Garkulis and again in the second round of a Star Of Peresvit tournament in Ukraine, to future Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu.
In 2008, Struve negotiated with the DREAM and Affliction promotions, before signing a four-fight deal with the UFC.
Struve lost his UFC debut bout at UFC 95 to Junior dos Santos in the first round, after dos Santos stormed Struve with an aggressive flurry of punches.
Struve won his next fight on June 13, 2009, at UFC 99, over Denis Stojnić. Struve was cut open by hammerfists from Stojnic while on his back in the first round, but he eventually won by submission at 2:37 of the second round.
Struve defeated previously undefeated UFC newcomer Chase Gormley on October 24, 2009, at UFC 104 (also winning the "Submission of the Night" award).
Number 6 Alexander Gustafsson
“The Mauler” remains one of the sport’s premier fighters at 205 pounds, despite being shelved by a shoulder injury that required surgery. Gustafsson was a boxer before he turned to mixed martial arts, starting at the age of 10. He won the Swedish national youth light heavyweight championship in 2003 and three amateur tournaments over a two-year period (2008-09).
Gustafsson earned a title shot and faced UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones on 21 September 2013 in the main event at UFC 165. Despite being looked at as a big underdog coming into this fight, Gustafsson challenged Jones unlike any previous contender, taking the champion down for the first time in his career, picking him apart on the feet and cutting Jones badly above the right eye early in the fight. Jones later rallied, and dominated the final rounds and in the end out landed Gustafsson in strikes, 137–114. Gustafsson ultimately lost via unanimous decision. After the fight, before being sent to hospital, Jones said Gustafsson had given him the hardest fight of his career. Gustafsson and Jones were awarded the "Fight of the Night" bonus award for their performances. The fight was critically acclaimed by mixed martial arts media outlets and fighters, with many considering it to be the greatest light heavyweight title fight of all time.
Number 5 Alistair Overeem
Overeem is considered one of the most well-rounded heavyweights in the sport, though he is mainly known for his excellence and power in the striking field. A kickboxer of the Dutch school of Muay Thai decorated in K-1 world tournaments, Overeem favours kicks to the body and legs and knee strikes from the clinch, which have been described as "devastating."
Overeem made his UFC debut in the year 2011, where he was up against the former heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar. Lesnar was considered one of the most dangerous fighters of his time.
The Dutch fighter was running at a winning streak of 11 and amazed the entire UFC fraternity by winning his debut bout against the best of the best. He showcased his kickboxing offense and could finish his opponent with a kick to the liver and subsequent punches at 2:26 of the first round
His fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik went viral amongst his fans. The superstar fighter suffered a gruesome lip injury during the bout and lost via knockout in the last four seconds of the fifth round.
This is what the fighter tweeted after his injury:- “Getting stitched up. Lip not to sexy at the moment.. a little bit a fast stoppage if u ask me – but hope u guys enjoyed the fight”
Number 4 Jimi Manuwa
Babajimi ‘Jimi’ Manuwa is a British mixed martial artist known for his brief and successful career in UFC. Like most self-made champions, he too came from a very difficult childhood which was full of loneliness and trysts with the law. The troubled kid was born in California and spent some time in Nigeria, before coming to London at the age of 10. Manuwa began his training for the sport in 2007 and made his ring debut on 26th July 2008 at FCFN 8 and won more than a dozen of his first matches, fighting in different promotions, winning UCMMA Lightweight championship in the process and defending it on more than half a dozen occasions. When he got signed on by the UFC, he was already one of the most fierce fighters in their rooster. Manuwa made his UFC debut against TUF 8 contestant Kyle Kingsbury at UFC on Fuel TV 5, winning after 2 rounds by TKO due to doctor stoppage. The stoppage was declared after Kingsbury's left eye had swollen shut.
Despite losing a few of the crucial fights, he remained one of the most feared fighters and managed one
‘Fight of the Night’ honour and two ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses
Number 3 Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping has been a mainstay in the UFC for a decade, but there was still a great deal of shock when he knocked out Luke Rockhold to win the UFC Middleweight Championship at UFC 199.
Bisping is arguably one of the most interesting fighters in the entire UFC both inside and outside of the octagon. Michael Bisping started his Mixed Martial Arts career in England back in 2004 and he recorded 14 impressive victories before he was invited to take part in season three of The Ultimate Fighter.
There has long been speculation that Bisping would earn a UFC title fight, but he always seemed to lose fights that would have seen him become the next in line for a title shot – most notably when he lost to Rashad Evans at UFC 78 and when he lost to Dan Henderson at UFC 100.
A couple of lucky breaks – a narrow win over Anderson Silva and an injury to Chris Weidman – saw him finally earn his shot at the title and break the record of Josh Koscheck for the most fights in the UFC without receiving a title opportunity.
Bisping faced Dan Henderson in October 2016 at UFC 204. Bisping won the fight via unanimous decision and retained the UFC Middleweight Championship. Both fighters were awarded Fight of the Night for their performance. Becoming the first English man to win the championship
Number 2 Conor McGregor
There may be no bigger name in all of sports today than Conor McGregor. The decorated mixed martial artist has transcended the sport, becoming an icon around the world. He has earned thousands of fans thanks to his trash talk, bravado, and undeniable fighting ability.
McGregor does not care which weight class an opponent is in; if the fight is attractive, he’ll take it. He has fought everywhere from Featherweight to Welterweight in the UFC, a 25-pound range.
On 10 August, it was announced that McGregor would face José Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship. At the weigh-ins, both McGregor and Aldo achieved the weight limit of 145 pounds. McGregor knocked out Aldo thirteen seconds into the first round with a left hook, snapping his seven year long WEC and UFC title reign and eighteen-fight win streak to claim the title, earning the "Performance of the Night" bonus as well. This finish marked the fastest knockout in a title bout in UFC history. But apparently one title isn’t enough for McGregor.
Almost a year later McGregor devastatingly and effortlessly knocked out Eddie Alvarez, capturing the UFC Lightweight Championship. This was a historic achievement, as he became the first UFC fighter to hold two championship titles in two weight classes at the same time
Number 1 Khabib Nurmagomedov
He competed in the lightweight division of the (UFC), where he was the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, having held the title from April 2018 to March 2021. With 29 wins and no losses, he retired with an undefeated record. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
His most famous fight was On Friday, 3 August 2018, when UFC announced that Nurmagomedov would make his first defense of his lightweight title against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 on 6 October in Las Vegas. In the fight, Nurmagomedov won the first two rounds, but lost to McGregor in the third round. It was the first time Nurmagomedov lost a round in his UFC career. He managed to defeat McGregor in the fourth round via submission. After the contest, Nurmagomedov scaled the Octagon and tried to attack McGregor's teammate Dillon Danis, which resulted in a brawl between the two teams. The event drew 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the most ever for an MMA event.