Black UFC Fighters: Top 20 Well Known Players Of The MMA

UFC Fighters

Last Updated on May 27, 2022

Francis Ngannou, Kamaru Usman, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya...

Who is your favorite among black UFC fighters?

The black community has many great fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship drawn from various disciplines in combat sports and different geographical areas such as the U.S., Africa, Cuba, the Caribbean, and South America.

When you check the list of championship titles, you'll see how diverse the title holders are. Here's a list of most of them.

20 Famous Black UFC Fighters You Should Know By Now

1. Jon Jones

Jon Jones
Jon Jones

We can't deny that he's one of the greatest black champions in UFC history. His debut MMA fight was in 2008, and it led to six consecutive wins in just three months. UFC couldn't resist such talent, so they signed him five months after his MMA debut.

Jones enjoys many firsts, as he was the first MMA fighter Nike gave a global sponsorship deal and the first mixed martial arts fighter with a shoe line.

However, Jon Jones also makes headlines for the wrong reasons in and out of the sport. One notable suspension came after a hit-and-run accident. It cost him sponsorship from Reebok and MuscleTech.

2. Tyron Woodley

His cherished title is the UFC Welterweight Champion, which he had to defend four times. He fought Robbie Lawler in 2016 and claimed the championship but lost it in his fifth title defense against Kamaru Usman. That's when everything turned ugly for him.

He has registered three more losses at UFC Vegas since that title defense loss in 2019. For instance, Colby Covington gave him a technical knockout that left him tapping out after a rib injury.

He's still one of the greatest.

3. Kamaru Usman

He's one of the most prominent UFC black fighters. He's "The Nigerian Nightmare," after all. Usman broke Tyron Woodley's dominance in the welterweight division and claimed the championship title in 2019. 

You have to admire Usman's record of one loss in 21 fights. The one time an opponent took him down was in 2013 when Jose Caceres won via a rear-naked choke submission. It was Kamaru's second MMA fight. 

Nine of his 20 wins were via a knockout thanks to his unforgiving punches and ten fights via a unanimous decision. He's fought great UFC fighters like Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal twice. Also, he has a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

4. Walt Harris

He joined MMA in 2010 after playing basketball for Jacksonville State University. Walt's debut at UFC came in 2013, and his MMA record is 24 fights so far. He has notable wins even before joining UFC. For instance, he faced Anthony Hamilton in 2012 and won via knockout. 

But, his winning streak faded in 2019, the same year his stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard went missing. Walt Harris has won the Performance of the Night bonus twice. 

The first one came in April 2019 when he gave Sergey Spivak a technical knockout in the first round. The second bonus was three months later when the first round of his bout with Alexey Oleynik ended in 12 seconds via a knockout.

5. Francis Ngannous

Everybody wants to read about Ngannou in MMA news. This heavyweight champion didn't have training gear when he joined MMA. At the time, Ngannou had slipped illegally into Europe hoping to become a professional boxer like Mike Tyson, done two months in jail for illegal entry, and lived on the streets of Paris. So, to him, MMA was by chance.

Francis Ngannou has a mixed martial art record of 20 matches with 17 wins and three losses via decision by the start of 2022. He's given Stipe Miocic, Junior dos Santos, Anthony Hamilton, and Luis Herique knockout punches. 

His first bout with Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship ended in a loss via unanimous decision. It was his second loss since 2013. But, the rematch in 2021 bagged Ngannou the UFC championship and the Performance of the Night bonus.

6. Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva

You'll not know where to start when reading his list of accomplishments because he is the real deal. First, Anderson was the UFC Middleweight Champion from 2006 to 2013. As a result, he holds UFC's record for the longest reign. It's no wonder Joe Rogan regards him as the greatest MMA fighter.

His title defense matches ended in 2013 when Chris Weidman claimed the championship via a knockout. Since then, Silva began a streak of losses, such as in his bouts with Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier, and Israel Adesanya.

He's not in the UFC anymore as he went back to boxing in 2020.

7. Daniel Cormier

He isn't one of the current black UFC fighters, but his record in the UFC is worth noting. Cormier has won several titles.

He is a former Olympian like Ronda Rousey, a World Cup runner-up, and a professional MMA fighter, to mention a few.

His first UFC bout was against Frank Mir, and he won. Instead of competing in the UFC heavyweight division, he opted for the light heavyweight division because his teammate Cain Velasquez was in the other division.

He took the UFC Heavyweight Championship title in 2018 after knocking out Stipe Miocic in the first round. The two fighters met two more times, and Miocic won both bouts, with the first being a TKO in 2019 and the second at UFC 252 in 2020.

It was a disappointing loss after consecutive wins for almost ten years. That's when Daniel Cormier left MMA after 22 wins in 26 matches.

8. Rashad Evans

Evans has three outstanding achievements in the UFC because he was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, he won The Ultimate Fighter 2, and he's a UFC Hall of Fame inductee. He faced Forrest Griffin for the championship title in 2008 and later lost it to Lyoto Machida in his first title defense fight.

His losses at UFC accumulated from 2015 to 2018 after bouts with opponents like Anthony Smith, Sam Alvey, and Daniel Kelly.

By the time Rashid Evans retired from UFC in 2018, there was no doubt that he was a skilled fighter who could take on any opponent. 

He didn't leave MMA entirely because he changed organizations and jumped into the Eagle Fighting Championship run by Khabib Nurmagomedov, who became the UFC Lightweight Championship after winning against Conor McGregor. Evans's debut at EFC was at the start of 2022 against Checco.

9. Curtis Blaydes

This 31-year-old had his debut at UFC Fight Night in 2016, where Francis Ngannou won via a TKO. Despite the gloomy start of his UFC experience, he went on to win several events until 2018. 

Within that time, he had opponents like Mark Hunt and Alexey Oleynik. But, his dominance over such seasoned fighters ended during a rematch at UFC Fight Night 141, where Francis Ngannou gave him a TKO in the first round.

That aside, we have to give him credit for 15 wins in the 19 matches of his professional career. Apart from Ngannou, only Derrick Lewis has given him a knockout punch.

10. Demetrious Johnson

Demetrious Johnson
Demetrious Johnson

It's not every day that Joe Rogan describes a fighter as the greatest in MMA circles. So, when he describes Johnson as the greatest, you better believe him. Even ESPN and MMA Weekly agree. Demetrious Johnson is a phenomenal flyweight champion with a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. 

He gives an unforgettable match whenever he takes on an opponent, sometimes registering the most takedowns in a fight.

He fought Joseph Benavidez for the UFC Flyweight Championship in 2012 and won in this first attempt via a split decision. A series of 11 title defense matches followed until Henry Cejudo defeated him via a split decision. 

Though he left UFC for the One Championship organization after that loss, he holds the record for the most title defenses, even more than the times Georges St Pierre defended his welterweight title.

11. Anthony Johnson

The "Rumble" can take out an opponent with one punch. Even his debut fight ended with a knockout within 13 minutes of the first round.

He retired in 2017 after his loss to Daniel Cormier but came back to UFC four years later and proved he still had it with a knockout punch against Jose Augusto.

Anthony wasn't always a heavyweight champ. He started in the welterweight division, explored the middleweight division in 2012, and settled into heavyweight fights. 

12. Maurice Smith

He's a UFC Hall of Famer, and though his kickboxing record is exceptional, he was also an honorable fighter at UFC with 14 wins of his 28 fights in mixed martial arts.

Smith faced legends while defending his Extreme Fighting Heavyweight Championship and UFC Heavyweight Championship titles. One of them, Randy Couture, stripped him of the UFC title in a defense match at UFC Japan.

13. Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards
Leon Edwards

This British-Jamaican won the BAMMA Welterweight Championship title in 2014 before joining UFC, and even when called upon to defend it the same year, he didn't disappoint and gave Shaun Taylor a knockout punch. 

His start at UFC was rocky as he lost his debut fight. But, he proved he was worth the contract in his next bouts, dishing knockout punches whenever possible. Only Kamaru Usman was able to slow him down in one fight.

He's had opponents like Nate Diaz, Gunnar Nelson, and Donald Cerrone. He was to face Nate Diaz on the same night Michael Chandler faced Charles Oliveira for the lightweight championship, but Diaz pulled out due to an injury. However, when the event took place later, Edwards won. 

14. Uriah Hall

Stories of how fighters get into martial arts are always fascinating. For Hall, martial arts was his tactic to escape bullies when he moved to the U.S. as a teen.

His journey to UFC began in The Ultimate Fighter Season 17. One of his most famous bouts is a rematch against Chris Weidman in 2021. Before Hall could strike, Weidman threw a low leg kick that Hall checked and caught Weidman's calf bone, sending him to the ground.

The fight ended via a TKO though Hall didn't strike even once.

15. Israel Adesanya

This former kickboxing champ took on the middleweight division at UFC and established his reign, defending his title four times so far.

He was pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Computer Design in New Zealand when he started kickboxing. The sport ignited a passion that had him dropping out and heading to China for a professional career as a kickboxer. 

Later, "The Last Stylebender" joined UFC and debuted in 2018 against Rob Wilkinson. Wilkinson wasn't ready for the TKO that Adesanya served and walked away with a Performance of the Night bonus. 

That fight was in April 2018, and by October 2019, Adesanya pocketed his fourth bonus for his back-to-back knockouts.

He draws even brands to himself, bagging some of the most coveted sponsorship deals in MMA. For instance, he broke the spell of not having PUMA deals in mixed martial arts.

Adesanya was born in Nigeria and now plays for New Zealand. He has one of the longest names ever, with Israel Adesanya being the first and last of his seven names.

Some of his electrifying fights involved opponents like Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. He lost one bout out of 22 matches in his attempt to change divisions and take on Jan Blachowicz in the UFC light heavyweight division. 

16. Alistar Overeem

It's not every day that a fighter's debut involves a legend like Brock Lesnar. But, when that debutant is Alistar Overeem, anything is possible. He walked into UFC's roster and fought Lesnar at UFC 141, serving punches and kicks skillfully because of his kickboxing prowess. 

That single fight earned him a title shot. But, Overeem had drug test issues even before the title bout. Therefore, when he failed one ahead of his championship fight, Dana White replaced him. 

He's no match for legends like Francis Ngannois and Stipe Miocic, but he's also served technical knockouts in bouts with celebrated fighters like Walt Harris, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, plus Junior dos Santos. 

"The Demolition Man" left UFC in 2021 and went back to kickboxing.

17. Jared Cannonier

Jared was a heavyweight fighter when he started, but he moved to the light heavyweight division three years later. That division didn't work either, so after facing the likes of Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes, this African American martial artist switched to the middleweight division.

"The Killa Gorilla" is one of the top UFC black fighters whose careers started late because he joined at 31 years. He's the kind of combat sports athlete who can take on Anderson Silva and win via a TKO.

18. Phil Davis

Phil Davis
Phil Davis

"Mr. Wonderful" played at UFC from 2009 to 2014 and only lost thrice, two of those times to Anthony Johnson and Rashad Evans. Davis gave Alexander Gustafsson his first loss with an anaconda choke in 2010.

Another unforgettable bout is the kimura submission that earned him the Submission of the Night award against Tim Boetsch in 2010. It was his fourth fight at UFC, and that night gave him $80,000 for his exceptional skills.

Phil Davis now plays for Bellator, where he's already recording numerous wins when he takes on even celebrated icons like Lyoto Machida.

19. Quinton Jackson

Jackson also moved from one division to the other like Jared before settling for the heavyweight division. He's a former wrestler, and he also bagged the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Chuck Liddell. 

He didn't let go when Dan Henderson fought for this title the same year, but he didn't serve enough knockout punches when Forrest Griffin took a shot the following year. Even attempts to regain the title years later failed when Jon Jones gave him a rear-naked choke.

Quinton Jackson left UFC for Bellator MMA in 2014, returned to UFC the following year, and went back to Bellator after they settled his contract dispute.

20. Yoel Romero

Yoel Romero
Yoel Romero

His performances prove that it's not always about the championship titles.

Romero's career spans several divisions, having started in the light heavyweight division. This freestyle wrestler delivers an electrifying match, and that's how he joined UFC after only five MMA fights. 

He enjoyed continuous wins from his debut bout in 2013 until Robert Whittaker erased his dreams of a middleweight championship in 2017.

Romero is now with Bellator MMA, and though his first match there was a loss, this Cuban legend always gives his all such that matches end via decisions. He's one of the black MMA fighters with an Olympics medal.

A bonus black champion is Aljamain Sterling, the UFC Bantamweight Champion with only three losses since his MMA career started in 2011.


FAQs About Black MMA Fighters

Who's the best black UFC fighter?

It's impossible to list one icon as the best of them all when they have diverse talents and achievements. However, the ones ranking at the top include Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, and Demetrious Johnson.

Who was the first black UFC fighter?

The first black fighters were Trent Jenkins, Art Jimmerson, Zane Frazier, and Patrick Smith. They fought in UFC's inaugural event in 1993. Maurice Smith was the first African American to win a UFC championship.

Who is the black UFC commentator?

That might be Daniel Cormier, one of the top fighters in MMA. He's retired, and his passion and experience make him such a profound commentator. Or you could be talking about Rashad Evans, one of the commentators on MMA Live.


Conclusion

The world of combat sports embraces diversity contrary to what many assume. Black UFC champions, including those from the African American community, hold various championship titles. Maurice Smith was there during the time of Randy Couture, and so were the likes of Adesanya, Rashad, Jon Jones, Ngannou, and Demetrious who dominated recent and present UFC battles.

Reading stories of how they joined the UFC and all their wins via TKO will always make you want to watch all their events over again.

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