MMA is an incredibly exciting sport for spectators. The uniqueness of mixed martial arts seems to draw in crowds of people of varying backgrounds and martial arts interests. The mix of Muay Thai and boxing-based striking, alongside traditional kicking and of course Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, gives it a uniqueness unlike any single martial arts discipline.
MMA fighters with a strong background in Muay Thai always make for a thrilling match. With dominant striking, sweeps, and the clinch, you are sure to find excitement regardless of who they are matched up against. The brilliance of MMA is that different types of fighters get the opportunity to pit their skills against differently trained and similarly equipped fighters. Here are 13 MMA fighters with the most devastating Muay Thai skills, in no particular order.
1) Donald Cerrone
Well-loved for his personality and known by his nickname, “Cowboy,” Donald Cerrone is easily one of the best Muay Thai fighters in MMA today. His initial endeavors in the sports of kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai certainly stuck with him as he ventured out into other martial arts.
Eventually landing in the world of MMA, he continued to dominate his opponents with his dynamic, powerful, and well-refined Muay Thai strikes. He is a well-rounded fighter with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and his high-level Muay Thai striking rounds out his MMA game.
2) Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Joanna first picked up the sport of Muay Thai as a teen. She refined and honed her Muay Thai skills long before she branched out into the world of MMA, where she became a UFC women’s strawweight champion. Her striking is top-notch, often thrown with heavy power and in heavy combinations, leading to her simply overwhelming her opponents.
Besides her striking game, she is dangerous in the clinch that allows her to dominate her opponents easily. While her experience in MMA has been hugely successful, much of it is due to her high-level Muay Thai skills.
3) Edson Barboza
This fighter got his start at a young age. Jumping into Muay Thai at the young age of 8, and moving as just quickly into competing, he found a lot of success. As he moved into MMA, he quickly became a fan favorite for his dynamic striking and incredibly crisp, powerful, and technical kicking. His foundation in Muay Thai is evident throughout each MMA match and he has a plethora of knockout wins in the UFC under his belt.
4) Jose Aldo
Jose Aldo is an MMA fighter with a background varied in an assortment of martial disciplines. While he primarily began with Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he eventually made his way into mixed martial arts. As he started in MMA, he racked up an impressive amount of knockouts and became known for his Muay Thai striking. His leg kicks are powerful and effective, and his overall understanding of Muay Thai has been an incredible asset to his MMA career.
Demetrious is one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts history. He is an incredibly well-rounded fighter, and his Muay Thai striking is no exception. Hs strikes are accurate and fast, and “Mighty Mouse” is easily able to move between an orthodox and southpaw stance while he dismantles his opponents with his technical Muay Thai striking.
Add his impressive Jiu-Jitsu skills to his Muay Thai, and it’s easy to see why he’s widely regarded as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. He claimed the Flyweight World Champion in the UFC and holds the record for an amazing 11 title defenses, and is the current ONE Flyweight World Champion as well.
6) Wanderlei Silva
Wanderlei Silva is an incredible MMA fighter who fought in Pride and the UFC. He impressively holds multiple records within the Pride organization, a couple of which include the most wins and the most knockouts.
Training in Muay Thai from the age of 13, and eventually moving into Vale Tudo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Silva is a well-rounded MMA fighter with impressive Muay Thai skills, and often lands impressive knee strikes from the clinch during his fights.
7) Mauricio Rua
Mauricio Rua is an MMA fighter with a heavy-pressure style of striking. His excellent Muay Thai striking skills are often used together with lots of forward energy. His style is both explosive and effective.
Paired with excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, he is a well-rounded fighter. His familiarity with Muay Thai makes for thrilling fights, and he has claimed 21 wins via knockout throughout his MMA career.
8) Martin Kampmann
Martin Kampmann started honing his Muay Thai skills at a young age, competing in amateur Muay Thai matches before eventually making the transition to other disciplines and eventually moving into MMA. His striking nonetheless retained the roots of his technical Muay Thai as he moved into MMA and incorporated it into his Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. After his retirement, he continued to coach others in mixed martial arts.
9) Thiago Alves
This Brazilian-born fighter started training in Muay Thai for the simple idea of getting in shape. What started as a fitness outlet for Thiago quickly became a passion and a springboard to the world of mixed martial arts. He had a notable TKO win against Matt Hughes, spurred by a flying knee and heavy punches on the ground, utilizing his Muay Thai to end the fight.
An impressive string of 13 knockout victories shows his versatile and well-built Muay Thai game excelling in the world of mixed martial arts.
10) Duane Ludwig
Duane Ludwig’s teenage start in Muay Thai led him into a string of successful amateur fights, picking up several Muay Thai national and regional titles, and setting him on the route to bigger fights. As he transitioned into professional Muay Thai, he continued to display excellent Muay Thai skills while picking up numerous titles and belts along the way.
His transition to MMA was rather smooth, and as he maintained his technical Muay Thai striking skills, he eventually landed and claimed one of the fastest knockouts in UFC history, proving his impressive Muay Thai striking within the context of MMA.
11) Christian Lee
Christian Lee comes from an impressive family, with both of his parents holding multiple black belts, and his sister becoming the world’s youngest MMA champion. He holds titles in multiple disciplines, including MMA, BJJ, and Pankration.
His MMA career has been marked by many knockouts and TKOs. From impressive elbows to heavy striking, his excellent striking is evident in his matches. At Ok vs Lee II, Lee reclaimed the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
12) Rafael Dos Anjos
This Evolve Fight Team fighter boasts world championship titles across the UFC, Fury FC, and the Mundials BJJ World Championships. His well-rounded approach to fighting has made him successful in his MMA fighting career.
While Muay Thai was not his first martial art, he certainly dove in headfirst and found his signature aggressive striking style while in the ring, evidenced by multiple knockouts. Dominating rounds while dealing with a torn MCL, and an acclaimed 66-second TKO victory versus Cerone, make him a notable striker within mixed martial arts.
13) Paul Felder
Paul Felder started in the world of martial arts via karate and Tae Kwon Do. It wasn’t until his college years that he discovered Muay Thai and eventually transitioned into MMA. He excelled at using his Muay Thai within the realm of MMA, where he quickly established an impressive knockout record during his fighting career, as well as multiple “Fight of the Month” awards.
Muay Thai is an incredible asset to those looking for the best striking options to incorporate into their MMA game. It provides a well-rounded approach to striking with the “8 limbs,” and is the perfect complement to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for MMA. If you’re looking for an incredible display of Muay Thai within the sport of mixed martial arts, be sure to check out these fighters.
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