Europe has produced some of MMA’s top talents, from legends like Bas Rutten to one of the most dominant fighters in the sport’s history, Khabib Nurmagomedov. European mixed martial artists have evolved a lot over the years, starting from mainly striking-based fighters to world-class wrestlers.
The Ten Best Mixed Martial Arts Fighters From Europe
Ready to find out who the best MMA fighters from Europe are? Let’s dive into our list:
1) Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Joanna was the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first strawweight champion. She reigned alongside Ronda Rousey, successfully defending the title five times. She suffered her first professional MMA loss when she squared off against Rose Namajunas, losing the strawweight title.
Jedrzejczyk’s impressive reign earned her an automatic rematch for the title, but she ended up losing via unanimous decision. She lost a title match to Valentina Shevchenko when she moved up to the flyweight division, then lost her next title shot to Weili Zhang.
Joanna remains one of the most feared women in women’s MMA despite her recent setbacks.
2) Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson was the first man to make Jon Jones look remotely human inside the cage. He also was the first to complete a takedown against Jones successfully. The two collided at UFC 165, and Gustafsson dominated the earlier rounds, surprising Jones with his length and boxing. Jones weathered the storm and performed better in the later rounds, winning the fight via a close decision.
Gustafsson went on to challenge Daniel Cormier for the light-heavyweight title, but he fell short a second time. He had one more shot at the title when he faced Jones for a rematch.
Gustafsson started as a boxer, but he significantly improved his wrestling over the years. That made him one of the best light-heavyweights ever to compete.
3) Reinier de Ridder
Ridder is one of the most impressive fighters on ONE Championship’s roster. He built a 9-0 professional MMA record, mainly fighting in regional European promotions.
Ridder made his ONE Championship debut in 2019, submitting Fan Rong via brabo choke. He went on to defeat Gilberto Galvao and Leandro Ataides to earn a shot at the ONE Middleweight Championship. Reinier defeated Aung La Nsang to win that belt. Then, he did it again six months later to win the ONE Light Heavyweight Championship.
4) Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping put together a 10-0 record before going on the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series. He dominated his competition on TUF, and the biggest obstacle in his way, Matt Hamill, ended up pulling out of the tournament due to fatigue.
Bisping defeated John Haynes to win the finale and scored a controversial decision against Hamill a few fights later. Bisping earned his first title shot in 2016, and he defeated Luke Rockhold to win the promotion’s middleweight belt. He successfully defended the belt against Dan Henderson before losing it to Georges St-Pierre.
The Brit has won against many of the biggest names in MMA, like Anderson Silva and Cung Le.
5) Alistair Overeem
“The Demolition Man” was one of the scariest heavyweights during his prime. His nickname couldn’t have been more appropriate as he demolished names like Vitor Belfort, Fabricio Werdum, and Brock Lesnar during his peak.
Overeem won titles in multiple MMA promotions like 2H2H, Strikeforce, DREAM, and the UFC.
6) Petr Yan
Yan is arguably the best striker in MMA to come out of Russia. He started with Taekwondo and moved on to boxing in his teenage years. Yan combines his world-class boxing with a very underrated grappling game.
Yan defeated Jose Aldo to win the UFC’s bantamweight title at UFC 251 but lost his first title defense against Aljamain Sterling due to disqualification from an illegal knee. Yan is set to rematch Aljo for the title.
7) Jan Blachowicz
Jan has been underrated most of his MMA career, but he shocked the world when he defeated Dominick Reyes via knockout to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light-heavyweight title. His next outing was just as impressive as he handed UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya his first loss.
8) Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina is one of the most well-rounded fighters to ever step inside a cage. She can strike with the best strikers and grapple with the best grapplers. She even speaks about five languages. It doesn’t get more impressive than that.
Shevchenko has been one of the most dominant women in MMA, and she’s successfully defended the UFC’s flyweight title six times. She currently sports a 22-3 record, with her only losses coming against the likes of Amanda Nunes (twice) and Liz Carmouche.
9) Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov is, without a doubt, the best MMA fighter to come out of Europe. He left the sport as the UFC’s undefeated, undisputed lightweight champion.
A native of Dagestan, Russia, Khabib is known for his seemingly unstoppable takedowns and aggressive grappling style. He particularly loved pounding opponents once he had them pinned on the canvas.
Khabib secured the biggest win of his career when he successfully defended the lightweight belt against Conor McGregor at UFC 229. There was a lot of bad blood heading into the fight, with the infamous bus fiasco and Conor making disrespectful comments about Islam.
Khabib got his revenge inside the cage, forcing Conor to tap in the fourth round of their showdown. He then jumped out of the cage to deal with McGregor’s teammate Dillion Danis. He retired two victories later with a 29-0 professional MMA record.
10) Conor McGregor
During his peak, Conor was the most entertaining fighter in MMA history. His ability to sell fights and entertain crowds was reminiscent of Muhammad Ali. Conor talked the talk, and he backed it up inside the cage.
He knocked out Jose Also in nine seconds to become the UFC’s featherweight champion, then moved up to face Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title. He won that fight by knockout, becoming the first double champ in UFC history.
The hype surrounding McGregor at that point was enough to get him a fight against Floyd Mayweather and the substantial cash prizes that go with it. Unfortunately for Conor, he’s lost three of his four fights since his super-fight with Mayweather, losing to Khabib and twice against Dustin Poirier.
Still, McGregor’s epic climb to the top was a huge factor that helped carry MMA into the mainstream popularity it currently enjoys. That makes him the top fighter from Europe.
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