Robert Whittaker is looking to create history by becoming the first Australian or Kiwi to defend a UFC title in their home country this weekend at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne at UFC234.
He is currently officially ranked the 12th best pound-for-pound fighter competing in the UFC and at 28 years of age, his best years are still ahead of him.
Australian and New Zealand MMA is in a golden era right now with many rising stars performing at the highest level in the UFC.
We’ve dived into the UFC history books and have compiled a list of the Greatest Australian and New Zealand fighters to have competed in the organisation.
10. Dan Kelly
Unlike some of the other stylish fighters to make this list, Dan Kelly has never looked pretty inside the Octagon. He has an awkward style however he forged a very successful career in the UFC.
Before his career in the UFC began he competed at four separate Summer Olympics games in Judo placing 9th in Sydney, 7th in Athens, 21st in Beijing and 17th in London. He was also the Australian Olympic Judo coach in Rio in 2016.
His UFC career began at UFC Fight Night Rockhold v Bisping in Sydney in November 2014 where he won via a first round submission via a kimura. He won 7 of his first 8 fights in the UFC however three straight losses resulted in his contract being terminated.
Here he is beating a much younger opponent in Antonio Carlos Junior in Brisbane in 2016.
9. Tyson Pedro
It has not all gone to plan for Tyson Pedro of late however there is no doubting that he has an enormous amount of talent.
His UFC career now sits at 3 wins and 3 losses after he was beaten by Shogun Rua in Adelaide in December.
Pedro had Rua in plenty of trouble during that fight however he suffered a knee injury during the second round that hampered his performance. We later found out he had torn his ACL.
Here’s hoping he returns better than ever and continues to climb the Light Heavyweight rankings.
8. Tai Tuivasa
It’s no surprise ‘Bam Bam Shuivasa’ has a cult following in Australia. He is a big boy with a big personality and even bigger knock out power.
He is a proud indigenous Australian who represents the Western suburbs of Sydney.
His only loss in his 4 fight UFC career to date came in front of his home crowd in Adelaide however this was against a legend of the sport in Junior Dos Santos and it is clear Tuivasa has a long career ahead of him.
His post fight celebrations are loved by many however Joe Rogan is clearly not one of them.
7. Dan Hooker
New Zealand born Dan ‘ The Hangman’ Hooker has had 11 fights in the UFC and is still only 28 years of age!
Four wins in a row (all finishes) gave Hooker the opportunity to fight Edson Barboza in December last year.
The kiwi more than held his own in a very entertaining fight in which Barboza won via a number of body shots that took its toll on Hooker and eventually ended the fight. The first time he had lost via a stoppage in the UFC.
He is one of the more entertaining fighters in the UFC right now and there is plenty more to come from the Hangman.
6. Israel Adesanya
Some may say the Nigerian born Kiwi is high on this list but there is so much untapped potential with this guy that it is hard to ignore.
He has only had the four fights in the UFC so far however he has impressed in every one so far. So much that UFC President Dana White has not hidden his excitement that he may be the next star in the sport.
His fight IQ is high and he has a very measured yet exciting style to match. His smooth talking and confidence is also very marketable and in this game, whether you like it or not, is very important.
He gets his chance to prove his abilities against a man who he has been compared to for quite a while, and one of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva this weekend at UFC234 in Melbourne.
If he has half the career that Silva has had, we will be in for one hell of a ride and he goes into the fight as a short priced favourite.
Here’s the boss singing his praises after his win against Derek Brunson.
5. Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski has risen through the ranks at quite a quick pace since he joined the UFC in late 2016.
He is unbeaten now in six fights with his latest win against Chad Mendes putting him right in the mix for a title fight in the near future.
He is currently ranked 4th in the Featherweight Division and the fighter above him, namely Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega and Jose Aldo already having either shots at the title or reigns themselves, he is surely high on the list of a shot against Max Holloway.
4. Elvis Sinosic
Elvis Sinosic’s record in the UFC, and overall to be honest, doesn’t stand out however he gains points for being a pioneer for Australian Mixed Martial Artists within the biggest organisation in the sport.
Despite his poor record, he did actually fight for the Light Heavyweight title against Tito Ortiz at UFC 32 in 2001.
He lost via TKO in the first round.
Here’s a video highlighting some of Sinosic’s skills and best moments with a sick Area 7 track dubbed over. You’re welcome.
3. George Sotiropoulos
George Sotiropoulos entered the UFC back in 2007 and went on a seven fight winning streak.
Another pioneer for the cohort of Australian fighters to soon follow, he finished his career with five losses which should not overshadow the impact he had in the UFC.
He was a very down to earth and likeable character and he was very popular with the Australian public.
His fight against eventual Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos didn’t go to plan.
2. Mark Hunt
There has never been a more popular Australian or Kiwi Mixed Martial Artist than Mark Hunt.
His stand up and brawl style of fighting resonated with fans of the sport around the globe made him a star of the Heavyweight division in the UFC.
His willingness to stand toe to toe is an advantage because he is such a dangerous striker however it also means that he leaves himself open to be caught.
He fought Fabricio Werdum for the Interim Heavyweight title at UFC 180 however he lost in the second round.
He will be forever known for his brutal KO power and his ‘Walk-Offs’ of which the best can be found below.
1. Robert Whittaker
As we’ve seen in the countdown this far, a few Australian and New Zealand UFC fighter have had opportunities to claim a a UFC title however the only one to be successful is the current Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker.
His fights against Yoel Romero to first claim the title and then defend it will go down in the history as two of the best fights of all time and when you consider he was badly injured in both fights it makes them all the more impressive.
At 28 years of age Whittaker is in his prime and we can look forward to many more highlights and wins in the future including this Sunday when he takes on Kelvin Gastelum at UFC234.