While the United Kingdom has produced several elite fighters within the FC, only a handful have had that success translate into The Octagon®. But that makes it even more special when a fighter from the region starts to make a splash, and noise, within the promotion.
Today we're highlighting the best fighters to grace The Octagon from the United Kingdom.
5. Darren Till
From: Liverpool, England
At 26 years old, Darren Till's ceiling is unpredictable. The Liverpool native quickly evolved from untested prospect to potential prodigy with his quick ascent up the welterweight division. A patient striker and qualified opponent on the ground, Till has been able to handle every style of fighter that has been thrown his way in his three years with the promotion.
His explosion on the welterweight scene started in October 2017 when 'The Gorilla' silenced Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night in Gdarisk, Poland. He finished Cerrone by way of TKO in the first round, earning him his first ever Performance of the Night.
Till's biggest victory of his career came when he faced former welterweight challenger Stephen Thompson. The fight took place in Till's hometown of Liverpool, which may have helped an extremely tight decision go his way. The win propelled Till up to No.2 in the welterweight rankings and earned him a title shot against Woodley.
The Liverpudlian ended up suffering his first career loss to Woodley at UFC 228, failing to make it out of the second round as Woodley defeated him by submission.
Till was stopped once again in his most recent fight, falling victim to a vicious knockout punch by Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fight Night London in March 2019.
What will be interesting in Till's future is when he decides to make the jump up to middleweight. He has notably struggled to make weight at 170 and has documented the physical toll his weight cuts have on his body.
"I ain't no welterweight," Till said in 2017. "I'm a light heavyweight in the welterweight division. It should be illegal, what I'm doing,"
4. Jimi Manuwa
Division: Light Heavyweight
From: London, England (Born in Sacramento, CA)
Here lies the only fighter on our list to not be born in the UK. In fact, Jimi Manuwa didn't even live in the United Kingdom until he was ten years old. Born in Sacramento, California to British Citizens, Manuwa spent most of his upbringing in Nigeria.
His family eventually made its home in London, where Manuwa started his MMA career.
Manuwa made his UFC debut in 2012 and has made a name for himself due to some stunning finishes to his fights. Of his six UFC victories, five have been by stoppage. He's got some of the biggest names in the light heavyweight division on his resume, win or loss: Anthony Johnson, Ovince Saint Preux, Corey Anderson and Volkan Oezdemir. Manuwa was once ranked fifth in the Light Heavyweight division, but fell migthily after recording four consecutive losses. After falling to Aleksandar Rakic on June 1, 2019, Manuwa called it a career at 38-years-old.
3. Leon Edwards
From: Birmingham, England
While Till is often hailed as the future of British MMA, Leon Edwards has more of a claim to that throne.
Entering the UFC in November 2014, "Rocky" went 2-2 in his first four fights in the promotion before gaining his footing and going on an unprecedented streak for British fighters. Since his 2015 loss to Kamaru Usman, Edwards has rattled off eight consecutive victories, most recently taking out former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos in the main event of a UFC Fight Night.
Edwards has been gaining in notoriety since his backstage feud popped off with Jorge Masvidal, and his string of recent performances have cemented him as the top British fighter still active in the UFC.
2. Dan Hardy
Record: 25-10-0, 1 NC
From: Nottingham, England
Few fighters have had as recognizable of an appearance than Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy. A red mohawk and shark teeth mouthguards tend to help you stick out. While he never climbed all the way to a UFC Championship, Hardy is significant for proving that UK fighters can compete at the top of the sport. Hardy became the first British fighter to earn a title shot in the promotion's history when he faced Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight championship at UFC 111. St. Pierre dominated the fight in every aspect, but Hardy was able to hang tough and go the distance with one of the greatest of all time.
Hardy came to the UFC in 2008 and rode a four-fight winning streak into his title shot against St. Pierre. After the championship defeat, Hardy feel off of the ladder, losing his next three fights. He got back on the horse with two consecutive victories in 2012, but was then forced to retire after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
The Nottingham native's contribution to the sport has persisted, though, as he is one of the UFC's top analysts.
1. Michael Bisping
Division: Middleweight, Light Heavyweight
From: Manchester. England
It's fair to say that Michael Bisping IS English MMA. 'The Count' is the only fighter from the United Kingdom to hold UFC gold and is one of the biggest faces in MMA media now.
But Bisping's path towards gold wasn't your typical rise to the top tale, but rather a story of a man capitalizing on the ultimate opportunity. Since his UFC debut on The Ultimate Fighter 3 in 2006, Bisping had been a perennial contender in light heavyweight and middleweight division. He always found himself near the top of the rankings, but never did enough to cement his case for a title shot. The closest he originally came was in two title eliminators, one in 2009 and the other in 2012, against Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen, respectively. He lost both fights.
Patients pays off, though. Two weeks before Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman were set to face off at UFC 199 in 2016, Weidman dropped out of the fight. In a scramble, the UFC brass threw Bisping, who was on a three-fight win streak at the time, into the main event for the title.
In the official 2016 Upset of the Year, Bisping knocked Rockhold out cold to win the belt for the first time and finally give the United Kingdom a UFC champion.
Bisping is also the most active fighter in the promotion's history, having competed in the most fights in UFC history (29). He is tied for the record for most wins in UFC history (20) with Georges St. Pierre and Donald Cerrone.
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