Conor McGregor may punch hard, but the UFC isn’t boxing. In the UFC, being a great striker often means being a good Muay Thai fighter. Muay Thai is Thai kickboxing, and it’s a legendary fighting style involving striking with the eight points of your body; your two hands, your two elbows, your two knees, and your two legs. These six UFC fighters are the best Muay Thai fighters in the game right now.
1. Anderson Silva
One of the greatest of all time, Anderson Silva is a knockout artist who uses his Muay Thai skills to knock out his opponents with almost every part of his body. Silva had one of the greatest title reigns of all time, too. Silva is currently active in the UFC, but he’s far past his prime. Despite this, his Muay Thai skills haven’t waned; he still puts on an exciting display of striking anytime he fights.
2. Edson Barboza
Like Silva, Edson Barboza is another Brazilian Muay Thai specialist. Khabib Nurmagomedov may have easily wrestled him, but Barboza is still a tough challenge to anyone who wants to stand and fight him. Whether it’s spinning kicks, flying knees, or leg kicks, Barboza puts the eight points of his body to good use. Barboza may never be a champion, but he’ll also never put on a boring fight either.
3. Valentina Shevchenko
The current women’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko has earned herself that title with the help of her extensive Muay Thai background. In fact, she beat former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk multiple times in Muay Thai competitions before she defeated her again in the UFC.
Shevchenko’s nickname, “Bullet,” came from the fact that she knocked out her first opponent in a very fast fashion when she was just 12 years old. Shevchenko isn’t a purely Muay Thai fighter either; she used her diverse skillset to win her title.
In terms of pure Muay Thai, however, Shevchenko is also extremely accomplished and she’s won many Muay Thai competitions. Given her dominance in her division, many fans don’t think she’ll lose to anyone anytime soon.
4. Donald Cerrone
Like Barboza, Donald Cerrone will never be a champion. But he’ll never put on a boring fight due to his great Muay Thai skills. Cerrone fought Barboza before, and Cerrone won that fight. That’s because although Cerrone isn’t as good of a Muay Thai fighter as Barboza, Cerrone is better in other areas. Regardless, against every other fighter, Cerrone has the Muay Thai skills to knock them out.
5. Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker demonstrated the power of Muay Thai in MMA after knocking out his three UFC opponents in spectacular fashion. In fact, in his debut fight against Khalil Rountree, Walker used a Thai clinch to score the knockout blows. This display of Muay Thai actually encouraged Rountree to learn the sport, too. In his next fight, Rountree used his new Muay Thai knowledge to lay a beatdown on Eryk Anders.
Walker is still relatively new and untested in the UFC. But with knockouts using his Muay Thai skills, he’s already proven himself to be one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the organization.
6. Jon Jones
Although Jon Jones isn’t a pure Muay Thai fighter, he definitely uses the martial art to great effect. In every fight, he’s dominated his opponents with either his Muay Thai striking or his wrestling skills.
Jones’ long limbs help him hurt people with his elbows, knees, and legs. And if he can’t use his Muay Thai, he often switches to wrestling, and he’ll dominate his opponents with that. Regardless, it’s worked out for him as he’s beaten almost everybody in his division.