Australia has a long history in MMA, however, they haven’t always produced champions like the US or Brazil. It’s a rarity in the UFC to not have a Brazillian champion in at least one division, however, with Australians, it’s the opposite. It’s rare to have a champion. There are plenty of phenomenal Australian fighters, future champions and fighters who could make it big. We take a look at some of the best Australian MMA fighters, both male and female today.
Best Female Australian Fighters
One of the hottest flyweight prospects the UFC has seen in years, King Casey O’Neill burst onto the scene with three straight finishes, something that isn’t often seen at women’s flyweight. She then clashed with Roxanne Modafferi, winning via split decision. An injury kept her out of action for longer than she would have wanted and when she returned, she suffered a first professional loss to Jennifer Maia.
Bangtao MMA is a great spot ! I love it here pic.twitter.com/Wx3S2ZIx96
— Casey Oneill (@kingcaseymma) May 10, 2023
With that being said, she currently holds the UFC record for strikes landed per minute (across all weight classes) at 8.77. As the daughter of a professional kickboxer, this isn’t a great surprise. She’s far more comfortable on the ground, however, and often looks to ground her opponents.
At just 25 years old, she’s far from her prime yet. Don’t be surprised if we see the first female Australian UFC champion in O’Neill.
Jessica – Rose Clark
Jessy Jess, Jessica – Rose Clark has recently been cut from the UFC, however, that doesn’t mean that she’s any less a fighter than other female MMA fighters. She went 4-5 in the UFC, with big wins over fellow Aussie, Bec Rawlings, a victory over Paige Van Zant and a brutal finish of Sarah Alpar. There was a clear hole in her game when it came to the ground game, however, which she failed to address during her UFC tenure.
The 35-year-old will likely transition into bare-knuckle boxing next. She’s a slick striker and wouldn’t have to address the ground game if the transition is to happen, which of course will be favourable for her.
One’s to Watch
As we know, the depth of Australian females coming through to the big leagues simply isn’t there. There are a few women to keep an eye on going forwards, however.
Chelsea Hackett has a high ceiling. She competed on Dana White‘s Contender Series in 2020. Although she lost, the kickboxing sensation was just 21 at the time. She was scheduled to compete on the PFL challenger series, however, had to withdraw from that one. She has a bright future, so keep an eye on Hackett. She competes next in August for the PFL.
Jacinta Austin holds a record of 5-1 and will compete for the Okatagon strawweight belt in September. She’s dropped just one fight, which went her opponent’s way via split decision and that opponent, Josefine Knutsson will compete on the contender series later this year. Making a name for herself on the regional circuit, Austin is one to watch in the future, especially if she becomes the Oktagon champion later this year.
Best Male Australian Fighters
There are far more options for ‘best male Australian MMA fighters today’, so we’ll look at the top five and give you some honourable mentions.
5. Jimmy Crute
Jimmy Crute burst onto the scene after knocking out his opponent on the contender series in the first round. With two further finish victories, Crute sat at an impressive 10-0 with seven finishes, including a submission over Paul Craig. Although he dropped his a fight to Misha Cirkunov, he rebounded well with another two finish victories.
He hasn’t quite made the step up to the elite level yet, dropping two finishes to top contenders Anthony Smith and then current champion, Jamahal Hill. A draw at UFC 284 against Alonzo Menifield has set up a fun rematch at UFC 290. At 27, he can still make a good run at the title if he can put a series of wins together.
4. Jack Della Maddalena
JDM, Jack Della Maddalena is only four fights into his UFC career, however, with four finishes, coming in a various number of ways, the Aussie welterweight is already being spoken about with regards to the title.
With a hattrick of performance of the night bonuses, Maddalena was scheduled to face Sean Brady at UFC 290, however, Brady had to withdraw from this one and the 26-year-old banger put out an open invite to any welterweight or middleweight to step up and clash with him in Las Vegas. We don’t know yet who, if anyone will step up, but we can keep our fingers crossed that someone wants the Aussie smoke!
Jack Della Maddalena has sent out a open challenge to any welterweight and middleweight for UFC 290 pic.twitter.com/y51g3aPLWs
— MMA Mania (@mmamania) June 30, 2023
3. Tai Tuivasa
Bam Bam, Tai Tuivasa is one of the more recognisable faces in MMA today. The hard-hitting Aussie has made a name for himself for his fan-friendly style, knockout power and post-fight antics. Despite not possibly looking like the most athletic fighter and with a clear love of beer (the shoey’s speak for themselves), his skills are underrated.
After suffering through a rough spell, Tuivasa rebounded with five straight knockout wins, none of which occurred past the second round. It appears that when Tuivasa steps up to the elite level (Ciryl Gane and Sergei Pavlovich), he just can’t cut it, but there is little doubt that he’s one of the best heavyweights out there.
Will he ever be a UFC heavyweight champion? It would appear not. Will fans always tune into a Tai Tuivasa fight? Absolutely.
2. Robert Whittaker
The former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker has to make the list of best Australian MMA fighters today. He is, without a doubt, the best middleweight not named Israel Adesanya that the UFC has seen in a number of years. With his well-rounded style, karate-type striking and clever wrestling transitions, Whittaker is certainly feared at 185lbs.
The former welterweight has really made a name for himself as one of the greatest fighters on the roster, regardless of weight-class. He’s a perennial name in the P4P rankings, with his only recent losses coming at the hands of the current champion, Whittaker is known to be a tough match-up for anyone in the division. He welcomes Dricus du Plessis to the elite of the division at UFC 290 and oddsmakers certainly have Whittaker the favourite, and understandably so.
— Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) June 17, 2023
1. Alexander Volkanovski
Is there anyone else that could sit atop the list of best Aussie MMA fighters? The P4P king, the featherweight champion and a man that very nearly became the lightweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski is without a doubt one of the best MMA fighters in history, let alone today. After shooting for greatness and coming up short against Islam Makhachev, many think that we will see a rematch between the two down the line.
His elite-level striking confuses opponents, constantly feinting, forcing opponents to bite and then punishing them has got him to a position where the UFC is now looking for anyone that can come close to him at 145lbs. His trilogy of wins against 145lbs legend, Max Holloway really helped out his name on the radar of the ‘casual’ MMA fan but it’s his body of work that makes him so well renowned.
He never loses concentration, leaves no stones unturned when he makes the walk, he not only defeats opponents but dominates them. He shuts down the game of everyone he’s ever faced at featherweight, keeps them guessing and seems unbeatable.
The champ takes on a new challenge in interim champion, Yair Rodriguez in the UFC 290 main event where we expect a chess match in the stand-up realm, something that will excite fans for as long as it lasts.
Reece McLaren – ONE Championship’s McLaren is one of Australia’s top bantamweight’s but just hasn’t been able to kick on and get that signature win, yet.
Jake Matthews – Matthews is certainly a recognisable face in the UFC. He’s been in the UFC since 2014 and has had his ups and downs, however, is yet to truly get a phenomenal victory over a huge name.