The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the pinnacle of mixed martial arts. The world’s best fighters aim to sign with the UFC so they can fight on the biggest stage against the sports’ superstars and win kudos and acclaim globally.
Being able to use any martial art the fighter sees fit is one of the main lures of the UFC. Each fight has a contrast in styles, which is what makes the Ultimate Fighting Championship so exciting. However, there is one particular discipline that every UFC fighter incorporates into their skillset, and that is wrestling.
Not every UFC fighter has the power to knock out their opponent. Wrestling has given these athletes the opportunity to compete beyond anything anyone would expect of them. While the latest UFC betting odds tend to favor fighters with immense punching power because they can end fights instantly, expert wrestlers can perform impressive takedowns and force their opponents into submission. You can be the most potent puncher on the planet, but you cannot knock your opponent out if you are subdued on the floor. These are three of the UFC’s best-ever wrestlers.
Daniel Cormier may have retired from professional fighting, but he goes down in history as one of the best wrestlers in UFC history. The 5ft 11 in, 236lb star caused havoc in the UFC with his immense wrestling skills.
Cormier, known as “DC,” was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, United States. He began wrestling in high school and won three Louisiana state championships. After completing ninth grade, Cormier had only lost twice, and both defeats came via injuries. His impressive record stood at 101-9, with 89 of those victories coming by a fall.
Among his many wrestling achievements, Cormier won gold at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo and gold at the Pan American Championships, also in 2003 in Santo Domingo. He narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2004 Olympics, falling in fourth.
Cormier, who won 22 of his 26 professional MMA fights, is now the head wrestling coach of Gilroy High School and a member of the LHSAA Hall of Fame.
Commentators and the media widely regard Ohio’s Stipe Miocic as the greatest UFC heavyweight fighter of all time. He is currently ranked second in the UFC heavyweight rankings and ninth in the UFC’s pound-for-pound standings.
Miocic is known for his ferocious, explosive power, but his wrestling skills often shine through. He was involved in wrestling from high school and continued through his college years, eventually progressing all the way to the NCAA Division I.
His wrestling background has helped him become such a feared and well-rounded fighter. Miocic showcased his wrestling skills in one of his title defenses against Francis Ngannou. His opponent is one of the hardest hitters to have ever stepped inside the octagon. Still, Miocic continually grounded Ngannou and negated his immense striking power, outwrestling him for the entire 25-minute fight and holding onto his title.
Kamaru Usman, better known as “The Nigerian Nightmare,” is another UFC star with a background in professional wrestling. Usman is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion and the sport’s number one in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Usman and his family moved to Dallas, Texas, from Nigeria when Usman was young. He began wrestling during his sophomore year and was a natural. His high school record saw him finish 53-3; Usman even wrestled against Jon “Bones” Jones, who also became an elite UFC fighter.
His wrestling career continued into college, where he excelled. He became the NVAA Division II national champion at 174lbs in 2010 and finished his season 44-1 after a run of 30 consecutive victories.
Usman turned his attention to freestyle wrestling and hoped to go to the 2012 Olympics. However, injuries ended those dreams, and he turned his attention to mixed martial arts instead. It turned out to be a great decision because he is a true UFC legend.