As a UFC fighter, you need any advantage possible when inside the cage so that the fight can be in your favor. And of course, that means physical advantages.
These fighters push their bodies to the limit, often getting their body fat down to single-digit percentages, just to make their weight class and have an edge in the fight.
In this post, I’m going to list the most ripped fighters currently in the UFC. And we’re not necessarily talking about size here. I’m talking about lean muscle versus body fat, Bruce Lee style. Let’s get started.
12. TJ Dillashaw
To kick off our list at #12, we have former Bantamweight champion and Flyweight title challenger, TJ Dillashaw.
Yes, I know he cheated, but just hear me out.
As a two-time UFC Bantamweight champion, Dillashaw was already in great shape. However, after twice knocking out rival Cody Garbrandt to first reclaim and then defend his Bantamweight championship, Dillashaw decided that he needed another challenge.
And so began his cut to 125 pounds to challenge the UFC’s flyweight champion, Henry Cejudo. His cut to make the flyweight limit left him with as little fat as might be physically possible. It may have also left him smaller than the average flyweight, as Cejudo pushed him to the ground in the opening seconds of the fight, knocking Dillashaw out via ground and pound.
Unfortunately, Dillashaw was also using EPO in preparation for this fight, a performance-enhancing drug that increases the production of red blood cells. For this reason, he is currently serving a 2-year suspension which ends January 2021, and also why he is at the bottom of the list.
However, his use of EPO doesn’t change the fact that he looked absolutely ripped in the lead up to his fight against Cejudo (even if the EPO did help him attain his physique).
11. Jose Aldo
Body fat has left the chat.
At number 11 on the list of ripped UFC fighters, we have former Featherweight champion and current Bantamweight contender, Jose Aldo.
Jose Aldo is a long-time UFC competitor that many fans are probably familiar with. Whether it’s for his streak of 7 consecutive UFC title defenses as champion, or the loss to Conor McGregor that ended it, Aldo is most definitely a recognizable face in the UFC.
However, after having mixed success in the featherweight division after losing his 145-pound title, Aldo decided to come down to bantamweight for a fresh start. And as we saw with TJ Dillashaw, moving down a weight class means shedding almost all possible body fat.
And thus, Jose Aldo made his Bantamweight debut looking like an anatomy chart from Biology class. Unfortunately, he dropped a decision against an equally ripped competitor. Speaking of ripped Brazilian bantamweights…
10. Marlon Moraes
Brazilian bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes is the next fighter on our list. Marlon had the pleasure of welcoming Jose Aldo to the Bantamweight division, as you can see in the image above (Moraes is on the left). And with good reason.
Since joining the UFC in 2017, Moraes has taken out some of the toughest competitors in the division, including Jimmie Rivera, Aljamain Sterling, and Raphael Assunçāo, with all three wins ending in submission or knockout.
His powerful striking style is in part due to his muscle-bound frame. Standing at 5’6, Moraes is a stocky fighter, and his switch kicks are insanely quick. Just look at the picture above. You can see the man’s chest striations. Did you need any more proof?
Moraes lost his fight for the UFC’s bantamweight title at UFC 238 against Henry Cejudo (Triple C!), via 3rd round TKO. And after his controversial split-decision win over Jose Aldo, it looks like he may have some work to do before earning another shot at the 135-pound strap.
9. Holly Holm
Jesus, look at the arms on this woman.
Holly Holm is the former UFC bantamweight champion, former featherweight title challenger, and the first woman on our list. We were bound to have one at some point, right?
The world was first introduced to the badass that is Holly Holm after her head kick knockout of Ronda Rousey for the Bantamweight championship. However, Holly was a decorated combat athlete even prior to winning the UFC title.
Prior to taking up MMA, Holly was a well-known boxer, and is considered one of the greatest female welterweight boxers of all time. She has won the WBF, WBC, WBA, and IBA boxing titles at welterweight, and was considered the best female pound-for-pound boxer of all time by BoxRec, at the time of her retirement from boxing.
Her years of combat training have obviously played a role in her incredible physique.
Unfortunately, Holly has not had much success since losing her title to Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Here’s to hoping she gets back in the win column soon.
8. Edson Barboza
Brazilian lightweight contender Edson Barboza is number 8 on our list. Barboza is a perennial contender in the UFC’s 155-pound division, competing with the best since 2010.
Like his fellow countryman Marlon Moraes, Barboza is known for his kicking strength, which comes from his extreme athletic ability. Barboza’s coaches have said that he is so athletic, he would be a top athlete in any given sport. Fortunately for us, he chose MMA.
And of course, with athletic ability comes an impressive physique. His shoulders are so defined, they could be carved out of stone.
But alas, muscles don’t win fights. Barboza has lost 4 of his last 5, most recently losing a controversial split decision to Paul Felder. He is currently planning on making a move down to featherweight, in hope of a fresh start.
7. Paulo Costa
I know I said this article wasn’t about size, but Jesus.
Brazilian middleweight contender Paulo Costa is 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds of pure muscle. And those muscles aren’t just for show either.
Paulo Costa holds a record of 13 wins and no losses, with 11 wins coming by knockout. He obviously packs a punch, which is not surprising when you see what he looks like.
His fighting style usually involves using his strength to overpower his opponents with punches. However, this style sometimes leaves him tired (as seen against Uriah Hall), which big muscles tend to do.
He most recently beat Yoel Romero in a back-and-forth decision. Given that Romero was the #1 contender at the time, it seemed Costa was set to receive a title shot. Unfortunately, Costa is injured, and it is unknown when he will make his return to the octagon.
6. Luke Rockhold
At number 6, we have none other than the former middleweight UFC Champion, Luke Rockhold. Rockhold is a long-time UFC middleweight, who most recently made his debut at light-heavyweight.
Rockhold is in incredible shape, mostly due to his brutal weight cut to make the 185-pound middleweight limit. Luke has complained in the past on the effects of dropping his body fat to single-digit percentages, which was part of the reason for his move up to 205 pounds.
He might not like the cut, but it certainly looks good on him. Speaking of good looks, did I mention he’s also a model? He is currently the face of Ralph Lauren’s new ‘Polo Blue’ fragrance.
As impressive as his looks are, his martial arts skills are more so (although I can’t say the same about his trash-talking). Unfortunately, Rockhold seems to have developed a glass jaw, losing 3 of his last 4 by KO.
Rockhold is currently still signed with the UFC, but is contemplating retirement (which makes sense when considering his modeling career). Whether he decides to return to fighting or not, I wish him well in the future.
5. Felice Herrig
Up next on the list, is the most ripped woman in the UFC, strawweight contender Felice Herrig.
Look at that arm definition.
Felice Herrig has been training in Muay Thai for many years, earning her a fantastic physique. I’m unsure when exactly she started training, but given the fact she won an amateur kickboxing championship in 2005, she’s been training for at least 15 years.
She has made a decent run in the UFC’s strawweight division, going 5-3 in the UFC. Her last two fights both ended on the wrong side of a decision, both in 2018.
She is currently recovering from an ACL injury, and is planning on returning to the Octagon later this year.
4. Kamaru Usman
At #4 on this list of insanely ripped UFC fighters, we have the Nigerian-born welterweight champion, Kamarudeen Usman.
This man has to be a genetic freak. If Usman is your gym goals, don’t even try.
Kamaru Usman is an insanely athletic fighter, having wrestled since his sophomore year of high school. Now 32 years old, his wrestling ability and tremendous cardio won him the UFC Welterweight Championship.
He most recently made his first successful title defense against rival welterweight Colby Covington, via fifth-round TKO. He seems to currently be set on a collision course with rising star Jorge Masvidal, although he may instead fight the winner of Tyron Woodley vs Leon Edwards.
3. Aljamain Sterling
I shouldn’t even have to say anything about this one.
Aljamain Sterling is a UFC Bantamweight contender, currently ranked #2 in the division, and ranked #3 on our list of most ripped UFC fighters.
His body fat seems to be nonexistent.
He may not be the biggest fighter, but he definitely has the physique that comes to mind when you think of a martial artist.
He’s currently on a four-fight win streak, and seems to be waiting for a shot at the bantamweight title.
2. Tyron Woodley
Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is a freak athlete in every way possible. But don’t tell him I said that though. He feels the term ‘freak athlete’ implies that he doesn’t work hard.
Don’t worry Tyron. I don’t doubt you put in the hard work to achieve your fitness. However, I have to assume genetics play at least some role when your physique makes you look like a comic book superhero.
Tyron is known for his incredible explosive power, with an overhand right so strong that it probably still gives Robbie Lawler nightmares.
His last fight ended in a decision that saw him concede the title to Kamaru Usman, but he is looking to make a comeback against Leon Edwards.
1. Yoel Romero
You had to know it was him right?
As you probably guessed from the thumbnail of this post, the most ripped fighter in the UFC is middleweight title challenger, Yoel “The Soldier of God” Romero.
If you disagree with my choice for #1, just look at the picture above. And then remember that he is 42 years old.
This Cuban wrestler is loaded to the brim with absolute knockout power, gained through decades of combat sports training. And given how strict the Cuban wrestling program is, we really shouldn’t be surprised that he’s absolutely jacked.
Romero has a style that is very exciting to watch. He is extremely explosive, with the ability to end a fight in the blink of an eye. However, due to his size, he tends to get tired in his fights.
For this reason, Romero tends to keep a slow and steady pace, almost lulling his opponent into a slow fight. But then out of nowhere, he emits a burst of power, ending the fight before his opponent realizes what happened.
Because he is such a fan-favorite, he may soon be receiving a title shot despite having lost his last two fights. This would be Romero’s fourth shot at the middleweight title, due in part to the grace of the current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.
All I know, is that I need some of whatever they’re feeding these wrestlers in Cuba.