Muay Thai in MMA: the best fighters with Thai kickboxing skills

Muay Thai in MMA: Thai Kickboxing in the UFC

In modern MMA every martial artist makes use of Muay Thai striking techniques. Thai Kickboxing is so much present inside the octagon that it became an inseparable part of MMA.

The popularity of Muay Thai in the UFC can also be a curse for the national sport of Thailand. Many people do see Muay Thai as an addition to the UFC and not a martial art in its own right.

Muay Thai in MMA: the best stand up striking style in the UFC

There are plenty of gyms worldwide that teaches "MMA" nowadays. But MMA [mixed martial arts] are a combination of different fighting styles from around the world. To become a good fighter one needs to master one traditional style and then add up to it to become a more versatile fighter.

Let's say that your main style is Muay Thai: you would probably like to learn some basic wrestling to defend yourself against the takedown. And if you specialize in BJJ [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] you would need to learn some stand-up game and basic striking.

In this post, I intend to focus on Thai Kickboxers who transitioned to MMA and those mixed martial artists who have a strong Muay Thai background.

A list of great Muay Thai fighters in the UFC:

Joanna Jedrzejczyk:

there are just a few very successful MMA fighters with a pure Muay Thai background in the UFC and Joanna is definitely one of them. She is known mostly as an MMA fighter but she is also a former multiple Muay Thai and Kickboxing champion.

She is a versatile martial artist that combines spectacular stand-up striking skills with good takedown defense. Joanna simply devastates her opponents with a diverse combination of powerful strikes and her effective takedown defense skills help her to stay off the ground.

Many pro fighters who are good at striking are not very capable when it comes to groundwork so kudos to her.

She is a very dominant striker and a natural-born fighter and she has the best Muay Thai skills in woman's MMA division. Read more about Joanna Champion

Joanna Jerzejczyk (Joanna Champion) UFC fighter

Jose Aldo:

Jose Aldo is a BJJ specialist but he is widely known in the UFC as a Muay Thai striker. Thanks to his training with Andy Souver his style resembles more of Dutch-style kickboxing than traditional Thai Kickboxing.

Aldo makes extensive use of kicks, knees, and punches but he is not so much of elbow striker which is characteristic for Dutch-style K-1/Glory kickboxing.

Jose Aldo UFC fighter

Karolina Kowalkiewicz aka the Princess of Muay Thai:

Karolina, Polish Princess, is a second-best Thai Kickboxer in the UFC women division. Don't let her sweet nickname and her cute appearance fool you: she is a very technical striker.

She was also the hardest stand-up striker which Joanna Jedrzejczyk has faced so far in the UFC. Her clash with Joanna was a great example of a top-class Muay Thai in an MMA fight.

Karolina kowalkieiwcz a pretty UFC fighter

Rafael Dos Anjos:

Rafael is a very aggressive fighter which adopted Muay Thai as his primary stand-up striking style. And Thai Kickboxing has become a great addition to his BJJ grappling skills.

Dos Anjos has got a decent UFC record of 28 wins [half of them by decision] and 10 losses as of 2018. 2016 wasn't the best year in his professional career since he suffered two defeats, one by TKO, in a row after which he moved up to welterweight.

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua:

Muay Thai is very popular in Brazil so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua is on my list.

Shogun Rua makes use of Muay Thai in the octagon, however, he is not a pure Muay Thai striker. He combines Thai Kickboxing with some old-fashioned brawling and soccer kicks.

He is definitely a brutal fighter that has extraordinary strength and stamina. He is one of those fighters that want to knock out his opponent cold and not just to win on points.

His fights are a pure pleasure to watch, most notably his first fight with Dan "Hendo" Henderson. Read more about Shogun Rua

Mauricio Shogun Rua a Brazilian UFC fighter

If you still have doubts about the effectiveness of Muay Thai consider this: an average pro fighter in Thailand has got 150 to 250 professional fights under his belt before he retires and becomes a trainer.

Compare this number with a fight record of a regular pro-Western boxer and you will get a clear picture of how competitive and physically demanding Thai Kickboxing is.

Many aspiring fighters come to Thailand to train to become complete stand-up strikers. They want to learn from the best and the most experienced fighters. And to adopt a training regime that tolerates no shortcuts.

Read about other influential Muay Thai fighters and Kickboxers:

› Muay Thai in MMA