Tuesday, April 23

10 Best UFC Fighters From Ireland

Highlights

  • Ireland’s contribution to UFC showcases talent and toughness in the fighters that have paved the way for new athletes.
  • The evolving MMA landscape has opened doors for Irish fighters who continue to strive for success on a global scale.
  • Conor McGregor remains a key figure, inspiring fighters worldwide with his meteoric rise and controversial yet impactful career.



Over the last decade, mixed martial arts has continued to grow in popularity worldwide. For many years, the majority of fighters came from Brazil, Japan, and the United States of America. During the modern age of MMA, fighters from all over the world have started to find their footing in major promotions.

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Ireland is one such country that cemented itself in the realm of combat sports due to the success of several Irish fighters. Many have gone on to find immense success in the UFC,cproving that talent and discipline, more than luck, pave the path to success. Without further ado, here are the 10 best UFC fighters from Ireland.


10 Tom Egan Was The Epitome Of Toughness

Some Say Egan Didn’t Get The Credit He Deserved

Tom Egan preps in front the UFC cameras for a fight


Date of Birth

N/A

Age

N/A (nothing available on Sherdog, Tapology, ESPN or UFC)

Height

5′ 11″

Divisions Fought In

Middleweight

Professional Record

7-5

Notable moments/wins

UFC 93 debut

Tom “The Tank” Egan did not go on to realize a successful career in the UFC after coming in with a 4-0 record. He was a very highly-touted prospect in the MMA world. But he was stopped at UFC 93 by John Hathaway in the first round via knockout in 2009.

However, Egan deserves a spot on this list for being the first Irish fighter to compete in the UFC. He helped pave the way for the new generation of Irish MMA athletes, including Conor McGregor. Egan compiled an overall 7-5 record throughout his professional career, which ended in 2015. Still, many upcomers, in and out the UFC, talk up his name as a pioneer.


9 Rhys McKee Is Still An Aspirational Warrior

McKee Is Still Trudging On In UFC

Rhys McKee puts his hands up for a UFC fight

Date of Birth

Sep. 10, 1995

Age

28

Height

6′ 2″

Divisions Fought In

Welterweight

Professional Record

13-5-1

Notable moments/wins

Defeating Jai Herbert in 2016

Rhys “Skeletor” Mckee is a Northern Ireland native. He debuted in the UFC in 2020 with a 10-4 record. However, he lost back-to-back fights against Khamzat Chimaev and Alex Morono. Still, UFC kept faith, spotting McKee’s potential.


He returned to Cage Warriors, won three straight and got re-signed by the UFC. While he lost a unanimous decision to Ange Loosa in 2023, he has a fight against Chidi Njokuani in March 2024, which reiterates the promotion thinks he still has what it takes to cut it at the highest level.

8 Charlie Ward Is A Wily Veteran With A Heart Of Steel

Ward Has Displayed Resilience At Every Juncture

Charlie Wars talks with John Kavanagh inside the UFC octagon

Date of Birth

Dec. 17, 1980

Age

43

Height

5′ 11″

Divisions Fought In

Welterweight, Middleweight

Professional Record

10-7

Notable moments/wins

A rowdy celebration with McGregor


Charlie “Relentless” Ward made his UFC debut after compiling a 3-1 record. He lost back-to-back fights to Abdul Razak Alhassan and Galore Bofando. However, he signed with Bellator and compiled a 7-4 record. UFC fans have always held Ward in high regard due to his fighting spirit.

Notably, Ward’s career has a dark tinge to it, connected to a Portuguese opponent he beat in 2016, João Carvalho, dying after injuries sustained in the bout in Dublin. Ward also has another noteworthy aspect to his career, as McGregor violently confronted referee, Marc Goddard, after jumping into the Bellator 187 cage in 2017 for an unsanctioned celebration with Ward. At present, it is unclear if Ward will keep fighting after the PFL-Bellator merger.

7 Aisling Daly’s Impressive Rise Met A Tragic Retirement

Daly Will Forever Remain A Brave Warrior

Aisling Daly holds the Irish flag after a UFC fight


Date of Birth

Dec. 24, 1987

Age

36

Height

5′ 2″

Divisions Fought In

Strawweight, Flyweight

Professional Record

16-6

Notable moments/wins

Beating Jessica Eye in 2011 for the NAAFS strawweight title

Aisling “Ais the Bash” Daly was a UFC fighter who competed in the UFC women’s strawweight division. She compiled a 2-1 record since joining the promotion in 2014. She holds victories over Alex Chambers (submission via armbar) and Ericka Almeida (unanimous decision).

She competed in The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned season. Unfortunately, Daly was forced to retire from MMA in 2017 after medical tests revealed an issue due to a brain hemorrhage. She ended with a 16-6 professional record.


6 Ian Machado Garry Is A Controversial Yet Stellar Fighter

Garry’s Antics Outside The Cage Can’t Sully His Skills

Date of Birth

Nov. 17, 1997

Age

26

Height

6′ 3″

Divisions Fought In

Welterweight

Professional Record

13-0

Notable moments/wins

Finishing UFC’s Daniel Rodriguez and Song Kenan

Ian “The Future” Machado Garry is a lanky Irishman with a brilliant fight style. He is astute at controlling range and distance, with many deeming him a welterweight contender. However, his outlandish personality and personal life have come under fire in feuds with the likes of Sean Strickland and Colby Covington.


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That said, Garry has evolved from his Cage Warriors days, debuting in the UFC in 2021 with a 7-0 record. Garry has remained unbeaten since, chalking up wins over the likes of Song Kenan (TKO) and Neil Magny (unanimous decision).

5 Paddy Holohan Embodied The ‘Fighting Irish’ Spirit

Holohan Lived Up To His Feisty Moniker

paddy-holohan-ufc

Date of Birth

May 3, 1988

Age

35

Height

5′ 10″

Divisions Fought In

Flyweight, Bantamweight

Professional Record

12-2-1

Notable moments/wins

Submitting Josh Sampo in his UFC 2014 bow


Paddy “The Hooligan” Holohan made quite a name for himself in the UFC, despite only five fights with the promotion. He amassed a 9-0-1 record on the regional circuit, competing primarily in Ireland before signing with the UFC in 2014.

He had a 3-2 record during his UFC stint, with victories over Josh Sampo, Shane Howell, and Vaughan Lee. Win or lose, though, fans respected his explosive style. Unfortunately, Holohan announced his retirement in 2016 due to a rare blood disease. He has since embarked on a career in Irish politics and as a controversial podcaster.

4 Cathal Pendred Was As Sturdy As A Rock

Pendred Was One Of Ireland’s Most Rough, Rugged Talents

cathal-pendred


Date of Birth

Sep. 2, 1987

Age

36

Height

6′ 1″

Divisions Fought In

Middleweight, Welterweight

Professional Record

17-4-1

Notable moments/wins

Winning welterweight gold in Cage Contender Welterweight Championship

Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred had a very positive UFC record throughout his career. The Irish native debuted in the UFC with a 13-2-1 record, including lifting welterweight gold in Cage Contender Welterweight Championship in 2010, and Cage Warriors in 2013. He was victorious in his first four UFC appearances, but he suffered consecutive losses to John Howard and Tom Breese.


These losses led to his retirement. Pendred’s biggest downfall was his uneventful fighting style. Still, he had a durability, grit and tenacity that impressed most MMA purists. He announced his retirement from professional competition in 2015. Since then, he has achieved a successful TV and film career, appearing in the likes of Ray Donovan and Magnum P.I.

3 Norman Parke Was Severely Underrated

Parke Helped Open Doors For Irish MMA

Norman Parke glares at a UFC opponent

Date of Birth

Dec. 22, 1986

Age

37

Height

5′ 11″

Divisions Fought In

Lightweight

Professional Record

32-7-1 (1 NC)

Notable moments/wins

Beating Naoyuki Kotani in UFC’s second Dublin event


“Stormin'” Norman Parke is one of the most successful Irish fighters to compete in MMA. He made his presence known by winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes season in 2012 by defeating Colin Fletcher in the finals.

He compiled a 5-3-1 record while competing in the UFC and has tussled with lightweight notables such as Francisco Trinaldo, Gleison Tibau, and Leonardo Santos. His biggest moment came in 2014 when he TKO’d Naoyuki Kotani. It was McGregor’s first main event and the second card UFC held in Dublin, enhancing that sense of Irish pride and brotherhood. Since departing UFC in 2016, Parke has seen success with KSW, Hexagone and Fame.

2 Joseph Duffy Still Has An Endearing Spot In Fans’ Hearts

Duffy Didn’t Deliver On The Hype But He Won Audiences Over

Joseph Duffy hugs his coach in the UFC octagon


Date of Birth

Feb. 18. 1988

Age

35

Height

5′ 10″

Divisions Fought In

Lightweight, Welterweight

Professional Record

16-5

Notable moments/wins

TKO-ing Jake Lindsey in his 2015 debut at UFC 185

Joseph “Irish” Duffy was one of the most anticipated UFC signings of 2015. Coming in with a 12-1 record, Duffy was one of two fighters with a victory over McGregor at that time. Many salivated at the idea of the two Irish stars running it back in the UFC.


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Despite a strong 4-1 start to his UFC career, Duffy was unable to mount a successful run for the title. He suffered a three-fight losing streak courtesy of James Vick, Marc Diakiese, and Joel Alvarez. Although talented, Duffy was unable to live up to the hype as a UFC lightweight and retired in 2020. Despite that failed finale, Irish fans regard him highly as a pioneer.

1 Conor McGregor Remains The Irish MMA Kingpin

McGregor Changed The Sport In And Out The Octagon

Date of Birth

July 14, 1988

Age

35

Height

5′ 8″

Divisions Fought In

Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight

Professional Record

22-6

Notable moments/wins

His many skirmishes with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s crew in and out of the octagon


The “Notorious” McGregor is the most successful fighter out of Ireland in terms of brand value, popularity and financial glory. McGregor handily defeated featherweight notables such as Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Siver in his meteoric rise up the ladder. He then captured both the interim featherweight and undisputed featherweight titles at the expense of Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo in 2015.

After unifying that belt, he became the first UFC simultaneous multi-division champion when he wrested the lightweight title away from Eddie Alvarez in 2016. Despite a string of losses thereafter and never having defended any of his belts, McGregor inspired many fighters to pursue their dreams and turn them into reality. He is a controversial figure on and off the mic, but MMA fans and boxing fans do respect him for his business empire, getting the crossover money fight versus Floyd Mayweather, and his passion for the sport. It is why fans are eager for McGregor to return from a 2021 leg injury.


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