List of the top Karate based MMA fighters

I was browsing some Karate stuff today and how it relates to MMA. I came across this list on a few different sites.  As a Black Belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate i felt like it would be cool if i was on the list then as i scrolled down i saw my name.  Pretty cool!

I studied Karate for my first 6 years of martial arts before UFC 1 ever took place and I have since gone back to my roots.  I feel into the boxing and muay thai were the only way to go mindset.  Im once again free from that mentality now.

I believe as Machida has showed,  Karate can be the most effective standup style to win fights and not take damage a while frustrating and confusing opponents and i believe you have to be well rounded to make it work.  Im not saying Karate works by itself, obviously if you have no ground game you will be in trouble. 

PLEASE NOTE THE LIST IS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER but im sure some people will overlook what i just wrote and ask why some people are ranked higher than others haha. Lets see who the first guy is to ask that question. 


Really it ends up being that dime-store Karate likes to take credit for the good Karate that is out there.

There is a gigantic difference between the two, and the crappy ones ride the tail of those that put in the work.

  1. Lyoto Machida
    Perhaps the most famous Karate practitioner of today, the UFC LHW Champion. Lyoto is a 3rd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate under his father Yoshizo Machida - a 7th degree black belt and JKA chief instructor.

  2. Bas Rutten
    A a 5th degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate, famous for his deadly Liver Shot. Bas started out in TKD, after getting his Shodan he switched to Kyokushin Karate. Rutten entered MMA as a pure Karate striker but kept improving his submission wrestling skills and developed his game enough to eventually become a three time "King of Pancrase" and the UFC HW Champion.

  3. Guy Mezger
    Guy Mezger is a 3x Texas State Karate Champion, 3x WFKL Karate Champion and a 2x U.S.K.A. HW Champion. Through competing in the UFC, Pride FC and Pancrase fighting organizations and displaying an exciting Karate-orientated striking style Mezger has garnered a large fan base as a journeyman of the sport. Guy was a champion in MMA in two different promotions, the UFC and Pancrase.

  4. Chuck Liddell
    Former UFC LHW Champion. Liddell began studying Kempo and Koei-Kan Karate at the age of 12; the tattoo that can be seen on his scalp reads "Koei-Kan" in Kanji. He went on to gain his Black Belt and win a national championship title in that same style before joining John Hackleman in "The Pit". He has relied on his Kempo and Karate background throughout his entire career.

  5. George St-Pierre
    Having trained in Kyokushin Karate and its various offshoots (Shidokan, Ashihara etc.) George wears a Gi and headband adorned with Karate symbols before entering the UFC cage. GSP has often said that Karate had a huge impact on his life as a fighter and a person.

  6. Yuki Kondo
    Yuki is an MMA veteran, having fought in Pancrace, PRIDE and the UFC. He has a background in Shorinji Kempo Karate and a professional MMA record of 49-23-6 as of September 2008.

  7. Katsunori Kikuno
    Kikuno is a master of both Kyokushin Karate and Judo. He is the current DEEP Lightweight Champion, famous for fighting in the traditional Karate Sochin-dachi stance which completely throws off his opponents.

  8. Rory Markham
    Rory first got involved in traditional Karate when he was young, then moved on to Shidokan, Kenpo and entered his first full-contact competition in Kyokushin Karate. When he was 13 he was already fighting in bare-knuckle tournaments and beating guys in their 20's, knocking some of them out with head kicks. Rory is currently fighting in the UFC.

  9. Jeff Joslin
    Jeff "The Inferno" Joslin, is a Canadian mixed martial arts fighter and the current APEX welterweight champion. A 4th degree Blackbelt in Wado-ryu Karate, Joslin has won all of his fights via KO/TKO and has only lost via very controversial Decisions (especially the Fitch fight).

  10. Seth Petruzelli
    Seth Petruzelli is a Shito-ryu Karate expert with a record of 10-4. Seth was he first man to ever KO a much heavier (and heavily promoted) Kimbo Slice, his other notable win is over Dan Severn.


 11. Ryo Chonan

Ryo Chonan is a Kyokushin Karate expert and one of the 4 people to ever defeat Anderson Silva. Ryo is currently fighting for DEEP.

12. Takanori Gomi

"The Fireball Kid" has attributed his striking accuracy and power to training in Mushinjuku Karate. Mushinjuku Karate emphasizes the conditioning of hands for hand power and to stop the breaking the bones. With a record of 30-5, Gomi has definately helped to put Karate on the Map of Mixed martial arts.

13. Semmy Schilt

This huge K-1 and MMA fighter is a world famous Ashihara Karate practitioner and three time consecutive K-1 World GP champion. He is the first fighter in K-1 history to win the championship three times in a row. He has also fought for the Pride Fighting Championship, UFC and Pancrase organizations.

14. Sam Greco

One of the best Australian Seidokaikan Karateka. 6 time Australia Full Contact Karate Champion, Commonwealth Karate Champion 1989-1991, Karate World Cup Champion 1994. Entered MMA at the end of his career and defeated three very tough fighters in Gamlin, Herring and Oyama. His only loss in MMA is a Split Decision to Lyoto Machida.

15. Chinzo Machida

Lyoto Machida's brother, 4th Dan in Shotokan Karate and World vice-champion, Chinzo entered the world of MMA with a first round jaw-breaking KO over Muay Thai expert Christiano Rosa.

16. Antonio Carvalho

A Shotokan Karate and BJJ expert, Antonio Carvalho is a Canadian professional mixed martial artist and Shooto veteran who has fought for TKO Major League MMA, Maximum Fighting Championship, Ironheart Crown and Cage Force. Antonio is one of three people to have defeated Hatsu Hioki.

17. Jeff Newton

One of the most decorated point Karate fighters in the world, with numerous national and international titles to his name, Jeff was once dubbed "The Karate Kid".

18. Shonie Carter

This Shidokan Karate expert is a former WEC welterweight champion, a UFC veteran, and a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 4 reality show. He is known for his flashy style, colorful personality, and use of the spinning backfist in competition.

19. David Loiseau

Karate and TaeKwonDo blackbelt. He has fought in the UFC, EliteXC, and TKO Major League MMA and is the former TKO Middleweight Champion.

20. Leonard Wilson

Kempo Karate blackbelt, one of Rage In The Cage's top fighters, famous for his spinning back kick KO over Ray Elbe. All of his wins have come from KO/TKO.

21. Ed Ratcliff

Karate and boxing expert holding a record of 7 wins and 1 loss, Ed "9mm" Ratcliff loves Karate so much he even has "Karate" written on his mouthpiece.

22. Jason Dent

Jason is a blackbelt in Sanchi-ryu Karate under Richard Fike, who gave Jason a strong foundation on which he is building a successful career. Jason’s current record is 22-8-0. He has won all major belts in the northeastern Ohio area since his UFC bouts, the biggest being the NAAFS Pro Series Championship.

 23. Neil Grove

Neil Grove is a South African born English heavyweight MMA fighter currently signed with the Ultimate Challenge UK where he is the Heavyweight Champion. He holds a Shodan rank in Goju-ryu Karate. Grove has a record of 7-2 with all wins coming by way of KO.

24. Taiei Kin

Taiei Kin is a professional LHW Seido-kaikan Karateka competing in K-1 and DREAM. Before switching to MMA, Kin was a distinguished fighter in the K-1 scene, praised by both Peter Aerts and Ernesto Hoost as the best fighter to come out of Asia. Since 2006, he works also as coach for Choi Hong-man.

25. Andrews Nakahara

Nakahara is a Japanese-Brazilian Kyokushin kaikan Karateka, the South American and All American Open Karate Champion who still regularly trains in IKO (International Karate Organization).

26. Mike Ciesnolevicz

Mike built his martial art base on Karate, Judo and kickboxing while attending Williams Valley High School. He later honed his submission skills at the Lock Haven University wrestling squad and eventually joined Pat Miletich in MFS.

27. Takashi Nakakura

Nakakura is a Seido-kaikan Karate and Judo black belt. He is the current Shooto welterweight champion, undefeated since 2005.

28. Mamed Khalidov

Mamed Khalidov is a Chechen-Polish MMA fighter competing in KSW. Khalidov is currently undefeated in the promotion and has not lost in his past 16 fights. Mamed trained Shotokan Karate, TKD, wrestling and boxing before entering MMA. Mamed still uses impressive spinning kicks which he learned in Karate.

29. Maciej Gorski

One of the best Polish MMA fighters of today, holding a record of 7-3, Maciej has spent 11 years in traditional Shotokan Karate and still supplements his MMA training with Karate seminars in Warsaw.

30. Torrance Taylor

American Karate blackbelt, PKC national Karate champion Taylor is a former NAAFS champion and Fighter of the Year.

31. Tiawan Howard

Holds Blackbelts in Kaju Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do and American kenpo, NAAFS 2006 National Middleweight Champion, USKBA 2004 Full Contact kickboxing national champ, PKC fighter of the year, Ranked 2nd in the world in 2003 on the NBL Pro Karate circuit.

32. Frank Mir

Not really a Karate fighter anymore but definitely worthy of mention on the list. Frank was introduced to martial arts by his parents who are both Kempo Karate instructors. He later went on to wrestling and BJJ, eventually becoming one of the world's best MMA heavyweights.

33. Kestutis Arbocius

Lithuanian Shidokan Karate expert. Heavyweight King of Pancrase with a 7-5 record.

34. Tariel Bitsadze

Georgian Kyokushin Karate fighter with a 7-6 record.

35. Ryuta Noji

Japanese Kyokushin Karate fighter with a 7-5 record. (no video)

36. Ausserio Silva

Blackbelt in Seiwakai Karate, trained under Seiwakai founder Ademir DaCosta. UFC veteran and HW king of Pancrase with a 14-7 record.

37. Vitor Belfort

Belfort (26-8) has trained Shotokan Karate for a long time with Vinicius Antony (Yoshizo Machida's pupil), trained it in 2001 to fight Heath Herring and in 2009 with Lyoto Machida before defeating Rich Franklin.

[quote]Massa - Really it ends up being that dime-store Karate likes to take credit for the good Karate that is out there. There is a gigantic difference between the two, and the crappy ones ride the tail of those that put in the work.[/quote] 

Great post!


Good List

Didn't Rogan mention that Siver is also from Karate.

When i looked Siver up i found TKD as his background but its not too far off to say he likely studied Karate also.


 Michael Cro Cop

I'm a big Andrews nakahara fan. I really hope to see him in the UFC soon Phone Post

Very cool thread

Good stuff Mike. I love traditional Karate too, and it definitely works if trained correctly.

How can you forget Pat Miletich ?? He has an extensive Karate background.


Daniel Larusso

mezger,shonie and jeff newton were the 1st guys to look effctive using karate in mma...

Nick Duell needs to be on this list. Was multiple time karate champ and black belt in tkd and karate. He's 9-1 as pro in Mma and current NAAFS ww champ. Not to mention amateur national champion. He competed in adult divisions as a teen and ko'd many opponents when he was on national karate team. You'll b seeing him in the ufc real soon.. Phone Post