Here are the 10 of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time to hail from Eastern Europe.
One of the greatest things about MMA is it is a global sport. All across the world, you will find top fighters.
When the sport was first introduced to the American audience at UFC 1, it was a tall skinny Brazilian named Royce Gracie that rose above the rest of the competition and was crowned king. The young fighter used his family taught jiu-jitsu to take down his large foes and placed them in a bone-crushing or blood stopping submission holds to help him secure victory.
The rest of the world had to reevaluate their gameplan on winning mutual combat to try to neutralize the techniques of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The next wave to succeed in the Octagon were NCAA wrestlers. Most of these fighters were from America, who used their elite level athleticism, powerful takedowns, top control and ground and pound to take the mantle from the Gracie family.
Since then the sport has evolved so fast, that top fighters have emerged from all areas of the world. Western European strikers like Alistair Overeem, Michael Bisping, and Conor McGregor have captured titles. Australasia is the home of current UFC champions Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya. While even Africa is the birthplace of UFC champions Kamaru Usman and the previously mentioned Adesanya.
One of the strongest regions for producing top MMA fighters is Eastern European. The region has always been strong but it seems like the area is mass producing the talent and is on the brink of stealing the top spot from America. However, before that day comes, let’s look at the greatest fighters to have already come out of the area. To really examine the talent, we have produced a list of the top 10 greatest Eastern European fighters in MMA history.
The list was created based on the fighters achievements, quality of opponents beaten and lost to, skill set, longevity, and impact on the sport.
Before we reveal who made the list, we wanted to give credit to some fighters that were strongly considered for the list but were just beaten out for the top 10 slots. The list of honorable mentions are Vladimir Matyushenko, Alexander Volkov, Vitaly Minakov, Dennis Siver, Mikhail Iliyukhin, Mamed Khalidov, and Alexey Oleinik.
Also, while many would consider Gegard Mousasi to be Armenian, he did not make the list. While the Bellator champion would rank very high on the list, we do not believe he qualifies. While his ancestors come from Armenia, he was born in Iran but raised in his current home country of the Netherlands.
Lastly, there are a lot of different views on what is an Eastern European country. To attempt to avoid any controversy, we have taken fighters only from the region that the United Nations has categorized as Eastern European.