With all the Machida Karate talk lately it seems many MMA fans think that the art of Karate
disappeared from MMA entirely after Harold Howard's fairly disappointing run back in 1994. Even Machida himself proclaimed that Karate is "back" right after he captured the LHW belt. Was it ever "gone"? You decide.
I present to you a list of 100+ successful Karate-based fighters in MMA
(in no particular order)
This includes a YouTube Playlist, with the fighters mentioned presented in MMA bouts, highlights or interviews:
YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.
1. Lyoto Machida
The most famous Karate practitioner of today, former UFC LHW Champion. Lyoto is a 3rd dan in Shotokan Karate under his father Yoshizo Machida - a 7th dan and JKA chief instructor.
2. Bas Rutten
2nd dan in Kyokushin Karate and TKD, former UFC HW Champion and 3-time King of Pancrase, famous for his deadly Liver Shot. Bas finished his career on a 22 fight unbeaten streak.
3. Guy Mezger
Guy is a highly decorated US Karate fighter, twice World Full-Contact Karate Champion and a LHW champion in both 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 on his scalp reads "Koei-Kan" in Kanji. He got his black belt and won a national championship title in the style before joining John Hackleman in The Pit. Chuck has relied on the Karate background throughout his entire career.
5. George St-Pierre
Having trained in Kyokushin 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 person. St-Pierre has recently received his official 3rd Dan Diploma, a new black belt and a new Gi directly from From Shokei Matsui, president of the International Karate Organization (IKO) founded by Mas Oyama himself.
6. Yuki Kondo
Yuki is an MMA veteran, having fought in Pancrace, PRIDE and the UFC with a total of 85 MMA fights. He has a background in Shorinji Kempo.
7. Katsunori Kikuno
Kikuno is a master of both Kyokushin Karate and Judo, current DEEP LW Champion, famous for fighting in an unorthodox Sochin-dachi stance.
8. Rory Markham
Rory who fought in the UFC, IFL and other promotions has trained traditional Karate, Shidokan, Kenpo and Kyokushin.
9. Jeff Joslin
"The Inferno" is a former APEX WW champion. A 4th dan in Wado-ryu Karate, Joslin has won all of his fights via KO/TKO and has only lost via very controversial Decisions.
10. Seth Petruzelli
Seth is a Shito-ryu Karate expert and the first man to ever KO a much heavier (and heavily promoted) Kimbo Slice.
11. Ryo Chonan
Ryo is a Kyokushin Karate expert and one of the 2 people to ever finish Anderson Silva. Ryo is currently fighting for DEEP where he was the 3rd DEEP MW champion.
12. Takanori Gomi
"The Fireball Kid" has attributed his striking accuracy and power to training in Mushinjuku Karate. Gomi is a former Shooto WW Champion and was the only PRIDE LW Champion.
13. Semmy Schilt
This huge K-1 and MMA fighter is a world famous Ashihara Karate practitioner and 3-time consecutive K-1 World GP champion. He has fought in Pride, UFC and Pancrase.
14. Sam Greco
Famous Australian Seidokaikan Karateka. Entered MMA at the end of his kickboxing career with 3 impressive wins. His only loss in MMA is a SD to Lyoto Machida.
15. Chinzo Machida
Lyoto's brother, 4th dan in Shotokan Karate and World vice-champion, Chinzo entered the world of MMA with a 1st round jaw-breaking KO over Muay Thai expert Christiano Rosa.
16. Antonio Carvalho
A Shotokan Karate and BJJ expert, Antonio is a Shooto veteran who has fought for TKO Major League, MFC, Ironheart Crown and Cage Force. Antonio is one of 3 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 WW champion and a UFC veteran. He is known for his flashy style, colorful personality, and effective use of the spinning backfist.
19. David Loiseau
Karate and TKD blackbelt. He has fought in the UFC, EliteXC, and TKO Major League and is the former TKO MW Champion.
20. Leonard Wilson
Kempo Karate blackbelt, one of RitC 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 7-3, "9 mm" Ratcliff loves Karate so much he has "Karate" written on his mouthpiece.
22. Jason Dent
Blackbelt in Sanchi-ryu Karate, Jason has won all major belts in the NE Ohio area since his UFC bouts, the biggest being the NAAFS Pro Series.
23. Neil Grove
Neil Grove is the Ultimate Challenge UK HW Champion. He holds a shodan in Goju-ryu Karate and won all his fights by way of TKO.
24. Taiei Kin
LHW Seido-kaikan Karateka competing in K-1 and DREAM. Before switching to MMA, Kin was a distinguished fighter in the K-1 scene. Since 2006, he works as coach for Hong-man Choi.
25. Andrews Nakahara
Japanese-Brazilian Kyokushin Karateka, the South American and All American Open Karate Champion who still trains in the International Karate Organization.
26. Mike Ciesnolevicz
Mike built his base on Karate, Judo and kickboxing, honed his wrestling skills at Lock Haven University and eventually joined Pat Miletich in MFS. Mike is a blackbelt in Shorin Ryu Karate under John Korab. After leaving the UFC Mike began training Karate again and returned to his winning ways.
27. Takashi Nakakura
Takashi is a Seido-kaikan Karate and Judo blackbelt. He is a former Shooto WW champion with a 15-3 record.
28. Mamed Khalidov
Chechen MMA fighter competing in KSW, undefeated in the promotion. Mamed trained Shotokan Karate before entering MMA and often uses impressive spinning kicks in fights.
29. Maciej Gorski
Ranked as #2 Polish LW fighter, Maciej spent 11 years in traditional Shotokan and still supplements his 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
Blackbelt in Kaju Kenpo and American Kenpo, NAAFS 2006 MW Champion, USKBA 2004 Full Contact kickboxing national champ, PKC fighter of the year.
32. Frank Mir
Blackbelt in Kempo Karate. Not really a Karate fighter nowadays but definitely worthy of mention on the list, Frank was introduced to martial arts by his parents who are both Kempo Karate instructors.
33. Kestutis Arbocius
Lithuanian Shidokan Karate expert. HW King of Pancrase with a 8-5 record.
34. Tariel Bitsadze
Georgian Kyokushin Karate fighter with a 7-6 record.
35. Ryuta Noji
Japanese Kyokushin Karate fighter with a 13-6 record.
36. Ausserio Silva
Blackbelt in Shotokan and Seiwakai Karate, trained under Seiwakai founder. UFC veteran and HW king of Pancrase.
37. Vitor Belfort
Vitor trained Shotokan with Vinicius Antony (Yoshizo Machida's pupil), notably in 2001 to fight Heath Herring and in 2009 before defeating Rich Franklin.
38. Attila Vegh
Slovakian Kempo Karate fighter with an impressive 24-4-2 record.
39. Mark Holst
Shotokan Karate blackbelt, Freedom Fight and XKL LW Champion.
40. Nick Denis
Kyokushin blackbelt, current KotC Canada BW Champion who has fought for World Victory Road and King of the Cage promotions.
41. Rich Franklin
Former UFC MW champion. Karate was Franklin's first martial art which he trained up until college. Through Karate Rich became interested in MMA.
42. Antonio Silva
"Bigfoot", the man who TKOd Fedor, the only EliteXC HW champion holds a black belt in Shotokan Karate.
43. Angelito Manguray
This 42-year-old Shotokan Karate fighter is the Philippine LW URCC champion.
43. KJ Noons
KJ is the former EliteXC LW Champion who holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate.
44. Nam Phan
Nam currently fights in the UFC FW division and has a 16-8 record.
45. Alexander Volkov
Brown belt in Kyokushin with a 15-3 (12 KO) record, trains with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Gegard Mousasi.
46. Gunnar Nelson
Goju-ryu black belt, Iceland's most promising up-and-coming Karate talent of 2005, currently undefeated in 10 bouts.
47. Jadamba Narantungalag
This Mongolian Kyokushin blackbelt defeated former UFC WW contender Akihiro Gono in his SRC debut.
48. Tarec Saffiedine
A blackbelt in Shihaishinkai Karate who has fought in multiple promotions including DREAM and Strikeforce.
49. John Makdessi
Undefeated Shotokan Karate blackbelt with 9 wins, currently fighting for the UFC.
50. Ryan Jimmo
This Canadian Karateka is the current MFC LHW champion with an impressive 16-1 record. Ryan holds a 2nd degree Black Belt in Shito-Ryu Karate and is a Four-time National Karate Champion, Pan-Am Karate silver (x1) & bronze (x2) medalist and 14-time Provincial Karate Champion.