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5 best kickboxers in the UFC right now

Israel Adesanya has cleared out the UFC middleweight division
Israel Adesanya has cleared out the UFC middleweight division
Sai Krishna
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 22 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

While grappling has proved to be highly reliable for certain champions in the UFC, the excitement that striking and consequent knockouts bring cannot be matched.

Various decorated kickboxers like Alistair Overeem and Donald Cerrone have had a lot of success in the UFC, even if they didn't get their hands on the gold. Many others have used their abilities in the martial art form to entertain audiences and clinch titles in the promotion.

Here are the 5 best kickboxers in the UFC at the moment.

Honorable Mentions: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (76-8-1 kickboxing record) and Justin Gaethje


#5 Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC Record: 10-4)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Having lost four of her last six fights, Joanna Jedrzejczyk has seen her aura as a fearsome fighter diminish slightly. But the former UFC strawweight champion remains one of the most talented and decorated kickboxers in the promotion right now.

Jedrzejczyk put together a 27-3 kickboxing record before entering the world of MMA, and won a number of European and World Championships over the course of almost 10 years. Having defended the UFC strawweight titles five times before her knockout loss to Rose Namajunas, the Polish fighter experienced great success thanks to her precise striking and speed.

Jedrzejczyk recently announced a comeback to the Octagon, and expressed a desire to fight the winner of the Weili Zhang vs Rose Namajunas bout at UFC 261.


#4 Jose Aldo (UFC Record: 19-6)

Jose Aldo may have lost three of his last four, but his kickboxing credentials have never been in question
Jose Aldo may have lost three of his last four, but his kickboxing credentials have never been in question

While Jose Aldo isn't as decorated a kickboxer as the others on this list, his sound fundamentals in the domain ensured that he reigned over the UFC featherweight division for a number of years.

The former UFC featherweight champion went on an 18-fight win streak before suffering a devastating loss at the hands of Conor McGregor, and holds the record for the most title defences in the division (7). Aldo's striking was built on a base of Muay Thai, but the influence of kickboxing was evident in the powerful kicks he used to rise up the rankings.

Although he has come under criticism for not using his kicks in the recent past, Aldo always has that skill to fall back on. He may appear to be past his prime, but he's still only 34 years old and could still go on a run in the featherweight and bantamweight divisions.


#3 Valentina Shevchenko (UFC Record: 9-2)

Valentina Shevchenko will be in action this weekend against Jessica Andrade
Valentina Shevchenko will be in action this weekend against Jessica Andrade

Valentina Shevchenko is undoubtedly one of the best female fighters of all time, and her success in the world of MMA can be attributed to how well-rounded she is. With very few holes in her game, 'Bullet' is clearly a notch above most fighters in the UFC at the moment.

Shevchenko's biggest asset is her extensive Muay Thai and kickboxing background. Participating in various tournaments over a 12-year span, she amassed a 57-2 record including three wins over Jedrzejczyk. She has followed that up with a number of notable wins in the UFC, such as her brutal knockout of Jessica Eye and her measured display against Holly Holm.

Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title against Jessica Andrade at UFC 261 this weekend.


#2 Stephen Thompson (UFC Record: 11-4-1)

Wonderboy
Wonderboy's extensive kickboxing and karate background makes him lethal in MMA

After suffering a brief blip in his UFC career with losses to Anthony Pettis, Darren Till and Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson is well on the comeback trail and is probably one win away from a title shot.

'Wonderboy' is one of the most versatile strikers in the UFC at the moment, thanks to his mastery over kickboxing and karate. He put together an incredible 57-0 kickboxing record, owns a black belt in American kickboxing and won an astonishing sixteen titles in the amateur circuit.

A man who has highlight-reel knockouts against Dan Stittgen and Jake Ellenberger, Thompson will be seen in action next against Gilbert Burns at UFC 264 in July.


#1 Israel Adesanya (UFC Record: 9-1)

Israel Adesanya is by far the best kickboxer in the UFC right now
Israel Adesanya is by far the best kickboxer in the UFC right now

Undoubtedly the most talented kickboxer in the UFC right now, Israel Adesanya has always been primed for success. 'The Last Stylebender' amassed a 75-5 professional kickboxing record, making a mark in the King of the Ring and Glory Kickboxing competitions.

Adesanya has ruled over the UFC middleweight division with an iron fist, with wins over Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Kelvin Gastelum and Marvin Vettori. He has picked apart every opponent with his creative boxing, athletic kicking and keen understanding of range.

Adesanya's shortcomings in the grappling department were recently exposed by Jan Blachowicz, but his striking remains a class apart.


Published 22 Apr 2021
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