Despite the very essence of MMA being deeply rooted in traditional martial arts, we rarely see practitioners of such styles compete at the top of the sport in the UFC. More often than not, we see fighters utilize a complete mix of styles, taking the most useful pieces from multiple martial arts.
This is to be expected considering the sport is literally called mixed martial arts. However, there are a select few UFC fighters who remain practitioners of a traditional martial art despite competing in MMA. These fighters have adapted their styles but remain true to their origins.
In the following list we will go over five such UFC fighters, both past and present. The criteria to be on this list is for said fighter to have an extensive background in a traditional martial art such as karate or taekwondo, and to have brought said style over to the UFC. Whilst they may adapt their style, they must still utilize the key principles of what makes that martial art unique.
Early honorable mentions go to Michelle Waterson, Giga Chikadze and Anthony Pettis.
5 UFC fighters who have adapted a traditional martial art for modern MMA
#5 UFC welterweight Georges St-Pierre - Kyokushin Karate
Georges St-Pierre is well known for having one of the most well rounded MMA games in the history of the UFC. However, that was later in GSP's career. When he first came to the UFC, St-Pierre's Kyokushin karate roots were incredibly evident to those watching.
St-Pierre is a black belt in full contact karate, more commonly referred to as Kyokushin. He maintained aspects of this martial art throughout his career as a UFC fighter. In particular, it could be seen in his wide arsenal of kicks. GSP excelled in the lead side kick to the body, as well as a spinning side kick, which could hit either the midsection or the head.
These are both classic staples of karate, as is the explosivity that GSP would burst into from an otherwise static stance. These techniques later became simply weapons in the arsenal of St-Pierre rather than a focal a point of his style. GSP did later become more of a wrestler, which is the only reason he is not higher on this list.