Nebraska may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking about UFC fighters, but it has produced some of the best in the sport.
From seasoned veterans to up-and-coming stars, Nebraska has made its mark in the UFC.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the top 7 best UFC fighters from Nebraska.
7. Houston Alexander
Houston Alexander is a former UFC fighter from Omaha.
He is known for his heavy hands and knockout power, which earned him a reputation as a fan favorite.
He made his UFC debut in 2007 against Keith Jardine. In one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history, Alexander ended Jardine’s night and his title hopes with one right uppercut.
Alexander’s win over Jardine earned him a reputation as a dangerous striker and a potential contender in the Light-Heavyweight division.
Unfortunately, Alexander would go 2 – 6 in the UFC, losing to guys like Thiago Silva, James Irvin, and Kimbo Slice.
6. Mirsad Bektic
Mirsad Bektic was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but moved to Lincoln, Nebraska with his family when he was 9-years old.
At one time, Bektic was 11-0 with 4 wins in the UFC and looked like he could be a future champion.
With wins over Ricardo Lamas, Chas Skelly, and a nasty body-shot TKO against Godofredo Pepey, he looked like the real deal.
But as he began to fight the highest level of competition, he started to lose. This includes highly ranked fighters like Josh Emmet and Dan Ige.
He went on a three-fight losing streak and his overall UFC record is 6 – 4.
In 2021, he retired from MMA, but his early wins and hype was a fun ride while it lasted.
5. Steve Jennum
This one may come as a surprise since most modern fans have not heard of Steve Jennum.
But Steve Jennum is the champion of UFC 3, which took place way back in 1994.
The Omaha native was a cop and a black belt in Ninjutsu.
For UFC 3, he was an alternate and came in to replace Ken Shamrock in the finals where he defeated Harold Howard.
Jennum had one more win at UFC 4 against Melton Bowen, before losing his next three fights.
While Jennum is not as skilled by today’s standards and being a late replacement may tamper the win, Jennum is still a part of MMA history and a champion of the early days of the sport.
4. Jeremy Horn
Jeremy Horn, a native of Omaha, is known for his impressive career in MMA which spanned 120 professional fights!
However, while in the UFC, his record stands at 6-6.
Despite these stats, Horn has showcased remarkable resilience and dedication to the sport, with wins over well-known fighters such as Chael Sonnen and Chuck Liddell during his time in the UFC.
Throughout his career, Horn’s consistency and tenacity established him as a prominent figure within the MMA community.
As a representation of Nebraska’s fighting spirit, Jeremy Horn undoubtedly deserves recognition as one of the top UFC fighters from the state.
3. Jake Ellenberger
Jake Ellenberger is a prominent UFC fighter from Omaha.
With a notable record of 10-11 in the UFC, Ellenberger has made a significant impact in the world of MMA.
Fighting in the welterweight division, Ellenberger has faced some formidable opponents and delivered impressive performances.
Notably, he has secured victories over talented fighters such as Jake Shields and Nate Marquardt.
Ellenberger retired in 2018 after going on a four-fight losing streak, but he fought the elite of the division in the UFC over a 9-year period.
2. Drew Dober
Drew Dober is a major prospect in the stacked lightweight division.
In his UFC journey so far, Dober’s record stands at 12-7-1.
He has shown exceptional striking and grappling skills, garnering a reputation as a formidable competitor.
A Nebraska native, Dober’s journey as an elite fighter has made him one of the top UFC talents to emerge from the state.
And his performance against Bobby Green at UFC Vegas 66, resulting in an impressive knockout victory, has further solidified his position among Nebraska’s finest MMA fighters.
1. Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith, also known as “Lionheart”, is a professional mixed martial artist living in Omaha, Nebraska.
He competes in the Light-Heavyweight division and has been active in the MMA scene since 2008.
Among Nebraska MMA fighters, Smith boasts an impressive record of 36-18-0, ranking him among the top Light-Heavyweight fighters.
Within the UFC, his record stands at 11-6, with wins over Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, Alexander Gustaffson, and many more.
He even fought Jon Jones for the Light-Heavyweight title back in 2019. He came up short in that fight, but there’s no shame in losing to the GOAT.
Throughout his career, Smith has also competed for other organizations such as Strikeforce and Bellator.
As of now, he has cemented his place as one of the best in the UFC, showcasing his immense talent, perseverance, and undeniable prowess in the octagon.
Nebraska has produced some notable UFC fighters who have made significant contributions to the sport.
These athletes showcase exceptional skill and dedication in their respective styles, reflecting the strong work ethic and competitive spirit inherent in the local culture.
It is important to recognize the accomplishments of these fighters as they continue to represent Nebraska’s athletic prowess on the international stage.
As MMA continues to grow in popularity, it is likely that more talented fighters will emerge from the region, further strengthening Nebraska’s legacy in the world of mixed martial arts.