Ohio has produced some of the best UFC fighters of all time.
This includes multiple world champions spanning almost 30 years!
Each era of MMA has had at least one champion from Ohio.
I don’t think there’s another state that can claim this, so it’s a pretty unique accomplishment for The Buckeye State.
As always, this list is just my opinion and is based on championships, defenses, and level of competition.
10. Matt Hamill
We start with the UFC’s only deaf fighter ever. Hamill is from Loveland and had an overall record of 10 – 5 in the UFC.
He’d only had 1 professional fight before going on The Ultimate Fighter. He won his first fight, but could not continue due to injuries.
During his career, he had notable wins over Tito Ortiz, Keith Jardine, and Mark Muñoz.
Unfortunately, Hamill is most known for being the only guy to ever beat Jon Jones. But this was due to a disqualification for Jones throwing 12 to 6 elbows.
It was a fight that Hamill was losing and if not for the foul, Jones would likely still be undefeated.
9. Matt Brown
“The Immortal” Matt Brown got his nickname after surviving a drug overdose. He’s widely known as one of the toughest guys to ever fight in the UFC.
His record is 16 – 13 in the UFC and he got his start on The Ultimate Fighter where he beat Josh Hall and Jeremy May, before losing in the semi-finals to the winner of the show, Amir Sadollah.
He has notable wins over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Mick Swick, and Diego Sanchez.
At one point, Brown was on a 7-fight win streak and fought Robbie Lawler in a Welterweight title eliminator. The fight was close, but Lawler got the victory.
8. Gray Maynard
Gray Maynard is the only guy on this list who is not actually from Ohio, but he grew up in Ohio so it’s a fair exception in this case.
Maynard was also on The Ultimate Fighter and did well, but lost to Nate Diaz in the semi-finals.
On the same card as the finale, Maynard slammed his opponent, Rob Emerson, which made Emerson tap from a rib injury, but simultaneously knocked out Maynard as well.
It was an extremely rare situation in MMA where both guys couldn’t continue and the fight was ruled a no-contest.
Maynard’s UFC record is 11 – 7 – 1 – 1.
He’s most known for the trilogy of fights he had with Frankie Edgar.
He won the first fight by decision. Then the second fight was for the Lightweight title, which went to a draw. And finally, in the third fight, Edgar won by knockout, securing the belt.
Two fights later, he lost a title eliminator against T.J. Grant.
All in all, Maynard fought the absolute elite of Lightweight and held his own against the best.
7. Kevin Randleman
Kevin Randleman is one of the best UFC fighters from Ohio State University, winning the NCAA wrestling championships in his sophomore and junior year.
Randleman is the first of many UFC champions on this list and a legend of the sport.
He won the vacant UFC Heavyweight championship in 1999 by defeating Pete Williams. He’d go on to defend the belt against Pedro Rizzo.
But would lose the belt to Randy Couture in 2000.
Randleman only had 7 fights in the UFC going 4 – 3, but had many fights outside of the UFC in Pride and Strikeforce.
He unfortunately passed away in 2016 but his legacy lives on.
6. Mark Kerr
“The Smashing Machine” Mark Kerr is another legend of the sport.
Originally from Toledo, he’s one of the most decorated Ohio MMA fighters of all time.
Kerr fought four times in the UFC, back when it was tournament style, and you’d have to fight more than once per night.
He won the Heavyweight tournament for UFC 14 & UFC 15.
He was mostly known for his tenure in Pride and a gripping HBO documentary, called The Smashing Machine.
The documentary revealed his drug abuse but also showed how truly kind and good-hearted Kerr is.
5. Forrest Griffin
Originally from Columbus, Forrest Griffin is one of the most important people to ever fight in MMA.
It’s a famous story, but his win over Stephan Bonnar in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 is what catapulted the UFC into success.
They secured TV rights for season 2 and the rest is history. Without Forrest and Stephan going to war that night, the sport may have never taken off like it did.
But after that night, Forrest still had a very successful career going 10 – 5 in the UFC.
He won the UFC Light-Heavyweight title against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2008 but would lose the belt in his first defense against Rashad Evans.
Forrest had many notable wins including Shogun Rua, Tito Ortiz, and Rich Franklin
He retired in 2012 and you can learn more about what he’s been up to here.
4. Cody Garbrandt
Cody “No Love” Garbrandt is one of two fighters on this list from what I consider to be “the modern era” of MMA.
Garbrandt had a rough upbringing, with a father that spent most of his life in prison.
But he started boxing when he was 5 years old and excelled in high-school wrestling.
When he entered the UFC, he went on a 5-fight win streak and was touted as a major prospect. He even knocked out Thomas Almeida who was 21 – 0 at the time.
He fought Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title in 2016. Cruz hadn’t lost in 9 years and was considered to be the Bantamweight GOAT.
But on that night, Cody was perfect. He saw every punch, landed power shots, and just made it look easy.
Unfortunately, after this, Cody would go 1 – 5 in his next 6 fights.
But dethroning the greatest fighter in one of the most competitive divisions of all time is an incredible accomplishment.
3. Rich Franklin
Originally from Cincinnati, Rich Franklin played a major role in the success of MMA.
Franklin was a High School Math teacher while pursuing a career as a professional fighter.
This helped to legitimize MMA and get rid of the stereotype that all cage fighters are ruthless thugs.
Instead, Franklin was clean-cut and college-educated. And not only that, but he was the UFC Middleweight champion.
He won the belt from Evan Tanner in 2005 and would go on to defend the belt two times.
The first defense was against Nate Quarry, which he won by knockout and the second defense was against David Loiseau, which he won by decision.
He’d end up losing the belt to Anderson Silva and would lose again in a rematch in 2007.
Overall, Franklin went 14 – 6 in the UFC with other notable wins including Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, and Ken Shamrock.
2. Mark Coleman
Mark “The Hammer” Coleman is the final pioneer on this list.
He started his career in 1996 and won the UFC 10 and UFC 11 tournaments.
Then the UFC moved away from tournaments and Coleman won the first-ever UFC Heavyweight championship, by defeating Dan Severn.
He’d go 6 – 3 in the UFC before having a long career in Pride.
He returned to the UFC in 2009 and went 1 – 2, losing his final fight against Randy Couture.
Needless to say, Coleman is a legend.
1. Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is the absolute best of all MMA fighters from Ohio.
He’s widely considered to be the greatest Heavyweight of all time.
He won the Heavyweight championship twice, beat Daniel Cormier in a trilogy of fights, and defended the belt more than any champion in history.
So unsurprisingly, he is at the top of all Ohio MMA rankings.
With a record of 14 – 4 in the UFC, Stipe has had some incredible victories and highlight-reel knockouts.
He first won the belt by knocking out Fabricio Werdum in 2016. He would defend the belt 3 times, most notably against Francis Ngannou.
Then he lost the belt to Daniel Cormier but won it back in their next fight by TKO.
He would beat DC one more time before losing the belt in a rematch against Francis Ngannou.
In a division where one punch can end your night, Stipe has managed to defeat guys like Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Mark Hunt, and many more.
He did all this while also being a part-time firefighter.
Stipe does not play politics or talk a bunch of trash.
He’s just a great fighter, role model, and a good representation of Ohio’s toughness and integrity.
What’s Next for Ohio?
Interestingly, there are no UFC fighters from Cleveland that made the list.
But with all the talent that comes out of this state over the years, it’s likely we’ll see another champ very soon.
Between the old-school pioneers, the guys who made the sport mainstream, and the modern-day athletes, Ohio’s contribution to the sport is timeless, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.