How Competitive is MMA in Australia?

Alexander Volkanovski

Sports are popular worldwide, but in some countries stand out as head and shoulders above others in certain disciplines. Australia is often seen as a nation that loves its sports and produces great athletes in many different sports. It may seem strange given the high-quality athletes that Australia has across many sporting disciplines, but they still haven’t made much of an impact in mixed martial arts. Australia has great athletes across some of the most popular sports, such as rugby, cricket, and athletics. However, they are yet to make much of an impression when it comes to the top level of MMA in the world- the UFC. But, who are some of the stars that show that Australians still have impressed inside the octagon throughout history?

Alexander Volkanovski

There’s little doubt that the most successful Australian to ever grace the UFC remains Alexander Volkanovski. The 34-year-old is regarded as one of the best fighters in the company and is currently ranked as the number one fighter in the pound-for-pound rankings. He has competed across three weight divisions throughout his career, but the former AFC Featherweight champion has made the UFC his new home since making his debut in the octagon in 2016.

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Volkanovski rose to the top of the rankings in the UFC featherweight division in December 2019, as he finally won the UFC Featherweight title at UFC 245 when defeating Max Holloway by a unanimous decision. Since that win, he has successfully defended the title on four occasions. His most recent defense came at UFC 276 in July 2022, as he scored a third career victory against Holloway by unanimous decision.

Robert Whittaker

There have been few more successful Australian MMA stars throughout history than Robert Whittaker. The 31-year-old was born in New Zealand, but he resides in New South Wales in Australia. Whittaker made an immediate impression in the UFC, as he claimed victory in the welterweight tournament in The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. That success quickly led to a bout against Colton Smith at UFC 160, as he won in May by TKO.

However, quick-fire defeats against Court McGee and Stephen Thompson stifled his progression slightly. However, he managed to get back on track, as he won his next seven fights to set up a UFC Middleweight title showdown against Yoel Romero. He landed victory at UFC 213, before managing to repeat the feat at UFC 225. However, he would later lose the title against Israel Adesanya, before failing to regain the title earlier this year against the same rival.

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Mark Hunt

Another fighter that was born in New Zealand, but has represented Australia throughout his career is Mark Hunt. He was previously a kickboxer, before swapping to life in the octagon with the UFC. He is regarded as one of the most entertaining heavyweights in the history of the UFC, as he was renowned for his ‘walk-offs’ after winning before the referee ended the match. Hunt won 13 of his 29 professional MMA bouts, with his latest fight ending in defeat against Justin Willis in December 2018. However, one of his biggest career victories was scored against Derrick Lewis in June 2017, as he won by TKO.

Hunt fought against some of the biggest names in the division throughout his career, which included a mega-fight against Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, which ultimately resulted in a non-contest. Hunt made one attempt to win the UFC Heavyweight title on one occasion, but he was beaten by TKO by Fabricio Werdum in November 2014.

Tai Tuivasa

One of the most progressive Australian fighters that promise to make waves over the coming years looks set to be Tai Tuivasa. The 29-year-old has already been compared to Mark Hunt and has impressed in all his UFC fights to date. He is currently ranked as the fourth-best heavyweight, and if he continues to impress, then he may be awarded a title opportunity over the coming years. To date, he has won 14 of his 18 professional fights, having won 13 times by TKO.

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However, he will be looking to get back on track in the new year, as he was beaten by Ciryl Gane in his previous fight at the start of September. Tuivasa was beaten by KO in that bout, which ended his run of five straight wins in the octagon. During that run, he picked up the Performance of the Night bonus on three occasions. The most recent of his victories were scored at UFC 271, as he beat Derrick Lewis by KO in the second round in February. However, he will need to get back to winning ways if he is to set up a title fight next year.

Conclusion

While Australian stars are yet to reach legendary status in the UFC, the success achieved by fighters such as Mark Hunt has certainly paved the way for potential new prospects. One day soon, it is likely that an Australian will encapsulate the sport and ensure that the popularity will reach new heights.