Famous American Martial Artists

Find out more about the greatest American Martial Artists, including Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar, Chuck Norris, Chris Weidman and Gina Carano.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Martial Artists

 1 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
20
Famous As: Martial artist
Birthdate: March 10, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryan, Oklahoma, United States

A black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and Judo, Chuck Norris is an American martial artist, screenwriter and a popular action film star. He has won many martial arts championships. He later founded his own discipline, Chun Kuk Do. He has also written books on martial arts, philosophy, politics, Christianity, plus Western novels and biography.

 2 Randy Couture

Randy Couture
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Everett, Washington, United States

Randy Couture is a former U.S. Army sergeant and retired mixed martial artist. He currently works as an actor. He began his career as an army man and later turned to mixed martial arts. In this field, he was a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. After quitting UFC, he became an actor and starred in the hit film The Hard Way. 

 3 Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Orlando, Florida, United States

The quintessential vampire-killer of Hollywood, Wesley Snipes is best known for his action-oriented films, such as the Blade film trilogy and The Expendables 3. Apart from being an actor, Wesley Snipes is also a martial artist, and hence often portray roles that require him to perform stunts. He is a black belt holder in Hapkido and Shotokan Karate.

 4 Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier
4
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: March 20, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lafayette, Louisiana, United States

Daniel Cormier is a retired professional mixed martial artist and amateur wrestler who is a former  King of the Cage Heavyweight Champion. He began wrestling while still in school and attended Colby Community College, where he continued to wrestle. He then turned professional and also ventured into mixed martial arts. He has also made a few media appearances. 

 5 Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz
8
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner
Birthdate: April 16, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Stockton

Nate Diaz is an American mixed martial artist with experience of competing in several promotions, such as Strikeforce, World Extreme Cagefighting, and Pancrase. He is currently signed with the UFC and is tied with Joseph Edward Lauzon Jr. for the second-most bonus awards. In 2007, Nate Diaz took part in the fifth season of the reality TV series Ultimate Fighter.

 6 Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 10, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Michael Jai White is an American martial artist and actor. When he portrayed Al Simmons in the film Spawn, White became one of the first black actors to play a major comic book superhero in the history of American film industry. Known for his martial arts skills, White has played leading roles in popular action films like Mortal Kombat: Legacy.

 7 Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: October 13, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hillsboro, Illinois, United States

Matt Hughes is a retired mixed martial artist widely considered one of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA. He is a two-time UFC Welterweight Champion. He is also counted among the greatest welterweight fighters of all time. His autobiography, Made in America, is a New York Times bestseller. He hosts the hunting program Trophy Hunters TV. 

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 8 William Zabka

William Zabka
14
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 20, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

William Zabka is an actor best known for his role as Johnny Lawrence in the film The Karate Kid. He started attending California State University but quit before completing his degree. He began his acting career in the mid-1980s and established himself in Hollywood within a few years. He turned a producer with the short film Most in 2003.  

 9 Chael Sonnen

Chael Sonnen
6
Famous As: Mixed Martial Artist
Birthdate: April 3, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: West Linn, Oregon, United States

Chael Sonnen is a retired mixed martial artist. He is also a submission grappling promoter and mixed martial arts (MMA) analyst. He began his mixed martial arts career in 1997 and soon became a top contender in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He has also made a few film appearances. 

 10 Quinton Jackson

Quinton Jackson
4
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: June 20, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Quinton Jackson is a mixed martial artist and former professional wrestler turned actor. He is famous for his eccentric personality traits and aggressive style of fighting. He is credited with making MMA a popular sport worldwide. As an actor, he has appeared in a few films, including Miss March and Bad Guys. He is a controversial person. 

 11 Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: October 24, 1991
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Jose

Kelvin Gastelum is a professional mixed martial artist who currently competes in the middleweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He began wrestling in high school and turned professional after college. He worked as a bail bondsman for some time while training in mixed martial arts. He received the World MMA Breakthrough Fighter of the Year Award in 2014. 

 12 Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker
8
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 6, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jasper, Alabama, United States

Michael Rooker is an American actor. A black belt holder in Kyokushin style of karate, Michael Rooker often uses his martial arts skills to play his characters, such as Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy, to perfection. He is also known for his performance in popular TV series like The Walking Dead.

 13 Uriah Hall

Uriah Hall
4
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Karateka, Kickboxer
Birthdate: July 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Spanish Town

Uriah Hall is a Jamaican-American professional mixed martial artist who emerged as The Ultimate Fighter 17 Knockout of the Season. He currently fights in the middleweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and has previously been associated with Bellator MMA and Ring of Combat. Besides mixed martial arts, he has made a few media appearances. 

 14 Johnny Yong Bosch

Johnny Yong Bosch
10
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Johnny Yong Bosch is an American musician, singer, actor, and martial artist. He is best known for his appearance in the popular Power Rangers franchise where he has portrayed the first Green Turbo Ranger, the Green Zeo Ranger, and the second Black Power Ranger. Johnny Yong Bosch is also renowned for his voice-over work in films, video games, and anime. 

 15 Carlos Condit

Carlos Condit
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer
Birthdate: April 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Albuquerque

Carlos Condit is an American retired mixed martial artist. A former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion, Condit has also competed in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) where he was a Welterweight Champion. While competing in the UFC, Condit won five Fight of the Night awards. After retiring from MMA, Condit went on to establish many business ventures, such as a coffee shop. 

 16 Michelle Waterson

Michelle Waterson
7
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: January 6, 1986
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aurora, Colorado, United States

Michelle Waterson is a mixed martial artist. A former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, Waterson was the world's best women's atomweight fighter between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, she won the Atomweight of the Year award at the Women's MMA Awards. She competes in the UFC where she is ranked in the top 10 in the list of current UFC fighters.

 17 Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano
7
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 1, 1982
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Broomfield

Mixed martial artist Cat Zingano, who currently represents Bellator MMA, is a world champion in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions and had begun training in martial arts at 12. A brown belt and a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, she also teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai, and wrestling.

 18 John Saxon

John Saxon
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 5, 1935
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 25, 2020

American actor and martial artist, John Saxon was best known for the film Enter the Dragon where he co-starred with the legendary Bruce Lee. The famous character actor of Western and horror films, in his extensive career spanning six decades, worked in more than 200 films and television shows including three Nightmare on Elm Street movies, The Appaloosa and Dynasty.

 19 Chuck Liddell

Chuck Liddell
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: December 17, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Santa Barbara, California, United States

Chuck Liddell is a retired mixed martial artist. He participated in 23 fights in the UFC and is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is widely credited with bringing MMA into mainstream American entertainment. He was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in 2007. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009. 

 20 Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson
4
Famous As: Amateur wrestler, Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: August 24, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Downey, California, United States

Dan Henderson is a retired mixed martial artist, who last competed as a middleweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He was the Rings: King of Kings 1999 Tournament Champion. He began his mixed martial arts career in 1997. At the time of his retirement in 2016, he was the oldest fighter on the UFC roster. 

 21 Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States

Sean Patrick Flanery is an American actor, martial artist, and author. His notable films includeThe Boondock Saints, Powder, and Saw: The Final Chapter. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and teaches the martial art to many people. Also a race car enthusiast, Flanery won the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race in 1997.

 22 Gina Carano

Gina Carano
0
Famous As: Mixed Martial Artist
Birthdate: April 16, 1982
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

A former mixed martial artist, Gina Carano went on to become an actress; she uses her martial arts skills to perform stunts in popular action movies. Before becoming an actress, she was quite popular in the MMA scene, being termed the face of women's MMA. In 2008, she was named in a Top 10 Influential Women list.

 23 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
3
Famous As: Actor, Film producer, Film actor, Television actor, Karateka
Birthdate: September 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Higashi-Azabu

Currently a Russian citizen, Japanese actor and martial artist Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa began his training in martial art while in junior school and acting while studying in Duarte High School, California, making his breakthrough as the Eunuch Chang in The Last Emperor. Thereafter he continued to appear in numerous productions, concurrently developing a new form of martial arts called Chun Shin

 24 Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: November 2, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Palm Springs

Cub Swanson is a professional mixed martial artist, currently affiliated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competes in the Featherweight division. He has been awarded "Fight of the Night" honors ten times. Industry experts consider him to be one of the most entertaining MMA fighters of all time. He is married to model and TV host Kenda Perez. 

 25 Will Yun Lee

Will Yun Lee
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 22, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arlington, Virginia, USA

Will Yun Lee is an actor and martial artist best known for his role in the sci-fi TV series Bionic Woman. He has also appeared in the movie The Wolverine. The son of a Taekwondo grandmaster, he started receiving his training at the age of three. As a young man, he taught martial arts and also began his acting career.  

 26 Josh Barnett

Josh Barnett
3
Famous As: Professional wrestler, Mixed martial artist, Thai boxer
Birthdate: November 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle

Josh Barnett is a mixed martial artist, submission grappler, and professional wrestler. He is currently signed to Bellator MMA. In the past, he was associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. As a wrestler, he made his in-ring debut in 2003. He calls himself a catch wrestler. 

 27 Bruce Buffer

Bruce Buffer
3
Famous As: Announcer, Kickboxer
Birthdate: May 21, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tulsa

Known for his popular catchphrase “It's time!," Bruce Buffer, the well-known MMA ring announcer, initially worked in the telemarketing industry. He and his half-brother, announcer Michael Buffer, whom Bruce had no clue about till he was an adult, now run The Buffer Partnership, a company to grow their brand value.

 28 Cung Le

Cung Le
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 25, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Cung Le is a Vietnamese-born American actor, retired kickboxer, Sanshou fighter, and mixed martial artist. He has competed in popular promotions, such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A former International Kickboxing World Champion in the Light Heavyweight division, Cung Le has an impressive record of 17–0 in kickboxing. He is also a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.

 29 Joseph Benavidez

Joseph Benavidez
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio

WEC bantamweight fighter Joseph Benavidez had a 15-year career in combat sports, which included several top bantamweight and flyweight championship wins. Initially a screen printer in Mexico, he began his career with small boxing shows and began wrestling at age 16. He has also battled drug and alcohol abuse.

 30 Frank Dux

Frank Dux
4
Famous As: Sportsperson, Actor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto

Frank Dux is a Canadian martial artist and fight choreographer. He began his training in ninjutsu as a teenager. He claims he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for a few years and was awarded the Medal of Honor; however, this claim is disputed. He later founded his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu. 

 31 Matt Serra

Matt Serra
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: June 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: East Meadow

Former mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Matt Sera began his career in 1999, successfully competing in several championships before joining Ultimate Fighting Championship, winning a total of 11 bouts till 2010. Currently the co-owner of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, he has also appeared in television productions like Chris Weidman: Untitled Documentary and Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight.

 32 Jason Miller

Jason Miller
3
Famous As: Mixed martial Artist
Birthdate: December 24, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States

MMA fighter Jason Miller, or Mayhem Miller, has been in the news for his frequent run-ins with the law. Arrested multiple times, he was behind bars again in 2021 for domestic violence. Expelled from school for fighting, he grew up to be a UFC champion and hosted Bully Beatdown.

 33 Ben Rothwell

Ben Rothwell
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer
Birthdate: October 17, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kenosha

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ben Rothwell represents UFC as a heavyweight. Nicknamed Big Ben, he gained weight as a child due to an illness and ended up fighting a lot, eventually taking up martial arts as a career. He and his wife now co-own a martial arts school.

 34 Benson Henderson

Benson Henderson
3
Famous As: Mixed Martial Artist
Birthdate: November 16, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Benson Henderson is an MMA fighter who has competed in promotions like WEC and UFC. A former UFC Lightweight Champion, Henderson currently competes for Bellator MMA in their Lightweight division. Henderson is also a former WEC Lightweight Champion. In 2012, he was named Fighter of the Year by ESPN. He also won Fighter of the Year Bazzie Award in 2012.

 35 Donald Cerrone

Donald Cerrone
0
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer, Boxer, Thai boxer
Birthdate: March 29, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Denver

 36 Austin St. John

Austin St. John
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico, USA

Born to a Marine and martial artist father, Austin St. John has black belts in Taekwondo, Judo, and Kenpo. An actor, too, he is best known as Jason Lee Scott from the Power Rangers franchise. He has also been a paramedic and a military healthcare provider in the Middle East.

 37 Wong Jack Man

Wong Jack Man
3
Famous As: martial artist
Birthdate: 1941 AD
Birthplace: Hong Kong

Chinese martial artist Wong Jack-man is best remembered for his duel with Bruce Lee in 1964. The duel was mired in controversy, as it was held privately in Oakland. There are different accounts of the fight, and Wong released his own version in the Chinese newspaper Chinese Pacific Weekly.

 38 Jessie Graff

Jessie Graff
3
Famous As: Stunt-Woman
Birthdate: January 12, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Best known for being a top performer on the obstacles show American Ninja Warrior, stuntwoman and TV star Jessie Graff is a black belt in Taekwondo and is well-versed in other forms of martial arts, too. An aerospace engineering graduate, she has also been a competitive gymnast and a pole vaulter.

 39 David Ramsey

David Ramsey
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Best known for his roles in series such as Arrow and Dexter, David Ramsey is also a black belt in the martial art Jeet Kune Do and is well-versed in kickboxing and taekwondo, too. Apart from Arrow, he has played John Diggle/Spartan in three other series, including The Flash and Supergirl.

 40 Clay Guida

Clay Guida
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Carpenter
Birthdate: December 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Round Lake

Currently signed to the United Fighting Championship, mixed martial artist Clay Guida began wrestling at the age of five, eventually making his professional debut at 22 in the lightweight division. Although he lost his first round by submission, he soon picked up, winning 37 matches out of 57 appearances till-date. Outside the ring, he also represents the SafeAuto Fight Team.

 41 Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly
3
Famous As: Athlete
Birthdate: May 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Millersburg, Kentucky, United States
Died: June 29, 2013

Athlete and martial artist Jim Kelly won hearts with his Afro hairstyle and his roles in action film such as Enter the Dragon and Black Belt Jones. Apart from films, he also excelled in karate, winning contests such as the International Middle Weight Karate Championship. He has also played professional tennis.

 42 Matt Hamill

Matt Hamill
3
Famous As: Amateur wrestler, Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: October 5, 1976
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Loveland

Though born deaf, Matt Hamill didn’t let his physical disability hinder his progress in mixed martial arts and wrestling. Introduced to wrestling by his wrestling coach father, he won three NCAA Division III wrestling titles. His life inspired the 2011 film The Hammer, named after his nickname.

 43 Joshua Waitzkin

Joshua Waitzkin
3
Famous As: Chess Player
Birthdate: December 4, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Apart from being an International Master in chess, Joshua Waitzkin has also won several medals in the martial art Taiji and is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His life inspired the book Searching for Bobby Fischer and the movie of the same name. He has also penned two books.

 44 Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks
7
Famous As: Martial artist
Birthdate: September 1, 1955
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Erie, Pennsylvania, USA

Billy Blanks is a martial artist and fitness personality. He is the creator of the Tae Bo exercise program, a body fitness system that incorporates martial arts techniques. He started attending karate and taekwondo classes when he was 11 and proceeded to become a martial artist. He has also appeared in a few films and TV shows. 

 45 Linden Ashby

Linden Ashby
3
Famous As: Actor, Television actor, Karateka, Taekwondo athlete
Birthdate: May 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlantic Beach

Linden Ashby is an American martial artist and actor. He is best known for playing Johnny Cage in the 1995 movie Mortal Kombat, which was adapted from a video game series of the same name. Ashby is also renowned for his performance in The Young and the Restless for which he was nominated at the 2005 Soap Opera Digest Awards.

 46 Eddie Bravo

Eddie Bravo
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 15, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Santa Ana

Born Edgar Cano, martial arts instructor Eddie Bravo later took up the last name of his stepfather. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he has also launched the grappling tournament Eddie Bravo Invitational. He also developed his own signature style of martial arts, known as the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.

 47 Thomas Ian Griffith

Thomas Ian Griffith
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 18, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States

Thomas Ian Griffith is an American actor, writer, producer, and martial artist. He is best known for playing Terry Silver in the 1989 martial arts drama film The Karate Kid Part III. Thomas Ian Griffith is also renowned for his expertise in martial arts; he holds black belts in tae kwon do and kenpo karate.

 48 Cynthia Rothrock

Cynthia Rothrock
7
Famous As: Martial Artist
Birthdate: March 8, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Cynthia Rothrock was not just a mixed martial artist but has also acted in various martial arts films. The Black Belt Hall of Famer began training in martial arts at 13 and eventually ended up being one of the first women martial artists to be featured on the martial arts magazine covers.

 49 Jake Shields

Jake Shields
5
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: January 9, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Summertown, Tennessee, United States

Jake Shields is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Professional Fighters League (PFL). Shields has also participated in other popular promotions like Rumble on the Rock, Elite Xtreme Combat, Strikeforce, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Jake Shields is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. He is also a former EliteXC Welterweight Champion.

 50 Rener Gracie

Rener Gracie
5
Birthdate: November 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: United States of America

Part of the Brazilian Gracie family that has pioneered the its own form of martial arts, Rener Gracie has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has also co-created the Gracie University martial arts curriculum and owns Quikflip Apparel. He is married to three-time WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres.