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 Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee
36
Famous As: Actor, Martial Artist
Birthdate: November 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: July 20, 1973

An iconic actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee, in his short life, gained international fame and developed his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. In films, he debuted as a child actor and became a huge Hollywood star after the release of his last film Enter the Dragon.

 2 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
20
Famous As: Martial Artist, Actor
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.

 3 Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen
10
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director, and producer. He has won several wushu tournaments and is credited for introducing mixed martial arts to mainstream Asian cinema. He is also credited with introducing UFC champion Zhang Weili to MMA. Donnie Yen has won several awards like Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards.

 4 Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes
8
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.

 5 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. 

 6 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. 

 7 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.  

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 8 Shannon Lee

Shannon Lee
4
Famous As: Actress Who Played the Role Party Singer in Her Father's Biopic 'Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story'
Birthdate: April 19, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Shannon Lee is the daughter of the most popular martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee. She followed in her father's footsteps to become an actress and martial artist. Shannon Lee is credited with upholding her father's legacy by serving as the president of the Bruce Lee Foundation. She is also the executive producer of Warrior, a series based on her father’s idea.

 9 Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier
6
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. 

 10 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.

 11 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. 

 12 Jet Li

Jet Li
8
Famous As: Actor, Martial artist
Birthdate: April 26, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beijing, China

Jet Li is one of the most popular Asian actors to have made it big in the American film industry. A martial artist and former Wushu champion, he won a national championship before retiring from competitive Wushu to focus on his acting career. Also a well-known philanthropist, Jet Li is closely associated with the Red Cross Society of China.

 13 Quinton Jackson

Quinton Jackson
6
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. 

 14 Mark Dacascos

Mark Dacascos
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 26, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Mark Dacascos is an actor, trained martial artist, and TV personality. He is proficient in the Wun Hop Kuen Do style of martial arts and has won several karate and kung fu championships. As an actor, he is best known for his role in the action-horror film Brotherhood of the Wolf. He is married to actress Julie Condra.  

 15 Jason Scott Lee

Jason Scott Lee
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 19, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Jason Scott Lee is one of the most popular American actors and martial artists of Asian descent. In recognition of his work and the positive image he has created for Asians in America, the Asian-American magazine website Goldsea ranked him seventh in its list of The 130 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time.

 16 Chael Sonnen

Chael Sonnen
8
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. 

 17 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.

 18 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. 

 19 Michelle Waterson

Michelle Waterson
9
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: January 6, 1986
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Colorado Springs, 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.

 20 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.

 21 Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano
7
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 1, 1982
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Winona, Minnesota, United States

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.

 22 Eve Torres

Eve Torres
3
Famous As: Female wrestler, bikini model, and dancer.
Birthdate: August 21, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States

 23 Carlos Condit

Carlos Condit
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, who formerly competed in the Welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
Birthdate: April 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

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. 

 24 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.  

 25 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
3
Famous As: Actor, Martial artist
Birthdate: September 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan

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

 26 Cub Swanson

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

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. 

 27 Josh Barnett

Josh Barnett
3
Famous As: Heavyweight MMA & the Youngest Ever UFC Heavyweight Champion
Birthdate: November 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States

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. 

 28 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.

 29 Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1965
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
Died: March 31, 1993

The son of the legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee followed in his father’s footsteps. Trained in martial arts, he made his film debut in the 1980s and became a successful star in his own right. He was accidentally wounded while filming The Crow and died. The film, dedicated to him, became a hit.

 30 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.

 31 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.

 32 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.

 33 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.

 34 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.

 35 Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly
3
Famous As: Athlete, Martial Artist, Actor
Birthdate: May 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, 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.

 36 Frank Dux

Frank Dux
4
Famous As: Martial artist, fight choreographer
Birthdate: April 6, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

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. 

 37 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.

 38 Benson Henderson

Benson Henderson
5
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.

 39 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.

 40 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.

 41 Matt Hamill

Matt Hamill
3
Famous As: Light heavyweight mixed martial artist who won silver in Greco-Roman Wrestling and a gold at the 2001 Summer Deaflympics
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.

 42 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.

 43 Linden Ashby

Linden Ashby
3
Famous As: Soap opera actor who played Cameron Kirsten on The Young and the Restless portrayed Paul Hollingsworth in Days of Our Lives
Birthdate: May 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlantic Beach, Florida, United States

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.

 44 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.

 45 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. 

 46 Josh Thomson

Josh Thomson
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: September 21, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Jose

MMA podcaster Josh Thomson, popularly known as The Punk, was previously a professional mixed martial artist and has represented promotion such as Bellator MMA, PRIDE, and UFC. He is best known for his bouts against Gilbert Melendez. The Strikeforce lightweight champion has previously worked in construction.

 47 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.

 48 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.

 49 Brandon Vera

Brandon Vera
5
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Military personnel
Birthdate: October 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Norfolk

Born in the US to an Italian mother and a Filipino father, Brandon Vera, better known as The Truth, initially joined college on an athletic scholarship but dropped out to join the US Airforce soon. The black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has also appeared on shows such as Kamandag and Magpakailanman.

 50 Jim Miller

Jim Miller
5
Famous As: mixed martial artist
Birthdate: August 30, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sparta Township, New Jersey, United States

Jim Miller is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the UFC. Miller holds the record for most wins in the lightweight division of the UFC and has third-most wins in the history of the promotion. Renowned for his power and technique, Jim Miller has won seven Fight of the Night awards in his UFC career so far.