The Top Australian UFC Fighters Of 2024
— 18 March 2024

The Top Australian UFC Fighters Of 2024

— 18 March 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

From ex-division champs Alexander Volkanovski and Robert Whittaker to up-and-comers like Steve Erceg and Jack Jenkins, as national representatives of the country’s budding mixed martial arts (MMA) scene, Australian UFC fighters certainly punch above their weight.

In the years since respected journeymen Elvis Sinosic and Anthony Perosh — who made their Octagon debuts during 2001’s UFC 30 and 2006’s UFC 61, respectively — our relatively small sunburnt nation has proudly distinguished itself.

Heavyweight banger, PRIDE transplant and New Zealand transplant, Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt, set the tone throughout the late 2000s/early 2010s with his wild brawl-style antics, essentially paving the way for more local superstars like Tai Tuivasa; before the aforementioned Robert Whittaker ascended to the UFC’s middleweight throne in 2017 after defeating Yoel Romero in a five-round battle for the ages.

The latest chapter of Australian MMA, however, has been defined by none other than recently-dethroned featherweight king, former #1 pound-for-pound UFC athlete, and future first-ballot Hall of Famer: Alexander Volkanovski.

While “The Great” was forced to relinquish the belt he’d successfully retained since 2019 to the formidable Ilia Topuria after suffering a nasty second-round KO defeat at UFC 298 — his second within four months — Volkanovski won’t just go down in history as one of the greatest Australian UFC fighters, but one of the greatest UFC fighters, period.

Check out every Australian UFC fighter who should be on your radar right now below.

The Best Australian UFC Fighters Right Now

Alexander Volkanovski (“The Great”)

Age: 35 (September 29, 1988)
Division: Featherweight (#1)
Height: 5 ft 6 in (168 centimetres)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kilograms)
Reach: 71.5 in (182 centimetres)
Residence: Wollongong, New South Wales
Team: Freestyle Fighting Gym | City Kickboxing | Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA | Tiger Muay Thai
MMA Record: 26-4
UFC Record: 13-3
Career Highlights:

  • Former UFC Featherweight Champion
    • Five successful title defenses
    • Second most title fight wins in UFC Featherweight division history (6)
    • First Australian-born fighter to win a UFC championship (Note: Robert Whittaker, the first UFC Aussie champion, was born in New Zealand)
  • Former #1 UFC Men’s Pound-For-Pound Fighter
  • Fight of the Night (3) vs Chad Mendes, Brian Ortega, Islam Makhachev 
    • UFC Honors 2023 Fight of the Year vs Islam Makhachev 
    • 2023 Fight of the Year vs Islam Makhachev
  • Performance of the Night (1) vs Chan Sung Jung AKA The Korean Zombie

At the age of 22, Alexander Volkanovski traded his life as a concrete and semi-professional rugby league front rower for the Warilla Gorillas to pursue a full-time career as a mixed martial artist.

Under Freestyle MMA’s Coach Joe Lopez, the Wollongong native — who was previously 97 kilos during his rugby days — would work his way down the weight divisions of regional promotions, winning titles at Roshambo MMA (welterweight; lightweight), Pacific Xtreme Combat (featherweight), and Australian Fighting Championship (featherweight) along the way.

In 2016, Volkanovski made his UFC featherweight debut against Yusuke Kasuya during a Melbourne Fight Night event (Robert Whittaker vs Derek Brunson), which he won via second-round TKO. A little later on, he’d dispatch fellow division icons Chad Mendes and former champion Jose Also in dramatic fashion to earn his first title shot against Max Holloway at UFC 245.

UFC 245 marked Alexander Volkanovski’s rise to the rarefied status of featherweight champion, besting Holloway via unanimous decision after five rounds. Volk would defeat Holloway two more times (UFC 251, 276), punctuating the rivalry with a brutal beatdown during their last encounter.

Prior to falling short at UFC 298 during his bout against the undefeated Ilia Topuria, Volkanovski had effectively “lapped” the division by defending his belt against Yair Rodriguez, Chan-sung Jung (AKA The Korean Zombie), and Brian Ortega in addition to Max Holloway; remaining undefeated as a UFC featherweight across 13 fights.

Living up to his fight moniker and daring to be great, Volkanovski has also notably challenged for the lightweight title on two occasions (both times against Islam Makhachev) in pursuit of simultaneous two-division champion status.

Alexander Volkanovski Next Fight: When Will The P4P King Return?
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The first, which occurred at Perth’s UFC 284, was extremely close and resulted in a controversial unanimous decision in favour of his Dagestani opponent. The second, which occurred at UFC 294 and was accepted on 11 days’ notice, resulted in a devastating first-round KO loss — something many have theorised has been the key cause of Alexander Volkanovski’s competitive “decline.”

Contrary to this misguided populist belief that his career is “over,” Volk isn’t laying the gloves down on the canvas just yet. Though on the merit of his combat sports credentials thus far, the man could retire today and still be remembered as one of the most accomplished individuals mixed martial arts has ever produced.

Next Fight:

At the time of this writing, despite his earlier assertions about being able to compete at UFC 300, Alexander Volkanovski hasn’t scheduled his next fight. Although it’s clear he likely will not be given an immediate rematch against newly-crowned UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria until he notches a few more in the win column.

RELATED: We Had Lunch With The UFC’s Alexander Volkanovski

Robert Whittaker (“The Reaper”)

Age: 33 (December 20, 1990)
Division: Middleweight (#3)
Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 centimetres)
Weight: 185 lb (84 kilograms)
Reach: 73.5 in (187 centimetres)
Residence: Sydney, New South Wales
Team: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Smeaton Grange | PMA Super Martial Arts | Stand Strong Boxing
MMA Record: 25-7
UFC Record: 16-5
Career Highlights:

  • Former UFC Middleweight Champion
    • Former Interim UFC Middleweight Champion
    • First Australian fighter to win a UFC championship
    • First New Zealand-born fighter to win a UFC championship
  • Tied (Yoel Romero) for the fourth-longest win streak in UFC Middleweight division history (8)
  • Fight of the Night (5) vs Clint Hester, Derek Brunson, Yoel Romero (twice), Kelvin Gastelum
    • 2018 Fight of the Year vs Yoel Romero
  • Performance of the Night (3) vs Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Ronaldo Souza

Before Alexander Volkanovski, Robert Whittaker was the most prolific face of Australian MMA.

The Auckland-born Aussie hailing from Sydney’s Sutherland Shire was a graduate of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes‘ welterweight tournament, winning his official Octagon debut against Brad Scott at 2012’s UFC On FX: George Sotiropoulos vs Ross Pearson.

Whittaker would find career-best success in the weight class above, however, recording seven consecutive wins at middleweight against everyone from Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson to Ronaldo Souza. He’d claim the interim UFC Middleweight Championship against Yoel Romero at UFC 213, before later being promoted to undisputed champion when Georges St-Pierre vacated the title after being diagnosed with colitis.

Despite losing the belt to Israel Adesanya at Melbourne’s UFC 243 and failing to recapture gilded glory from “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 271, Robert Whittaker has quite an impressive fight resume: aside from the names already outlined, he’s notably defeated Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum, Marvin Vettori, as well as Paulo Costa.

Next Fight:

Inside sources within the UFC have noted that Robert Whittaker will target July 2024 for his next fight in light of the recent victory against Paulo Costa. As for the matter of “who,” speculation points towards either the Israel Adesanya trilogy or a bout against Sean Strickland (both of whom are also former middleweight champions).

This could very well serve as a title eliminator to decide who receives the next shot at current incumbent Dricus du Plessis.

Tai Tuivasa (“Bam Bam”)

Age: 30 (March 16, 1993)
Division: Heavyweight (#9)
Height: 6 ft 2 in (188 centimetres)
Weight: 266 lb (121 kilograms)
Reach: 75 in (191 centimetres)
Residence: Sydney, New South Wales
Team: TK MMA & Fitness | American Kickboxing Academy | Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA | Tiger Muay Thai
MMA Record: 14-7
UFC Record: 8-7
Career Highlights:

  • Performance of the Night (4) vs Rashad Coulter, Greg Hardy, Augusto Sakai, Derrick Lewis
  • Fight of the Night (1) vs Ciryl Gane

Yet another rugby league player turned mixed martial artist, fan-favourite UFC heavyweight Tai Tuivasa is many things: a proud eshay, podcaster, co-owner of Drink West Brewery, and above all else, bloody thrilling to watch.

The one-time AFC heavyweight champion was tapped for the big leagues in 2017, winning his UFC debut at a Sydney Fight Night event (Fabricio Werdum vs Marcin Tybura) against Rashad Coulter via a flying knee KO.

While claiming a UFC belt isn’t entirely out of the question for “Bam Bam,” especially at the age of 30, his recent four-fight skid against Ciryl Gane, Sergei Pavlovich, Alexander Volkov, and Marcin Tybura (all by a finish) means it might take some time.

Let’s just hope Tuivasa can regain the vintage form that helped him defeat the likes of Derrick Lewis, Greg Hardy, and Stefan Struve soon enough so we can all enjoy a post-fight celebratory shooey.

Next Fight:

After losing to Marcin Tybura via first-round submission (rear-naked choke) at this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night, Tai Tuivasa’s UFC future is looking a little uncertain… in more ways than one. Perhaps he’ll receive another chance to prove he still belongs, perhaps he’ll decide to take the bare-knuckle boxing route, perhaps he’ll be unceremoniously cut from the roster. Who knows.

Giacomo “Jack” Della Maddalena

Age: 27 (September 10, 1996)
Division: Welterweight (#11)
Height: 5 ft 11 in (180 centimetres)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kilograms)
Reach: 73 in (185 centimetres)
Residence: Perth, Western Australia
Team: Scrappy MMA
MMA Record: 17-2
UFC Record: 7-0
Career Highlights:

  • Performance of the Night (3) vs Ramazan Emeev, Danny Roberts, Randy Brown
  • Fight of the Night (1) vs Bassil Hafez
  • 2022 Newcomer of the Year

Defending his title as Eternal MMA’s welterweight champion on four consecutive occasions and an impressive unanimous decision victory against Ange Loosa on Dana White’s Contender Series 39 punched Jack Della Maddalena’s ticket to the UFC, where he’s been undefeated across six bouts (Maddalena is currently on a 16-fight win streak).

Young Giacomo’s biggest wins to date include Randy Brown via first-round submission before a home crowd at Perth’s UFC 284 and an extremely tactically split decision over Kevin Holland at UFC Fight Night: Alexa Grasso vs Valentina Shevchenko II (UFC Noche).

At this rate, it seems like the UFC welterweight throne could be on the horizon. That is assuming he can break the Top 10 and the Top 5 of this insanely competitive (though slow-moving) division.

Next Fight:

After succeeding in his greatest challenge yet at UFC 299: Sean O’Malley vs Marlon “Chito” Vera II, knocking out former title challenger and #4 contender Gilbert Burns with a vicious knee and equally vicious elbows, Jack Della Madalena bravely called out the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov. Which may very well serve as a title shot eliminator to decide who gets Leon Edwards next.

Steve Erceg (“Astroboy”)

Age: 28 (July 27, 1995)
Division: Flyweight (#12)
Height: 5 ft 8 in (173 centimetres)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kilograms)
Reach: 68.5 in (174 centimetres)
Residence: Perth, Western Australia
Team: Wilkes MMA
MMA Record: 12-1
UFC Record: 3-0

Next to Jack Jenkins, Steve Erceg is arguably one of the most exciting Australian UFC signees in recent memory. The local media circuit was abuzz with his dominant submission victory at Eternal MMA 73 the night before UFC 284 (Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski). And so far, he’s been living up to the hype with back-to-back victories inside the Octagon against David Dvorak, Alessandro Costa, and Matt Schnell, respectively.

Next Fight:

Despite having only been signed to the UFC for less than a year and being the #10 division contender, due to the fact that champion Alexandre Pantoja has essentially lapped the division, Steve Erceg’s next fight will be for the title at UFC 301 (May 4th, 2024). Australia may be welcoming another belt back home far sooner than expected…

RELATED: UFC 300 Is Already Stacked (You’re Just Not Looking Hard Enough)

Casey O’Neill (“King”)

Age: 26 (October 7, 1997)
Division: Flyweight (#13)
Height: 5 ft 6 in (168 centimetres)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kilograms)
Reach: 69 in (175 centimetres)
Residence: Las Vegas, Nevada US
Team: Xtreme Couture MMA
MMA Record: 9-2
UFC Record: 3-2
Career Highlights:

  • Performance of the Night (1) vs Antonina Shevchenko
  • 2021 Newcomer of the Year

Granted, she was born in Irvine, Scotland and currently resides in Las Vegas, but having grown up in Australia’s Gold Coast, we’ll happily claim the Eternal MMA strawweight champion turned #13 UFC flyweight as one of our own.

Next Fight:

Casey O’Neill currently does not have a next fight scheduled.

Jack Jenkins (“Phar”)

Age: 30 (March 11, 1993)
Division: Featherweight (Unranked)
Height: 5 ft 7 in (170 centimetres)
Weight: 149.5 lb (68 kilograms)
Reach: 68 in (173 centimetres)
Residence: Melbourne, Victoria
Team: Absolute MMA & Conditioning
MMA Record: 12-3
UFC Record: 2-1

Jack Jenkins emphatically proved he was one of the UFC’s hottest Aussie prospects at Perth’s UFC 284 with a surgical performance against Don Shainis (and leg-shattering kicks). Sadly, momentum has since been slowed after he sustained a dislocated elbow against Chepe Mariscal at Sydney’s UFC 293: Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland.

Here’s to hoping he returns to the Octagon soon. And bold prediction: he may very well have the tools to take the UFC featherweight belt back from Ilia Topuria on behalf of Australia.

Next Fight:

Considering the severity of his injury, Jack Jenkins’ next fight hinges entirely upon the speed of his full recovery which, based on a recent Instagram post, is looking positive. Obviously, at this stage, nothing is on the books.

Jimmy Crute (“The Brute”)

Age: 27 (March 4, 1996)
Division: Light Heavyweight (Unranked)
Height: 6 ft 2 in (188 centimetres)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kilograms)
Reach: 74 in (188 centimetres)
Residence: Bendigo, Victoria
Team: Combat 1
MMA Record: 12-4-1
UFC Record: 4-4-1
Career Highlights:

  • Performance of the Night (2) vs Michał Oleksiejczuk, Modestas Bukauskas

Like many of his fellow countrymen, Jimmy Crute earned (and has retained) his place in the UFC light heavyweight roster the hard way.

Seven straight wins. A Hex Fight Series Light Heavyweight Championship (defended twice). Entering the promotion through Dana White’s Contender Series. And being thrown against the likes of Paul Craig, former title challenger Anthony Smith, and former titleholder Jamahal Hill.

Next Fight:

After his loss to Alonzo Menified at UFC 290: Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez, Jimmy Crute announced on social media that he’d be stepping away from MMA indefinitely to fix his “unhealthy obsession” with the sport.

Jamie Mullarkey

Age: 29 (August 17, 1994)
Division: Lightweight (Unranked)
Height: 5 ft 8 in (173 centimetres)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kilograms)
Reach: 74 in (188 centimetres)
Residence: Central Coast, New South Wales
Team: Central Coast MMA
MMA Record: 17-7
UFC Record: 5-5
Career Highlights:

  • Fight of the Night (2) vs Brad Riddell, Michael Johnson
  • Performance of the Night (1) vs Devonte Smith

Jamie Mullarkey’s fight resume may not be as impressive as some of his fellow Australian UFC fighters listed in this article, but it’s just as hard-earned and legit in our eyes.

The very definition of true grit, he once contested the AFC Featherweight Championship during his rise (circa 2016) against none other than Aussie MMA GOAT Alexander Volkanovski, though obviously fell short.

Still, Mullarkey managed to soar to the heights of BRACE MMA, Urban Fight Night, and Superfight MMA Lightweight Champion.

Next Fight:

Jamie Mullarkey currently does not have a next fight scheduled.

Joshua Culibao (“Kuya”)

Age: 29 (May 24, 1994)
Division: Featherweight, Lightweight (Unranked)
Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 centimetres)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kilograms)
Reach: 73 in (185 centimetres)
Residence: Sydney, New South Wales
Team: Igor MMA
MMA Record: 11-3-1
UFC Record: 3-3-1

Joshua Culibao’s introduction to the UFC may have been rocky, but the former Hex Fight Series, Diamondback FC, and Superfight MMA featherweight champion has since proven he belongs in the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion.

For context, prior to debuting in the Octagon, the UFC’s other Sutherland Shire boy was undefeated at 8-0. This all changed when he signed on as a short-notice replacement for Jamie Mullarkey at UFC Fight Night: Paul Felder vs Dan Hooker (and in the weight class above, no less).

Culibao would lose to Jalin Turner via second-round TKO before following it up with a questionable split draw against Charles Jourdain at UFC On ESPN: Holly Holm vs Irene Aldana. Consecutive victories against Shayilan Neuerdanbieke, Choi Seung-woo, and Melsik Baghdasaryan would balance out the less-than-ideal start.

Next Fight:

Similar to his compatriot Tai Tuivasa during the recent Fight Night, Joshua Culiao unfortunately notched a loss against Danny Silva via split decision; the latter having missed weight by 2.5 pounds. His next fight has yet to be announced.

Tyson Pedro

Age: 32 (September 17, 1991)
Division: Light Heavyweight (Unranked)
Height: 6 ft 3 in (191 centimetres)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kilograms)
Reach: 79 in (201 centimetres)
Residence: Sydney, New South Wales
Team: City Kickboxing
MMA Record: 10-5
UFC Record: 6-5
Career Highlights:

  • Performance of the Night (1) vs Khalil Rountree Jr

Between the reconstructive knee surgery and career losses, Tyson Pedro — who is the brother-in-law of Tai Tuivasa and a co-owner of their Drink West Brewery — has experienced quite the rollercoaster of a journey during his tenure at the UFC.

Thankfully, his highlights definitely outshine his lowlights. Like that ice-cold, first-round KO finish against the uncharismatically smug Anton “The Pleasure Man” Turkalj at Sydney’s UFC 293 (followed by the ice-cold post-fight celebration above). We’re still chuckling to ourselves about that one.

Next Fight:

UPDATE [13/03/2024]: Tyson Pedro has since retired from the UFC to pursue professional boxing.

RELATED: The UFC Has Just Signed A 6’7″ Olympic Knockout Artist

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]