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The Best UFC Fighters to Come Out of New York

The UFC returns to New York

The UFC is on the verge of its next gig event – UFC 261 – which will be headlined by the rematch between welterweight champion and Jorge Masvidal, who dropped a decision loss to Usman last year.

The card is also one of the most stacked of the year, boasting two other title fights; women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang defending against Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko putting her flyweight strap on the line against Jessica Andrade.

Who are we betting on?

MMA betting fans will be aware that Usman is a heavy favourite to hold onto his belt against Masvidal, with his odds of winning coming in at 1.25/1, according to betting site 888Sport. It should be noted that the challenger will have had a full camp this time around, as opposed to the six-day notice he had last year.

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The UFC has a rich history with New York, and not just because of the landmark move in 2016 to legalize and regulate the sport in the state of New York. Many all-time great UFC fighters have come from New York, plenty of whom are still active in the company.


Jon Jones

The most notable New York fighter is, of course, Jon Jones who isn’t just the best UFC fighter to come out of New York but is arguably the best UFC fighter ever.

In 2011 he made an indelible mark on the sport by becoming the youngest UFC champion in history at the age of 23, but by also stringing together four wins inside 12 months against world-class opposition.

After submitting undefeated prospect Ryan Bader at UFC 126, Jones was offered a shot at reigning light-heavyweight champion Shogun Rua. In a star-making performance, Jones stopped Rua and then went on to defend the title twice that same year by submitting former champions Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida. That calendar year holds up against any 12-month stretch of any UFC fighter in history.

Jones only has one official loss in his record, though this was via disqualification when he was penalized for using illegal elbows against Matt Hamill, another New York fighter who is discussed below.

To this point it seems Jones’ most difficult opponent has been himself. Various indiscretions outside of the octagon have hampered his progression and kept him side-lined for extended periods.

With outstanding striking and elite wrestling, Jones is dangerous wherever a fight goes. After vacating his 205-pound belt, he now looks set to invade the heavyweight division, with his sights set on current champion Francis Ngannou.


Rashad Evans

Another prominent UFC fighter from New York is Niagara Falls’ Rashad Evans, who lost a decision to Jones in 2012. ‘Suga’ won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter at heavyweight, but then dropped straight down to 205lbs where he cemented himself as one of the best light-heavyweights ever.

With victories over UFC Hall of Famers Stephan Bonnar, Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, the last of whom Evans won the UFC title against. Evans couldn’t hold onto that run of form, however, and lost the crown to Machida.

He closed out his UFC career with five straight losses and then retired, though he briefly flirted with the idea of making a return with a different organization.


Matt Serra

Long Island’s Matt Serra was the quintessential New York fighter. Affable, funny and down-to-earth, Serra was a fan favourite long before his stunning upset win over welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in 2007.

Though now perhaps more well known for his famous one-liners and media work, Serra was a hell of a fighter in his day, beating the likes of Yves Edwards, Jeff Curran and Ivan Menjivar. He also took BJ Penn the distance in a competitive battle.

However, it was his historic stoppage win over GSP that launched Serra into the conversation of great UFC fighters to come out of New York. A huge underdog heading into the bout, Serra pulled off arguably the biggest upset in UFC history, though lost the rematch with St-Pierre in 2008.


Matt Hamill

Matt Hamill is worthy of inclusion in this list for a variety of reasons. For one, the Utica fighter has been deaf from birth, and was the first deaf fighter to compete in the octagon. He’s also the only man to hold a win over Jones, though, as mentioned, this was the result of a disqualification when Jones was penalized for using illegal elbows in their 2009 clash.

Outside of that, he earned wins over top fighters like Tito Ortiz and Tim Boetsch, proving himself more than just an anomaly. Hamill remained in the UFC until 2013, when he turned his attention to separate organizations before retiring in 2018.


Chris Weidman

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman is another very successful UFC fighter from New York, with wins over Anderson Silva (twice), Machida and Vitor Belfort. His career is now winding down, though he faces a fellow New York fighter in Uriah Hall at UFC 261.

New York has produced some of the UFC greatest fighters, from Jon Jones to Rashad Evans, these fighters have won numerous world titles and proven themselves as worthy of the Hall of Fame.

While it’s unlikely anyone will surpass Jones’ achievements and outshine his talent, there are many New York fighters who have left a long-lasting mark on the UFC.

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