Italy is enamored with sports with a long tradition in individual and team categories, several triumphs, and a good representation worldwide.
The MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is one such sport.
Italians have featured within the octagon of the sport’s most prominent promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), raising the green-white-red in satisfactory achievement.
Marvin Vettori became the first Italian-born fighter to headline a UFC card and has become a household name among his native faithfuls.
Still, the newly retired Alessio Di Chirico is from the ancient city of Rome.
We’ll now look at the best Italian UFC fighters in MMA history.
Best Italian UFC Fighters
4. Carlo Pedersoli Jr
Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
Rather than enjoying videos of his grandfather, famous Italian actor Carlo Pedersoli’s (Bud Spencer) success,
Pedersoli has sought his adventures.
The 29-year-old has traveled to the west to compete in the biggest MMA promotion, fighting thrice in the UFC with a victory to his name.
He currently competes in Bellator MMA with two wins from three, amassing a 16-4 pro MMA record.
3. Alessio Di Chirico
Height: 6 feet
If there were more Italians to have fought in the UFC, Di Chirico would have fallen out of our selection, but he deserves his spot as one of the few Italian fighters to compete at MMA’s highest level.
The 32-year-old hung his gloves after losing to Roman Kopylov on September 3, 2022, winning only four from eleven UFC contests.
However, he won two Performance of the Night awards during his UFC spell and kept a clean sheet in nine bouts as he fought across European-based promotions to earn his UFC deal.
2. Marvin Vettori
Height: 6 feet
September 5 UFC middleweight rankings see Marvin Vettori climb third, but his success has a longer history, including the first Italian-born fighter to headline a UFC card.
August 20, 2016, proved to be the start of Vettori’s UFC career, debuting against Alberto Pereira and tapping out Pereira in style in the first round.
Nicknamed “The Italian Dream” for his career success, Vettori has contested twelve bouts since his memorable guillotine chokes on Pereira on his debut, amassing an 8-4-1 record throughout his career.
While The Italian Dream is not a knockout specialist, he almost became the first Italian-born UFC champion had he not lost to Israel Adesanya.1
Vettori’s performances have earned him two Performance of the Night and one Fight of the Night honors while he remains the only Italian to headline a UFC card, featuring on the UFC on ESPN+ 54 (UFC Fight Night: Costa vs. Vettori).
He is one of the best Italians to feature in the octagon, following an impressive 61.5% win percentage, which is, as they call him, “The Dream” any Italian fighter yearns for.
1. Alessio Sakara
Height: 6 feet
Amassing a 13-3 record lured the UFC into extending its tentacles to the Italian shores in 2005, signing Alessio Sakara, the first Italian fighter to contest in the UFC.
The Legionarius, fondly called by his fellow supporters, debuted in the UFC middleweight division in 2005.
He won six fights from fourteen bouts, with his first scheduled fight being a no-contest, before moving to Bellator MMA.
His UFC career is not the most impressive, to say the least, but Sakara will forever hold a place in the Italians’ memory as the first countryman to match in the UFC octagon.
Perhaps, Sakara’s most remembered night might be UFC Fight Night 15, where he defeated Joe Vedepo via KO in the first round to earn the Knockout of the Night honors.2
The fact that only a few Italian martial artists have found their way onto the sport’s most prominent league is quite disheartening, but the names we have considered prove that the sky is the limit, regardless of background.
The UFC can take off in Italy in the coming years as the country continues to produce great talents who can compete with the best in the MMA world, bringing more spotlight to this sport.