Fighting. At its most primal core, fighting is an animalistic nature that has been instinctive in human beings for thousands of generations, pivotal in the process of survival of the fittest. Today, however, survival of the fittest is starkly different in modern civilised society and inside the caged walls of the fighting, the stage is one of the few glimpses we can get of that primitive nature that has faded as we, as people, have become more societal.
Whilst fighting no longer runs through the generations of civilisation, for some; fighting runs in the bloodline. Whilst sports like boxing have an abundance of fighters that have ‘Jnr.’ tagged on to the end of their surname and competitors looking to carry on a family legacy, mixed martial arts has a lack of this due to the sport being so new in comparison. Nevertheless, for some, the will to fight in the cage could even be genetic and runs through their veins. This is why I have compiled a list of 8 sets of relatives that have fought professionally – some interesting and perhaps largely unknown whilst others more prominent at the forefront of the MMA scene.
This is by no means the best fighting relatives or indeed the only fighting relatives, just a collection of some that might interest you. Please comment if any have been omitted from this list.
Khabib and Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Growing up in Machachkala, Russia, both Khabib and his younger brother Abubakar were seen as fighting prodigies. As teenagers, both trained in Sambo – a Soviet form of combat used by the Russian military – and both reached the rank of International Master of Sports Sambo. Khabib was adept to picking up new fighting styles and ultimately broadened his repertoire Judo, wrestling and boxing among others, leading to the success and clinical fighting style he has acquired today.yz
Whilst Khabib is a major asset in the UFC, Abubakar was also given a contract to fight for the promotion but his debut never materialised. The younger Nurmagomedov was set to have his first UFC bout at UFC Belem against Sergio Moraes in February of this year after prolonged talks to bring him to the promotion but he was removed from the card due to undisclosed personal reasons. Having not fought since March 2017, Abubakar’s record sits at 14-1, 10 of those wins coming from finishes, whilst Khabib has an astonishing record of 25-0 and is set to fight Tony Ferguson on 7th April at UFC 223.
It is also worth mentioning that the Khabib and Abubakar’s cousin, Shamil Zavurov, is also a veteran fighter from Russia, credited as a former M-1 Global World Welterweight champion and has a record of 30-5-1. I imagine drunken family reunions in the Nurmagomedov clan end with multiple trips to the hospital and most-likely Khabib calling for a fight with McGregor in the aftermath of it.
Alistair and Valentijn Overeem
The Dutch duo of the Overeem brothers are no strangers to the fight game, having fought in a jaw-dropping combined 126 professional MMA fights between them. Whilst Alistair has reached dizzying heights in the world of mixed martial arts; making a name for himself in prominent promotions such as PRIDE, Strikeforce and the UFC, The Reem’s older brother has had a roller-coaster of a career, accumulating 32 wins and 34 losses in his 66 bouts. However, it was Valentijn who persuaded his initially reluctant younger brother to take up MMA to defend himself and, ultimately, led to Alistair’s rather illustrious career.
Valentijn has lost his last 7 fights in a row and hasn’t fought since mid-2014 whilst Alistair is still contracted with the UFC and is set to fight Curtis Blaydes at UFC 225.
Nick and Nate Diaz
Very little is left to say about the prominence of the Diaz brothers in MMA. Almost certainly the most famous fighting siblings in the sport, the natives of Stockton, California are renowned for their high-quality fighting ability, unique fighting styles and unique skill to trash talk better than nearly anyone in world MMA – even whilst the fight is going on!
Growing up in Stockton, the two brothers were somewhat inseparable and trained mixed martial arts together constantly from a young age. Whilst both showed signs of quality, Nick took his fighting and fitness extremely seriously; regularly competing in triathlons, swimming and broadening his skillset by training in Jiu Jitsu, karate, akido, wrestling and even Sambo.
Both fighters have reached astronomical heights, especially in the UFC, with Nick tied with Joe Lauzon with the record for the most UFC bonus awards, with 15 in total, as well as holding the record for the highest UFC Pay Per View buy ever with his bout against Conor McGregor at UFC 202 – which Nate won – whilst Nick has fought for the UFC Welterweight title twice.
Anthony and Sergio Pettis
Due to the significant 7 year age gap between the two, Anthony Pettis certainly set the bar extremely high for his younger brother. “Showtime” is a former UFC and WEC Lightweight champion, casting an enormous shadow for Sergio to overcome, but the 24-year-old is quickly rising up the Flyweight ranks in pursuit to match, and possibly eclipse, his older brother.
Whilst Sergio is most definitely active in the Flyweight division, coming off a fairly recent decision defeat to Henry Cejudo at UFC 218, Anthony’s illustrious career is now being plagued with injuries that are keeping him out of the competition. The former champ’s last fight was a loss to Dustin Poirier by TKO via rib injury and he is expected to try and rectify his loss at UFC 223 against Michael Chiesa, whilst Sergio is set to fight Joseph Benavidez just two events later at UFC 225.
“Big Nog” and “Little Nog”
The now retired Brazillian fighting twins Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (Big Nog) and Antônio Rogério Nogueira (Little Nog) were staples of the early fighting scene, especially in PRIDE where Little Nog was ever-present in the Light Heavyweight division and Big Nog was the first ever PRIDE Heavyweight champion. Despite being identical biologically, the twins had differing fight styles from each other with Big Nog preferring to utilise his superior Jiu Jitsu whilst his younger sibling showcased his precise boxing and broad stand up arsenal.
The two brothers were indivisible from each other, training together and even sharing fight camps throughout both of their careers until the older sibling retired first out of the two. The Nogueira brothers fought a combined 76 times, both competing at the very highest level and both respectively leaving a lasting legacy on the fighting landscape.
Joe and Dan Lauzon
The Lauzon brothers have both had runs with the UFC, with Joe’s stint still ongoing and being largely more successful with Dan never winning a UFC bout. At the age of 18 years, seven months and 14 days old, Dan Lauzon became the second youngest fighter in UFC history in his first stint with the company – losing to Spencer Fisher. Dan later returned to the UFC after an impressively successful tenure away from the company but lost his two fights, the latter of which he fought without a corner as a result of not following the schedule laid out for him by his coaches, and was subsequently dropped by the promotion.
Joe, on the other hand, has garnered a reputation for being one of the most entertaining fighters in the company’s history with his impressive fighting and determined attitude inside the cage. ‘J-Lau’ has racked up 27 wins in his 41 fights and is currently scheduled to face Chris Gruetzemacher at UFC 223.
The two brothers haven’t always seen eye-to-eye and, despite running the Lauzon MMA team together, their sibling rivalry has flared up as it does in most household. However, in the Lauzon household, instead of shouting matches and pettiness they instead get their MMA gear on and battle it out in front of family and friends in their back garden, as you do.
Fedor and Alexander Emelianenko
The Emelianenko brothers are infamous in the whispers of mixed martial arts. Whilst neither have ever competed in the UFC, both are considered to be the greatest Heavyweights of all time from their time, and prominence, in PRIDE fighting championships – especially Fedor who never lost a single fight in PRIDE and stretched that run to go an entire decade without being beaten.
Growing up in a poor household in Russia, the three Emelianenko brothers only had one meal a week and had to share clothes. As both parents were out working, Fedor had to look after younger brother Alexander and took him to Sambo practice when he trained. Eventually, Alexander began to mimic the Sambo techniques and both brothers blossomed into unbelievably lethal and prolific fighters, with Fedor often being credited by many as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
Both brothers are currently competing again after both taking a hiatus. Fedor took a break of his own accord after beating Pedro Rizzo in 2012 whilst Alexander served 5 years in prison for convicted sexual assault on his housekeeper but has now resumed his MMA career in Russia. Alexander has just won his latest bout via TKO in the first round earlier this month whilst Fedor is set to fight former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir in Bellator in April.
Randy, Ryan and Kim Couture
When talking about “fighting families” the Couture clan have to be in the vicinity of the conversation. It is unprecedented to have a father, his son and his wife all be competing in the cage but that’s the mindset in the Couture household, a household headed by UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. “The Natural” has an extensive mixed martial arts resume; being a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, an interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament Winner. He is also credited as being the oldest title holder in UFC and MMA history and is the first fighter ever to hold two championship titles in two UFC weight divisions. If there is ever a man to leave a legacy on the fighting landscape, it’s Randy Couture.
Randy’s son Ryan is now aspiring to emulate his father’s achievements, although that is an astronomical feat to achieve, and is competing in the Welterweight division in Bellator. Currently holding a respectable record of 11-5, the 35-year-old last fought in June 2017, beating Haim Gozali at Bellator 180, but no plans are currently in place for Ryan to fight again.
Kim Couture, however, had a much more torrid time in MMA. Randy’s now ex-wife has a record of 3-8 and hasn’t had much luck inside the cage; her debut against Kim Rose, for example, started with Couture breaking her jaw with the first punch of the fight and eventually lost by unanimous decision, giving the image of a bloody mess as the referee hoisted her opponents hand up in victory. After losing her last fight within 45 seconds of the first round, it’s safe to say Kim Couture has no further plans to fight again – I’m sure to the dismay of mixed martial arts fans around the world.