As a Welshman myself I am someone that considers myself to be very proud of my nationality. It’s the way I was raised whether that was watching Swansea City down the Vetch Field and later the Liberty Stadium, watching super Joe Calzaghe cement his legacy in the boxing world or routing for the mighty Welsh on the football and rugby field respectively. Now as I’ve grown older my support for Welsh athletes has transitioned to a new sport but taken me back to my combat roots.
Mixed martial arts is now one of the biggest sports on the planet. It has become mainstream worldwide and seems to have captured people’s attention, seeing participation rates skyrocket here in the UK. There are several organisations within the world of mixed martial arts but there is no denying that the premier organisation and the biggest show in town is the UFC. Below I am gonna take a look at the six Welsh fighters that have competed at the highest level, and made the UFC.
Brett ‘The Pikey’ Johns
For me, there’s no betters place to start, other than at the beginning. Brett ‘The Pikey” Johns, a real trailblazer and pioneer of the Welsh mixed martial arts scene was the first Welshman to ever grace the UFC’s infamous octagon, making his promotional debut on the 19th of November 2016 where he picked up a unanimous decision victory over Kwan Ho Kwak. Brett entered the UFC with a record of 12-0, and already a two-promotion world champion as he’d picked up Bantamweight titles within Titan FC and Cage Warriors respectively. He made more history for the homeland when he became the first Welshman to ever enter the rankings, he finished his UFC stint with a record of 5-2 within the promotion and now competes in the Bellator Bantamweight division. Still a lot to come from this man, I’ll be rooting for him.
Jack ‘The Hammer’ Marshman
I found it difficult to find exact dates, but based on the information I’ve managed to come across it seems Jack was signed to the UFC a little before Brett and they ended up making their debut on the same fight card on the 19th of November 2016. Jack made the walk a little after Brett and on the same night the first Welshman made the walk to the octagon the second wasn’t far behind, also picking up a win in his own right against Magnus Cedenblad to make the Welsh 2/2 for the night. Marshman was also a two division world champion as he’d picked up an M4tC Middleweight title alongside the cage warriors strap. He entered the UFC with a record of 20-5 and is now retired from MMA with a record of 23-10, a great fighter and an even better man from what I hear.
John ‘The Welsh Wrecking Machine’ Phillips
The third Welshman to make the walk to the octagon John Phillips, simply put one of the hardest-hitting men to ever come out of Wales if not the UK, as his record of 22 finishes from all 22 of his victories speaks for itself. The man possesses truly scary power and a chin to match, he is the former BAMMA Middleweight world champion and rage in the cage tournament victor. He was trained by world-renowned SBG head coach John Kavanagh out in Ireland before his UFC call-up, where he made his promotional debut on the 17th of March 2018. His one victory inside the octagon ended in a typical devastating fashion when he rendered Alen Amedovski unconscious less than twenty seconds into the bout. He is now retired and finished fighting with a record of 22-11.
Jack ‘Tank’ Shore
Jack ‘Tank’ Shore, the fourth Welshman to make the walk to the octagon. He is one of the two Welsh fighters currently active on the UFC roster and has been making us proud and representing Wales in the octagon as recently as the 18th of March this year, where he picked up a second-round submission win on his Featherweight debut within the UFC against the always game Makwan Amirkhani. One of the UK’s very best prospects he’s drawn comparisons to Georges St-Pierre for his well-rounded game and fight IQ. He is a former Cage Warriors Bantamweight world champion and entered the UFC with a record of 11-0, following in the footsteps of training partner Brett Johns becoming the second Welshman to ever enter the rankings. His record now sits at 17-1 and he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
Cory ‘Poppins’ McKenna
Cory ‘Poppins’ McKenna the fifth fighter from Wales to make the walk to the octagon, the first and still the only Welsh female to ever do so. She made history when signing for the UFC, at that time she was the youngest fighter they had ever signed, when she joined the organisation in August of 2020 she was 21 years old. She earned her place in the UFC after defeating Vanessa Demopoulos as a part of Dana White’s Contender Series and has remained on the roster ever since. She entered the UFC with a record of 5-1 and was riding a three-fight win streak. Showing that she has the necessary skills to compete at the top level her record within the UFC sits at 3-1 taking her overall record to 8-2, still only 23 years old we should be seeing her in the UFC for many years to come.
Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones
Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones is the sixth and as it currently stands the most recent Welshman to make the walk to the octagon. The always-game Jones guarantees fireworks when he steps inside the cage and always delivers exciting fights. He achieved world titles in two different divisions within Cage Warriors, following in the footsteps of Conor McGregor, Mason himself won the Lightweight and Welterweight championships before making the jump to the UFC. He signed to the UFC with an unblemished record of 10-0, then moved to Sacramento, California to be a part of the famous Team Alpha Male. His time within the promotion was a little up and down with his record now being 11-2, he is no longer a member of the UFC roster and is yet to announce his next move I’ll be supporting him no matter what.