UFC Fighters With Pro Boxing Backgrounds

Conor McGregor made a glamorous and lucrative foray into boxing in August 2017 against Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he is not the only fighter in the promotion with a pro boxing record.

In fact, many may be surprised to learn that some of the biggest names in the UFC have experience inside the squared circle.

In this piece, we take a look at the men and women who either started off inside the boxing ring or ventured into the sport while simultaneously enjoying a professional mixed martial arts career.

Jose Aldo


Jose Aldo, the former UFC featherweight champion, made his professional boxing debut at Shooto Brazil Boxing, which took place at Nova Uniao Upper Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The six-round fight went the distance, with the judges declaring Aldo the unanimous winner. Aldo’s performance was impressive as he maintained pressure on his opponent Alberto Emmanuel Zambrano throughout the match, strategically stalking him around the ring and landing accurate counterpunches. His powerful combinations and defensive skills played a critical role in dictating the fight​.

Aldo had his next boxing match booked shortly after his debut. He faced fellow UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens in a six-round bout at Gamebred Boxing 4. This was a rematch of their UFC encounter, only they were meeting in the boxing ring this time. The fight ended in a majority draw after a back-and-forth battle that lasted all six rounds. Despite not securing a win, Aldo’s performance demonstrated his adaptability and skill in the sport of boxing​.

Whether he continues to pursue a career in professional boxing or returns full-time to the UFC, Aldo’s foray into boxing has showcased his versatility as a fighter and his willingness to take on new challenges. His performances have further cemented his legacy as one of the most respected fighters in mixed martial arts.

Click to view Jose Aldo’s fighter profile.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor’s foray into professional boxing was one of the most publicized sporting events in recent history. The charismatic UFC star made his professional boxing debut in August 2017 against none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr., one of the most successful boxers of all time. This event, aptly titled “The Money Fight,” captured global attention and transcended the usual boundaries of combat sports.

Despite having no professional boxing experience prior to the fight, McGregor held his own in the early rounds. He showcased his striking skills honed in the UFC, proving that he could compete outside his primary sport.

However, Mayweather’s boxing expertise ultimately prevailed. McGregor lost via a 10th-round TKO, but his performance was far from disappointing given the caliber of his opponent.

Even though McGregor did not win, his bold crossover into boxing elevated his profile internationally. Furthermore, the fight blurred the lines between UFC and professional boxing, adding a new layer of intrigue and potential to the world of combat sports.

Click to see the full profile of Conor McGregor.

Holly Holm

Holm was considered one of the best female boxers on the planet before making her way into MMA. “The Preacher’s Daughter” is the first fighter to win championships in both MMA and boxing in a professional capacity.

Holm’s talents led her to multiple world championships in boxing, amassing an impressive 18 title defenses in three weight classes. Holm was named Ring magazine Fighter of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

The 35-year-old is best known for her knockout of former dominant champion Ronda Rousey in 2015, arguably ending Rousey’s career somewhat in the process.

Click here to view the full profile of Holly Holm.

Joseph Duffy

Donegal’s Joseph Duffy is best known for being the last man to defeat Conor McGregor in MMA prior to Nate Diaz‘s win over the Dubliner at UFC 196 in 2016. Duffy moved into boxing following his first loss in pro boxing, eventually signing with the UFC in Jan. 2015.

Prior to this, however, Duffy’s pro-boxing debut was in March 2013. The Irishman would amass a 7-0 record at super-middleweight, finishing 5 of the 7 bouts. Seemingly unhappy with his level of opposition, Duffy would venture back into MMA via the Cage Warriors promotion before catching the eye of the world’s foremost MMA promotion, where he is 4-1 in total, losing only to featherweight and lightweight stalwart Dustin Poirier.

Click to see the fighter profile of Joseph Duffy.

Vitor Belfort

Vitor Belfort is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modern MMA, having begun his UFC career in 1997. While Belfort is set to “retire” from the promotion, there is speculation that he is not yet done with fighting.

Surprising to some, Belfort has a pro boxing record (albeit one fight). It was in boxing where the Brazilian legend would first find his taste for combat, having taken up the sport at the age of 12 before training in BJJ.

Belfort had his first (and last) fight under the Queensberry Rules against Josemario Neves in 2016, knocking his compatriot out inside the first round.

Click here to see Vitor’s full profile.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

A bonafide UFC legend, “Cowboy” lost his only pro boxing bout by way of a 2nd round TKO to Geoffrey Spruiell in Colorado back in 2003.

While the 34-year-old earned a legion of fans due to his all-action performances and no-nonsense attitude, it was clear that Cerrone harbored no interest in pursuing a career in boxing.

Cerrone’s kickboxing and Muay Thai records are far more impressive than that of his pro boxing one, having beaten all of his 28 opponents with 18 KOs. Cerrone, thankfully, decided to dedicate himself to MMA and currently fights in the welterweight division of the UFC.

In a strange coincidence, fellow UFC welterweight Carlos Condit was initially set to meet Cerrone in his boxing debut.

Click to see Donald Cerrone’s Fighter Profile.

Nick Diaz

Diaz won his first and only boxing bout against Alfonso Rocha via unanimous decision in 2005 while he was still under contract with the UFC.

In MMA, Diaz is known for his aggressive, high-pressure-style fighting, where he throws a high volume of punches in an effort to wear his opponent down. With a granite chin and a good understanding of footwork and angles, Diaz may very well have had a successful career in boxing had he exclusively applied himself to the sport.

The Stockton native regularly trains with boxing’s pound-for-pound #1 and light heavyweight king Andre Ward.

View Nick Diaz’s Fighter Profile.

Anderson Silva

MMA legend Anderson Silva made his pro boxing debut in 1998 but was stopped, which seemingly put rest to his ambitions inside the ring. Seven years later, that itch returned.

Silva made his second foray into boxing in 2005, beating Julio Cesar De Jesus via KO in the 2nd round. “The Spider” has never shied away from the fact that he still holds ambitions in the sport and has campaigned for a bout with boxing all-time great Roy Jones Jr. as recently as earlier this year.

Click to see the profile of Anderson Silva.

Who is the best boxer in the UFC?

There is no clear consensus on who has the best boxing skills in the UFC, but several fighters are often cited as having exceptional boxing abilities. Here are some of the fighters who are considered some of the best boxers in the UFC.

  • Max Holloway: According to a poll conducted by MMA Fighting, 31% of respondents voted for Max Holloway as the UFC’s best boxer.
  • Petr Yan: 36% of respondents in the same MMA Fighting poll voted for Petr Yan as the UFC’s best boxer.
  • Conor McGregor: 13% of respondents in the MMA Fighting poll voted for Conor McGregor as the UFC’s best boxer.
  • Junior dos Santos: Junior dos Santos has been cited as one of the best boxers in MMA and is known for his textbook boxing technique.
  • Mark Hominick: With exceptionally fast hands and accurate punching, UFC fighter Mark Hominick is one of the best boxers in the sport.
  • Nick Diaz: Nick Diaz is considered by some to be the best boxer in the welterweight division.
  • Israel Adesanya: Although primarily a kickboxer, Israel Adesanya is known for his spectacular boxing skills.
  • Stipe Miocic: Stipe Miocic, the former UFC heavyweight champion, is known for his boxing skills.
  • Cody Garbrandt: Cody Garbrandt, the former UFC bantamweight champion, is known for his boxing skills.
  • Sam Stout: Sam Stout has always been one of the best boxers in the UFC, and he’s been there a long time, thanks to his boxing skills.

It’s worth noting that some fighters are well-rounded and able to outbox their opponents without much concern for other techniques, while others may have exceptional boxing skills but are not necessarily the best overall fighters.


Are there many UFC fighters who are also pro boxers?

A growing number of UFC fighters have also competed in professional boxing. Some athletes have transitioned between the two sports throughout their careers, while others have dabbled in boxing for specific fights.

Why do UFC fighters switch to boxing?

There are several reasons why a UFC fighter might choose to compete in boxing. These include the desire for new challenges, the opportunity to improve their striking skills, and in some cases, the potential for higher paydays.

Can a UFC fighter compete in professional boxing while under contract with the UFC?

Whether a UFC fighter can compete in professional boxing while under contract with the UFC is typically dependent on the specific terms of their contract. It usually requires special permission from the UFC.

Does experience in professional boxing give UFC fighters an advantage?

Boxing experience can benefit a UFC fighter, particularly their striking and defensive skills. However, UFC fights require a more varied skill set, including grappling and ground game, which aren’t utilized in boxing. Therefore, while boxing can enhance certain aspects of a fighter’s game, it doesn’t guarantee success in the UFC.


In conclusion, it’s clear that the worlds of UFC and professional boxing aren’t as separate as some may think. Many athletes have managed to build successful careers in both arenas, demonstrating exceptional skill, endurance, and adaptability. These fighters embody the true spirit of martial arts – continuous learning, growth, and the courage to step outside of their comfort zones.

The crossover between these two combat sports is a testament to the multifaceted nature of these athletes and their pursuit of excellence in all forms of competition. It also enriches both sports by fostering new techniques, strategies, and entertaining matchups that captivate audiences worldwide.

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