Top 10: Black Mixed Martial Artists
Black History Month originally began as Negro History Week in 1926 before eventually expanding to a full-month February tribute to the accomplishments of prominent African-Americans 50 years later. In honor of this yearly tradition, a panel of Sherdog.com staff has selected its Top 10 Black Mixed Martial Artists.
The list comes with its own twist: considering the diversity of the mixed martial arts population, this Top 10 has been adapted to include black fighters of all nationalities, not just African Americans. Several of the fighters who appear below have stories that are not yet complete, while others are close to — or have already — ridden off into the sunset. All have had significant roles in making the sport what it is today.
1. Anderson Silva
The Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder grew up in Curitiba, Brazil, where the majority of the populace is of fair-skinned, European descent. Since he came from a poor family, Silva first learned jiu-jitsu by rolling with neighbors who could afford the training.
2. Jon Jones
3. Quinton Jackson
4. Rashad Evans
5. Maurice Smith
With his striking prowess firmly established, the Seattle native entered the MMA realm in 1993. He experienced limited success during his early years in the sport, compiling a 4-7 record while competing for Japanese organizations Pancrase and Rings. Smith made his UFC debut against heavyweight champion Mark Coleman as a huge underdog.
6. Benson Henderson
7. Demetrious Johnson
8. Kevin Randleman
9. Jose Landi-Jons
10. Josh Koscheck
‘ Kos’ grew up as a mulatto — half-black, half-white — in the primarily white town of Waynesburg, Pa. According to a 2010 piece published by Fight! Magazine, the fighter, who was raised by his grandparents, used the racial slurs hurled his way during childhood as motivation in future endeavors.