When most of us think of tall athletes over 6′, we immediately think of basketball or football players. Height is critical in these sports since it gives you a considerable edge. But have tall MMA fighters succeeded?
Being that tall in Mixed Martial Arts could sometimes be bad because you can get taken down much more effortlessly, or you could be slower. But there are athletes that, despite being tall, made successful careers in MMA and other combat sports. Also, be sure to check out our list of the shortest MMA fighters.
Hong Man Choi – 7’2’’ – 219 cm
South Korean kickboxer Hong Man Choi is one of the tallest fighters to compete in mixed martial arts. He is also the most giant man to ever fight in K-1. Hong Man Choi is 7’2 ft and weighs well over 150kg. He began his career as a champion in the Korean wrestling style, Ssireum, similar to sumo.
After starting his pro kickboxing career in the K-1 organization, he won 6 times in a row. One of them was against Bob Sapp. Choi later moved on to professional MMA.
Choi served as the sacrificial lamb in two of the most popular MMA fights he ever had. One was against Fedor Emelianenko, and another was against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Choi resisted Emelianenko in the opening round before getting submitted with an armbar.
Choi was slated to be Brock Lesnar’s debut opponent. Still, his California fighter’s license was revoked after a benign tumor on his pituitary gland was discovered. He had to serve South Korea’s mandated two-year military service. Still, he was freed of duty after failing medical examinations.
The primary issue was the vision in his left eye due to the tumor. Choi’s declining health eventually forced him to quit combat sports. His MMA record is five wins and four losses.
Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve – 7’0’’ – 213 cm
Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve is a 34-year-old male fighter from the Netherlands with a professional MMA record of 29-13-0. Struve most recently fought Tai Tuivasa on Saturday, October 24, 2020, at UFC 254. Stefan Struve was defeated by Tai Tuivasa in the Heavyweight division via KO/TKO at 4:59 in Round 1.
Stefan Struve has 29 victories with a 94% finish record, including eight knockouts, 18 submissions, and two decisions. Stefan Struve is now 0-2 in his last two fights.
Struve made his professional debut on April 16, 2005, against Romualds Garkulis on the main card of IMA: Emmen Fight Night 2005. He lost his debut MMA bout to Romualds Garkulis, who came into the battle with a 2-5-1 professional MMA record. Romualds Garkulis defeated Stefan Struve through KO/TKO.
Struve made his UFC debut on February 21, 2009, against Junior dos Santos, on the preliminary card of UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson, with a professional MMA record of 16-2-0. He was knocked out by Junior dos Santos via KO/TKO at 0:54 of Round 1.
Struve has fought 24 times in the UFC since his debut. His UFC record now stands at 13-11-0.
Semmy Schilt – 6’11’’ – 210 cm
Semmy Schilt is a former Dutch kickboxer and mixed martial artist. He was one of the best kickboxers in K-1 and also had fought in the Glory Championship.
He began his MMA career in 1996 for the Japanese promotion Pancrase and won by finishing his opponent with a rear naked choke. The opponent he fought was Manabu Yamada. His second fight was against Yuki Kondo, who was a rising star back in the day.
Semmy Schilt made his debut for the UFC in 2001 against Pete Williams on the UFC31 event. Schilt did not have a good start as his opponent mounted him. But because of his size and strength, he knocked him out when they stood up.
His second and last fight for the UFC was for UFC32, against Josh Barnett. Again he was taken down and mounted by his opponent and eventually lost the fight via armbar.
Gan McGee – 6’10’’ – 208 cm
McGee is a retired American MMA fighter who fought in the UFC, PRIDE, WEC, and XFC. He was offered a title shot in 2003 on UFC 44, fighting against Tim Sylvia. It was named “The Battle of Giants.”
He lost that fight via KO. After that fight, Tim Sylvia tested positive for steroids during a drug test and was stripped of his title. Even after that, the UFC denied McGee a rematch.
He lost his motivation and decided to switch organizations and join PRIDE FC. Even after the change, he still didn’t feel in his element as he never recovered from that loss from Tim.
Soon after that, he spoke about regaining his passion for fighting and even joined XFC in 2008, where he showed his destructive power. He fought in the event named “XFC: The Return of the Giants” against Johnathan Ivey, where he won by TKO.
His last fight was in 2009 against Anthony Ruiz, where he lost via KO.
Wes Sims – 6’10’’ – 208 cm
Wesley Edward Sims is a retired American Mixed Martial Artist who competed in many fighting organizations such as the UFC, WEC, K-1, Strikeforce, and IFL. He began his pro-MMA journey in 2001 when he fought against Dan Severn. He lost that match by decision.
That didn’t stop him, however. Back then, he fought one of the biggest names in the heavyweight division, Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir, and Bobby Lashley.
He had a rivalry with Frank during his UFC career. This rivalry started at the UFC 43. Frank Mir extended his hand to touch gloves at the start of the match, and Sims pushed passed Mir’s outstretched hand and into a fast-managed takedown by Mir.
Sims then stood up while Mir was on his back against the fence and stomped Mir’s face numerous times while gripping the grid for support. Sims was disqualified after the fight was stopped. His Last fight was in 2016 against George Oiler, where Sims got submitted via armbar.
Steve Mowry – 6’9’’ – 205 cm.
Mowry is an American Mixed Martial Artist with ten wins and 0 losses. He is currently fighting for Bellator and is among the highest fighters there. Despite his 6’9″ height, Mowry is exceptionally athletic and competent in all aspects of MMA. On top of that, he is pretty tough and has an iron chin.
His first professional fight was in 2016 for Titan FC. He fought against Marino Eatman and won via Triangle choke. He started fighting as an amateur in 2013 and won every one of his amateur matches. He started getting more popular in Titan FC because of his Kos and submissions. Bellator soon noticed him and decided to offer him a contract in 2018.
Because of his height, he has a significant advantage over his opponents. Especially in his reach, he is also very skilled in using his knees. For example, he threw a great knee on Shawn Teed and knocked him out at Bellator 249.
Dan “The Sandman” Christison – 6’8’’ – 203 cm
Dan Christison is a retired American MMA fighter who holds a record of 17 wins and seven losses. Six out of those 17 wins were by KO and 11 by submission. Six of his losses are by decision, and one is by KO. As you can see, he lost 6 out of 6 times when it came to a decision. The Sandman was a fighter that did not like ending a match on a decision.
His first ever fight for the UFC was in 2006 on Ultimate Fight Night 4. Dan fought against Brad Imes and won via armbar submission. His second and last fight in the UFC was for UFC 61, where he faced Frank Mir and lost by unanimous decision.
His career didn’t stop there. The Sandman fought in different leagues such as IFL, RFL, Warrior MMA, and ICF before retiring in 2010. His last fight was against Mike Wessel, where he won via submission in round 3.
Ricardo “The Mutant” Morais – 6’8’’ – 203 cm
Ricardo Morais is a former Brazilian Mixed Martial Artist with 15 fights in his professional career. Out of those 15 fights, he won 10, lost 4, and 1 was a draw. He started competing in 1995, and his first fight was against Alex Andrade, winning by KO.
The Mutant did not just compete in MMA but in BJJ too. He competed in ADCC world championships in 1998 and 1999. After that, Ricardo went on to compete for Pride FC in 1999. His first appearance there happened for Pride 8, where he lost against Mark Coleman via decision.
After that fight, Morais competed four more times before retiring in 2006. His last fight was against Tae Hyun Lee, where he won.
Paul “The Polar Bear” Varelans – 6’8’’ – 203 cm
Paul Varelans was a professional Mixed Martial Artist with nine wins and nine losses. He was among the first ones that fought n UFC back in the day. Paul started his career in 1995 when he made his debut for the UFC. That fight was against Cal Worsham, where The Polar Bear won via KO.
His next fight was against David Abbott, where Paul lost to TKO. He fought in the UFC for a while and against Mark Hall and Gerry Harris, where he won. Paul also fought against Dan Severn and lost by arm triangle choke on UFC – Ultimate Ultimate 1995.
His last fight for the UFC was in 1996, when he fought against Kimo Leopoldo and lost via TKO. After a month in an induced coma, Paul Varelans lost his struggle against Covid-19 on January 16, 2021.
Tim Sylvia – 6’8’’ – 203 cm
Tim Sylvia is a retired Mixed Martial Artist with a professional record of 31 wins and 10 losses. He is also a former UFC heavyweight champion. Even though his frame was big, Sylvia was a very skilled fighter, and he made sure to give his opponents a hard time.
His first fight was in 2001, where Sylvia fought Randy Durant and won via TKO. That fight happened in the IFC. And his first UFC fight was in 2002 for UFC 39, where he fought Wesley Correira and again won via TKO. His professional record up to that fight included that fight as well was 14 wins 0 losses.
Tim Sylvia had a great career in the UFC before he decided to leave UFC in 2008 and compete in some smaller organizations. He competed up until 2013, when he retired.
Emmanuel Yarbrough – 6’8’’ – 203 cm
Emmanuel Yarbrough was an American Sumo wrestler and MMA fighter. He also competed in Judo and wrestling. Emmanuel had a record for the world’s biggest athlete with over 235 ft / 350kg. He also had a professional record of 1 win and two losses.
Yarbrough fought once in UFC 3 in 1994 against Keith Hackney and lost via TKO in round 1. Keith was a smaller fighter, but he still managed to defeat Emmanuel and thus earned the nickname “The Giant Killer.” Emmanuel Yarbrough then appeared in Pride FC, where he fought against Daiju Takase and lost via TKO again.
He died in 2015 as a result of heart issues. Outside of Japan, he is known as one of the most famous sumo wrestlers.
Alexander Volkov – 6’7’’ – 200 cm
Alexander Volkov is a Russian heavyweight MMA fighter with a professional record of 35 wins and 10 losses. His first fight was in the M-1 League in 2009 when he fought against Nikolay Pleshakov and won via TKO.
He went on to compete in M-1 and was victorious for the most part. Then in 2012 joined Bellator for Bellator 79 and fought against Brett Rogers and won. His record at the time was 17 wins and 3 losses. Volkov fought in Bellator up until 2016, when he joined the UFC.
His debut was against Timothy Johnson, who was victorious. Alexander won that fight by a split decision. He later fought against great fighters like Stefan Struve and Alistar Overeem and won. His last fight was in June 2022 against Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Alexander won that fight as well.
Sean McCorkle – 6’7’’ – 200 cm
Sean McCorkle is a retired heavyweight MMA fighter with a professional record of 17 wins and seven losses. His first fight was back in 2005, and it was against Shane Paulson. McCorkle won that fight. In 2010 he joined UFC, and his first opponent was Mark Hunt. Again Sean won, and after winning that fight, he was on a 10-win streak.
He would lose against Stefan Struve in his next fight in UFC 124. In the next fight, McCorkle would lose as well against Christian Morecraft. Then he would go into a 6-win streak against opponents like Alex Rozeman and Richard White.
Sean retired in 2014, and his last fight was a rematch with Richard White, where Sean lost via armbar.
Travis Browne – 6’7’’ – 200 cm
Travis Browne is a retired American Mixed Martial Artist. He holds a record of 18 wins, seven losses, and one draw. Travis started his career in 2009 when he won a fight against Evan Langford.
Browne, also known as “Hapa,” was a basketball player in high school and college. He began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 26 and shortly moved on to boxing. Despite entering MMA later in life, he started with a remarkable 9-0 winning streak.
Travis joined UFC in 2010 and had a successful debut against James McSweeney. He won that fight via TKO. He competed in the UFC and won fights against powerful opponents like Stefan Struve and Alistar Overeem.
Browne retired in 2017 after a loss from Alexei Oeinik.
Ciryl Gane – 6’6’’ – 198 cm
In 2019, the outstanding athlete made his professional debut in the UFC. The fight was against Rafael Pessoa, his first UFC victory. Gane won the opening round with an arm-triangle choke. He was shortly followed by a series of confrontations in which he got the Performance of the Night Award.
Unfortunately, Ciryl was injured in 2020 after being struck on his Pneumothorax during training. As a result, he was forced to withdraw from the UFC 249 competition 2020. He was slated to face Shamil Abdurakhimov. In contrast, the combat was rescheduled four times before being canceled.
Following his recovery, he won at UFC 256 against Junior Dos Santos and again against Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Gane faces Alexander Volkov on June 26, 2021, at UFC Fight Night 190. He won by unanimous vote.
Ciryl has competed in 9 games as a professional MMA athlete and has won every single one. His MMA style is a cross between Muay Thai and Kickboxing.
His breakthrough came when he battled Derrick Lewis for the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship on August 7, 2021. Ciryl Gane’s triumph over Derrick Lewis meant much more than a crown. The good news is that he won the one-sided brawl in round three through technical knockout. He won the Performance of the Night award for his fighting in the match.
Aleksandar Rakic – 6’5’’ – 196 cm
Aleksandar Raki is a 30-year-old Serbian fighter with a 14-3-0 pro-MMA record. Raki most recently fought Jan Bachowicz on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at UFC Fight Night. In the Light Heavyweight division, Aleksandar Raki was defeated by Jan Bachowicz via KO/TKO in Round 3. He has 14 victories with a 72% finish record, including nine knockouts, one submission, and four decisions.
On October 15, 2011, Rakic made his professional debut against Christian Radke on the regional circuit. He lost his first MMA bout to Christian Radke, who came into the battle with a 0-0-0 professional MMA record. Christian Radke defeated Aleksandar by Submission in Round 1.
Rakic made his UFC debut on September 2, 2017, against Francimar Barroso on the preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 115, with an 8-1-0 professional MMA record. He defeated Francimar Barroso by Decision. Rakic has fought in the UFC an additional eight times since his debut. His UFC record now stands at 6-2-0.
Rakic’s most recent defeat was against Jan Bachowicz at UFC Fight Night on May 14, 2022. Then he was defeated by Jan Bachowicz via KO/TKO in Round 3.
Alistair Overeem – 6’5’’ – 195 cm
Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem is one of the world’s most talented martial artists and one of the few to have succeeded in mixed martial arts and worldwide K-1 style kickboxing. Overeem has sparred with several of the top fighters in MMA, including “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (twice), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (twice), Vitor Belfort (twice), and others.
Overeem’s enormous power, 6’5″ size, and world-class technical striking ability make him difficult to engage in the early stages of a fight. Overeem is an aggressive fighter who is comfortable rushing in and punching first in exchanges. He has won several fights early on with great combinations. He is also an accomplished grappler with a particularly lethal Guillotine Choke.
Following his victory at UFC 146, Overeem was named the number one challenger for Junior Dos Santos’ heavyweight belt. Unfortunately, the fight, which was supposed to take place at UFC 146, never occurred because the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Overeem for excessive testosterone levels.
After his ban, Overeem would meet Antonio Silva at UFC 156. Overeem was favored in this bout and anticipated earning a title chance if he won. On the other hand, Silva pulled off another upset by knocking out Overeem in the third round of the bout.
Overeem is getting old for this sport, and he did talk about his retirement. He did have some regrets about not having the UFC belt, but on the other hand, he is proud of his career and what he accomplished throughout the years.
Stipe Miocic – 6’5’’ – 195 cm
Stipe Miocic is a 39-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion from the United States with a professional MMA record of 20-4-0. Miocic most recently fought Francis N’Gannou on Saturday, March 27, 2021, at UFC 260. In the Heavyweight division, Stipe Miocic was defeated by Francis N’Gannou via KO/TKO in Round 2.
Stipe Miocic has 20 victories with a 75% finish record, including 14 knockouts, one submission, and five decisions. On February 20, 2010, Miocic made his professional debut against Corey Mullis on the regional circuit. He got off to a winning start in his career, defeating Corey Mullis, who came into the bout with a 0-1-0 professional MMA record. Stipe Miocic KO/TKO’d Corey Mullis at 0:17 of Round 1.
Miocic made his UFC debut on October 8, 2011, against Joey Beltran on the preliminary card of UFC 136. He had a 6-0-0 professional MMA record at the time. Stipe Miocic defeated Joey Beltran by decision at 5:00 of Round 3. Miocic has fought in the UFC 18 times since his debut. His UFC record is 14-4-0.
Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris – 6’5’’ – 195cm
“The Big Ticket” Walt Harris is a 39-year-old male fighter from the United States with a pro-MMA record of 13-10-0. Harris has 13 victories with a perfect finish rate, including 13 knockouts. Harris most recently fought Marcin Tybura on June 5, 2021, at UFC Fight Night. He was defeated by Marcin Tybura in the Heavyweight division via KO/TKO in Round 1.
On March 14, 2011, Harris made his professional debut against Justin Thornton on the regional circuit. He got off to a winning start in his career, defeating Justin Thornton, who came into the bout with a 2-5-0 professional MMA record. Walt Harris won via KO/TKO over Justin Thornton.
Harris made his UFC debut on November 30, 2013, against Jared Rosholt, on the preliminary card of The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale, with a 6-1-0 professional MMA record. Then he was defeated by Jared Rosholt by Decision in Round 3. Harris has fought in the UFC 16 times since his debut. His UFC record is 6-9-0 with one no-contest.
Anthony “Lionheart” Smith – 6’4’’ – 193 cm
Anthony “Lionheart” Smith is a 34-year-old fighter from the United States with a pro-MMA record of 36-17-0. Smith most recently fought Magomed Ankalaev on July 30, 2022, at UFC 277. Then he was defeated by Magomed Ankalaev in the Light Heavyweight division by KO/TKO in Round 2.
Anthony Smith has 36 victories, with a 95% finish record, comprising 18 knockouts, 15 submissions, and two decisions.
Smith made his professional debut on the regional circuit on February 29, 2008, against Dave Moran. He got off to a winning start in his career, defeating Moran, who came into the bout with a 0-0-0 professional MMA record. Then Anthony submitted Dave in Round 2.
Smith made his UFC debut on June 8, 2013, against Antônio Braga Neto on the preliminary event of UFC on FUEL TV 10: Nogueira vs. Werdum 2. He had a professional MMA record of 18-9-0. Then Anthony was submitted by Antônio in the first round.
Following his time in the UFC, Smith fought his next bout at VFC on December 14, 2013, in the co-main event of VFC 41.
Smith returned to the UFC on February 21, 2016, after eight fights outside of the company, to face Leonardo Guimares on the preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 83. His professional MMA record stands at 25-11-0 at the time of his UFC return. Smith competed in the UFC a total of 18 times through 2022. His UFC record currently stands at 11-7-0.
[BONUS] Joelison “Ninão” Silva – 7’9’’ – 237 cm
Joelison Fernandes da Silva, known as Ninão, a Brazilian former MMA fighter in the heavyweight division, is recognized as Brazil’s tall man. He is 7’9 tall He is the second tallest man alive in the world. On November 15, 2014 “Sertao Combate” martial arts event witnessed one of the most disparate matches in MMA history when Joelison da Silva faced a fighter named Tatu (0-2) with a height of 5’6 (169cm). As expected, Silva won this fight.