Top 15 Vegan Fighters in UFC History – Surprising Facts

Not all were born or raised as vegetarians. Still, some fighters voluntarily decided on a plant-based diet when they tried it and saw its qualities. Although it is ironic at first that blood-blooded fighters do not eat meat, Veganism is a growing trend whose diet suits individuals of martial arts and improves their performance. Plates full of herbs do not prevent them from being absolute beasts both in training and in the octagon.

Nick Diaz

Nickolas Robert Diaz was born in 1983 in Stockton, California, U.S. Just like his younger brother, he holds a 3rd Degree BJJ black belt under the tutelage of Cesar Gracie and is a boxing student of Richard Perez with incredible boxing pressure, hellish submissions, and of course high cardiovascular performance.

Nick is a former Strikeforce, WEC, and IFC champion who has fought in three divisions throughout his 38 bouts. The elder Diaz has 26 victories, of which 13 are knockouts, eight submissions, five decisions, and 10 defeats. Diaz is also no stranger to the boxing world, where he achieved one victory.

Nick competed in various world organizations where, like his younger brother, he never chose his opponents and met many sports legends. He is one of the first fighters to adopt a vegan diet, which he mostly adheres to during the preparation for the competition, because of which, Nick says, he avoided tough weight cuts.

Alex Caceres

Alex Bruce Leeroy Caceres was born in 1988 in Miami, Florida, USA., and comes from the Freedom Fighters MMA club. Alex is a complete MMA fighter with 21 wins, four knockouts, seven submissions, ten decisions, and 14 losses. He has been a UFC fighter since 2011, for whose organization he has fought as many as 29 matches in three categories, and he is still active and fun to watch.

Alex has also tested his abilities in submission grappling. As a UFC fighter, he has been awarded several times with various bonuses for his always attractive performances. Alex enjoys fighting more than anything and is one of the few fighters whose title is not his goal. Caceres introduced a vegan diet a year before he was going to compete for the UFC, which eventually became a lifestyle that suited him perfectly and made him feel much healthier and more energetic.

Mac Danzig

Mac Danzig was born in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Mac is a BJJ blackbelt holder and a high-quality grappler who excelled as a submission artist in amateur MMA competitions. As a professional, he has 22 victories and 11 submissions.

Danzig is the winner of the sixth Ultimate Fighter, a former King Of the Cage champion with four defenses of the lightweight title, and has won belts from lesser-known competitions such as the IFC, Gladiator Challenge, and the CFL Welterweight Junior Championship. Danzig is of German and Scottish roots and went through many organizations before joining the UFC, where he made 13 appearances.

He adopted a vegan diet in 2004 out of respect for animals and advocates for animal rights. Mac says that eating animal flesh disgusts him and that he’s losing weight more easily and has much more energy. Danzig also went on a 12-fight winning streak after adopting a vegan diet.

Ashlee Evans-Smith

Ashlee Nicole Evans-Smith, known as Rebel Girl, was born in 1987 in Ukiah, California. At the age of 23, she performed for the first time as an amateur fighter, where, after two years of competition, she achieved a streak of five wins and four losses against highly competitive female fighters.

In 2013, Ashlee entered the arena professionally and won the CFA Women’s Featherweight Championship in the second match. The following year, she signed for the UFC, where she currently competes with three wins and six losses. She has perfectly adapted her vegan diet to her martial arts needs.

She prefers all vegan meals during the day instead of classic starvation. Ashlee is a passionate vegan, and her motto is to eat more during the day but in small portions. Ashley also dilutes her meals with protein shakes from time to time to provide the right amount of protein for her body.

James Wilks

James Brett Wilks was born in 1978 in Leicestershire, England. The Lightning owns multiple black belts in BJJ, taekwondo, kickboxing and a Jeet Kune Do skill instructor. James’ MMA career was short and lasted seven years, and he had 11 bouts with seven wins and four losses.

The resourceful grappler with four submission wins made his UFC debut in 2009 when he won the Ultimate Fighter 9 Welterweight tournament. In the next two years, until his retirement, he appeared three more times under the lights of the UFC, winning only once.

However, James turned to other things in life, such as self-defense instruction and English film production, and what is related to today’s topic is that he is a well-known vegan activist whose diet he strictly adheres to and promotes a plant-based and healthy lifestyle. Like the vegan star, Wilks founded the active nutrition company ȲTA (pronounced as “fight-ah”).

Abel Trujillo

Abel Nazario Trujillo was born in 1983 in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. As a young man, he performed in national wrestling competitions and won many, which served as an excellent base for him when he switched to MMA. This member of the Blackzilians MMA team appeared as a professional in 2009, and it took him a painstaking 13 matches to reach the world’s biggest stage.

In five years of performance in the UFC octagon, he managed to string together 11 appearances against quality fighters, achieving six wins, four losses, and one no-contest. Abel has been inactive since 2017 due to personal problems, and he says that the Vegan Diet has reborn him mentally and physically.

He completely eliminated his dark thoughts and frequent mood swings after eating meat. He discovered that he is much happier with his new lifestyle, and the peace of mind he achieved cannot be bought.

Mark Hunt

Mark The Super Samoan Hunt was born in South Auckland, New Zealand 1973. Mark is an experienced and successful kickboxer with 43 matches, including 30 wins, and an MMA fighter with almost 30 matches and 13 wins, and he mostly shut down his opponents. He has been engaged in martial arts professionally since 1999, and his career extends until the end of 2018.

This sports veteran has weathered the storms of the Octagon against the legendary names. Hunt fought for smaller organizations and is also experienced in matches at Pride organization. 2010, Mark came to the UFC, where he fought 18 fights until his retirement in 2018. But who would have thought that the world’s heaviest hitter eats plants?

Namely, in 2015, Mark decided on a vegan diet after watching undercover video footage of the interior of a factory farm. His Facebook account also features several posts dedicated to animal rights defense.

Aaron Simpson

Aaron Michael Simpson was born in 1974 in Gunnison, Colorado, United States. He is a retired MMA fighter and Senior NCAA Division I wrestler with over 100 matches, wins, and a purple belt in BJJ. Simpson performed as a professional in 2000 and reached the WEC, which was later transferred to the UFC.

However, Aaron paved his way to the UFC with five finishes, and he served a series of knockouts in his debut and the following two fights. His MMA career lasted 13 years, recording 12 wins and five losses. Family influence and violence against animals are the reasons why Aaron changed his lifestyle.

“A-train” wanted to be a good role model for his children and raise them in the same spirit he had been in for ten years. He praised the regeneration after training thanks to the vegan diet and relaxed mood, so he recommends it to everyone, even his children.

Tom Duquesnoy

Tom Phillipe Duquesnoy was born in 1993 in Lens, France, and is the youngest vegan on our list. He started MMA for self-defense reasons and then achieved an amateur career of seven wins and one loss. He appeared as a professional in 2012 and performed until 2018, briefly but successfully.

He is the winner of the BAMMA championship in bantamweight and featherweight, the Killa-Cam Championship, and the BB-Beatdown Grand Prix tournament. The Jackson Wink MMA team member said goodbye to the sport after three matches in the UFC and ended his career with 16 wins and two losses.

He is a proponent of a healthy and vital lifestyle, more precisely, a plant-based one, and he readily admits it. Although he trains in a very demanding physical sport, Tom eats only once a day, and that is a salad with good fats, from which he says he gets enough energy. His diet also keeps him at his fighting weight and allows him to always be ready for a match.

Jon Koppenhaver (War Machine)

Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver was born in 1981 in Simi Valley, California, USA. War Machine unfortunately ruined his career by ending up in prison due to a toxic relationship but left behind a career of 14 wins, eight knockouts, and six submissions, with six losses. Jon is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

During his career, he only went to a decision once, which justifies his nickname. In his seven-year career, he fought in the welterweight division of various organizations and only appeared twice for the UFC, which did not prevent him from being honored with the Knockout and Fight of The Night bonuses.

The master finisher has also done three matches with two wins in Bellator. Koppenhaver has been a vegan for many years. He decided to take this step because of the depression and anxiety problems he had when he was young to relax his mental state.

Rashad Evans

Rashad Anton Evans was born in 1979 in Niagara Falls, New York, United States. He started his MMA career with wrestling as an NCAA Division I wrestler. Rashad is a no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Rolles Gracie and a Gaidojutsu black belt. He participated in the second Ultimate Fighter, whose tournament he won.

Rashad performed 23 times for the UFC with 14 wins, eight losses, and one no-contest. Evans is a former light heavyweight champion of the UFC and a Hall of Famer who has been awarded bonuses several times. Even at 44, Evans remains active and fights in the Eagle FC promotion, where he has won one since 2022.

He adopted a vegan diet after leaving the UFC in 2018. Rashad says he had an epiphany after his mushroom trip. Evans claims that the session with mushrooms opened new horizons for him, and the adopted vegan diet helped him both in terms of health and hygiene.

Paul Craig

Paul “Bearjew” Craig was born in 1987 in Airdrie, Scotland. Paul is another in a line of gifted grapplers on this list who holds a BJJ black belt under Brian Gallacher, is the winner of the British Pro Championship in BJJ 2015, and is a bronze medalist in the ADCC absolute category in the same year.

As an amateur, Craig finished all his opponents in three fights by submission in the first round. He continued the streak in professional waters, where today, he has 17 wins with 13 submissions and four knockouts. Although Paul started getting his first defeats after signing with the UFC, he was awarded multiple times with UFC bonuses after his spectacular grappling performances.

Craig turned to a vegan diet due to inflammation in his joints due to impact damage from the fights he received. But as you can see from this interview, he broke his vegan diet during the period when he went to middleweight. During that time, he was getting animal proteins such as eggs or dairy products, but as he said, he really disliked it.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Karolina Kowalkiewicz was born in 1985 in Łódź, Poland. She got into martial arts through Krav Maga, after which she switched to Muay Thai and had her first and only amateur match against the famous Joanna Jędrzejczyk, where she unfortunately lost. She experienced her success at KSW, where she won the flyweight belt in her third professional fight.

Karolina appeared for the UFC in 2015, where she still fights today. After ten consecutive victories, Karolina got a chance for the UFC belt, which unfortunately was held by her former opponent Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She also lost in that match.

Kowalkiewicz switched to a vegetarian diet in 2019 when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease to combat the effects of the disease. Karolina says she’s used a fully vegan diet that helps her stay in shape despite not preparing for a fight. But whether she is 100% vegan, we can’t say for sure. According to her Instagram account, she calls herself a “vegetarian, animal-loving traveler.

Nate Diaz

Nathan Donald Diaz was born in 1985 in Stockton, California, US. He is one of the most famous faces of the UFC, the winner of the fifth Ultimate Fighter, and he performed under their lights for 15 years, where he did the most fights. Diaz is a UFC record holder and has been awarded several times with achievements such as knockouts, submissions, performance, and fight of the night bonuses.

Nate holds a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie, which gives him dangerous grappling skills. With coach Richard Perez, he has brought his boxing skills to a high level. In 34 matches, Nate has 21 victories, 12 of which are submission finishes, and he is also known for his decision victories due to his inexhaustible cardio.

Diaz is one of the most famous MMA vegetarian fighters. There’s a lot of talk about Nate Diaz being vegan, but in this fresh video from 2023, he says he’s almost vegan but breaks it by eating seafood and eggs. So, unfortunately, we can’t call him a 100 % vegan. But he gave up meat at the age of 18 and strictly follows a vegan diet when he prepares for a fight, and he attributes his fighting success to his diet. Let’s see if Nate will keep his vegan diet intact in the future.

Jon Fitch

Jon Fitch was born in 1978 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. He dedicated 18 years to fighting and became a sport veteran with a record of 32 wins and eight losses. Jon’s way of winning was mostly by decision, which is no surprise considering he is an NCAA Division I wrestler and black belt in BJJ.

Jon won the WSOF Welterweight Championship as the oldest champion with five title defenses. In the UFC, he had a great winning streak of eight wins and challenged the famous GSP for the title, but unfortunately lost.

In 2011, Fitch fully switched to a vegan diet after discovering regeneration benefits without side effects on his strength, weight, and energy, which was enough to change his lifestyle. Unfortunately, he started losing weight after switching to a vegan diet, so he was 100% vegan for around 6-8 months. Fitch admitted that he likes to eat a piece of meat from time to time, but only to gain muscle mass, and despite this, he remains committed to a vegan diet.

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Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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