The 8 Best Irish MMA Fighters of All Time

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The Emerald Isle punches well above its weight in producing some of the world’s most successful mixed martial arts fighters. Read on as we examine the best MMA fighters of Irish heritage based on their records, skills, and influence in competitive fighting before and after they fought professionally.

1 – Conor McGregor

We all know Conor as “The Notorious” one who took down José Aldo for the featherweight championship in just 13 seconds, setting the record for the fastest title fight victory in UFC history. McGregor has earned quite a reputation for intimidating his opponents in the weeks leading up to a fight, with his loud personality often lighting up sports news networks. All of this is backed up by a very respectable 22-6 record in the UFC.

With those wins accumulating, McGregor’s spot as one of the best Irish MMA fighters of all time is cemented by becoming the first UFC fighter to hold the featherweight and lightweight championship simultaneously. His dominance is no surprise, as “The Notorious” is feared for his precise punches and quick feet. We wouldn’t bet against this Irishman on a betting site like casinos.com, knowing his track record against opponents.

2 – Joe Duffy

Conor McGregor has only six losses on his UFC record, one of which was to “Irish Joe” Duffy early on in McGregor’s fighting career. The 2010 match lasted just 40 seconds, with Duffy forcing a submission. Joe’s record in the UFC is a very strong 16-5, with victories against Mitch Clarke and Dustin Poirier, and was feared for his submission ability as most of his wins came from grappling. Duffy recently retired and will be known more for his fighting skills than anything outside the ring, as many consider him a humble, quiet fighter.

3 – Neil Seery

Seery retired from the UFC in 2017 with a record of 16-13. He earned a Flyweight Championship in Cage Warriors. Still, his professional career is said to have started after he got a call to replace an injured Ian McCall for a fight against Brad Pickett with just two weeks’ notice. Seery lost the match but earned a reputation for solid fighting and began working with the UFC, knowing he didn’t have a shot at earning a title, having started his career relatively late in his mid-30s. 

4 – Norman Parke

Long-time UFC fans might know “Stormin” Norman Parke as the winner of the 2012 show The Ultimate Fighter, which was a major reason for the rise of the UFC and MMA as a sport. His performance earned him a UFC contract, which has led to an outstanding 23-6-1 record. Parke’s most convincing victory may be against Naoyuki Kotani, a two-round knockout that lasted all of 3:41. Much like Joe Duffy, Norman prefers to spend his time training rather than providing sound bites for media outlets, which has served him well. 

5 – Paddy Holohan

Paddy established himself in the UFC’s flyweight division as a fantastic fighter with a 12-2-1 record, and his only losses came against Louis Smolka and Chris Kelades. Holohan, known as “The Hooligan”, was known for choke holds, which led to seven of his professional victories. Unfortunately, a rare genetic blood disorder caused Holohan to begrudgingly retire early due to serious health risks. 

“The Hooligan” makes our list for his outstanding record while competing at the highest level and his quiet, confident leadership outside the ring, even after retirement with his ownership of Holohan Martial Arts Academy. 

6 – James Gallagher

“The Strabanimal” comes from Strabane, Ireland, and is still in the prime of his UFC career with a 12-3 professional record. At one point, James was seen as one of the best fighting prospects out of Ireland in years. Gallagher has traversed multiple weights before finding the most success as a featherweight fighter. More recently, he had to take a couple of years off due to injury, but he is back fighting with all the swagger he had before. Aside from McGregor, Gallagher is the only fighter on our list who still fights professionally, and we look forward to seeing his future successes.

7 – Charlie Ward

Ward currently fights in the Bellator MMA middleweight class and was deemed a teammate of McGregor when they briefly fought in the UFC at the same time. Charlie’s nickname in competitive fighting is “Relentless”, and he has proven that with a 3-3 record on the biggest stage and 10-7 overall. 

8 – Aisling Daly

We can’t finish this list without mentioning a successful female fighter who started off as a boxer. Aisling Daly beat Carla Benitez during Cage Warriors 63 and participated in The Ultimate Fighters, the platform the UFC publicised, which was the start of a women’s division they would soon sign Daly onto. She defeated Ericka Almeida at UFC Fight Night 76 before a raucous crowd in her hometown of Dublin and retired shortly after due to health complications. Daly made a name for herself not just in Ireland but worldwide and has become a women’s competitive fighting icon.


While few professional fighters make the ranks of the UFC, Ireland has sent many solid boxers and grapplers to the world stage. Many of the fighters we mentioned have retired and continue to support the fighting community through coaching and publicity. Others, like James Gallagher and Conor McGregor, continue to make a name for themselves and their country while new Irish prospects hope to rise to their levels.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years