The Thrill of NZ UFC Fighters

The Thrill of NZ UFC Fighters
Reading time: 10 minutes

Get ready to cheer on your favourite NZ UFC Fighters! February 23rd, 2023 marks the fourth-ever UFC event in New Zealand, and the Kiwi spirit is about to ignite. As the octagon excitement descends, dive into the dynamic world of UFC and its booming popularity in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Let Casino Crawler’s hand be your ringside pass to the heart-pounding realm of New Zealand’s MMA warriors.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just discovering the thrill, join me as we unravel the tales of the “whos who” of Kiwi Ultimate Fighting Championship contenders.

Let’s get started

Introduction to UFC

Embark on the heart-pounding journey of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a global MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) sensation conceived by Dana White in 1993. Beyond a mere sport, it’s a sensory experience that captivates the world. With millions packing arenas and billions tuning in on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, UFC is an adrenaline-fueled spectacle.

Picture two MMA fighters, masters of their craft, facing off in a cage. Feel the intensity as fists fly, kicks land, and the canvas becomes a battleground for diverse skills. UFC is not just about strength; it’s a showcase of strategy and sheer willpower.

From flyweight to heavyweight, each division unfolds with its unique rules, creating a tapestry of excitement. The roar of the crowd, the palpable sweat, and the anticipation of a knockout – that’s the essence of UFC. It’s not just a sport; it’s an immersive experience, with three five-minute rounds of unfiltered, unapologetic thrill.

How does the UFC Scoring System work?

In the thrilling world of UFC, the outcome isn’t always determined by a knockout or submission. Let’s unveil the scoring system that decides the victor:

  • Knockouts and Submissions: While a fight often concludes dramatically with a knockout or submission, most UFC battles are decided by the judges.
  • Ten-Point System: Three judges independently score each round on a scale of 1-10, awarding 10 points to the round winner and 9 or less to the other fighter. In rare instances, rounds may end in a 10-10 draw.
  • Final Score: Judges total their scores from each round, providing three distinct scorecards – one from each judge.
  • Decision Categories: When judges’ scores determine the outcome, it falls into categories like unanimous decision, majority decision, split decision, technical decision, unanimous draw, majority draw, split draw, or technical draw.

Scoring Each Round

  • 10-9: The most common score, given when a fighter clearly wins a round by effective striking, grappling, aggression, and octagon control.
  • 10-8: Awarded when one fighter dominates the round, showing superiority in multiple aspects. This could include significant knockdowns, submission attempts, or prolonged control.
  • 10-7: Rare and reserved for rounds where one fighter overwhelmingly dominates, demonstrating near-complete control and causing significant damage.

Kiwi Powerhouses: NZ UFC Fighters

In a land where rugby and cricket reign supreme, New Zealand quietly marks its territory in the UFC with a lineup of NZ UFC fighters that pack a punch as powerful as the All Blacks’ haka. These Kiwi warriors are rewriting the sporting narrative from the fields to the octagon. You can even bet on your favourite fighter and use your UFC knowlegde to increase your bankroll.

Get ready to meet the force behind the ferocity, as we explore New Zealand’s best MMA fighters in the UFC – proving that down under, the hits just keep on coming!

Name Record Rank KOs
Israel Adesanya 22-1-0 #3 Pound-for-Pound global MMA ranking 15
Robert Whittaker 23-6-0 #8 Pound-for-Pound MMA ranking 9
Kai Kara-France 23-9-0 #6 Flyweight ranking 11
Dan Hooker 21-11-0 #8 Lightweight ranking 10
Mark Hunt 13-14-1 Retired 10
Janay Harding 6-5 #7 Featherweight worldwide 4

Israel Adesanya – The Last Stylebender

Known as “The Last Stylebender,” Israel Adesanya’s journey from kickboxing to winning the UFC Middleweight Championship showcases his unparalleled precision.

Making his UFC debut back in 2018, Israel Adesanya now boasts a record of 22-1, he secured the title with victories over Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker.

Adesanya’s charisma and striking prowess make him a global UFC standout. Despite his recent legal issues, Israel remains a beloved character in the NZ UFC Scene.

Notable Victories

  • Robert Whittaker (UFC 243 – October 6, 2019): Israel Adesanya became the undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion by defeating Robert Whittaker via knockout in the second round of his title defence UFC win.
  • Yoel Romero (UFC 248 – March 7, 2020): In a closely contested title defence, Adesanya retained his championship with a unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero.
  • Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236 – April 13, 2019): Adesanya faced former title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, in an interim UFC Middleweight Championship bout, securing a unanimous decision victory in a thrilling contest.

Robert Whittaker – The Reaper

Dubbed “The Reaper,” Robert Whittaker’s unique blend of mixed martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu and karate fuels his rise in the middleweight division. As a former champion with a stunningly unique fighting style, Whittaker’s achievements include defeating Yoel Romero for the interim Middleweight title.

Despite losing to Israel Adesanya in 2019, Robert Whittaker is at the top of the middleweight rankings in the UFC, standing eighth pound-for-pound.

Notable Victories

  • Derek Brunson (UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Brunson – November 27, 2016): Whittaker won the fight against Derek Brunson via technical knockout in the first round, showcasing his striking skills.
  • Yoel Romero (UFC 213 – July 8, 2017): Whittaker faced Yoel Romero for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship and won via unanimous decision in a highly competitive bout.

Kai Kara-France – Dont Blink

Kai Kara-France is part of the elite New Zealand UFC roster despite losing his first fight in his UFC debut in 2018. This flyweight champion is all about action.

Transitioning from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to MMA, he’s earned two Fight-of-the-Night and Performance-of-the-Night honors. Kara-France’s electric style and 23-9 MMA record make him a force to reckon with.

Notable Victories

  1. Raulian Paiva (UFC 234 – February 9, 2019): In this UFC debut, Kai Kara-France secured a split decision victory against Raulian Paiva in a flyweight bout.
  2. Mark De La Rosa (UFC on ESPN+ 15 – August 31, 2019): Kara-France faced Mark De La Rosa and won the fight via unanimous decision, showcasing his skills in the flyweight division.

Dan Hooker – The Hangman

A versatile fighter with roots in kickboxing, Dan Hooker’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu elements make him a standout lightweight contender. Looking for a first-round knockout? Dan Hooker is your Man!

With a 22-11 record, Hooker’s attractive fighting style has earned him two Fight-of-the-Night and three Performance-of-the-Night recognitions. Currently ranked #8, he’s a top contender eyeing UFC greatness.

Notable Victories

  • Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Hooker – February 23, 2020): Hooker secured a unanimous decision win over the experienced Jim Miller in a co-main event bout.
  • Gilbert Burns (UFC 226 – July 7, 2018): Hooker won this lightweight bout against Gilbert Burns via first-round knockout, earning him a Performance of the Night bonus.

Mark Hunt – The Super Samoan

Mark Hunt, the trailblazer for New Zealand in UFC, is a former K-1 Grand Prix champion known as “The Super Samoan.” His powerful left hook and legendary knockout punches make him one of the most successful NZ fighters, earning three Fight-of-the-Night distinctions.

With a 30-13 kickboxing record and a dynamic MMA journey, Hunt remains a celebrated figure in UFC history.

Notable Victories

  • Mirko Cro Cop (Pride Shockwave 2005 – December 31, 2005): Mark Hunt scored a unanimous decision win over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in this Pride Fighting Championships bout, showcasing his striking prowess.
  • Cheick Kongo (UFC 144 – February 26, 2012): Hunt secured a first-round TKO victory against Cheick Kongo in the UFC, displaying his powerful striking in the heavyweight division.
  • Roy Nelson (UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson – September 20, 2014): Hunt faced Roy Nelson in the main event and won by knockout in the second round, earning a Performance of the Night bonus.

Shane Young -The Featherweight Dynamo

With an explosive style, Young’s standout performances, like his clash with Austin Arnett, exhibit his resilience and captivating presence in the featherweight division.

New Zealand is home to some of the best fighters in the UFC, and several fighters from the country have made their mark in the sport, many of whom started MMA fighting from city kickboxing.

Notable Victories

  • Alexander Volkanovski (UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Tybura – November 19, 2017): Shane Young made his UFC debut against Alexander Volkanovski, a highly skilled fighter. Despite facing a tough opponent, Young showcased his resilience, taking the fight on short notice.
  • Rolando Dy (UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Edwards – June 23, 2018): Shane Young secured his first victory in the UFC against Rolando Dy. The fight ended in a TKO in the second round, marking a significant win for the Kiwi featherweight.

Up and Coming NZ UFC Fighters – Ones To Watch

As New Zealand continues to cement itself in the UFC world, producing some of the biggest names in the sport, we also have some fin fighters waiting in the wings.

Kiwi Fighters, Brogan Anderson “Arm Collecter”, Matt Vaile, and Mike Diamond “Blood Diamond”, Have made their UFC Debut and aren’t just shaking up the scene; they’re bringing a whole new level of energy and excitement to the world of UFC. These guys are the ones to watch!

Ultimate fighting championship in New Zealand

UFC has been a part of the New Zealand sports scene for several years now. The first UFC event in New Zealand was in 2004 when former UFC Middleweight champion Rich Franklin faced off against Anderson Silva.

Since then, UFC has become increasingly popular in the country. In 2009, the first UFC event was held in Auckland, and it was an instant hit with local fans. Since then, several other events have been held in New Zealand, including a UFC Fight Night card in 2014.

These events often draw crowds of fans in the thousands, and on many occasions have caused large-scale city traffic jams and congestion.

UFC Championship Categories

The UFC has a variety of championships across different weight classes, each representing the pinnacle of achievement for fighters in their respective divisions. Some of the most popular UFC championships include:

  1. UFC Heavyweight Championship: This title is for fighters competing in the heaviest weight class, over 205 pounds (93 kg).
  2. UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Fighters in this weight class, between 186 and 205 pounds (84 and 93 kg), compete for this title.
  3. UFC Middleweight Championship: The middleweight division, with fighters ranging from 171 to 185 pounds (77 to 84 kg), features this championship.
  4. UFC Welterweight Championship: This title is contested by fighters in the 156 to 170-pound (70 to 77 kg) weight class.
  5. UFC Lightweight Championship: Fighters in the lightweight division, ranging from 146 to 155 pounds (66 to 70 kg), vie for this championship.
  6. UFC Featherweight Championship: This title is for fighters in the 136 to 145-pound (62 to 66 kg) weight class.

Historical UFC Events in New Zealand

It’s not often we get the big names fighting on Kiwi ground, but we have gotten a look in when it comes to UFC, having hosted 3 remarkable UFC events in the last decade.

  • UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs. Marquardt (June 28, 2014): This event was held in Auckland and featured a main event bout between James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt.
  • UFC Fight Night: Te Huna vs. Manuwa (June 28, 2014): Also held in Auckland, this event showcased a main event clash between James Te Huna and Jimi Manuwa.
  • UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Hunt (June 11, 2017): Hosted in Auckland, this event’s main event showcased a heavyweight clash between Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt.

These events have all been incredibly popular, and they have helped to raise the profile of the sport in New Zealand. Although New Zealand is a relatively small country, with a population of roughly 5 million people, the fighter fan base is significant.

We are primed and ready for Feb!

Where to Watch UFC in New Zealand

Not everyone is hopping on a plane to Vegas or jet-setting around the world to catch a Live UFC fight (dreams are free!), but luckily we have some other options for ya!

Live In-Person

UFC events in New Zealand are rare, but lucky for you we have one coming up! If a UFC event is coming to NZ it will generally be held in large arenas like Vector Arena and TSB Bank Arena, offering great surroundings and a vibrant atmosphere. S

Live on TV

Lucky for us we have great access to any fight we want right from our smart TV, computer or smartphone! you can watch pretty much any UFC event live on the UFC website for a subscription fee. Fights are also available on Sky Sports and ESPN.

Even better, check your local Pub as many of them have fight night specials, so you can grab a bevvy and make a night of it with your mates!

Tips for Watching UFC in New Zealand

You don’t want to miss this unrivalled entertainment, and the chance to see UFC history in the making. We have expertly put together a few tips so you can watch these events live or on TV

  • Buy Tickets Early: Due to popularity, tickets sell out quickly; purchase from authorised services like Ticketmaster.
  • Arrive Early: Secure a good seat by arriving early, especially for crowded events.
  • Dress Comfortably: Prepare for a loud and rowdy atmosphere, bringing a light snack to avoid long vendor queues.
  • Parking Considerations: Beat the crowd by arriving early to secure parking, especially in city venues.


Get ready to cheer on our Kiwi UFC legends as they bring the heat to the octagon this February. From Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya’s killer precision to Dan “The Hangman” Hooker’s fearless moves, our fighters embody the true spirit of the haka in the MMA world.

With the epic UFC making its way to Auckland, we’re in for a wild ride! This article is your backstage pass to the untold stories and victories of our homegrown heroes.

So, grab a cold one, kick back, and join the whānau in celebrating New Zealand’s unstoppable force in the global UFC arena!



New Zealand Herald “

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Lincoln Trembley
Lincoln Trembley
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Lincoln is an expert in sports betting. With his skill and passion for trying our new brands in the iGaming industry, he frequently reviews sports betting sites and writes news about sports betting. Being a former sports trader, there’s not much he doesn’t know when it comes to sports betting.

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