With Florida fighters like these paving the way for new talent, the future of MMA in the Sunshine State looks rosy.
In his two active decades in MMA, Jorge Masvidal fought under the Bellator, Strikeforce, AFC, and UFC banners, among others. He won the AFC Welterweight Championship early in his career and went on to feature in three ‘Fight of the Night’ contests in the UFC. He also claimed the coveted ‘Performance of the Night’ four times during his time in the UFC.
1. Jorge Masvidal (Miami)
Masvidal won 35 of his 52 fights in the welterweight and lightweight divisions, with 16 coming via knockout. Of his 17 losses, only two ended in knockouts. In a career that included several highlights, two likely stand out above the rest.During her time in the UFC, Ansaroff met and married Amanda Nunes. Her wife is the former two-division UFC champion widely regarded as the greatest female MMA fighter of all time. In 2021, Ansaroff began fighting in the Octagon using her married name, first as a strawweight, before moving back to flyweight. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is our pick as the best MMA fighter to come out of Florida.Over the next eight years until her retirement in 2022, Ansaroff fought nine times under the UFC banner. She won five of those fights. These included her rear-naked choke submission win over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. The result prompted her opponent’s retirement. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal’s successful 20-year tenure in MMA fighting ended in April this year. The fighter drew the curtain on a successful career at UFC 287 in his home state’s Kaseya Center. Unfortunately, he lost his final fight by unanimous decision to Gilbert Burns.In what was her final fight before retirement, she defeated Cynthia Calvillo by split decision at August 2022’s UFC on ESPN. This was her only flyweight fight under the UFC banner. With 11 wins and 7 losses in her 18 MMA fights, Nina Nunes is Florida’s most successful female MMA fighter. She also makes our overall list as one of the best to come out of the Sunshine State.
2. Pat Curran (Boca Raton, Palm Beach)
On the back of this knockout, “Gamebred” headlined the UFC 244 pay-per-view. The UFC’s 500th live event took place at Madison Square Gardens in New York in November 2019. On the night, he won the celebratory ‘BMF’ Championship by TKO against the bookmaker’s favorite Nate Diaz. Masvidal’s victory helped to shape the sports betting landscape in Florida, with the victory fast making him one of the state’s favorite sons.Pat Curran was a well-respected Florida High School wrestler. It was these wrestling accomplishments that earned him a spot on the Tapout MMA reality series. MMA followers began to take notice when he defeated Lazar Stojadinovic by unanimous decision in his second pro fight at XFO 23 in Crystal Lake.Florida may not have produced the same caliber of MMA fighters as New York’s Jon Jones or California’s Ronda Rousey, but then how many US states have? Through the years, several very capable MMA fighters have come out of the Sunshine State. Pat Curran wouldn’t lay down, though. A rematch with Straus at Bellator 114 in March 2014 saw him retake the championship. An appreciative crowd watched as he beat Straus by submission. When retiring at the age of 32, Curran had amassed 23 wins in his 32 professional MMA fights in the lightweight and featherweight divisions.
3. Nina Nunes née Ansaroff (Weston, Fort Lauderdale)
In April 2016, at the age of 33, Ovince Saint Preux headlined UFC 197 in Las Vegas. He fought against Jon Jones, widely regarded as the greatest American MMA fighter of all time. With the interim UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at stake, “OSP” put in a noteworthy performance against the odds. Saint Preux lost on a unanimous decision over five rounds.Floridians have every right to be proud of their MMA fighters in what is a highly competitive sport. Experts rank all the fighters we’ve mentioned within the Top 400 MMA performers of all time, no matter their weight divisions. Jorge Masvidal and Nina Nunes actually both sit just outside the Top 100 in the overall male and female lists respectively.MMA Fighting (Image: pexels.com)In his later years, Saint Preux stepped up to the heavyweight division where results have not been too kind. He remains a competitive opponent in both weight divisions, though. With the 4th-most wins in UFC light-heavyweight history, Saint Preux has done enough to make our list as one of Florida’s top MMA fighters.
Still active in the UFC at the age of 40, Ovince “OSP” Saint Preux is now a highly-regarded MMA journeyman. Currently fighting out of Knoxville, Tennessee, Saint Preux has a record of 43 professional MMA fights, with 26 wins.
4. Ovince Saint Preux (Immokalee, Collier County)
He performed well at Strikeforce, with eight wins from nine fights. His only loss came against Gegard Mousasi, the current Bellator #2 ranked middleweight. His Strikeforce win ratio earned Saint Preux a contract with the UFC, first appearing at UFC 159 in Newark, New Jersey in April 2013. He has fought under the UFC banner 25 times since, winning 13 and losing 12.MMA Females (Image: pixabay.com)Although he mainly fought out of Crystal Lake, Illinois, “Paddy Mike” Curran was born and has roots in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County, Florida. Now three years retired, Curran is a former two-time Bellator Featherweight World Champion. Due to this achievement, he makes our list of Florida’s top MMA fighters.After his 2008 professional MMA debut, “OSP” appeared as a light-heavyweight in XFC, VFC, and GTO Cage Fights events, among others. He compiled a 4-4 record over this period. Then, in 2010, Strikeforce came calling, offering Saint Preux a multi-fight deal. In July 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, as part of UFC 239’s main card, Jorge Masvidal fought Ben Askren. The fight lasted only 5 seconds, with Masvidal recording the fastest knockout in UFC history. He earned the ‘Performance of the Night’ and several 2019 ‘Knockout of the Year’ awards for his achievement. The knockout also cemented a new eight-fight UFC contract for Masvidal.
Nina Nunes fought most of her professional MMA fights under her maiden name, Ansaroff, debuting as a flyweight in 2010. Her big MMA break came after signing for Invicta FC and beating Munah Holland by TKO during 2013’s Invicta FC 7 in Kansas City, Missouri. Ansaroff won ‘Knockout of the Night’ for her performance and, before she knew it, was fighting as a strawweight in the UFC.Curran soon went on to sign for Bellator. He won the Bellator Featherweight World Championship in March 2012 by knocking out Joe Warren at Bellator 60 in Hammond, Indiana. After two successful title defenses, he lost his third championship defense to Daniel Straus. The defeat came at Bellator 106 in Long Beach, California, in November 2013.