Since the beginning of combat sports, spectators have been obsessed with giant fighters. Whether it’s the tallest boxers in history or the tallest MMA fighters in history, fight fans have always been enthralled by towering combatants.
As a combat sports fan for two decades, I have witnessed my fair share of exceedingly tall fighters. In this list, I’m going to break down the top 18 tallest MMA fighters in history.
Table of Contents
- 18. Ciryl Gane, 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
- 17. Travis Browne, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
- 16. Alexander Volkov, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
- 15. Sean McCorkle, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
- 14. Paul Varelans, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
- 13. Tim Sylvia, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
- 12. Emmanuel Yarborough, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
- 11. Dan Christison, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
- 10. Steve Mowry, 6 ft 8 in
- 9. Gan McGee, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
- 8. Wes Sims, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
- 7. Reuben de Jong, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
- 6. Semmy Schilt, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
- 5. Jan Nortje, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
- 4. Cory Peterson, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
- 3. Stefan Struve, 7 ft (2.13 m)
- 2. Hong Man Choi, 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
- 1. Paulo Cesar Silva, 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
18. Ciryl Gane, 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Birthday: April 12, 1990
MMA Record: 11-2
Accolades: Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion, second longest winning streak in UFC heavyweight division history (7), 2021 Sherdog Breakthrough Fighter of the Year
Ciryl Gane is currently the top ranked heavyweight contender in the UFC. The UFC’s first French heavyweight also happens to be one of the tallest MMA fighters of all time, towering at 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm).
Despite his size, Gane is regarded for his slick striking and impeccable footwork. He has often been described as a heavyweight that moves like a middleweight. He is highly regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world, with his only losses coming against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and current UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Gane has notable victories over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa, Alexander Volkov, and Junior dos Santos.
17. Travis Browne, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Birthday: July 17, 1982
MMA Record: 18-7
Accolades: Third most post-fight bonuses in UFC heavyweight division history (two Fight of the Night honors, four Knockout of the Night awards, and one Submission of the Night), World MMA Awards 2013 Comeback of the Year
Travis Browne is an American former MMA heavyweight known for his height, run in the UFC, and for being the husband of UFC icon Ronda Rousey. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Browne is the only fighter on this list to be of Polynesian descent.
Known for his devastating hands, 14 of Browne’s 18 MMA victories were via knockout. He has notable victories over Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, and Alistair Overeem.
Browne competed in the UFC from 2010 until his retirement from MMA in 2017. After his retirement, he married Ronda Rousey, the most famous female fighter in UFC history. The couple have a daughter together.
16. Alexander Volkov, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Birthday: October 24, 1988
MMA Record: 36-10
Accolades: M-1 Global Heavyweight Champion, Bellator Heavyweight World Champion, UFC Fight of the Night honors (one time), UFC Performance of the Night honors (two times)
Towering Russian MMA fighter Alexander Volkov uses his height and reach advantage to pick apart opponents from a distance. Referred to as “Drago” after the adversary in the Rocky IV film, Volkov has been a staple at the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division since 2016.
Known primarily for his striking, Volkov uses his long legs to keep his opponents at a distance while punishing them with kicks to the legs, body, and head. He has notable victories over Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, Roy Nelson, and Alexander Romanov.
15. Sean McCorkle, 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Birthday: July 17, 1976
MMA Record: 20-7
Accolades: Undefeated in the Legends of Fighting Promotion, featured heavyweight of the UFC Undisputed 3 video game, submitted the “World’s Strongest Man” with a kimura
Sean McCorkle is not just one of the tallest MMA fighters in history, he is also one of the heaviest. McCorkle competed most of his career in the super heavyweight division, a weight class that has no limit. Normally, the heavyweight limit is 265 lbs.
McCorkle had a short stint in the UFC that saw him get a win over Mark Hunt before losing his next two fights and ultimately being released from his contract. He would go on to fight once in Bellator and twice in KSW, where he had a heated rivalry with “The World’s Strongest Man” Mariusz Pudzianowski.
In his first bout against Pudzianowski, McCorkle won via kimura submission. However, he lost the rematch via unanimous decision. McCorkle retired from MMA in 2014.
14. Paul Varelans, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Birthday: September 17, 1979
Death: January 16, 2021
MMA Record: 9-9
Accolades: One time UFC tournament finalist, two-time UFC tournament semi-finalist
Paul “The Polar Bear” Varelans is one of the UFC’s original giants. He made his MMA debut at UFC 6 all the way back in 1995, where he beat Cal Worsham via elbow KO before losing his subsequent bout against Tank Abbott.
Varelans would go on to become a finalist at UFC 7, finishing Gerry Harris by TKO and Mark Hall via americana submission. A loss to Marco Ruas prevented him from winning the tournament.
Although Varelans didn’t have a very long career, having only fought in MMA from 1995 until 1998, he goes down as one of the tallest MMA fighters in history at an impressive 6 feet 8 inches. He passed away from COVID-19 in 2021.
13. Tim Sylvia, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Birthday: March 5, 1976
MMA Record: 31-10
Accolades: Two-time UFC Heavyweight champion, three total title defenses, PWP Heavyweight champion, ISKA MMA Super Heavyweight champion
Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia is a throwback heavyweight who signed with the UFC in 2002 and won the UFC heavyweight title in 2006. Towering at 6 feet 8 inches tall with an impressive 80 inch reach, Sylvia was most known for his striking.
Sylvia had a long-time rivalry with former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, who is still active to this day. The pair fought a total of four times; three times in the UFC and once in ONE Championship. Arlovski beat Sylvia for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 51, but lost his title against Sylvia at UFC 59. Sylvia would take a decision victory over Arlovski at UFC 61, with their ONE fight ending in a no-contest due to an illegal strike.
Sylvia retired from MMA in 2013, but has recently re-entered the world of combat sports. He signed a deal with SlapFIGHT Championship, winning his first bout by knocking out his opponent in the fifth round in April, 2023.
12. Emmanuel Yarborough, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Birthday: September 5, 1964
Death: December 21, 2015
MMA Record: 1-2
Accolades: 1995 Amateur Sumo World Champion, NCAA All American wrestler, second place in the US Judo Nationals 1989
Emmanuel Yarborough wasn’t just incredibly tall – he was truly a giant. Not only did he stand at 6 feet 8 inches, he also weighed around 600 pounds (272 kg)! Back in the days when the UFC had traditional fighters, Yarborough was the representative for sumo wrestlers. He was only able to compete because in that era, there were no weight classes.
Yarborough’s MMA career was short-lived. He only had 3 professional bouts – including being knocked out by Keith Hackney at UFC 3 and by Daiju Takase at Pride 3. However, he did have a single victory – the incredibly rare smother submission. He defeated Tatsuo Nakano by laying on top of him, forcing the Japanese fighter to tap under his weight.
11. Dan Christison, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Birthday: April 26, 1972
MMA Record: 20-7
Accolades: UFC Fight of the Night honors, UFC Submission of the Night honors, WEC Super Heavyweight Champion
Dan “The Sandman” Christison is one of the tallest MMA fighters in history, but also one of the few fighters on this list to rely primarily on his grappling skills. Known for his wrestling and submissions, Christison collected 12 submission victories across his 20 wins in MMA.
Christison appeared on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra as a member of Hughes’ team. Things didn’t go well on the show, as he lost a decision to Seth Petruzelli. However, he managed to get a deal with the UFC and fought twice for the promotion.
Christison retired from MMA in 2010. He has notable wins over Ben Throwell and Brad Imes, also fighting against UFC legends like Dan Severn and Frank Mir.
10. Steve Mowry, 6 ft 8 in
Birthday: July 14, 1992
MMA Record: 10-0-1, 1 NC
Accolades: Undefeated in MMA, third-ranked Bellator heavyweight
Steve Mowry is an extremely tall MMA fighter who is the only undefeated heavyweight on this list. Currently ranked third in Bellator’s heavyweight rankings, Mowry has an impressive 10-0-1 record, with 1 no-contest.
Known primarily for his grappling, Mowry has racked up 4 submission victories in Bellator. He’s also collected two KO/TKO wins. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that all 10 of his victories have been finishes.
Mowry is a fighter to keep an eye on if you enjoy watching tall MMA fighters. At only 30 years old, Mowry is likely to be a heavyweight contender for a long time and may find his way into the UFC sooner rather than later.
9. Gan McGee, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Birthday: November 20, 1976
MMA Record: 13-5
Accolades: IFC Warriors Challenge 7 Winner, one of the few fighters to have competed in PRIDE, UFC, and WEC
Gan “The Giant” McGee lived up to his nickname, standing at a staggering 6 feet 10 inches tall (208.3 cm). McGee is also one of the few MMA fighters in history to have competed in the UFC, PRIDE, and WEC.
McGee made his UFC debut at UFC 28 in November, 2000, losing to Josh Barnett via TKO. He fought the aforementioned Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 44 in September, 2003, losing via TKO. However, the loss was overturned after Sylvia tested positive for steroids. Their fight was nicknamed the “Battle of Giants.”
McGee had retired from MMA in 2004, but made a brief comeback in 2008. He retired in 2009 after losing via KO in the Pure Combat promotion.
8. Wes Sims, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Birthday: October 12, 1979
MMA Record: 24-15
Accolades: Member of the “3 Amigos” with Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman, contestant on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, bitten by Mark Kyle in infamous moment
Wes Sims is a tall MMA fighter who fought in the UFC, WEC, and Strikeforce. Although he didn’t have a lot of success in the UFC, he had a lot of very memorable moments that will live forever in the promotion’s lore.
Sims is perhaps best known for his fight with Mike Kyle at UFC 47. Sims lost the bout via KO in the first round, but complained during his Octagon interview that Kyle had bitten him. As UFC commentator Joe Rogan pointed out, there was indeed a bite mark on Sims’ chest.
Another controversial moment in Sims’ career came during his first fight against Frank Mir. Mir extended his hand to go for a glove-touch as the fight started, but Sims ducked under and went for a takedown. When Mir attacked his arm going for an armbar, Sims slammed him and proceeded to stomp on his face, resulting in a disqualification.
Despite these controversial moments, Sims is recognized for his charity efforts with fellow UFC legends Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. Sims helped raise $51,000 to help pay for Coleman’s medical expenses after suffering complications after hip replacement surgery.
7. Reuben de Jong, 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Nationality: New Zealander
MMA Record: 2-0
Accolades: New Zealand’s Strongest Man (twice, 2004 and 2005), Impact Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion (twice)
Reuben “the Mountain Man” de Jong isn’t primarily known for being a tall MMA fighter, but he’s used his height and mass to make an incredibly interesting career for himself. De Jong not only competed in two MMA bouts (going 2-0) but also kickboxing and the WWE. In addition to his combat sports accomplishments, de Jong also had a stint in professional acting.
De Jong competed twice in MMA, once in 1999 and again in 2007. He won both bouts via decision. He was less successful in kickboxing, where he competed 4 times, amassing a 1-3 record. He had a brief stint with the WWE, but currently competes in the Impact Pro Wrestling promotion.
6. Semmy Schilt, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Birthday: October 27, 1973
MMA Record: 26-14
Accolades: Openweight Pancrase champion (two defenses), K-1 World Grand Prix champion (five times), first Glory Heavyweight champion
Semmy Schilt is an extremely tall MMA fighter and kickboxer from the Netherlands. He competed in the UFC, PRIDE, Pancrase, Glory, and K-1 kickboxing. Known as much for his striking as his enormous size, Schilt collected 20 KOs in kickboxing and 14 in MMA.
Although Schilt had a decent career in MMA, he is most known for his kickboxing achievements. He won championships in both Glory and K-1, as well as championships in full-contact karate competitions.
Schilt also had an acting career, appearing in 7 films between 2007 and 2022.
5. Jan Nortje, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Nationality: South African
Birthday: April 11, 1975
MMA Record: 2-6
Accolades: South African Kickboxing Super Heavyweight champion, All-African heavyweight champion (boxing), K-1 World Grand Prix semifinalist (2007)
Jan Nortje is a towering South African MMA fighter, kickboxer, and boxer who stands at 6 feet 11 inches. He’s competed in DREAM, Strikeforce, PRIDE, and K-1. His MMA career was short and unsuccessful, only winning twice in 8 fights. His kickboxing career was also a mixed bag, collecting 9 wins and 16 losses.
While Nortje’s MMA and kickboxing career was lackluster, he has a perfect 11-0 record in boxing, including 10 knockouts. Nortje retired from combat sports in 2013.
4. Cory Peterson, 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
MMA Record: 2-1
Not much is known about Cory “La Giant” Peterson other than he was a very tall MMA fighter who competed once in PRIDE in 2004. Peterson stands at a staggering 6 feet 11 inches, nearly 7 feet tall. He would go on to win two more MMA competitions in 2004 before apparently retiring from combat sports.
3. Stefan Struve, 7 ft (2.13 m)
Birthday: February 19, 1988
MMA Record: 29-13
Accolades: Tallest fighter in UFC history, third most finishes in UFC heavyweight history, second most post-fight bonuses in UFC heavyweight history, Cage Gladiators heavyweight champion
Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve holds the record for being the tallest UFC fighter in history. Standing at 7 feet tall, he lives up to his nickname. Known primarily for his career in the UFC, Struve also competed in kickboxing (4-0).
Struve debuted for the UFC in 2009 and competed in the promotion’s heavyweight division until his retirement in 2020. He has notable wins over Sean McCorkle, Pat Barry, Stipe Miocic, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Despite his height and incredible 84.5 inch (215 cm) reach, Struve preferred to use his grappling. Of his 29 wins in MMA, 18 came via submission.
2. Hong Man Choi, 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
Birthday: October 30, 1980
MMA Record: 4-5
Accolades: DREAM Super Hulk Tournament semifinalist, Road FC openweight runner-up, tallest MMA fighter in history (tied)
Hong Man Choi is tied with Paulo Cesar Silva for being the tallest MMA fighter in history, standing at an incredible 7 feet 2 inches. The South Korean giant also competed in kickboxing, collecting 13 wins and 9 losses.
Hong Man Choi competed in MMA from 2006 until 2009, during which time he fought legends like Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko (losing to both). He returned to MMA in 2015, fighting 4 more times before retiring again in 2016.
1. Paulo Cesar Silva, 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)
Birthday: July 21, 1962
MMA Record: 2-6
The tallest MMA fighter in history is Paulo Cesar Silva, more than living up to his nickname of “Giant Silva.” He competed 8 times in MMA, going only 2-6. However, Silva was also a successful basketball player for the Brazilian national team, as well as a professional wrestler.
Silva competed primarily in PRIDE, going 1-5 in the organization. Both of his wins in MMA came via kimura, including his last fight against Akebono Taro in 2006. Silva had a stint with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1998 and competed in Japanese pro wrestling from 2001 until 2008.
Who was the tallest MMA fighter?
Hong Man Choi and Paulo Cesar Silva were the tallest MMA fighters in history, both standing at 7’2’’ (218.4 cm).
Who was the shortest MMA fighter in history?
Gustavo Balart stands at 4’11’’ and currently competes for ONE Championship, making him the shortest MMA fighter in history. The shortest fighters in UFC history were Hector Sandoval and Fredy Serrano, two flyweights who are only 5’2’’ (157.48 cm) tall.
Do tall guys fight better in MMA?
Height is generally considered an advantage in MMA. However, it’s important to note that every physical attribute comes with advantages and disadvantages. Being taller gives a fighter greater range and makes them harder to hit, but a higher center of gravity theoretically makes them easier to take down.
It’s worth noting that only two of the top 18 tallest MMA fighters on this list were champions in a major promotion (Ciryl Gane as UFC interim champion and Tim Sylvia as UFC champion). Meanwhile, there have been numerous fighters who are considered short for their division who went on to become some of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. These include Daniel Cormier, Fedor Emelianenko, Frankie Edgar, Alexander Volkanovski, and Demetrious Johnson.
While height is considered an advantage, it is not as important as reach, weight, and skillset.