It is Veteran’s Day and today we honor those who have served our country in order to defend it. Last year I honored our vets with a list of the Top 10 Military Veterans in MMA and I would like to honor our veterans again this year. This time as with some of the lists I am listing the top 10 veterans of the past year. The criteria will be any activity by the veterans, followed by in ring/cage activity, followed by win/loss records in the year. With that here we go with the top 10 military veterans in MMA over the past year:
10) Brian Stann
No one can doubt that Brian Stann is the ultimate military veteran. Stann earned a Silver Star for valor during his time as a US Marine in Iraq. He went onto become the WEC Light Heavyweight Champion and fought several times in the UFC before retiring from MMA competition last year. Since then Stann’s been active in the commentary field subbing in for Joe Rogan and Kenny Florian at times. He’s also been active commentating for Fox Sports Net during SEC Football games, his original sport at the Naval Academy.
9) Randy Couture
In terms of the sport of MMA, Randy Couture is the most accomplished military veteran in the sport. Following a career in the US Army and as an amateur wrestler, Couture entered the sport and became a two time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and the only three time UFC Heavyweight Champion. He retired in 2011 but this year he was active in several personal projects. As part of his deal with Spike he and Frank Shamrock hosted Gym Rescue and has done some commentary for Bellator MMA. He also returned to his role as Toll Road in Expendables 3 as well as competing in Dancing With The Stars.
8) Luigi Fioravanti
Luigi Fioravanti is another example of a veteran of the Iraqi War who went onto make a career in MMA. Fioravanti started out wrestling in high school before joining the US Marines where he also learned BJJ and kickboxing. Following his service he started competing in MMA and had a stint in the UFC that ended in 2009. Since then he’s had mild success in various promotions. Recently he competed in the BattleGrounds MMA 5 tournament where he was eliminated in the first round.
7) Brandon Vera
Another veteran of the military, Brandon Vera‘s career in MMA has certainly had its’ ups and downs. Vera first served in the Air Force following his dropping out of Old Dominion University. Following a medical discharge and rehabilitation, Vera got into MMA and made a name for himself by winning the 2005 WEC Heavyweight Grand Prix. He then had an eight year stint in the UFC which saw him go from rising prospect to dropping four out of his last six fights, the last of which was to Ben Rothwell. Vera has now found a new home with ONE FC and will be making his promotional debut on December 5th.
6) Liz Carmouche
Liz Carmouche is unique on this list in that she’s the only woman on this list. Carmouche served with the US Marines from 2004 to 2009 during which she simply kept her homosexuality a secret under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. Following her three tours she made her debut in 2010 and immediately made a name for herself. She has been a part of several historic matches as one of the first women to fight in the UFC at UFC 157 against Ronda Rousey and as one of the first women to fight in the UFC on network television against Jessica Andrade at UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Moraga. Earlier this year in April she fought Miesha Tate on another UFC on Fox event.
5) Mike Richman
A more minor name in MMA, Mike Richman is another members of the US Marines to compete in MMA. Following his time in the Marines in 2008, Richman appeared in The Ultimate Fighter where he lost in the preliminary round. He continued to compete in MMA until he was noticed by Bellator MMA and fought in several tournaments. The furthest he got was a finals appearance in season eight at featherweight. Recently, Richman snapped a rough patch of two losses by defeating Ed West at Bellator 126.
4) Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy is probably one of the most skilled military veterans when it comes to a gun. As a member of the Army Alpha, Kennedy was a sniper and established his MMA career before even exiting the service, competing in Army Combatives tournaments and actually competing in MMA while still active duty. He certainly made a name for himself in Strikeforce having twice fought for the middleweight title. Kennedy was picked up by the UFC following the merger and won two fights out of the gate. He has gone 1-1 this year having won against Michael Bisping but loosing to Yoel Romero.
3) Clinton Williams
To many the name Clinton Williams isn’t familiar and even in MMA circles he isn’t that recognizable. However, he is a veteran of the US Air Force and as such makes it on this list. Not only that but he recently won his fourth career fight earlier this year. This actually sets him above many of the members of this list. Expect him to continue to rise.
2) Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is known primarily for his pro wrestling career but his military service can’t be ignored. Lashley started out in wrestling and following three NAIA Championships in wrestling, continued wrestling in the US Army. Following his army career he made the transition to pro wrestling where his WWE career saw him win several championships. After the success of Brock Lesnar, Lashley also made the transition to MMA but waffled back and forth between MMA and pro wrestling for a time. Recently he committed full time to MMA, having won his first two matches in Bellator MMA.
1) Neil Magney
There is a reason why Neil Magney is on top of this veterans list. Magney first started out wrestling in high school and also spent time wrestling at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He then spent time serving in the US Army before starting out in MMA. Magney’s first break came when he competed in The Ultimate Fighter. Magney just had the best year of his career when he won all five of his matches, tying Roger Huerta for the most wins in a calender year.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the military veterans who have served our country over the years. Thank you!