Tattoos are pretty prevalent in 2019 and nowhere more so than inside the Octagon. It’s rare to find a fighter without some sort of ink, but that definitely doesn’t mean that all tattoos are created equal – there’s some seriously questionable art work in the MMA world. That being said, there’s also some truly awesome work, and we’ve put together a list of what we feel are the best tattoos in the UFC roster.
Alexander Volkov’s Manta Ray
Alexander Volkov is a giant of a man, standing 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighing in at 250 pounds. Competing in the UFC’s heavyweight division he’s previously fought under the M-1 and Bellator labels and has racked up and impressive 30-7 record. One of the most stand out things about him though is his back, which is covered in a giant tribal manta ray. Considering manta rays are known as gentle giants and Volkov is definitely not a gentle giant it’s a bit of a strange combo, but the work is great and definitely stands out.
TJ Dillashaw’s Sleeve
TJ has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, most notably recently with his 2 year suspension for using EPO. But if we can ignore these issues and focus on his right arm we’ll come across a pretty amazing sleeve. There’s loads of detail to get lost in, but our favorite has to be the eye on his forearm; the centre of it contains a reflection of him lifting the UFC belt above his head, a brilliant example of hyper detailing.
Brad Tavares’ Tribal Piece
Tribal pieces are fairly common, particularly among Polynesian fighters, but there’s definitely a range of how well done they are. Brad Tavares has got a dope chest piece and half sleeve that’s full of traditional detailing, and is a suitable representation of his Hawaiian heritage.
Tyson Pedro and Tai Tuivasa’s Pe’a
Sticking to the theme of traditional polynesian work Tyson Pedro and Tai Tuivasa both have beautiful Pe’a tattoos – tattoos that are a mark of honour in Samoan culture. There’s a lot of cultural significance behind the Pe’a, which is done using handmade tools of bone, turtle shell and wood by a master tattooist. The process can take weeks to complete and be very painful; and quitting halfway through is a mark of shame.
Cowboy Cerrone ‘Play Time’
Cowboy Cerrone is everyone’s favorite fighter. A legend of the sport known for taking any fight on any notice, and for his adrenaline fuelled antics outside the cage, Cowboy has said multiple times that he fights because he loves it. This love, and his Muay Thai background, are perfectly encapsulated in the tattoos on his shins; ‘Play’ and ‘Time’, which makes up part of his lower leg sleeves. We can’t think of a tattoo that better suits a fighter.
Conor Mcgregor’s Tiger
Somehow the massive tiger on McGregor’s stomach isn’t his most eye catching tattoo, but in our opinion it’s the best of his pieces. Carefully detailed and coloured it somehow manages to be subtle and obvious at the same time, and those piercing yellow eyes stare across the octagon at his opponent. The only drawback is the fact his belly button is bang in the middle, but at least they’ve inked over it.
Israel Adesanya ‘Broken Native’
Normally we don’t get too hype for simple text tattoos but we’ll make an exception for Israel Adesanya’s chest piece. He’s got ‘Broken Native’ written in bold block capitals and hanging across his chest like a massive necklace (just above a large outline of the continent of Africa), and while we weren’t able to find anywhere that he’d elaborated on the meaning, it’s safe to assume that, similar to Tuivasa and Pedro’s Pe’a, its linked to his heritage – he was born in Nigeria, but raised in New Zealand from the age of 13.
Megan Anderson’s Sleeves
Former Invicta Champ and current UFC Featherweight contender Megan Anderson definitely stands out in a crowd – for a start she’s six foot tall. She also has a significant collection of tattoos, covering the majority of her arms and legs. Similar to TJ Dillashaw, there’s enough detail that you could spend hours admiring the work. It looks like there’s lots of Norse themes going on (not just in her tattoos, she’s named her dog Odin) and Megan herself has said she often can’t remember what’s included in them all.
Valentina Shevchenko’s Sak Yant
Here at FQ we’re big fans of Sak Yant style tattoos, traditional tattoos from Thailand, and their significance in Muay Thai culture. Bullet Valentina gets a lot of attention for the Glock tattoo on her left side, which makes it hard to actually get details on the Sak Yant on her right side. It appears to be a Hanuman Sak Yant, which is given to someone to protect them from danger and make them fearless in the face of adversity. Looking at her fights we’d agree she definitely doesn’t fear anyone.
Who do you think has the best ink in the UFC? Did we miss anyone who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!