Many people compare the fights inside the Octagon to a war. However, many men and women in the UFC know what actual war is like, and it is nothing like a fight.
These men and women dedicated years of their lives to serving our country before pursuing their dreams of being a UFC fighter. Here are some of the best fighters to have served our country before stepping into the Octagon.
Neil Magny served with the Illinois National Guard before competing on The Ultimate Fighter. He was also big on the MMA circuit in the military, competing in the Army Combative Championship.
Magny has made a name for himself through his consistency and work ethic, fighting 15 times since the start of 2013, and going 10-2 in his last 12 fights. In 2014, he also tied the record for most wins in a calendar year with five UFC victories in a row.
Tim Kennedy may have made some headlines recently for his controversial remarks about PTSD in the military, but his service and record in the UFC are undeniable.
Kennedy was an Army Ranger and was deployed multiple times to Iraq. Following his Ranger career, Kennedy transitioned to the Texas National Guard where he continued to serve during his MMA career.
He is 9-3 in Strikeforce and the UFC, and holds wins over former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler and current UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping. He is scheduled to return to competition against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans at UFC 205.
One of the fighters most associated with military service, Brian Stann used his platform in the UFC to better the lives of other veterans. Stann was a Marine who earned a Silver Star during his career.
He transitioned to MMA in 2006, became the WEC Light Heavyweight Champion in 2008, and made his UFC debut in 2009. He compiled a 6-5 UFC record before his retirement, and now works for FOX as a UFC analyst. He also continues his work with Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit that assists U.S. military veterans.
Liz Carmouche is one of the most dangerous women in MMA. She fought in the first ever women's title fight in UFC history against Ronda Rousey, and has since consistently been a top 10 fighter in the bantamweight division. Prior to competing in the UFC, Carmouche completed three tours of duty in Iraq with the Marine Corps.
One of the true champions of the sport and a legend in the UFC, Randy Couture was not just a fighter, but also a warrior. He spent six years in the Army, becoming a Sergeant in the 101st Airborne, and even made the U.S. Army Greco-Roman wrestling team.
After leaving the Army, Couture became a three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, and a three-time Olympic team alternate, before making the jump to MMA. He currently holds the record for being the oldest champion in UFC history (43) and is one of only two fighters to have ever won a title in multiple divisions.
Colton Smith is one of only a few athletes to have competed in MMA while on active duty. Smith is currently an active member of the U.S. Army, where he has served two tours in Iraq.
His accomplishments in MMA include winning season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter. While he no longer competes in the UFC, Smith is currently on a three-fight win streak in other promotions, including a successful debut in the WSOF in 2015.
Brandon Vera has been a force to be reckoned with in just about every aspect of combat sports. Vera is a former UFC heavyweight, a kickboxing world champion, an 8-time Grappler's Quest champion, the 2005 WEC Heavyweight GP Champion, and most recently, won the inaugural ONE Heavyweight Championship in December 2015.
Before all of that success as a professional athlete though, Vera served his country. Despite earning a four-year athletic scholarship to a university, he dropped out after just a year and a half to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. He was medically discharged after tearing a ligament in his elbow, and began practicing submission wrestling as he rehabilitated his arm. At a Grappler's Quest tournament, he caught the attention of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Lloyd Irvin, and the rest is history.