36 Best MMA Tattoo Ideas For Fighters (UFC Fighter Inspired)

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The UFC fighters tattoos are some of the most interesting ink designs you’ll see that represent their unique personality, fighting style, or heritage.

There’s great sleeves, full back tats and chest pieces from famous fighters that I will highlight in this article.

Scroll down to see my top picks for the best MMA tattoo ideas for fighters that might inspire your next session under the needle.

Winged Owl — Sean O’Malley

“Suga” Sean O’Malley’s most memorable tattoo is probably his full-winged chest Owl.

The Owl has its wings spread, with a full view and notable styling with a rich green and pinkish red — colors that he often uses in his tattoos.

A lot of people have said early on that he copied Conor McGregor’s chest tattoo with an animal, but actually many use an animal for their fighter tattoo.

Vines & Biology — Sean O’Malley

One of Sean’s more unusual tattoos is the one on his upper right arm.

This ink is in a rich green that includes pointed vines and symbols for DNA.

I think it’s Sean’s way of saying that he has a different kind of biology and DNA to ordinary people and that he’s a unique fighter. Can’t argue with that so far.

A similar pattern goes down onto his right forearm that has a similar style but looks more like alien growth with what appear to be cherries.

The meaning of this is potentially confusing, but it may be along the lines of the quote “Sweet like a cherry.”

“Only God Can Judge Me” — Sean O’Malley

On the inside of Sean’s right bicep, he has the words “Only God” inked in caligraphy.

And on the inside of his right left bicep, he has the words “Can Judge Me” also.

Together, this completes the quote “Only God Can Judge Me.” This is a phrase often used by those that believe in God and that their sins will be only judged by this higher power.

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It aligns with O’Malley’s more rebellious nature to what seems the norm in society, but in fact he has an ethical guide through life.

“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” — Sean O’Malley

O’Malley has the famous Muhammad Ali quote on his ribcage, “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee.”

He’s one of many fighters that observe Ali’s massive contribution to fighting sports and Sean definitely applies a similar style to his own fighting.

Sean’s incredible footwork allows him to move in and around his opponents with speed and grace.

Yet he still has the power to knockout opponents in just a single punch.

Perhaps this quote or one like it inspires your fighting, too.

Family Crest — Sean O’Malley

Sean has a large family crest over his left shoulder blade in a bold green and yellow.

The crest is of the O’Malley surname coat of arms which includes a knight’s helm, and a wild boar in the middle representing the warrior.

The colors of this crest play importance as red signifies military fortitude, and yellow signifies generosity.

Perhaps this crest alone inspires many of his coloring used among his other UFC tattoos due to its heritage and meaning.

“King Gorilla” — Conor McGregor

The notorious Conor McGregor has a collection of ink that projects outwardly his confident image of himself.

It aligns with his place as the “King of the Jungle” in his eyes. He has a unique chest tattoo named the “King Gorilla.”

He’s a massive fan of animal movement and studying unique movement practice, like from one of his past mentors Ido Portal.

Conor has a strong connection with his animalistic nature and enjoys expressing it in tattoos across his body and in his fighting styles.

After training Mixed Martial Arts at Straight Blast Gym in Ireland and growing his expertise, he decided he needed a tattoo to match his dominant style.

Conor has said that he thinks of himself as the “king gorilla” of fighting.

A gorilla, wearing a crown, whilst eating a heart seemed like the perfect fit for him and was custom designed to his request.

Perhaps similar animals that are kings of their jungles would be a good tattoo idea for your own piece, such as:

  • Gorilla
  • Tiger
  • Lion
  • Eagle
  • Shark
  • Aligator/Crocodile

Full Back Murial — Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson is pretty well known for the number of tattoos he has across his back, arms, and even down one whole leg.

Most notably is his full back tattoos that make up an entire murial with gothic and religious themes:

Swanson grew up with a lot of religion in his life and spent a lot of childhood at the church which has a huge influence on his back murial.

He also has a giant cross in the middle of the back, with “Swanson” across the upper back.

The back piece was put together by his friend, nicknamed “Alabama”, which copies many of the religious illustrations from The Dore Bible Illustrations by the French artist Gustavo Dore.

“So Cal” — Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson has “So Cal” tattooed across his chest, because he’s from Southern California.

When he made it pro he wanted to represent where he came from for all to see.

He also has palm trees across his stomach to represent Palm Springs where he grew up.

Both these give the idea that you could use the area you grew up as an inspiration for a tattoo.

“Victory Is Reserved” — Cub Swanson

Cub has said that his left arm tattoos follow the theme of Warrior.

On the top side of his left forearm, he has his Lion tattoo which is carefully drawn and has great detail.

On the underside of his left forearm is a Knight wearing armor and a castle in the background.

It goes further into the inside of his left forearm which reads:

“Victory is reserved for those willing to pay its price.”

Cub had the Victory quote added because he broke his jaw and had his mouth wired shut, so he wanted something inspirational to keep him motivated through a challenging time to recover and get back to the fighting sport he loves.

Burning Candle — Andre Fili

One of Andre’s most noticeable inks is the one across his throat.

It features a lantern with a burning candle inside.

His meaning behind it is that “There is a light that never goes out.”

I think it means that he has it as a reminder of his burning light inside him that despite all the challenges he has faced it keeps burning on to inspire him to fight for better.

Sound like you? Maybe something similar works for your ink.

“Pray For Peace, Prepare For War” — Andre Fili

Andre has written quotes on either side of his head.

One reads “Pray For Peace” and on the other side reads “Prepare For War.

The two paired together are suggestive of Fili’s troubled childhood where he grew up in a broken home with violence and disturbance.

I would guess that whilst he hoped for peace in his life, he always felt he had to be prepared to defend himself and fight.

Favorite Characters & Idols — Andre Fili

Andre “Touchy” Fili is easily recognizable from over 30 unique tattoos that spread across his entire body.

Many of them across his chest and stomach feature characters or other persons of interest to him with similarities to stories and religion.

Either side of his neck are pictures of a black dog and a black cat.

The cat on his left he noted as “Lucky Lefty” which might be to do with cats being lucky. The dog on his right side has the world in its jaws.

On his chest, he has designs of a Hindu goddess and down onto his stomach he has Gruffalo characters from the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Just above his groin area he also has a tombstone with a beach sunset pictured inside of it.

Likely inspired by a quote from Yamamoto Tsunetomo – a Samurai whose musings about the failure of the samurai caste were published in 1716 as Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai.

Andre also has tons more tattoos down his left and down his legs of different characters from his favorite movies and more, like:

  • Star Wars
  • The Grinch
  • A classic Boxer
  • Bill The Butcher (from the movie Gangs of New York)
  • A more gruesome version of the carnivorous plants from Mario
  • A monkey hand souvenir
  • The Devil
  • A melting skull
  • A Spider with a face
  • A crying tribal baby
  • A frog in a Muay Thai fighting stance wearing hand wraps

He even has a photo-realistic tattoo of one of his idols, the fighter, and coach of Team Alpha Male, Urijah Faber.

So maybe you want to replicate something like Touchy’s choice of incorporating dozens of your favorite characters and idols.

Samurai Mempo — Alexander Volkov

Alexander, AKA “Drago”, has one of the most distinctive tattoos I’ve ever seen.

It spans across his entire back featuring a metallic face with a red floral design coming out of the face.

It’s very similar to a Samurai’s face mask which is called a Mempo.

They were designed to protect the face but also send fear into their enemies with their daunting look.

Volkov previously had a giant patterned manta ray across his upper back. But later decided to replace it with the Samurai’s Mempo design.

In interviews, he told the story that he laid on the table for two weeks straight to completely finish the design.

If you want to put a sense of dread into your enemies then this could be one of those great tattoos for fighters that will inspire fear.

“Broken Native” — Israel Adesanya

One of Israel’s early tattoos is the “Broken Native” hanging from across his chest like an African necklace.

As he was Nigerian born, he has always considered himself different from the pack including that of his heritage.

The phrase actually comes from the dance crew he was a part of in his youth, but he kept it by tattooing it across his chest from its significance for him as having difference from his roots.

If you have some heritage doubts, perhaps something similar also has a lot of meaning to you for inking.

African Continent — Israel Adesanya

Israel has a tattoo of Africa in the center of his chest, featuring Nigeria highlighted where he was born.

It seems he doesn’t want to forget where he came from and what that means for him.

“The Last Stylebender” — Israel Adesanya

Israel’s fighting nickname “The Last Stylebender” comes from the anime “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” fitting his passion for comics and anime.

He has a tattoo of Toph Beifong (a character from Avatar) on his forearm as well as Avatar-inspired Ocean and Moon spirits around his stomach encased with the Nine-Tailed Fox seal from Naruto.

Not only that, he’s got Deadpool, the anti-hero, on his ribcage, and Calvin and Hobbes tattoos which were one of his favorite comics as a kid.

Grunge Style — Megan Anderson

Megan Anderson’s tattoos are all in a similar style that you might call grunge, with full arm sleeves and one full leg sleeve.

Her tattoos are often fine ink, creating a very unique look.

All in all, Megan’s tattoos include images of many things which are good inspiration for fighter’s tattoo ideas:

  • Angels
  • Skulls
  • Skeletons
  • Faces
  • Sun and the Moon
  • Horned Warriors
  • Scripture
  • Valkyries
  • Viking Ships
  • The Devil
  • and other Norse & Viking mythology

It seems that she combines a lot of styles into adjoined full limb tattoos with inspiration from mythology mixed with ideas of life and death.

Daughter’s Name — Dustin Poirier

Dustin has his daughter’s name, Parker Noelle, tattooed across his right pec.

This was the only tattoo he got outside of Louisana. It was inked in Florida at the birth of his child.

Rose Petals — Dustin Poirier

Dustin has a giant rose covering his right shoulder.

It has falling petals over a distinctive split black bars background that was originally to cover up a “337” area code tattoo.

“The Way of Warriors” — Dustin Poirier

Poirier has tiger stripes covering his left pec, with Japanese characters imprinted in red script in the middle.

The translation of the characters is bushido, meaning “The Way of Warriors.”

Crown — Dustin Poirier

Dustin has a crown covering the back of his right hand.

It seems to be there because he wants to inspire himself and others about becoming the king of their goals.

“Paid In Full” & Quotes — Dustin Poirier

Dustin has meaningful quotes on both of his forearms.

His right forearm has the word “Inspire” on top of clouds and other symbols.

His left forearm has the quote: “Blood Bought, Paid In Full.”

The Diamond especially loves to use the last quote for ‘Paid In Full’ across his social media and seems to be the way he thinks about his work.

Dustin is one fighter who completely understands the cost of his efforts, that he will have to shed a lot of blood to pay the high price of greatness in the sport of MMA.

Surname — Max Holloway

Max was just 17 years old when he had his surname, “Holloway”, tattooed across his stomach.

Perhaps this is showing respect to his family name and not so much about an ego.

Wings — Max Holloway

Probably Max’ most noticeable tattoo is the gigantic wings spread over his back starting from each of his shoulder blades.

The wings are tucked along either side of his back, which makes him look like either an angel or a bird of prey ready to take flight—each have a slightly different style.

The left wing is that of an angel, and the right wing is more like a gargoyle or the wing of the devil.

Max has said that those wings are a representation of balance.

It’s one of those UFC tattoo ideas of making a big statement as an MMA fighter—that there’s both light and dark within and the fight will bring it all out.

What’s more fascinating is that Max had these wings installed in just his second ink session.

Personally, I think it’s one of the best UFC tattoos I’ve seen because it’s really high quality and great to look at. Maybe it’s an idea for your collection, too?

Polynesian Heritage — Max Holloway

Max has tattoos on his chest that represent his Polynesian heritage with small custom birds added to represent himself and his son.

There’s also features of small trees added to represent health. They’re also broken apart in a stylistic way, suggesting how his story isn’t yet complete.

Maybe you have Polynesian (or other) heritage that has distinctive patterns you can use in your own design.

Gladiators — Cody Garbrandt

Cody has a whole back piece that includes various imagery of gladiators in a colosseum.

Two gladiators appear to be fighting at the bottom of his back, with a large gladiator in the sky above and a colosseum backdrop.

Gladiators make for a great comparison to modern day MMA fighters, where they compete in a cage for an audience entertainment.

So this might just be a great addition to your own tattoo design.

“Self Made” — Cody Garbrandt

Probably Cody’s most memorable tattoos is the one across his throat.

It features a diamond with wings and a banner that reads “Self Made.”

The diamond represents the perfection that likes to be under pressure and the wings to represent that there are no boundaries and the sky is the limit.

Son’s Portrait — Cody Garbrandt

Cody very recently added another tattoo to his wide collection on his body; a detailed portrait of his young son.

If you’re a family man/woman like this then perhaps a similar portrait of a family member would be a great addition to your piece.

“Family Over Everything” — Cody Garbrandt

Cody has a big piece across his chest that has references to God and spirituality, with a bird and cherub on top of what appears to be clouds.

The cherub is holding a banner that reads “Family Over Everything.”

He often says that this is probably the tattoo he regrets the most since it didn’t turn out so well and he might get laser surgery to remove the ink and start over.

Japanese Sleeve — Cody Garbrandt

Cody’s right arm is covered in tattoos with a large part of the style in Japanese symbols.

Including a giant Koi fish and its scales and waves.

Traditional Japanese patterns are very popular for tattoos and look good.

If you’re a fan of this style then it could be a good addition to your own tattoo design.

Belt Buckles — Amanda Nunes

On the inside of Amanda’s right arm, you can see belt buckles that hold together the armored design on the top of her arm.

You could use a similar buckles design to hold together something ‘worn’ for a cool effect.

Armor Plating — Amanda Nunes

Those buckles mentioned above are holding together Nunes’ highly detailed armor plating sleeve down her right arm.

It resembles the kind of armor that a knight might wear including metal plates, chainmail and stitched cloth (torn at the elbow) to create a full visually complete arm.

Championship Victories — Amanda Nunes

In the middle of Amanda’s right arm, you’ll find three numbers that mark important Championship victories for her.

Which includes the styled numbers for 200, 232 and 250.

These are all significant pay-pay-view events, where 200 and 250 she was the main event on the card.

Night Owl — Amanda Nunes

Near the top of her right arm, Amanda has a stylized owl which has deep orange eyes.

The idea for the owl came from seeing her grandmother’s owl that she owned while Amanda was a child.

It’s a significant memory and reminder of her grandmother that she wanted on her body.

Octagon — Amanda Nunes

Over her right shoulder at the upper back, Nunes has an octagon shape to represent the cage she fights in.

Inside it is her name, along with a half-faced version of her own face with a Lion. This represents her nickname as the “Lioness.”

Key To A Lock— Amanda Nunes

Amanda has a key on her left forearm, for which there is a matching lock that is tattooed on her partner.

If you have a significant other that you want to get a tattoo with, then maybe a joint idea like this would work.

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