Five of 2019’s best MMA fighters from Washington state
There are plenty of great fighters scattered across the United States of America.
Looking specifically at the West Coast, Washington state is home to several of them. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place. And apparently, beauty spawns violence.
Over the last decade, Washington state has been the home to some of MMA’s best fighters to ever compete as well as a constant producer of young up and coming talents.
Whether it be former UFC champions like Miesha Tate to the perennial contenders such as Rick Story, the state has offered up a little bit of everything in regards to the sports finest.
The year 2019 is no different. Before we get on with the list, what exactly qualifies as a Washinton state fighter? Well, simply put… either being born in the state or currently living in it. So with that in mind, here are five of the best MMA fighters from the Evergreen State.
Honorable Mention: Ed “Short-Fuse” Herman (24-14)
Even at age 38 and with 13+ years of UFC experience under his belt, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 3 veteran, Ed Herman is still going strong.
Majorly a middleweight throughout his lengthy career, Herman would return to the ranks of the 205-pounders in January 2016 where he would take out a fellow former middleweight, Tim Boetsch, in a fight of the night performance. Unfortunately for “Short-Fuse,” three consecutive losses would follow with the last one being close and controversial opposite Gian Villante in October 2018.
Earlier this year, the firefighter in training would get back on track and silence his doubters with a big first-round TKO of the top 15 contender, Patrick Cummins.
No one is predicting Herman to really make a run at light heavyweight per se, but for as long as he keeps at it, he’ll be proudly representing his native state along the way.
Miranda “Danger” Granger (7-0)
It was only a matter of time before Miranda Granger found her way onto one of MMA’s biggest stages.
A picture of perfection throughout her career to this point, the Charlie’s Combat Club affiliate has won a total of 12 fights in a row when including her amateur record (5-0). Nine of those having ended via finishes (six submissions, three TKOs).
Despite Granger’s evident skill and quick progression, she would enter the UFC under less than ideal circumstances.
Just last month, the 27-year old made her Octagon debut at UFC Newark when handed recent Contender Series contract winner, Hannah Goldy, her first career loss in a flyweight contest. Although this wasn’t Granger’s typical weight class of 115-pounds, she still got the job done and showed that she can go a hard three rounds after previously never doing so in her professional career.
For her second bout in the UFC, Granger will be back at strawweight and add even more depth to what is already one of the best divisions in the sport right now. All while acting as one of the best female competitors out of Washington.
Jake “The Half-Black Attack” Smith (7-3)
January 26, 2018, marked the Bellator debut of one Jake Smith.
In the said debut, “Smitty” would unleash hell by knocking out his betting favorite adversary, Steve Kozola, in just under a minute at 57 seconds. After that… it would be off to the sidelines.
Dealing with a serious hip injury for the rest of the year, it wouldn’t be until just this past Saturday at Bellator 226 that Smith would return to action.
When doing so he would face the underrated lightweight contender, Adam Piccolotti, in a valiant but losing effort.
The man of many nicknames has a great blend of powerful striking skills to go along with his wrestling as evidenced in his recent outing. And continuing to grow tremendously under the roof of American Top Team: Portland (formerly known as Gracie Barra Portland), he still poses a threat to anyone standing across from him and is one of the best prospects in Washington.
Ricky Simon (15-2)
As his teammate and longtime friend in Smith may be the man of many nicknames, Ricky Simon is the man of many… well, he just has one mullet but it’s so damn spectacular that it may as well count for multiple.
Since starting his professional career in 2014, Simon has wasted absolutely no time establishing himself as arguably the current best fighter from Vancouver, Washington.
The 27-year old averages three fights a year and has already fought four times for the UFC in just a little over a year.
Prior to his last outing in July, Simon continued his tear through the regional scene before finally getting his break on the Contender Series. Unfortunately, the win over former WSOF title challenger, Donovan Frelow, wouldn’t be enough to earn Simon a contract.
An LFA title win over UFC vet, Chico Camus, and a 59 second starching of Vinicius Zani would, however.
Four fights into the UFC now and big opportunities are being presented as Simon remains one of the bright spots among the current crop of future top contenders at 135-pounds.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (29-3-1)
When it was mentioned that some of MMA’s all-time greats hail from the Evergreen State, that was no exaggeration.
Parkland, Washington’s Demetrious Johnson is arguably the greatest fighter to ever step foot inside an MMA enclosure.
The former UFC flyweight king racked up a mind-boggling record of 11 consecutive title defenses during his reign before finally being dethroned in August of last year.
Johnson is one of the most well-rounded fighters to ever compete and he continues to display that in full effect overseas as he now competes for Asia’s ONE Championship.
Two fights into his tenure with the organization and “Mighty Mouse” will next find himself competing for the flyweight title in his division’s Grand Prix tournament finals. Therefore providing him with yet another chance at making some history and adding to his impressive belt collection.
Whether you believe that Johnson is truly the very best ever or not, there’s no denying that he’s at least in the conversation.
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (16-4)
Many might forget that Spokane Valley’s Michael Chiesa holds onto a little bit of history himself.
Entering into the UFC with a 7-0 record in 2012, Chiesa would take part in the first and only season of The Ultimate Fighter that was filmed live, season 15. In doing so, the “Maverick” would dominate his way through the house by taking out the likes of Jeremy Larson, Justin Lawrence, and current top 15 lightweight contender, James Vick, en route winning the whole show.
In the finals, Chiesa would finish yet another current contender at 155-pounds in Al Iaquinta whom he submitted with a rear-naked choke in the opening round.
From there, the Washington resident would go on to enjoy a solid run in the division before taking his talents up a class in December 2018. Welcoming him to welterweight would be the former interim champion, Carlos Condit. Unfortunately for “The Natural Born Killer,” he too would suffer the usual fate of Chiesa’s victims as he was submitted via a submission of the year candidate kimura in round one.
He has since picked up a unanimous decision over TUF 1 winner, Diego Sanchez, and has firmly established himself as a potential threat at 170-pounds.
Make sure to follow The Scrap News (@thescrapnews) on Twitter.
The Scrap’s Drake Riggs is a MMA writer and YouTuber based out of Brush Prairie, Washington who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. Riggs has been a passionate MMA fan since 2009 and has written for various news sources. You can follow him on Twitter (@Dre_Kriggs).