Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it. For example, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Robbie Lawler may have been born in San Diego, but few would recognize him as a Californian.
Plenty of Americans have never set foot on the soil and snow of the nation’s largest state. With its frigid temperatures and dangerous wildlife, Alaska has long been a popular locale for adventure seekers wanting to test their mettle against Mother Nature’s wrath.
Alaska is not known for producing high-level professional fighters. With that said, “The Last Frontier” is far from devoid of such exports. In fact, there have been several Alaskan mixed martial artists who have competed inside the Octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The most prominent of those is Cody McKenzie, who was born in Cordova, Alaska. Though he has yet to capture a world championship, he has locked horns with several top-tier opponents throughout his career.
McKenzie started 11-0, with nine of those victories by guillotine choke, before competing on Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Though he lost to Nam Phan in the quarterfinals, McKenzie appeared at the finale and submitted Aaron Wilkinson with one of his patented guillotines. He has since had an up-and-down career. He went 2-4 in the UFC and has competed in the M-1 Global and the World Series of Fighting promotions. On a four-fight losing streak, McKenzie has hinted at permanent retirement but has nevertheless accomplished more in MMA than any other Alaskan to date. “The AK Kid” locked horns with Yves Edwards, Chad Mendes, Leonard Garcia and Sam Stout, and even in defeat, he was seemingly always involved in entertaining bouts.
McKenzie’s 11 guillotine-induced submissions represent the third highest total in MMA history. In fact, he invented a modified version of the choke coined the “McKenzietine,” which became one of the most feared attacks in the sport.
Honorable Mentions: Sam Hoger, Jake Heun, Paul Varelans