Holding the Cards

Games & Cards

UFC Collectable Cards by Topps and Panini: Rookie Cards and First Autographs

Every card collector wants the rookie cards (RC) and first autographs (1st Auto). If a particular athlete’s cards become valuable, these two kinds tend to go up the most.

It makes sense—a fighter might be in 10-20 years of card sets but there’s only one year of RCs and 1st Autos.

Each new UFC set will contain more serial numbered and other short-print cards of the popular fighters. Of course, these have some value; some of the really limited ones will be very expensive. But there will be plenty of years of limited cards like these, which dilutes the value somewhat. Not so with the RCs and 1st Autos. However many are printed or signed in that one year is all there will ever be.

The short supply of these cards is on your side if you’re looking for value appreciation.

But it can be hard to keep track of what a fighter’s rookie year is in the Topps sets. It’s not always the first year they fought in the UFC.

To complicate matters, Ebay listings for cards will sometimes claim they’re rookies when they’re not. Usually this happens with the older ones or the 1st Autos, which aren’t always rookies. If you’re searching for rookies or first autographs, you’ll also find that these cards aren’t always identified as such.

Fortunately, most rookie cards have the “RC” notation on them, so there’s no confusion. Some don’t, though, and I’ve tried to catch as many of these as I can.

I don’t know if cards from the rookie year without the “RC” notation are considered real rookie cards. I’m guessing that many collectors would prefer the official notation. It’s probably safest to stick to those ones. Same for the first autographs.

Don’t rely solely on this list or a seller’s listing to determine if a card is a rookie or 1st autograph. If possible, confirm that the notation is on the card. If it isn’t notated, try to confirm that it’s the earliest card or signature from that fighter.

I buy my individual cards on Ebay or Amazon. The links below will show you what’s available.

Before we get to the list, here are a few fighters that most collectors will want to have:

  • Conor McGregor (2013 Bloodlines is his rookie and 1st auto. Too expensive for most of us, but there are many other McGregor cards to choose from.)
  • Georges St. Pierre (Georges was in the 2009 Round 1 Topps set and those are usually very expensive. The 2009 Round 2s and the 2010s are more affordable.)
  • Ronda Rousey (Ronda’s first cards were in 2012. She has many others that aren’t as expensive.)

If you just want the fun of opening a box and seeing what you get, you can check out these (check how many cards you’re getting in a box—it can vary a great deal!):

Exciting news in early 2021! Panini has acquired the license for future UFC card sets. The first one is expected in April, Panini Prizm UFC. There are still brand new blaster boxes available, like in the link.

2021 Rookie Cards

  • Khamzat Chimaev (We’ve all been waiting for the Chimaev rookies, and they’re finally here!)
  • Bryce Mitchell
  • Marvin Vettori
  • Michael Chandler
  • Kevin Holland
  • Ciryl Gane
  • Gilbert Burns
  • Jiri Prochazka
  • Alex Perez
  • Luis Pena
  • Macy Chiasson
  • Brandon Moreno
  • Nathaniel Wood
  • Dan Ige
  • Yan Xiaonan
  • Jimmy Crute
  • Giga Chikadze
  • Merab Dvalishvili

2020 Rookie Cards (*1st Auto)

  • Omari Akhmedov
  • Mara Romero Borella
  • Katlyn Chookagian
  • Kron Gracie
  • Maurice Greene
  • Ian Heinisch
  • Dan Hooker*
  • Geoff Neal
  • Alexandre Pantoja
  • Sergei Pavlovich
  • Amanda Ribas
  • Jairzinho Rosenstuik
  • Augusto Sakai
  • Edmen Shahbazyan
  • Yadong Song
  • Weili Zhang

2020 1st Autos

  • Israel Adesanya (Doesn’t have 1st Auto notation, but I haven’t seen an earlier signature)
  • Lauren Murphy
  • Jeremy Stephens

2019 Rookie Cards (*1st Auto)

  • Nina Ansaroff
  • Ben Askren*
  • Abu Azaitar
  • Maycee Barber*
  • Mersad Bektic*
  • Jared Cannonier*
  • Antonio Carlos Jr*
  • Renato Carneiro*
  • Courtney Casey
  • Ion Cutelaba*
  • Hakeem Dawodu*
  • Chris De La Rocha*
  • Montana De La Rosa*
  • Elizeu Dos Santos
  • Juan Espino
  • Cezar Ferreira*
  • Deiveson Figueiredo*
  • Gregor Gillespie
  • Walt Harris*
  • Scott Holtzman*
  • Blagoy Ivanov
  • Yana Kunitskaya
  • Andrea Lee*
  • Vicente Luque
  • Jennifer Maia*
  • Islam Makhachev
  • Gerald Meerschaert
  • Aleksie Oleinik
  • Alex Oliveira
  • Rachel Ostovich
  • Alejandro Perez
  • Santiago Ponzinibbio (Museum card has “RC” notation even though he also has 2018 cards without it)
  • Niko Price*
  • Lucie Pudilova
  • Aleksandar Rakic
  • Karl Roberson
  • Marina Rodriguez*
  • Khalil Rountree Jr.
  • Gokhan Saki
  • Antonina Shevchenko
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith*
  • Devonte Smith*
  • Anthony Smith*
  • Polyana Viana
  • Alexander Volkanovski*
  • Johnny Walker*
  • Zhang Weili (Museum Collection only)
  • Justin Willis*
  • Petr Yan
  • Ashley Yoder*

2019 1st Autos

  • Cynthia Calvillo
  • Jessica-Rose Clark
  • Leon Edwards
  • Alexander Hernandez (Knockout and 2018 Museum. Chrome 2019 autos aren’t noted as 1st.)
  • Angela Hill
  • Aspen Ladd
  • Nicco Montano
  • Mike Perry
  • Marian Reneau
  • Tatiana Suarez

2018 Rookie Cards (*1st Auto)

  • Israel Adesanya
  • Eryk Anders
  • Curtis Blaydes*
  • Kyle Bochniak
  • Jessica-Rose Clark
  • Paulo Costa (These cards are missing the “RC” notation. The ’19s don’t have it either and he has no cards from 17, so this looks like the rookie.)
  • Mackenzie Dern* (Museum only)
  • Josh Emmett
  • Sijara Eubanks
  • Justin Gaethje
  • Trevin Giles* (No notation)
  • Alexander Hernandez* (Museum has 1st Auto, as does 2019 Knockout)
  • Aspen Ladd
  • Andrea Lee*
  • Kevin Lee
  • Zabit Magomedsharipov
  • Nicco Montano
  • Marlon Moraes
  • Belal Muhammed
  • Sean O’Malley*
  • Brian Ortega
  • Dominick Reyes
  • Gokhan Saki
  • Valentina Shevchenko
  • Darren Till
  • Tai Tuivasa
  • Marcin Tybura
  • Kamaru Usman
  • Ketlen Vieira
  • Alexander Volkov

2018 1st Autos

  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier
  • Misha Cirkunov
  • Paul Felder
  • Chad Laprise
  • Tatiana Suarez

2017 Rookie Cards (*1st Auto)

  • Jessica Aguillar*
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan
  • Tom Breese*
  • Mickey Gall
  • Derrick Lewis*
  • Francis Ngannou
  • Volkan Oezdemir
  • Mike Perry
  • Jimmy Rivera*
  • Chas Skelly
  • Tatiana Suarez
  • Louis Smolka*

2017 1st Autos

  • Thomas Almeida
  • Jessica Andrade
  • Germaine De Randamie
  • Joe Duffy
  • Randa Markos
  • Sergio Pettis
  • Wilson Reis

2016 Rookie Cards (*1st Autos)

  • Jessica Aguilar

2016 1st Autos

  • Jake Collier
  • Beneil Dariush
  • Michelle Waterson

2015 Rookie Cards (*1st Autos)

  • Neil Magny* (No “RC” notation but earliest Magny card I’ve seen)
  • Lauren Murphy
  • Alexey Oleynyk
  • Bec Rawlings

2015 1st Autos

  • Corey Anderson
  • Michael Chiesa
  • Eddie Gordon
  • Al Iaquinta
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk
  • Rose Namajunas
  • Cathal Pendred
  • Tecia Torres
  • Paige VanZant

2014 Rookie Cards

  • Jeremy Stephens (Not sure but this is the earliest Topps card I’ve seen for Stephens)

This list isn’t complete yet. I’ll keep adding more as I find them. I hope this look at UFC collectable trading cards has been helpful.

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