Saturday, February 24

10 Most Controversial MMA Fighters Of All Time, Ranked By Skill

Highlights

  • MMA attracts unsavory characters, like Sean Strickland, who thrives in the sport despite being unfit for other leagues.
  • Despite their controversies, fighters like War Machine and Greg Hardy found a home in MMA after their troubled pasts.
  • Trash talk and controversial comments have boosted the careers of fighters like Colby Covington and Chael Sonnen, making them memorable figures in the sport.


There’s just something about the sport of MMA that attracts some unsavory characters. Look no further than UFC 297 headliner Sean Strickland, who wouldn’t be accepted in just about any other sporting league. However, in MMA, he’s a champion, and one of the biggest names in the UFC.

Nevertheless, within the realm of MMA, numerous individuals akin to ‘Tarzan’ exist. Consequently, we intend to assess and categorize them. Each of these ten fighters merits recognition; nonetheless, certain contentious contenders outshine their counterparts. Despite the potential for headline-grabbing rhetoric, these fighters predominantly substantiated their claims within the confines of the cage.

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10 The Monster Known As ‘War Machine’

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War Machine

5’11”

170 Pounds

14-5 MMA Record

While a lot of the fighters on this list are known more for their fighting than controversies, that’s not the case here. War Machine did have a good career, including runs in Bellator and the UFC. However, he’s known more for his life outside the cage.

In 2014, Machine assaulted his former girlfriend Christie Mack, and her friend in an apartment. The MMA fighter nearly killed the former adult film star, resulting in a sentence to life in prison.

9 Former NFL Star Turned Fighter Greg Hardy

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Greg Hardy

6’5″

266 Pounds

7-5 (1 NC) MMA Record

Speaking of criminals, Greg Hardy famously had his NFL career ended due to a 2014 domestic violence conviction. While he returned for one more season with the Dallas Cowboys, he quickly zeroed in on a career in the cage.

Hardy was signed to the UFC in 2018 and compiled a 4-5 (1 NC) record in the cage, being released in 2022. In the years since his exit, he’s since found a home in the boxing ring, earning a 3-0 record.

8 Josh Kosheck Really Loved To Get On Everyone’s Nerves

‘Kos’ Loved To Play The Heel

Josh Koscheck

5’10”

170 Pounds

17-11 MMA Record

Josh Koscheck’s entry on this list is admittedly really funny. No, he wasn’t a criminal like War Machine or Greg Hardy, much from it. Instead, he just really, really liked to run his mouth and talk trash.

Koscheck never won the UFC title, but got close, earning a 2010 title shot against George St-Pierre. Lest we not forget that this man also angered Paul Daley so much with trash talk, that ‘Semtex’ assaulted him post-fight.

‘Chaos’ Is Quite A Character

Colby Covington

5’11”

170 Pounds

17-4 MMA Record

Colby Covington is a gamer inside the cage, and that largely can’t be denied. While he’s struggled at the top level, he still has multiple greats on his resume, including Robbie Lawler. However, one has to wonder if he would’ve gotten half the opportunities he has had without his talk.

Covington loves to play the heel and has been very controversial throughout his career. He mocked Leon Edwards’ deceased father, Kamaru Usman’s late coach Glenn Robinson, and more.

6 Chael Sonnen Is The Bad Guy

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Chael Sonnen

6’1″

205 Pounds

31-17-1 MMA Record

It’s not exactly a secret that Chael Sonnen helped inspire Colby Covington. However, unlike ‘Chaos’, the former middleweight title challenger found a way to make more headlines, without getting intensely personal.

Sonnen talked trash better than just about anyone in UFC history. In the cage, he was excellent too. A former UFC, and WEC title challenger, he stood across the cage from the likes of Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.

5 Sean Strickland Is An Absolutely Wild Man

‘Tarzan’ Is Currently The UFC Middleweight Champion

Sean Strickland

6’1″

185 Pounds

28-5 MMA Record

Sean Strickland was never expected to become a champion, let alone a successful fighter. A former Neo-Nazi who was abused by his father, the middleweight has too many controversial comments to count.

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He’s said many things that can be seen as racist, sexist, homophobic, and more. However, controversy aside, Strickland is currently the world’s best middleweight, and that can’t be taken from him.

4 Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar

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Brock Lesnar

6’3″

265 Pounds

5-3 (1 NC) MMA Record

Admittedly, Brock Lesnar never said, or did as many controversial things as many on this list. However, he ranks highly due to his incredible resume, and run with the UFC heavyweight title from 2008 to 2010.

Along the way, Lesnar became quite controversial for a multitude of reasons. Some fighters didn’t like his quick push to the top, while others didn’t like his abrasive comments. As seen best by his UFC 100 post-fight interview.

3 Tito Ortiz Was A Pioneer In More Ways Than One

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Tito Ortiz

6’2″

205 Pounds

21-12-1 MMA Record

Look, Tito Ortiz is kind of a joke these days due to his failed political career and hilariously weird comments. In his prime, however, he was an absolute menace. He knew how to piss off fans, but also fighters.

His rivalries with Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell were generational ones that helped save the UFC. For whatever reason, Ortiz’s controversial comments always caused fans to tune in, even whenever the sport was at its lowest.

2 ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor Is Becoming Wilder With Age

You Don’t Become The Biggest Star in MMA Without Making Enemies

Conor McGregor

5’8″

155 Pounds

22-6 MMA Record

Conor McGregor has been a controversial figure from the second he burst on the scene. The trash-talking Irishman quickly made enemies, in his pursuit to become a double-champion. In the years since he accomplished that goal, he’s only become more of a villain.

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1 Jon Jones Is The Goat, Despite Himself

‘Bones’ Is Incredible Despite His Issues

Jon Jones

6’4″

248 Pounds

27-1 (1 NC) MMA Record

Jon Jones is arguably the greatest fighter ever, despite a multitude of arrests and legal issues. From suspensions for failing drug tests to being arrested for domestic violence, ‘Bones’ has had too many controversies to count.

Despite that, Jones continues to dominate. As a fighter, he’s the greatest ever. In terms of controversies, nobody has more than him. He has to be number one.

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