Mixed Martial Arts is a combat sport that incorporates techniques from a wide range of other combat sports and martial arts styles, with the three basic pillars of the sport being striking, wrestling and submission grappling. Thus, the name "mixed martial arts" refers to the mix of techniques used in competition. It is a relatively new sport, still suffering from growing pains, and currently haunted by a great deal of misconception.
The "major league" and most popular promotion of the sport is currently the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), to the point that some people will mistakenly refer to the sport as "ultimate fighting" or the athletes as "ultimate fighters," though this is like saying you're going to play a game of NBA instead of basketball.
Though similar sports have existed at certain points throughout history, most notably in the Greek Olympic sport Pankration, modern mixed martial arts began with the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship by Rorion Gracie and Art Davie in 1993. The event was billed as a no-holds-barred tournament straight out of Bloodsport to determine which martial art style was "the best." Could Kung Fu beat Karate? Could boxing beat wrestling? These questions would be answered inside a chain-link enclosed "Octagon". Behind the scenes, however, the event was masterminded by the Gracies, a Brazilian clan of martial artists who had developed a style of submission grappling called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that they believed could defeat any style. The event was intended to showcase the effectiveness of BJJ.
The Gracies entered their youngest adult member, 27-year-old Royce, into the tournament. He was not the most decorated BJJ practitioner of the family and was also the smallest fighter in the competition. The family intended to prove that BJJ techniques could be used to overpower physically stronger opponents. Royce won the competition easily by tackling his opponents and quickly rolling them into submission holds, forcing them to "tap out" and concede defeat. Most of his opponents were ignorant of submission grappling and could not defend themselves when they were taken to the ground. Reactions to BJJ were mixed. Viewers who had expected a bare-knuckle bloodbath were disappointed by the decidedly non-violent style, which usually left both Royce and his opponent mostly uninjured. Others were inspired by the style's effectiveness and giant-killing nature.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship expanded into a series of events with new and returning fighters. Royce won several more tournaments before differences of opinion over how the UFC should be run led the Gracies and co-owner Art Davie to sell their shares of the company to the promoters, Semaphore Entertainment Group. Though Gracie's departure left the SEG-led UFC without their marquee star, other fighters rose up to fill his place, including a number of American submission wrestlers. These new fighters had researched previous events to learn which techniques were truly effective in the octagon and which were not. Over time, fighters learned to cross-train in the most effective styles, studying BJJ as well as wrestling and various striking techniques. Howard Rosenberg, a television critic, coined the term "mixed martial arts" to describe the new hybrid style.
The perceived violence of the fledgling sport led Arizona Senator John McCain to famously dub it "human cockfighting." McCain sent letters to all 50 US state governors urging them to outlaw the sport, and soon 36 states passed laws banning "no holds barred fighting." As viewership declined, SEG instituting more safety measures to make the promotion more akin to a combat sport that focused on individual achievement rather than a no-holds-barred contest between styles. They dropped the tournament format and worked with the California and New Jersey State Athletic Boards to draw up a strict rule-set emphasizing fighter safety, which became known as the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
Hope returned with the entrance of the Fertitta brothers, a pair of Las Vegas billionaires whose family owns the Station line of casinos. Forming the company Zuffa (Italian for "brawl") with their close friend Dana White, the brothers bought the UFC and continued the efforts to legitimize the sport. Their crowning achievement was creating The Ultimate Fighter, a reality show tournament showcasing up-and-coming mixed martial artists competing for a contract with the UFC. The first season aired on Spike TV right after WWE Raw, putting mixed martial arts into millions of homes. The season finale, aired live on Spike, featured a now-legendary bout between light heavyweight finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar. The electrifying bout is often credited as the most significant fight in MMA history and earned the UFC a legion of new fans. As the UFC grew, the sport of MMA spread out across the world to a number of upstart promotions.
In Japan, the sport of MMA took a concurrent but separate evolution, with origins in a form of Professional Wrestling called "shoot wrestling." Founded by Belgian wrestler Karl Gotch, the style incorporates both real submission wrestling techniques as well as striking in a hybrid style similar to MMA. Before the creation of the UFC, the Japanese promotions of Pancrase and Shooto were already putting on hybrid fighting shows that had largely phased out pre-determined outcomes. Pancrase shoot wrestling champion Ken Shamrock participated in the first UFC event. As the popularity of MMA began to rise, the popularity of Japanese shoot wrestling promotions also enjoyed a bump. The PRIDE Fighting Championship (PRIDE FC) was created using an MMA-style rule set to take advantage of the new phenomenon. The promotion's roster included foreign mixed martial artists, Olympic judoka, traditional martial artists, and a number of popular Japanese professional wrestlers. A heated rivalry between UFC and Pride developed over several years before allegations of racketeering and Yakuza ties forced Pride out of business in 2006. The UFC bought all rights to Pride and dismantled it, taking some of its best fighters into their own roster.
With the popularity of MMA on the rise, a number of other rival promotions have risen up in the past few years. However, nearly all major promotions have either gone out of business or been bought by the UFC, giving it a stranglehold on the sport. The organization has enjoyed mainstream success by signing a contract with Fox to air live bouts on network television. They continue to air pay-per-view events about twice per month. The FX channel will air future seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Outside of the UFC, Bellator events have becomes Spike TV's new source for MMA. NBC Sports Network currently airs the World Series of Fighting. AXStv covers small promotions and provides regular analysis of the sport on Inside MMA. ESPN covers the sport with MMA Live, which often features current professional fighters giving commentary.
Due to the participation of the Gracies, the first UFC event had its roots in the Brazilian tradition of "vale tudo" (literally, "anything goes"), meaning a fight with hardly any rules at all. Modern MMA, however, is a safety-conscious sport with a large number of rules and regulations. Most American promotions operate under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
Competition features a much wider array of legal techniques than other combat sports, but there are also many fouls and illegal actions. Fighters are generally prohibited from grabbing the cage or ropes as well as their opponent's hair, trunks, and gloves. Fighters cannot strike certain parts of the body, such as the spine, throat, eyes, groin, and the back of the head. Some types of strikes are prohibited, such as headbutts, while others are legal only in certain circumstances. For example, kicking or kneeing the head of a downed opponent is usually illegal in American MMA. Standard competition lasts for three rounds of five minutes each, with five rounds for most main events. Judging in America is based on the ten-point must system of boxing.
Fights can end by knockout, referee stoppage, or submission. Unlike boxing, the fight does not pause when a combatant falls to the floor. Thus, if a fighter gets knocked down, he must continue to defend himself as his opponent continues to attack him. The referee is vitally important in deciding when a fighter can no longer defend himself and calling a stop to the fight. For this reason, technical knockouts due to referee stoppage are much more common than a straight KO. If a fighter is not "intelligently defending" himself, even if he is not taking very much damage, the referee can stop the fight in the interest of fighter safety. If a fighter is placed in a submission hold or decides at any time that he wishes to surrender, he must "tap out" on the mat or his opponent's body to stop the fight. If the fighter's hands are tied up, he can also verbally submit.
Fighters wear small four or five-ounce fingerless gloves that protect their hands but still allow their fingers to grip for various grappling techniques. No shoes or complete foot coverings are allowed. Fights take place in a modified boxing ring or cage of various sizes and shapes. The cage is designed with grappling in mind, as it prevents opponents from falling through or getting entangled in the ropes. Almost all American MMA promotions use some version of a cage. Japanese MMA has traditionally used rings due to the influence of professional wrestling, though cages are gaining popularity in major promotions.
Rules vary slightly between promotions. Japanese promotions have traditionally differed the most from the Unified Rules, such as by disallowing elbow strikes but allowing kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent. Some Japanese promotions handle rounds and judging slightly differently as well. For example, Sengoku judges the whole fight instead of round-by-round, and DREAM splits the fight into two rounds of 10 minutes and 5 minutes. Women's bouts in all countries vary from three-minute to five-minute rounds depending on the promotion, though there is a growing movement in support of standardized five-minute rounds. The Strikeforce promotion was the first to hold women's bouts with five-minute rounds.
Promotions following the Unified Rules use standardized weight classes ranging from Flyweight at 125 lbs up to Super-Heavyweight at over 265 lbs. The UFC hosts fights from all weight classes except Super Heavyweight. Japanese promotions tend to use slightly different classes and names. Competitors must weigh in the day before an event and not exceed their class's maximum weight in order to qualify for the fight. Just like other sports involving weight classes, "weight cutting" is a common tactic to gain a size advantage. Fighters will severely dehydrate themselves in the days leading up to the weigh-in to lower their weight down to the limit, then spend the rest of the day rehydrating back to their normal weight. This allows fighters to compete in weight classes that are up to 20 lbs lighter than what they truly weigh on the day of the fight. Extreme weight cutting is far less common in Japanese promotions, leading many fighters to appear undersized for their weight class.
Mixed martial arts began as a competition between pure styles and evolved into a hybrid style of the most effective techniques. Three major disciplines have risen to the top as the essential skills for any mixed martial artist:
Stand-Up Striking: All bouts begin with both fighters standing, so it is important for fighters to have at least some knowledge of stand-up technique; Boxing and various forms of kickboxing are popular base disciplines for striking. Muay Thai, or "Thai boxing," is a popular discipline for its use of knees and elbows. However, striking in MMA must be modified from its pure stylistic roots to accommodate the possibility of grappling and takedowns.
Wrestling: Wrestling enables fighters to dictate where the fight takes place. Fighters use wrestling to take their opponent to the ground, keep their opponent on the ground, and resist their opponents' takedowns. Greco-Roman and collegiate freestyle wrestling are popular background disciplines. Wrestling is generally considered the most important pure style for competition, and mixed martial artists with strong wrestling backgrounds are common. Judo is also prized for its effective throws.
Grappling: When a fight goes to the ground, a strong background in BJJ or other submission grappling style is often necessary to apply or defend against submission holds. Common submissions used in competition include various chokes, armlocks, and leglocks.
An MMA bout is a three-dimensional sport that can take place on three different playing fields:
On the Feet: Each fight begins on the feet. While both fighters are separated and standing, fighters can either attempt to strike, attempt to clinch, or attempt a takedown. Due to the threat of kicks, fighters stand farther away from each other than boxers do. Fighters also must stand more flat-footing to maintain their balance should their opponent attempt to shoot in for a takedown attempt. To get his opponent off balance, a fighter will usually set up a takedown by throwing strikes before shooting in.
In the Clinch: When two fighters are grappling while standing, they are in the clinch. From here, each fighter can either strike his opponent, try to take him down to the mat, or attempt to push him away and separate. Wrestling is very important in the clinch to maintain your balance and control your opponent. Takedowns from the clinch usually take the form of trips, throws, and slams. Striking from the clinch is called "dirty boxing." The Muay Thai clinch, sometimes called "the plum," in which the back of the opponent's head is controlled with both hands, is often used in conjunction with knee strikes. Fighters in a clinch usually try to take their opponent down to get a dominant position on the ground. It is also possible to place your opponent in a standing submission hold from the clinch.
On the Mat: When both fighters are on the ground, the fighter on top is said to have "top position." The fighter in top position must use his submission grappling skills to achieve a dominant position on his opponent and either strike or apply a submission hold. The more dominant his position, the easier it is for him to overcome his opponent's defenses. The fighter on bottom must use his grappling skills to either sweep his opponent and place himself in top position, or he must put himself in the most defensive position he can on the bottom. From the strongest defensive position, called "full guard," the fighter on bottom can threaten with submission holds of his own.
There are a number of classic strategies used by fighters to emphasize their strengths or to capitalize on weaknesses in their opponent's game.
Sprawl and Brawl: A fighter with good striking and wrestling will often attempt to use his wrestling to prevent the fight from going to the ground and force his opponent into a striking contest on the feet. Thus, the fighter "sprawls" whenever his opponent shoots in on him, and forces his opponent to "brawl" with him. Fighters often use this strategy to nullify the advantages of a submission specialist. This style was popularized by UFC poster boy Chuck Liddell.
Ground and Pound: A strong wrestler will often attempt to take his opponent to the ground and achieve a dominant top position. Rather than attempt submissions, he will focus on ground strikes to inflict damage while his opponent is less able to defend himself. This is an effective strategy to take stand-up strikers out of their game. It is also useful to soften up an opponent and reduce his ability to defend against submissions. However, it can be a risky strategy against quality grapplers who can still threaten submissions from the bottom. The "GNP" style was invented by early MMA pioneer Mark Coleman, but made famous by UFC light heavyweight Tito Ortiz.
Lay and Pray: This is a disparaging term for an overly cautious strategy in which the fighter controls his opponent on the ground by maintaining top position, but does not put up significant offense. In effect, the fighter is "laying" on top of his opponent and "praying" that his top position will earn him enough points for a decision victory. However, if a referee believes that the top fighter is not making enough effort to improve his position or to earn a stoppage, he can restart the fighters on their feet. There are disparaging terms for similarly cautious and boring strategies occurring in the standing and clinch phase of MMA; Stand and Bland for a fighter jabbing his way to a decision (also known as 'point fighting'), and Wall and Stall for a fighter pressing his opponent against the cage but not mounting significant offense.
Pulling Guard: When a fighter believes that he has a sizable advantage in the submission game, he may attempt a takedown called "pulling guard," which pulls his opponent to the ground on top of him and into his full guard. While the fighter is giving away top position, he puts himself in a position where he can threaten with submissions or eventually sweep to gain top position. Fighters who wish to avoid a stand-up exchange will sometimes pull guard as a desperation move, accepting the sacrifice of top position in an effort to get the fight to the ground.
Mixed Martial Arts has yet to completely shed its "human cockfighting" reputation. MMA is still illegal in three US states, and in some western nations, owing to lingering perceptions that the sport is a barbaric freak-show with no rules. Common misconceptions about modern MMA include:
"There are no rules in mixed martial arts"
Even the very first UFC events, which were billed as having "no rules," did in fact have several rules. Combatants had to obey the directions of the referee, and biting and gouging were disallowed. Modern MMA is a fully regulated sport with a long list of rules and prohibitions summarized above. The main difference between MMA and other martial arts is that MMA rules are primarily directed at concerns of combatant safety, rather than limiting the general fighting techniques available to the combatants. Fouling an opponent or failing to obey the rules will result in point deduction or disqualification. Cuts or other injuries that prevent a fighter from adequately defending himself can also cause a stop to a bout for fighter safety. Referees in America work for state athletic commissions and not for the promotion holding the event to maintain their impartiality. Several high-profile bouts have ended by disqualification or no contest due to fouls.
"Mixed martial artists fight in cages like animals"
Mixed martial arts bouts are held in either cages or rings depending on the promotion. Cages are more popular in the US due to the influence of the UFC, while rings are more popular in Japan due to the influence of kickboxing and pro wrestling. Cages have a stigma attached to them because they are associated with animal fighting or gladiatorial combat, in which unwilling participants are locked inside an arena and forced to fight. In MMA, however, cages are used because the horizontal ropes of a ring do not effectively prevent grappling opponents from falling out of the arena. Grappling opponents can slip through or become entangled in the ropes, forcing the referee to pause the bout and restart the fighters in the center of the ring. Cages can thus prevent pauses in the action by providing a more effective barrier. Fighters use different tactics depending on the type and shape of the arena. Fans are generally divided as to which arena facilitates more entertaining matches and provides the best visibility.
"Mixed martial arts is a brutal bloodsport"
There is no getting around the fact that MMA is a violent combat sport. Many fights have resulted in concussions, bloody gashes and broken bones. There have been three reported deaths at MMA events, though none in any major promotion. Critics decry the sport as barbaric savagery that will corrupt our youth and make society more violent. However, these critics apparently ignore the violence and potential for injuries in other sports such as American football and boxing. Early American football was almost outlawed by President Theodore Roosevelt for its perceived savage nature, yet its current form is considered a hallmark of the nation's culture. Ultimately, any strenuous physical contest carries some degree of danger, even benign sports such as running. To be fair to MMA, one must prove that the sport is more violent or dangerous than other mainstream sports by an unacceptable margin.
Arguably, mixed martial arts is less violent on average than boxing. Boxing focuses exclusively on striking, while MMA includes the use of wrestling and submission grappling. Like any strenuous physical contest, grappling can result in injury, but it generally causes much less trauma than strikes. Grappling-intensive bouts sometimes end with neither fighter having landed a single significant strike. Furthermore, the striking aspect of MMA is arguably less damaging to fighters over the long term than boxing. Due to the use of smaller gloves, MMA fighters are more likely to be staggered by a single punch, whereas boxers with larger gloves must rely on an accumulation of punches to overwhelm an opponent, resulting in more head trauma overall. Also, MMA fighters are not allowed a knockdown count to recover. If an MMA fighter is ever unable to intelligently defend himself, the fight is immediately ended. Staggered boxers on the other hand are given a chance to regain their feet and continue fighting, resulting in more damage. Overall, boxing is no less violent or dangerous to fighter health than mixed martial arts.
To say that mixed martial arts is a bad influence on society ignores the fact that aggressive, competitive sports are already thought to have a positive effect on their participants. American public schools offer wrestling and football programs for their students. Outreach programs teach boxing and traditional martial arts to at-risk youths to channel their energies in a positive direction. Advocates for these sports praise their effectiveness in teaching physical fitness, discipline, and healthy competition. Mixed martial arts is simply an amalgamation of sports and disciplines that are already deemed beneficial for the development of our youth.
"Mixed martial artists are unskilled streetfighters"
Public perception of the average mixed martial artist is that of a professional bar brawler. Several well-known MMA fighters, such as David "Tank" Abbot and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson did in fact have a background as actual street fighters but have achieved only limited success in professional competition. In reality, fighters must cross-train extensively in a variety of disciplines to achieve any high-level success in the sport. Common background disciplines include wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, judo and karate. As time goes on and the sport grows, the next generation of fighters will feature a greater number of purists who began training the sport at a young age rather than transferring in from another discipline.
Appearances in media
Due to the sport's growing popularity, as well as its occasionally lurid reputation, mixed martial arts has been portrayed in a number of media:
An Italian commercial features an MMA fighter seemingly defeated outside of the cage, expressing shock that something was "so strong." It turns out that he's talking about the Extra Strong Mint Golia candies that he just ate.
Anderson Silva is fairly well-known by the mainstream public in Brazil and has been featured in a number of commercials, including a Burger King ad that makes fun of his high-pitched voice.
Pride fighters endorsed a number of Japanese products at the height of the promotion's popularity. Many of the commercials were quite bizarre.
Never Back Down: An MMA-meets-The O.C. style film, portraying a Florida high school where backyard MMA competitions have become fashionable. The film is surprisingly faithful to the actual techniques of MMA in spite of its silly premise.
Redbelt portrays an MMA organization as part of its main plot. The film is written and directed by David Mamet, who practices BJJ but does not follow MMA. Though UFC champ Randy Couture appeared in a small acting role, Mamet's MMA consultants had very little involvement in the modern sport, and the film's depiction suffers greatly. The film features an out-of-date and villainized version of the UFC as well as a number of highly implausible plot details.
Cradle 2 the Grave: Jet Li runs afoul of an underground MMA competition, which features several UFC fighters in cameos.
In the French film Banlieue 13, one of the villains watches a UFC fight featuring David "Tank" Abbot. The film probably intended the sport's bad reputation to help portray the villain as a thug, and the world as half empty.
In Pineapple Express, Dale's girlfriend Angie has her motel television tuned to a UFC fight in the foreground as they discuss their relationship over the phone.
Fighting features a New York underground fighting circuit that is based somewhat on MMA. The main villain of the film seems to be a professional MMA fighter in addition to an underground champ. He posts videos of his seedy MMA fights online, obviously reminiscent of Kimbo Slice's YouTube brawls. The film features former Strikeforce champ Cung Le as the Chinatown fighter.
Warrior focuses on two brothers who compete in a 16-contestant, single-elimination MMA tournament. The film features a fairly detailed and realistic MMA setting, a number of real MMA personalities in the cast, and even a few Expys of some others.
Various documentaries about MMA fighters have been made, most of them tearjerkers.
Jens Pulver: Driven is a documentary about former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver preparing for his fight against Javier Vazquez, and his rough childhood and how his near-poverty forces him to continue fighting long after the sport passed him by.
The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr details the life and career of MMA pioneer Mark Kerr, and his addiction to narcotics spurred by the pain of his many fight injuries. It also details the later career of Mark Coleman, a former UFC heavyweight champion seeking a return to his winning ways in the Japanese PRIDE FC.
Once I Was A Champion is a biography about the late Evan Tanner, former UFC middleweight champion.
Fightville is a behind-the-scenes look at the regional MMA circuit, featuring UFC fighters Dennis Poirier and Tim Credeur.
Like Water is a documentary about UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
Never Surrender (2009) is a movie about MMA with the gimmick of featuring performances by a who's-who of MMA stars, including GSP, Rampage Jackson, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn and Heath Herring.
Beatdown is a low budget film about cagefighting featuring a supporting performance by UFC fighter Michael Bisping as well as bit parts by Bobby Lashley and Heath Herring.
In Alex Cross, the villain fights in an MMA match to show how brutal and evil he is. The fight takes place in a warehouse, and the shady promoter allows the "champ" to fight an unknown opponent outside of his weight class on a few minutes notice.
UFC veteran Seth Petruzelli appears under his nickname of Silverback in Rockabilly Zombie Weekend. While the character's background was not explored, Seth demonstrates several of his MMA moves and is given a short fight scene against a mob of zombies.
Here Comes The Boom stars Kevin James (a long-time MMA fan) as a 42-year-old high school science teacher (and former collegiate wrestler) who takes up MMA as a means to fund the school's music program. There are several notable MMA cameos, including Chael Sonnen, Joe Rogan and Jason "Mayhem" Miller along with supporting performance by Bas Rutten and Mark DellaGrotte.
Undisputed II Last Man Standing, starring Michael Jay White and Scott Adkins, features a prison fighting system based in MMA. The fights are portraited with some realism, albeit in a overtly spectacular coreography. Its sequel, Undisputed III: Redemption, follows its line, but adding more traditional martial arts film stunts to the mix.
The reality show The Ultimate Fighter focuses on amateur or small-time professional MMA fighters aspiring to be signed into the UFC. Each season is structured as a tournament between two teams of contestants, each coached by a veteran UFC fighter. A live finale fight card determines the winner of the tournament, who receives a UFC contract. So far, three contestants of the show have gone on to become UFC champions in their weight class, though all lost their first title defense. The popularity of the first season is widely credited as a major factor in pushing the UFC and MMA into the mainstream.
Iron Ring was a reality show on Black Entertainment Television loosely based on The Ultimate Fighter. The show divided its contestants into several teams, each led by a celebrity "coach," most of whom were actually rappers. The show was criticized heavily by the MMA community for the crass way in which the spotlight was placed on the egos of the celebrity coaches rather than the fighters' efforts and for its extremely loose adherence to the rules, conventions, and discipline of professional MMA.
TapouT was a reality show hosted by the three founders of the TapouT clothing line, which is a major sponsor of MMA fighters. In each episode, the company founders "Mask," "Skyskrape," and "Punkass" would travel by bus to meet an up-and-coming MMA fighter to sponsor him and follow him through his next fight. Whether the fighter won his bout or not, the TapouT crew would inevitably applaud his determination and continue to sponsor him. Much of each episode was also dedicated to the hosts' wacky hijinks. With the death of Charles "Mask" Lewis, no new episodes are expected for the future.
Bully Beatdown was a reality show on MTV hosted by the colorful middleweight fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller. The premise has one or more bullied individuals getting their revenge on a bully by putting him in a cage against a professional MMA fighter for two rounds, each with the possibility of earning up to $5,000. The first round is grappling only, with the bully losing $1,000 each time he submits. The second round is kickboxing, with the bully losing all $5,000 if he cannot survive the round. All of the bully's losses go to his victim(s). The show is based around the expectation that the bully will get beaten up and humiliated, earning very little money. Mayhem provides over-the-top commentary throughout. The second season added a Daily Show-esque sit-down interview between Mayhem and the bully. The third season included a female bully in one episode and Mayhem himself fighting a bully in another.
In an episode of Friends, Monica's boyfriend, played by Jon Favreau, dedicates himself to becoming a UFC fighter. David "Tank" Abbot has a cameo as his opponent.
In an episode of Entourage, Johnny Drama inadvertently gets on the bad side of then-UFC champ Chuck Liddell. He attends a UFC fight and is brow-beaten into entering the cage and humiliating himself, but the whole thing is just a prank by Pauly Shore.
In a second season episode of The Fixer, John Mercer infiltrates a gang of criminals who run underground cage fights. He ultimately enters a lethal cage match himself. The scene is presented as a seedy underworld populated by violent crooks, rather than a legitimate sport.
An episode of NewsRadio had Joe Garelli, played by Joe Rogan, as a UFC combatant, which is particularly Danza-ish due to Rogan's job as color commentator for the UFC. An exciting new style of combat is discovered in this episode: Tickle-style.
In the fourth season premiere of True Blood, Tara is revealed to be an amateur mixed martial artist. She fights her lesbian lover in a match and wins via armbar.
One episode of Leverage involved going after a MMA promoter who had doped an up-and-coming fighter who refused to throw his fight.
Deadliest Warrior brought in the famed Chuck Liddell for their first episode to test out the cestus gauntlets and Roman scissor (basically a half-circle blade on a gauntlet). A season 2 episode brought in Rashad Evans for Alexander the Great's team (against Attila the Hun) to demonstrate the lethal capabilities of Pankration.
An episode of Law and Order had a case about a murdered MMA fighter (played by Forrest Griffin).
The new version of Hawaii Five-0 had an MMA themed episode with Chuck Liddell and Bruce Buffer cameos.
Comic Book Men had retired MMA fighter (and now comic book author) Nate Quarry stop by the shop to pimp his comic book, and later invited the boys to his gym where two of his fighters had an impromptu bout dressed up and Jay and Silent Bob.
Fight Master is Bellator's answer to The Ultimate Fighter. It divides 16 fighters into four teams, each headed by a celebrity coach: Randy Couture, Greg Jackson, Frank Shamrock and Joe Warren.
The Mythbusters episode "Coffin Punch" dealt with whether or not someone could actually, as might be inferred from the title, punch their way out of a coffin. Then-UFC fighter Jon Fitch was featured and was measured as having 1,500 pounds of force (6672 Newtons) in his punches despite lying on his back and having only three inches of movement.
Shamo was an interesting but subversive take on combat sports as a whole. Unfortunately the series was discontinued.
MMA shows up late in Holyland; the final Big Bad's Co-Dragons are both trained in it. While both of them are Blood Knights, the older and more experienced of them is portrayed as a Worthy Opponent (though a very ruthless one) while the other is little more than a punk (though a very skilled one).
Attack on Titan has some of the elements, due to the author being a fan. This is especially noted in the fighting style used by Action Girl Annie, and taught to Eren upon his request. This ends up being extremely significant later on, during Eren's battles with first Annie, and later Reiner in their Titan forms. He also includes a Shout-Out to MMA fighters Yushin Okami and Brock Lesnar in the designs of the Rogue Titan and the Armored Titan, respectively.
Many early western MMA fighters moved into professional wrestling because MMA was not paying enough. Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Don Frye and Tank Abbot are some of the most notable examples. Their personas were based on their MMA background. Some fighters, including Josh Barnett and Don Frye, perform on the Japanese circuit while pursuing MMA at the same time.
The Japanese pro-wrestling circuit blurs the line between show matches and legitimate shoot matches, often showing both on the same card. Many Japanese pro-wrestlers, particularly in the days of PRIDE, transitioned into straight MMA fighters. Wrestling legend Antonio Inoki was an early pioneer of MMA with his famous match against Muhammad Ali. The most memorable Japanese wrestler of the modern age is Kazushi Sakuraba, who earned the name "the Gracie Hunter" for besting several Gracie fighters in MMA.
The Undertaker is an MMA fan and has incorporated moves based on real MMA submissions into his arsenal.
Several video games have been released under the UFC brand:
Ultimate Fighting Championship was the first UFC game, released in 2000 for the Dreamcast, PlayStation, and Game Boy Color. The game was publisher Crave Entertainment's first big title and received fairly good reviews.
UFC: Tapout was released for Xbox in 2002. The game received good to fair reviews and inexplicably features rapper Ice-T as an unlockable character. A sequel was released in 2003 with an updated fighter roster, but few other additions.
UFC Throwdown was also released in 2002 for the PS2 and Gamecube. The game features a number of hidden characters, including UFC employees Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Bruce Buffer. The late TapouT clothing line founder and MMA advocate Charles "Mask" Lewis served as a model along with Tito Ortiz on the game's cover.
UFC Sudden Impact was released in 2004 for the PS2. Published by Global Star Software rather than Crave, it received poor reviews. The cover featured fighter Phil Baroni kneeing Charles "Mask" Lewis and also featured "The Mask" as an unlockable character.
UFC 2009 Undisputed was released in 2009 and published by THQ. It is the first UFC game released after the company's breakout success following The Ultimate Fighter series and has sold over 1 million units. The game features an extensive roster of UFC fighters, though some had already been cut by the time of the game's release; UFC 2010 came out the next year, but was hurt by lackluster sales. UFC Undisputed 3, which debuted in early 2012, reviewed and sold fairly well, but did not manage to be the big earner that studio THQ needed it to be.
Electronic Arts released an MMA game prominently featuring the Strikeforce promotion and its associated fighters in direct competition with the UFC's game. UFC President Dana White declared soon after the announcement of the game that he was "at war" with EA, citing their dismissive attitude toward MMA when the UFC approached them to publish Undisputed, and going so far as to say that any fighter who appeared in the EA game would be blacklisted from the UFC. This proved to be an empty (or more accurately, irrelevant) threat however, given that Zuffa purchased Strikeforce in 2011. Reviews of the game were mixed and it suffered from weak sales.
At E3 2012, the UFC announced that their relationship with THQ had ended and that the next iteration of a licensed UFC video game would be made by Electronic Arts. No release date has been announced.
Tropes associated with Mixed Martial Arts
Tropes associated with Mixed Martial Arts are:
Actor Allusion: Antonio Inoki's MMA event Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye is a reference to Mohammed Ali's famous chant "Ali, bom-ba-ye!" ("Ali, kill him!") Inoki and Ali fought a cross-discipline, proto-MMA match in Japan.
Kiyoshi Tamura towards Kazushi Sakuraba. They came from the UWF International dojo, in which Tamura was Sakuraba's sempai (despite Kazushi being technically the superior, as he was slightly older) and made him do all the dojo chores the newer boys usually do. Saku ascended the scale and they struggled for the rising star status, but Tamura received more of it than him. And finally, years after the two had become the top fighters of PRIDE and RINGS, they requested a fight in Dyamite!!, and Tamura won. Fairly speaking, however, Saku was in worse shape during the time of their fight, and has attained much more international fame than Tamura during his career.
Chris Weidman had former middleweight champion Anderson Silva's number two times, the second time with a piercing leg kick check that shattered Silva's leg and possibly his career.
Ambiguously Brown: Brendan Schaub's tan complexion and close-cropped hair have made him mistaken for a mixed-race black man on occasion, including his castmates on The Ultimate Fighter. In reality, Schaub has entirely European ancestry. He currently goes by a new nickname, "Big Brown."
Artifact Title: The Blackzilians training camp was so named because all of the founding members were black or Brazilian. This isn't true any more, but the name remains.
Ascended Fanboy: Joe Silva was an MMA geek and super-fan before becoming the official matchmaker of the UFC. As such, he's the third most powerful figure in the sport.
Awesome, but Impractical: "Low percentage" techniques are usually flashy and can have an awesome result if they land, but probably won't. They are only rarely seen in competition.
Ax-Crazy: Despite how the sport is sometimes portrayed in the mainstream media, most MMA professionals are sane, friendly, reasonable people. However, there are a few notable exceptions in those who are completely crazy and fight for a living.
Allen "Junie" Browning: Junie became famous on season 8 of the Ultimate Fighter for his many, many violent, profanity-laced and alcohol-fueled destructive binges. After being taken to a hospital following an overdose of Klonopin in 2009, Junie proceeded to assault hospital personnel and threaten their families, for which he was released from his UFC contract. Upon his MMA return, he celebrated his win by sexually propositioning every woman in attendance.
Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett: As Sean Baby wrote on cracked.com, "'Krazy Horse isn't a cute nickname. Charles Bennett is a legitimate lunatic." Bennett is known for his bizarre and entertaining in-ring antics, his claims that he trains only by playing basketball, and his arrests for drug possession and assault, and actually jumping another fighter backstage at a show.
War Machine aka Jon Koppenhaver: Has had multiple legal incidents throughout his career, legally changed his name to "War Machine" (over, of all things, TNA's Rhino using the moniker), became a porn star and was sentenced to one year in prison for assault at a porn industry party in 2009. At one point he was found trying to sell pieces of his kidney and liver, and sperm over eBay. He was also infamous for several... unique rants on Twitter (now "protected"), and most recently was arrested for assault after fighting with bouncers at Thrusters Lounge...one day after pledging to change his "War Machine" moniker and turn over a new leaf. War Machine fought twice more in May and then July of 2010 before reporting to prison to serve a 1-year sentence partially as a result of the incident at Thrusters Lounge.
And Viacheslav Datsik outcrazies them all. Famous for beating former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski early in Arlovski's career, Datsik went on a losing streak from 2001 to 2003 and then disappeared. He was presumed dead for four years, but then re-emerged in 2007 and robbed a series of mobile phone shops. He was arrested, determined schizophrenic, and locked in a high-security mental institution...from which he escaped by tearing a hole through the chain-link fence with his bare hands. Datsik has since been recaptured, reincarcerated, and presumably kept away from fences. Seanbaby has written about him too.
Dan Severn sported the original MMA badass mustache, but his protege Don Frye made it a Memetic Mutation.
Chuck Liddel's signature look includes a horseshoe mustache.
UFC flyweight fighter Ian McCall has sported a twisty-ended handlebar mustache◊ that would make Snidely Whiplash proud.
Bald of Awesome: Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, George St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Joe Rogan and UFC president Dana White, among others.
Beard of Sorrow: Joe Rogan joined a number of other people in growing out their beards for a month to honor the memory of the late Evan Tanner, who occasionally sported a Badass Beard. Rogan appeared with the beard at several UFC events.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: There are several instances of a fighter being defeated "at his own game" by someone with a lesser or no reputation for that area of expertise.
Carlson Gracie's BJJ black belt Marcus Silveira was submitted by Kazushi Sakuraba, a pro wrestler of all people who was almost unknown at that time.
Before Sakuraba submitted Silveira, Rumina Sato became the first non-BJJ fighter to beat a black belt BJJ fighter by submission when he defeated John Lewis with an armbar. Like Sakuraba, he achieved it through his excellence in shoot and catch wrestling.
Melvin Manhoef was knocked out by a single hard punch from Robbie Lawler who was almost unanimously believed to be his inferior at stand-up striking. During DREAM's 2010 Light Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals, Manhoef would even be knocked down by his opponent Tatsuya Mizuno, slugged multiple times (while his head was trapped by a turnbuckle pad of all things!)... and then submitted.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and his team "read the style" of Lyoto Machida and planned to lead him along in the rematch, pretending to leave an opening in Shogun's defense so that Lyoto would "go aggressive" and run right into Shogun's "ambush" — a favored tactic of Machida's.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck. GSP had no formal wrestling training prior to entering MMA, while Koscheck was a college wrestling champion. However, GSP steamrolled over Koscheck with startlingly advanced wrestling skill. Since this fight, GSP has based his entire gameplan around dominant wrestling, trains with the Canadian Olympic freestyle wrestling team, and even publicly considered trying out for the 2012 Olympics as one of them.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and his deadly left high kick stepped into the Octagon to face giant grappler Gabriel Gonzaga in what many considered a squash match before an anticipated clash between the Croatian and then-champion Randy Couture. After manhandling the kickboxing legend for the majority of the first round, Gonzaga knocked Filipovic out, causing him to (in the words of Seanbaby) "Ragdoll so hard that his foot was on backwards when he landed". What did he use to find his light switch? Why, a head kick, of course.
Paulo Thiago debuted in the UFC as an unknown underdog against the established and highly ranked Josh Koscheck. Thiago won the bout with a one-punch knockout in the first round. After becoming an established and highly ranked fighter in his own right, Thiago faced Siyar Bahadurzada, who was debuting in the UFC as an unknown underdog. Bahadurzada defeated Thiago with a one-punch knockout in the first round.
Jon Fitch, known for his polarizing wrestling style, was out-grappled by Demian Maia.
Maia himself was later out-grappled by Jake Shields.
Beware the Nice Ones: Original TUF winner Forrest Griffin is not only a self-deprecatingDeadpan Snarker, but usually comes across as just this kind of goofy dude. But in his autobiography Got Fight?, his friend John revealed that while he, Forrest, and a third annoying guy were watching a movie, Forrest got pissed that the third guy wouldn't stop talking, so he had the guy pass him a lighter and then held the burning lighter under his own arm until he had given himself a second-degree burn just to freak the guy into shutting up.
Big Guy Rodeo: Sometimes happened in Japanese promotions when giant fighters face smaller ones, and the smaller one goes for a rear naked choke.
Chael Sonnen in the lead-up to UFC 117 is notorious for his rants and comments at Anderson Silva's expense, but several times has made objectively false comments. He claimed that he had never been defeated at middleweight, then claiming that his infamous Twitter account wasn't his, despite having given out the URL in a prior interview. After denying that he'd claimed that Lance Armstrong "gave himself cancer" by abusing performance-enhancing drugs. a radio host played him back audio of him making the claim. Undeterred, Sonnen denied that it was his voice. Amusingly, Sonnen himself tested positive for steroids following UFC 117.
Blood Sport: Mixed martial arts is often called a "blood sport" even by respectable media in order to sensationalize it, despite the fact that mainstream sports like boxing could also be characterized as such.
The use of wrestling to control your opponent is a vital component of MMA. Some fights are decided almost completely by positioning and control rather than damaging offense, making wrestling specialists very effective but often boring to watch.
Georges St-Pierre is sometimes criticized for using tactics that turn every fight into a lopsided decision victory. Whether it's using his wrestling to control opponents or his jab to stay out of harm's way, GSP's style is undeniably effective, but doesn't always make for much drama.
Jon Fitch has been derided for his conservative style of fighting- rather going for decision than K Os or submissions. It has worked, but even Dana White called him out on his fighting style.
Boring Invincible Hero: Georges St-Pierre is the longest-reigning UFC champion, but his cautious, cerebral style has earned him criticism for being "boring." A typical GSP bout will have the champion thoroughly outclass his opponent for five rounds without ever being put in danger and without coming very close to finishing his opponent either.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Some fighters occasionally mug to the audience in the middle of a fight. Fan reaction is generally mixed. People seem to like Jason "Mayhem" Miller's V-signs to the camera, but hated when Brock Lesnar mimed lassoing a prone Heath Herring.
Broken Ace: Before his car accident, Hayato Sakurai was considered one of the greatest fighters of his time, excelling both in stand-up and ground fighting.
Bullying a Dragon: Just about every MMA fighter has an anecdote of some random bully picking a fight with them and losing. Perhaps the most epic tale is the one told by former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber about his trip to Bali, in which a whole pack of Balinese gangsters swarmed him after watching him beat down one of their own in a streetfight. Faber summarizes the episode: "It takes more than twelve Balinese with weapons to kill the California Kid."
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rousimar Palhares is pretty much a mix of this, Cloud Cuckoolander and possiblyCrazy Awesome, seeing as he's notorious for two things: horrifying leglocks, and horrifying mental lapses in the Octagon and on the grappling mat! (Fortunately, so far as anyone knows this is strictly in competition, which keeps him from qualifying as Ax-Crazy.)
But Not Too White: Featherweight Erik Koch was noticeable for his unusually white skin before getting a sponsorship deal with a tanning company and sporting an unnatural orange complexion.
Carpet of Virility: Most MMA fighters shave their chests, but a few have proudly sported their chest hair.
Forest Griffin always sports chest hair, which is rather appropriate when combined with his monkey-like face.
Simple country boy Matt Hughes never does something as sissified as shave his chest.
Dave "Pee-wee" Herman usually shaves his body hair, but for his fight with Stephan Struve he chose not only to let it grow out in all its splendor but to dye it black.
Brian Ebersole shaves his chest hair into an arrow pointing to his chin, giving his opponents a target. He's never been knocked out in almost 70 fights.
Matt Brown's lack of concern for his chest hair fits with his no-nonsense personality and fighting style.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Many fighters can demonstrate flexibility and resilience that would shock most bystanders. BJ Penn was noted for being able to, without using his hands, lift his leg up and loop his foot behind his head, though he has admitted he can no longer quite perform this feat. Flexibility is often vital for submission defence, allowing fighters to contort their limbs to ridiculous angles to escape a hold, as the current UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson has proven time and again.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Pretty much what UFC middleweight Rousimar Palhares is known for, even more than his successes, particularly where he seemed to suffer brain farts in two fights, one that almost decided the fight and one that did:
When Nate Marquardt slipped out of a leglock attempt by the supine Palhares, for some reason Palhares turned his head towards the referee to complain that Marquardt might be "greasing" (oiling himself up to defeat grappling). Unfortunately, Palhares turning his attention away from his opponent violated the referee's pre-fight instruction to "defend yourself at all times," and Marquardt promptly punished this by grounding-and-pounding Palhares to a TKO.
When Palhares dropped Dan Miller with a head kick to the chin, he promptly went for ground-and-pound against his turtled-up opponent, landing several heavy-looking punches... then got up to raise his arms in seeming victory, walk away and climb the cage to celebrate, only for the referee to tell him that the fight had not been stopped and that he was to come back down and continue fighting — after which Palhares himself was crumpled by a left hand from Miller and almost TKO'd himself!
Due to his fervent religious beliefs and some amusingly belligerent post-fight interviews, Vitor Belfort has developed this kind of reputation in recent years.
Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The UFC has bought out almost all of its main competitors: Pride, the WEC and Strikeforce. Pride and the WEC were shut down, and Strikeforce officially closed its doors near the end of 2012.
Genki Sudo's main tactic while on the feet, included turning his back, waving his arms in silly poses and literally dancing around his opponent. His fighting style can be summarized as 8% ridiculous dancing around, 1% spinning backfists, 1% flying triangle chokes and 90% amazing grappling skill.
Shigeyuki Umeki was an even weirder example. His fighting style was based around resembling a stoned moneky, swinging apathetically his arms toward his opponent and feinting kicks with equal nonchalance, then surprising him with quick rolling takedowns.
Chael Sonnen has been accused of this in recent events, due to his ability to talk up a match. He was, for all intents and purposes, commission-shopped (fighting in a non-commission state while pending a license hearing in Nevada; something never, ever done for any other fighter in UFC) following a suspension for steroids after his first bout with Anderson Silva, retained in the UFC despite a felony money laundering conviction and having his suspension decreased by lying his ass off at his first hearing, and has received a lucrative spot as an Ultimate Fighter coach and next opponent for light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, despite not having fought at 205 in eight years.
One could also argue that UFC Women's Champion Ronda Rousey has become one of these.
Crossdresser: Pancrase fighter Hikaru Sato usually wears a maid outfit during his entrance.
Curb-Stomp Battle: There have been many examples of a fighter defeating a worthy opponent with unexpected ease. A few examples include:
Royce Gracie curbstomped his way through the very first UFC event. Most of his opponents had no idea how to fight his style, and boxer Art Jimmerman gave up without throwing a single strike. Since the first event, Gracie continued to dominate the early events, but he was always considered the favorite. Ironically, he suffered a curbstomp defeat of his own on his return to the UFC against welterweight champ Matt Hughes, who dominated him with superior wrestling coupled with savvy submission defense.
Anderson Silva exploded into the UFC after a fairly unexceptional career in other promotions. He dispatched the rugged Chris Leben so ruthlessly in his debut that he was immediately given a title shot. Though many fans didn't think he even deserved the shot, Silva demolished the two-time defending champ Rich Franklin in the first round. Since then, Silva has dispatched a number of other worthy opponents with ease, including a thrashing of Forrest Griffin, in which Silva spent a large portion of the fight taunting Griffin with his hands down before knocking him out with a backpedaling jab.
Lyoto Machida unleashed a series of lopsided victories over quality competition on his run for the light heavyweight title. Machida used a unique and elusive style, which includes a strong base in his family's brand of Shotokan karate, to nullify most opponents' offense and make them look like novices.
"Shogun" Rua delivered a curbstomp beating on Machida during their rematch, beating the champ to the punch and knocking him out in three and a half minutes.
In 2003, Fedor Emelianenko challenged the then-greatest heavyweight ever in Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. He was viewed as not standing a chance. He proceeded to spend twenty minutes absolutely torturing Nogueira, assailing him with unbelievably powerful punches. In December of 2004, he did it again, and would have done so in August of 2004 had an accidental cut not stopped the fight early. Fedor went gone on to crush many more opponents, but was always the clear favorite up until he began fighting for StrikeForce, where after defeating Brett Rogers, he proceeded to lose 3 in a row.
Jon Fitch was riding a dominant 8-fight winning streak en route to his title fight against Georges St-Pierre, which turned into the worst beating of his life. After another another 8-fight undefeated streak, during which he was considered the perennial Number 2 welterweight in the world after GSP, he faced Johnny Hendricks and was knocked out in just 12 seconds.
Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn 2 was dubbed a superfight between champions. Many fans thought that Penn stood an excellent chance of being the first fighter to hold two UFC belts simultaneously. Instead, GSP dominated the fight with superior wrestling, and pummeled Penn mercilessly for three rounds until Penn's corner threw in the towel before the fourth bell.
The first five title fights of Jon "Bones" Jones's career were against former or current title-holders, and all were one-sided beatings. Of the five opponents, only Vitor Belfort had him momentarily at a disadvantage.
David Versus Goliath: Early UFC events were open-weight, sometimes resulting in fighters facing opponents more than 100 lbs heavier then themselves. Japanese promotions love these match-ups, often pitting small Japanese fighters against opponents weighing 300-500 lbs. The trend fell into disuse after the demise of Pride, but was restored for Dream's 2009 "Super Hulk Tournament." Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa, one of the smaller fighters, won the tournament. Usually the "Goliaths" fare quite poorly due to their often dubious credentials as fighters.
Deadpan Snarker: Forrest Griffin is prone to this in his interviews, though Amir Sadollah seems to be giving him a run for his money. An "Inside The Octagon" mini-show that reunited them (Sadollah was a member of Griffin's team on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter) showcased both men Snarking their way through the entire segment.
Death Glare: Very common in staredowns to psych-out your opponent.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: Nick and Nate Diaz are known for their unique and effective style of boxing, which involves a high volume of low-power punches to wear their oppponents down. The style is sometimes called the "Stockton Slap."
Defeating the Undefeatable: Due to the nature of the sport, upsets in MMA are more common than in boxing. All "undefeatable" fighters are just one mistake away from getting knocked out or tapping out, or at the very least losing their "invincible aura."
The Gracie family cultivated an invincible aura during the early years of MMA that was particularly pronounced in America, where they were most famous for Royce Gracie's undefeated streak. That image was permanently shattered when four members of the Gracie clan (including Royce) were beaten by Japanese grappler and former pro-wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba. Sakuraba was later dubbed "The Gracie Hunter."
Matt Hughes was the most dominant UFC champ in history until his rematch with Georges St-Pierre, who stopped him in the second round with surprising ease.
After winning the championship, St-Pierre was considered undefeatable. In his first title defense, he faced Matt Serra, a journeyman whose career had fizzled out before winning a "comeback" title shot through the The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Everyone expected Georges St-Pierre to run straight through Serra. Early in the first round, however, Serra landed a hard punch just behind St-Pierre's ear, taking away his equilibrium. Serra swarmed in with more punches until the overwhelmed St-Pierre was forced to tap out due to strikes. It remains the biggest upset in UFC history.
The trope was subverted by the first Machida vs. Shogun fight. Although Lyoto Machida was considered an unbeatable enigma coming into his first title defense as light heavyweight champion, many spectators and commentators gave the decision victory to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The judges, however, awarded Machida a controversial unanimous decision victory. Machida's air of invincibility had nonetheless been cracked, and he fittingly lost the rematch to Shogun by first-round KO.
BJ Penn was considered unbeatable at lightweight once he took the UFC championship, steamrolling over all title contenders with ease. Then came Frank Edgar, a 6 to 1 underdog who was thought to lack a single competitive advantage over the champion. Edgar proceeded to pepper Penn with punches and frustrate him with movement and feints to take a somewhat unpopular unanimous decision victory. In their rematch, Edgar took a decisive decision victory.
Fedor Emelianenko was long considered the best MMA fighter in the world. However, when he to knocked down the underdog Fabricio Werdum and rushed in for the kill, Werdum took advantage of Fedor's overconfidence and snapped on a triangle choke with armbar — ending a 9.5 year-long, 28-fight undefeated streak.
Anderson Silva's tactics finally backfired on July 6, 2013. Having spent the majority of the first round being controlled on the ground by wrestling-based Chris Weidman, Silva began his standard practice of dodging Weidman's blows and keeping his hands down. Weidman took advantage of a hole in Silva's defense; instead of following a right straight with a left hook, Weidman threw a right backfist, causing Silva to lean directly into the follow-up left hook. He dropped and was finished in seconds.
Defeat Means Friendship: It's very common for fighters to embrace and congratulate each other after the bout is over. Former opponents have sometimes invited each other to train at each other's camps. Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar are frequently brought out to make appearances together, and though many thought he was joking about the possibility, Bonnar named his son Griffin Bonnar.
This is quickly becoming Scott Smith's calling card. His wins against Cung Le and Benji Radach both came late in the last round on one big punch, after having been dominated the rest of the fight. The best example is his amazing win against Pete Sell (at :33).
Also applies to Kazushi Sakuraba. As an MMA legend with a reputation for winning against daunting odds, exciting comeback wins, and being a national hero of Japan, referees sometimes give Sakuraba a bit too much leeway in letting him continue fighting. Observers will note that in his fights against Kestutis Smirnovas and Zaleg Galesic, Saku appears to be knocked completely out at least once. However, the referee let the match continue and Sakuraba won both fights. Sakuraba's history of brain-related injury leads to the frightening question of how long he can continue to be a Determinator.
Sakuraba's trainer Nobuhiko Takada and the rest of Japanese wrestlers turned MMA fighters. Despite knowing that their age and lack of training would make them easy prey, the shoot wrestlers fought tirelessly against clearly superior fighters to live up their fighting spirit, and although they had little success, they were a vital point in the development of the modern mixed martial arts.
Urijah Faber pretty much is the Determinator King of North America for his second fight vs. Mike Brown, for the WEC featherweight championship. There's been more than one fight where a fighter suffered a broken hand, but Faber on the other hand (unfortunate pun) lost BOTH of his hands... instead of immediately surrendering or the fight being stopped by the officials though, he chose to fight on for the remainder of the 25 minutes with elbows, kicks and knees. While he still lost by unanimous decision, it's pretty much American MMA's biggest known case of this.
Former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar is especially known for this trait.
Disproportionate Retribution: After the main event of Strikeforce: Nashville, card, Jason "Mayhem" Miller gained access to the cage and interrupted the post-fight interview of victorious middleweight champion Jake Shields to demand a rematch. Shields and his cornerman Gilbert Melendez pushed Miller away, but their infamously pugnacious teammate Nick Diaz threw a punch, prompting Shields' entire team to swarm Miller and pummel him with punches and soccer kicks.
The Eeyore: Nick Diaz, despite a three-year winning streak, is known for his stubbornly dour and pessimistic personality. After an impressive stoppage of Paul Daley, his only reaction was to speculate that Strikeforce was trying to get rid of him and would likely punish him for some imagined grievance. After dominating the legendary BJ Penn into semi-retirement and earning more than a quarter-million dollar paycheck, Diaz spent the post-fight interview complaining about his living conditions, being forced to fight BJ Penn and his gloves not fitting.
Nick "the Goat" Thompson was originally nicknamed "the Fainting Goat" due to his tendancy to get knocked out. Once he got more experience and increased his toughness, the name got shortened to "the Goat," which has no meaning.
Yoshihiro Akiyama was nicknamed "Sexyama" by internet fans due to his modeling and fashionable lifestyle. He found the nickname embarrassing, but eventually embraced it.
Seth Petruzelli claimed that his nickname "the Silverback" is a reference to the fact that silverback gorillas have the smallest penis-to-body-mass ratio in the animal kingdom.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Kazushi Sakuraba was just another mid-tier professional wrestler when he entered the Pride Fighting Championships, being overshadowed by his superstar mentor Nobuhiko Takada. However, Sakuraba quickly distinguished himself as one of the few pro wrestlers who could actually fight. He would eventually become Pride's biggest Japanese star.
Japanese wrestler-turned-fighter Nobuhiko Takada is a tragic example. He started as a massively popular professional wrestler in the shoot wrestling era, but was forced to venture in MMA due to its increasing influence in Japan. The age-worn and unexperienced Takada was chosen by PRIDE Fighting Championships as its top fighter and was booked in some worked wins in an effort to maintain his popularity while he struggled in hopeless fights against the best MMA fighters of the time. Finally, Takada stepped down and passed the torch to his trainee Kazushi Sakuraba, who managed to be what Takada should have been in his years.
Bart Vale hyped himself in United States as an invencible All American MMA hero through his pro wrestling career in Japan, going so far as introducing himself as "the man who beat Ken Shamrock" due to one worked KO over him in the Fujiwara Gumi promotion. His actual MMA career was short and almost devoid of wins.
Fan Dumb: The Sherdog Message Board is a notorious haven for trolls and infantile commentary.
Many fighters adopt a nickname that is coined by friends, family, and trainers, but sometimes the fans themselves coin them. Examples include Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk, Kazushi "The Gracie Hunter" Sakuraba, and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. Examples that are not officially adopted are often mocking names or simple abbreviations of the fighter's name. Sometimes a fighter's signature move receives a fan nickname.
Alistair Overeem gained the nickname "Ubereem" to signify the ridiculously muscled physique that he developed after moving up to the heavyweight weight class.
Brock Lesnar is often called "Cock Chesnar" to mock the extremely phallic tattoo he sports on his chest.
"Cup" Chieck Kongo is so called due to the number of times he "cup checked" his opponent Mirko Cro Cop with illegal groin strikes.
Sakuraba is often called "Saku" by fans who are pressed for time.
Georges "Rush" St-Pierre is almost always referred to as GSP rather than by any part of his name or even his original nickname.
Mirko Cro Cop's infamous left high kicks are often abbreviated "LHK," which in turn has migrated onto others' use of the same technique.
James Thompson's tradition of charging at his opponent at the instant of the first bell is called "Gong and Dash."
Yoshihiro Akiyama, known for his modeling and fashionable lifestyle, is called "Sexyama" by fans. Akiyama stated that the name embarrassed him at first, but he now likes it.
Rousimar Palhares' official nickname is Toquinho ("little tree stump") but he's often referred to as "Paul Harris◊" due to his surname.
Twins Antônio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and Antônio Rogério "Minotoro" Nogueira are called "Big Nog" and "Little Nog" respectively.
UFC announcer Bruce Buffer's habit of suddenly whipping around 180 degrees to point to the fighter he's announcing has been dubbed the "Buffer One-Eighty." To commemorate UFC 100, fans convinced Buffer to do a special "Buffer Three-Sixty" when announcing the title fight, in which Buffer jumped up and spun in a complete circle.
Dana White is often called the Baldfather and Uncle Dana by fight fans. It's not particularly affectionate.
Fight Clubbing: "Smokers" are private, unsanctioned boxing and MMA events set up between gyms so that inexperienced fighters can get some ring experience before going into their first sanctioned bout. Kimbo Slice also made a name for himself in backyard boxing matches before transitioning into a professional MMA fighter.
Fingerless Gloves: MMA uses 4-ounce fingerless gloves to accomodate both striking and grappling. There is a running problem with fighters accidentally poking each others' eyes in competition, which is an illegal move.
Foe Yay: Grappling in MMA is often disparaged as "a bunch of hugging and kissing." However, even fans will admit that some ground positions can look a little peculiar. Don't tell that to an MMA fighter, though. They don't have a sense of humor about it.
Later taken to a logical extreme by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans in a conference call for their UFC 114 main-event clash, both whom eventually lampshaded how homoerotic their trash talk had become:
Rampage: I bet you'd get an [expletive] from that.
Rashad: I probably will. But it'll be okay, 'cause it'll be in your mouth.
Or this classic moment when Wanderlei Silva entered the cage to hype his upcoming UFC 79 fight with Chuck Liddell, a dream match between the iconic light heavyweights of PRIDE fand UFC respectively, and became the victim of English as a Second Language:
Wanderlei: I want to fuck Chuck — fight Chuck!
UFC middleweight almost-champion Chael Sonnen is infamous for an old promo he filmed for BoDog seeming to disparage the guard position and implicitly jiu-jitsu where he declared, "some people subscribe to that theory, but I'm a Republican and we don't do that." Ironic considering that not only are eight of his eleven losses by submission, but four of those were from the guard, by triangle choke — performed with one man's legs and pelvis around another man's head and neck.
Freudian Trio: The three main Antonio Inoki trainees, who basically created the Japanese MMA, fit this trop to a T. Akira Maeda is the Id (emotional and instinctual, known for his impulsiveness), Satoru Sayama is the Superego (cold and intellectual, known to be rather underhanded) and Nobuhiko Takada is the Ego (balanced and level-headed).
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Josh "the Fluke" Grispi was a 14-1 contender when he entered the UFC, but then suffered four straight losses in one of the biggest flame-outs in UFC history, making his ironic nickname depressingly appropriate.
Fun with Acronyms: Universal Fighting-Arts Organization (UFO), a MMA and pro wrestling company founded by Antonio Inoki.
Gender-Blender Name: Rumina Sato's first name is commonly female in Japan, which he has recalled as embarrassing in some occasions.
Genius Bruiser: There are a significant number of MMA fighters who are actually fighting for a living as a second career, with some pretty intellectual first ones.
Rich Franklin is famously a former math teacher with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and a Master's Degree in Education.
Matt "The Law" Lindland ran for Oregon state representative but lost partially due to his opponent's anti-MMA ads
Chael Sonnen also ran for state representative. More infamously, he took part in a money laundering scheme as a real estate agent while also fighting professionally.
Shane Carwin is a full-time mechanical engineer and showed up to work as usual at 9:00 a.m. on March 29, 2010... two days after he won the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship.
Dr. Rosi Sexton has 10-2 win record and a Ph.D in theoretical computer science.
Nick "The Goat" Thompson achieved his J.D. in Law and became a practicing attorney while amassing more than 50 fights across almost every major fighting promotion.
UFC heavyweight fighter Shane Carwin is a big dude, and most of his 12 wins have been extremely short and extremely brutal. Outside of the cage, he has been consistently described by all the fans that have met him as kind, personable and quite possibly the nicest fighter in the UFC.
Heavyweight fighter and former TUF contestant Justin Wren spends a lot of time in the Congo working to free Pygmies from slavery. He's almost twice the height of the Pygmies and about three times the weight.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Although Gerard Gordeau is despised by the international MMA community for his dirty tactics, he is a well-known and respected fighter in Japan, having worked in a variety of pro wrestling promotions. He even served as Kazuyuki Fujita's coach.
Glasgow Grin: UFC Featherweight champ José Aldo received a partial one in a childhood accident. Though healed, the scar is easily noticeable, attributing to his nickname: Scarface.
Shinya Aoki is one of the most brilliant no-gi grapplers on the planet, but he reacts to punches as though they were illegal and has very limited striking skills.
Bob Sapp has enough strength to pick up a 260 pound man literally off the mat and piledrive him violently to the ground. He racked up a number of impressive kickboxing wins with his sheer size and power. However, Sapp is also infamous for his glass chin, lack of heart, and having laughably few grappling skills. He now regularly loses to opponents nearly half his size. He's admitted in interviews that he's no longer willing to take any damage in a fight, even if it involves losing or giving a poor exhibition.
Melvin Manhoef, a Dutch kickboxer, has truly horrifying punching power. He was the first man to ever knock out Mark Hunt, who was famous for shrugging off career-ending strikes to his presumably granite-filled head. Manhoef delivered the KO◊ while moving backwards. Unfortunately, even though he's fought at the highest levels of kickboxing and MMA and can put together beautiful offensive combinations, Manhoef's strike defense is quite lacking, and he has been knocked out by mid-level fighters far more often than an elite striker should. More saliently, his grappling skills are pure garbage. For MMA professionals, fighting Manhoef can either end in Melvin decapitating you with a punch, or with him meekly tapping out 15 seconds after the fight hits the mat.
Many fighters like Melvin Guillard and Houston Alexander have decent striking, scary power and very spotty submission defense. grappling skill. Stand with them and they're likely to hurt you, take them down and they'll play you the three-tap symphony.
Chins get weaker over time due to an accumulation of damage over the course of a fighting career. Veteran fighters who still possess a lot of offensive skill can eventually become glass cannons due to brittle chins brought about by age. Chuck Liddell is perhaps the highest profile example. After a long reign as the UFC's most marketable champion, he suffered a string of knockout losses that put an end to his career.
Former UFC Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is infamous for accusations of a glass chin. He has been knocked out in several fights that he was winning with his excellent speed and boxing technique. Arlovski himself insists that his chin is strong, using the hard shots he took from Travis Fulton as evidence.
Brock Lesnar could take a beating, but never learned to stay composed after getting punched in the face. He tended to wince away and crumple after a solid shot. When he lost most of his ungodly speed due to a game breaking illness, he had to get out of the sport for good.
K1 Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and former Strikeforce and Dream Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem is an incredibly large and incredibly buff looking man with some of the most brutal striking in the sport and a very good grappling game all of which is offset by poor stamina, defense, and a very glassy chin.
Good Old Fisticuffs: MMA is generally regarded as having demystified martial arts and helped strip away the exotic, flashy moves that proved ineffective in competition. Today, MMA has generally homogenized into a core set of simple, effective moves. However, many fighters avert the trope by successfully applying exotic or flashy moves into their arsenal:
Lyoto Machida's signature stand-up style is greatly influenced by his family's brand of Shotokan karate as well as his sumo background.
Katsunori Kikuno is a Japanese fighter noted for use of techniques from his Kyokushin karate background in the ring, typified by signature "crescent" kicks to the body (particularly towards the liver) and head.
Yves Edwards vs. Josh Thomson ended with both famously using exotic techniques — a flying kick and a spinning backfist — against each other simultaneously.
Jon "Bones" Jones is noted for his use of spinning back elbows and eye-popping throws. He claims he doesn't use them to be flashy, they're just part of his style... learned through YouTube.
After watching Ong Bak, Anderson Silva suddenly wanted to win a fight by leading reverse elbow. His coaches completely shot this down, so he practiced the technique privately with his wife. Come his fight with Tony Fryklund, that's exactly how Silva won.
Cung Le has a Sanshou background and used his impressive array of kicks to break Frank Shamrock's arm.
Anthony Pettis is well known for his acrobatic attacks. He won the final WEC Lightweight Championship by running up the side of the cage, springing off, and delivering a flying kick to the face of Benson Henderson, flooring him.
Marcus "Lelo" Aurelio has become to Capoeira what Machida is to the karate, and is known for using numerous Capoeira moves in his fights.
Hard Work Hardly Works: BJ Penn developed a reputation for being lazy and coasting through fights on natural talent rather than training to improve his technique and conditioning. It caught up with him. His career is peppered with flashes of brilliance as well as disappointment.
"My worst enemy has always been that I've been too talented to train, and now it's catching up with me. I gotta start training or those guys will start catching up with me."
Hate Dumb: Many fans criticize Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar for coming to MMA after a successful pro wrestling career, in spite of their legitimate amateur wrestling pedigrees. The same fans seem to give a pass to the many other MMA fighters who also had professional wrestling experience. In fact, only four UFC heavyweight champions have never done any pro wrestling.
Yoji Anjo had one after being brutally beaten by Rickson Gracie in their infamous challenge fight, in which he was representing his boss and long time friend Nobuhiko Takada. Feeling he had failed him, Anjo sank into a depression and even considered suicide, but ultimately learnt to endure his sorrows with laughs and formed the Golden Cups comedy stable in UWF International. Years after, Takada himself welcomed him back to the MMA for a last fight against Ryan Gracie, Rickson's relative.
In a milder example, Anderson Silva became depressed after being soundly defeated by underdog Daiju Takase and thought about quitting MMA, but his friend Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira convinced him to keep on fighting.
Hit-and-Run Tactics: Dominick Cruz and Frankie Edgar are known for their use of high-volume striking combined with a great deal of lateral movement to pick apart their opponents and avoid counters.
Hoist by His Own Petard: It's a common ocurrence that a fighter sacrificies position and/or safety in order to try a move and gets screwed when his opponent is able to capitalize on the gap.
A famous case was the first fight between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie on UFC 1, in which Shamrock dropped backwards to attempt a leglock on Gracie and accidentally pulled his opponent on top of him, getting choked shortly after.
The second bout between Rickson Gracie and Nobuhiko Takada had an almost identic spot in which Takada stood up in Gracie's guard to try a heel hook and was sweeped by Gracie. This wasn't immediately fatal for him, as he managed to dismount Rickson at least two times that night, but he ended submited anyway.
Kazushi Sakuraba's epic 90-minute fight with Royce Gracie, which he won after Gracie threw in the towel due to exhaustion and accumulated damage. If that wasn't enough, Sakuraba faced a second opponent on the same night, Igor Vovchanchyn, a feared striker who was much heavier and better rested. Sakuraba went the distance for another 20 minutes, fighting Vovchanchyn to a draw, before Sakuraba declined to enter a tie-breaker round.
In his most recent fights, win or lose, Frankie Edgar has embodied this trope.
Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Chris Leben's back tattoo is commonly described as a samurai, but it's actually a Mongolian warrior. He's given up correcting people.
Many longtime and hardcore MMA fans did not like the sudden influx of johnny-come-lately MMA fans brought in by The Ultimate Fighter television series. Saying anything positive about the show or a fighter who appeared on the show could get you branded a "TUFer" and treated with derision. As the new fans became more educated, and hardcore fans eventually realized the benefit of increased interest in their sport, the animosity faded. One of the sole remaining points of contension is the Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar finale, which is widely considered to have converted many fans single-handedly. Hardcore fans will grudgingly admit the fight's importance to the sport, but god help you if you call this sloppy slug-fest "your favorite fight."
Rickson Gracie is a constant source of debate on the internet. His legendary status as a grappler and MMA pioneer has been hotly disputed due to the fact that much of his accomplishments are unverified and his MMA career is limited.
Ironic Nickname: Rob "The Saint" Emerson's nickname became ironic (at least for fans) after it was revealed that he'd once been a gang member who was recorded with a dozen compatriots beating a stranger at a gas station as entertainment. He also slept with Ian Mc Call's wife.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: MMA is many people's first introduction to Portuguese pronunciation. Among others, the Gracie family has a tradition for first names beginning with an R. In Portuguese, an R is pronounced like an H when it's the first letter, so "Royce" is pronounced "Hoyce," "Roger" is pronounced "Hoger," etc. Jose Aldo's first name is pronounced "Joe-Zay," with a hard J, rather than "Hoe-Zay," like in Spanish, which caused no end of trouble for Joe Rogan, who consistently forgot and called him "Hoe-Zay" for several years while Mike Goldberg would use "Joe-Zay". With the increasing amount of foreign-born fighters, the UFC finally hit upon a solution: each fighter is filmed pronouncing their own name, and the commentators review the tape before an event. Sometime commentator Kenny Florian has often noted on Twitter that despite this, people still message him claiming that he's saying a name wrong.
Large Ham: Several fighters are known for their hammy behavior out of the ring:
Jason "Mayhem" Miller was famous for his flamboyant entrances, often break-dancing to the ring surrounded by models. His behavior landed him a hosting gig on MTV's Bully Beatdown as well as his share of controversies over the years.
"King" Mo Lawal wears regal attire and is surrounded by models during his entrances.
The hulking Bob Sapp often behaves like the living anime character that Japan seems to think he is.
A number of MMA commentators have developed a reputation for their hammy styles. Mauro Renallo regularly unleashes a torrent of cheesy, pre-scripted witticisms, while UFC commentator Mike Goldberg can always be counted on to bellow hyperbolic analysis at maximum volume. Michael "the Voice" Schiavello manages to do both at once. Bas Rutten generally acts like a hyperactive adolescent.
Early on, grapplers were able to easily take down and submit/ground-and-pound boxers and karate fighters, due to them not being trained in ground fighting.
The arrival of Igor Vovchanchyn in PRIDE and Chuck Liddel in the UFC reversed the tide. They were strikers who used their wrestling backgrounds to defend takedowns, forcing grapplers into boxing match, essentially using grapplers' previous tactic against them and paving the way for the future striking aces like Mirko Cro Cop and Anderson Silva.
Finally, the surge of Jack of All Stats fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn, trained well in multiple disciplines and capable of finishing the fight from any place, made Crippling Overspecialization pretty much extinct at the top level of the sport.
The more athletic heavyweight fighters fit this trope. Examples include Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. Seanbaby says that Lesnar in particular is prone to this, since "He is 300 pounds of muscle, and judging by the way he darts around, I don't think mass and inertia were properly explained to him."
John "The Magician" Dodson is one of the few fighters in the nascent flyweight division to possess honest-to-goodness knockout power.
Made of Iron: Many fighters have been reputed for their iron chins. Some seem impossible to hurt, such as Mark Hunt, Chris Leben, Wesly "Cabbage" Correira, and Kazuyuki "Iron Head" Fujita. Others seem to recover quickly from the very worst shots, such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Nick Diaz. However, all of these fighters have been knocked out due to strikes, leading to the inevitable conclusion that it's better to not get hit in the first place.
Manly Tears: It's not uncommon for fighters to become overwhelmed with emotion after a fight. Sometimes they simply bawl out of sadness for losing, but other times it's a more respectable, manly sort of crying.
Pat Barry began crying after his victory in UFC Fight for the Troops while explaining that his father was a career soldier.
Just about all of the Brazilian fighters in UFC 147 cried after their victories. One even cried on his way to the Octagon.
Martial Arts Headband: Longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre always wears one on his way to the cage to honor his Kyokushin karate background. Ironically, GSP's striking is probably his least effective area ever since he was knocked out by Matt Serra and adopted a more conservative approach.
Metagame: Over the course of the sport's history, there has been a Lensman Arms Race over the various styles and how they interact with each other.
Mighty Glacier: There are some rare MMA fighters who base their strategy around size and strenght, but they often fail in the ring due to lack of flexibility and/or mobility. In general, this is a ill-fated strategy in modern MMA.
Paulo "Giant" Silva was a literal giant, endowed with an unusual reach thanks to his long arms. However, he had little success, mostly due to his lack of training.
Grand sumo champion Akebono was a tragic example, both in kickboxing and MMA. His large size didn't save him from a loss-filled record.
Emmanuel Yarborough is probably the heaviest MMA fighter ever, although he didn't have much exposure. In his only win, he smothered shooter Tatsuo Nakano with his enormous belly.
Alexandru Lungu, a lumbering superheavyweight judoka who is 5'11 and 350+ pounds, has two recorded victories by "smother choke" and one for throwing his opponent out of the ring.
Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Fedor Emelianenko's Russian heritage was played up during his heyday. Since then, this seems to be the standard approach used to market up-and-coming Russian fighters.
My Nayme Is: MMA stalwart Travis Wiuff's last name is pronounced the same as "view." Commentators have expressed bafflement at this.
There are at least four fighters in major promotions using the nickname "Pitbull": brothers Patricio and Patricky Freire, Andrei Arlovski and Thiago Alves. Manvel Gamburyen was forced to change his nickname from "Pitbull" to "Anvil" because there were too many fighters already using the nickname.
An even weirder example are the two fighters named Marcus Aurelio (nicknamed respectively "Maximus" and "Lelo"). They are both Brazilian and famous for their capoeira background, but they are completely unrelated.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Generally the intention with a figher's nickname. Some fan favorites include Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Wanderlai "The Axe Murderer" Silva.
Known for his eccentric training methods (including running up hills and chasing airplanes), his mullet hairdo, and his iconic red speedo briefs, Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa has become a consistent fan-favorite in JMMA who is known for his 80s pro-wrestling look and catch-wrestling style finishes. And really, how can you not love this guy?
MMA announcer Lenne Hardt has an equally odd and flamboyant announcing style that has endeared her to fans of Japanese MMA.
Numbered Sequels: The UFC popularized this trope when naming its events, and it has become standard for other MMA promotions.
Ominous Latin Chanting: Early Zuffa broadcasts of the UFC were heavily influenced by Film/Gladiator and featured ominous Latin chanting during the opening sequence and each Tale of the Tape. While the opening sequence has changed, the Tale of the Tape music remains and is now somewhat incongruous.
One Steve Limit: Manvel Gamburyen was forced to change his nickname, "Pitbull," when he entered the UFC because two other fighters in the organization were already using the nickname, and apparently three was too many.
The One Who Wears Shoes: Footwear beyond the classic MMA spats or footwraps is commonly forbidden in MMA promotions, but Japan used to have more relaxed rules about it. Due to their pro wrestling ancestry, shoot wrestling companies like Pancrase or RINGS featured fighters wearing brightly colored high boots (which contributed to the re-popularization of the leglocks in their environment), and others like PRIDE and DREAM allowed wrestling shoes.
OOC Is Serious Business: Coach Greg Jackson almost always keeps a very light and level tone while instructing his fighters between rounds. When his fighter Carlos Condit was down two rounds and heading into the final third, however, Jackson began screaming and swearing at Condit to get aggressive and knock his opponent out. Condit responded and got the TKO just 7 seconds from the final bell. Later, Jackson calmly explained that he thought Condit needed that kind of encouragement.
Oral Fixation: UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson is often seen with a toothpick in his mouth. After his successful title defense against Nate Diaz, it was revealed that he often fights with a toothpick hidden in his mouth.
The Pete Best: Plenty of MMA fighters had their best years before the boom.
Some early pioneers, such as Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock, left the sport for Professional Wrestling to make money, only to return later when MMA paychecks improved. Ironically, the inverse is happening now, with former pro-wrestler Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley joining the sport.
Igor Vovchanchyn is The Pete Best to Fedor Emelianenko. Vovchanchyn was the first kickboxer to have sustained success against jujitsu artists in the mid 90s and was universally feared as a striker in the late 90s. However, because his success happened in the "Dark Ages" of MMA, only hardcore fans remember him. Emelianenko is very similar to Igor in style, being slightly larger and more well-rounded as a fighter, and has replaced Vovchanchyn as the most successful fighter out of the Ukraine.
Similarly, Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons is a fighter active from the mid-90s to present day, skilled in Muay Thai. His style is almost identical to that of current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and in fact he trained Silva at one point. Almost no one knows who "Pele" is (not the least because his name makes him The Pete Best in another way), while Silva has had much more success and is regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world.
Bas Rutten dominated the Pancrase organization, won the UFC heavyweight championship, and retired before MMA ever went mainstream. However, he's made quite a name for himself for his commentating and commentary, as well as his infamous self-defense tapes.
Jens Pulver started fighting in 1999, was the UFC's first ever lightweight championship and, for eight years, was the only person who ever defeated BJ Penn at lightweight. However, when UFC really hit the mainstream Pulver's suspect chin and defensive grappling was used against him multiple times, culminating in a two-year, six fight losing streak. Unfortunately, most modern fans only remember the tail-end of his career, which has consisted of him getting punched out or submitted.
Before Kazushi Sakuraba made a name by hunting down BJJ fighters with his shoot wrestling abilities, fellow shooter Rumina Sato had already achieved that feat in at least two occasions, submitting Ricardo Botelho and John Lewis. However, Sato's lack of exposure (occasioned by his refusal to fight outside of Shooto until he gained a title) made him almost unknown to western audiences.
Pintsized Powerhouse: Yuki Nakai was a very small fighter, but he kicked his way through the Vale Tudo Japan 1995 tournament against wrestlers almost twice his size.
Poor Man's Substitute: Shungo Oyama was this to Kazushi Sakuraba in terms of fighting style and persona. He had a couple of victories against Gracies by imitating Saku.
Sakuraba's long time Lancer Daijiro Matsui has a similar profile. Very much like Saku, Matsui was known for his heart and creativity and fought whoever Pride put in front of him.
Daiju Takase also imitated Sakuraba for a time, and even wore tights and spats based in Saku's.
Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Some fighters try to intimidate their opponents by offering "free shots" to their opponents. This is generally considered to be a poor tactic. In the case of Gary Goodridge, it's become Harsher in Hindsight due to his onset of pugilistic dementia.
Punny Name: Spencer "the King" Fisher's nickame works on its own and also combines with his last name as "the Kingfisher," a bird of prey. He has a bird tattoo on his shoulder.
Rage Quit: Coach Ken Shamrock enforced this on his fighter Guy Mezger in the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round. Mezger's fight with Kazushi Sakuraba was ruled a draw, requiring both fighters to go to a tiebreaker round. Shamrock believed that Mezger had clearly won the fight and prohibited him from entering the tiebreaker in protest, resulting in a forfeit loss.
Rags to Riches: A common theme in UFC promotional pieces on Brazilian fighters, several for whom MMA was a way out of abusive homes/slums, or other poor living conditions.
José Aldo: The product of a broken home due to an abusive alcoholic father, he was so poor that his fight team allowed him to live in the gym and provided meals because he could not afford food. According to José, he married his wife because her father required it for José to move in with them, as José was living in a slum when they met. He later became the first UFC featherweight champion.
Thiago Silva: Left home at 18 because of an abusive father, was homeless for a time and would literally sneak into a supermarket and consume food right there on the spot.
Rousimar Palhares: Child laborer on a pig farm who at one point was so impoverished that his family had to eat pig feed, and although his family was able to eventually put together enough money to send him to Rio de Janeiro at 25, he was still broke and homeless (living under a bridge) there at first and (like Aldo) was for a time financially supported by his fellow gym members.
Some fighters wear pink as part of their standard uniform. Rich Franklin (honoring the Cincinnati Bengals), Seth Petruzelli (sprayed into his hair) and John Maguire (a self-described "pink belt") are examples.
A number of fighters paint their toenails before fights, usually colored a manly black. Frank Trigg, however, usually wore colorful shades, which inspired his nickname "Twinkle Toes."
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: After knocking out Yoshihiro Akiyama at the Yarennoka! event, Kazuo Misaki took his defeated opponent by the shoulder and chastised him at length for being selfish and fighting only for himself, rather than for the fans. Akiyama listened to the entire speech with surprising humility. Ironically, the fight was later ruled a No Contest due to Misaki's illegal soccer kick.
Revenge: In 1996, Yoji Anjo had an incident with famous Jerkass Akira Maeda, in which Maeda punched him during a televised debate for disagreeing with him. Three years after, during a Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Japan, Anjo approached Maeda through the crowd and knocked him out with a sucker punch.
Akira Maeda from RINGS once brutalized his trainee Wataru Sakata in front of the cameras.
The three men came from the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo system, itself extremely brutal and cultlike to the point where at least one trainee has been beaten to death. Or so it is said.
Scary Black Man: Several fighters have cultivated this image to increase their profile, whether or not their fighting prowess deserves it:
"Big Daddy" Gary Goodridge gained an intimidating reputation in his early Pride fights for yelling at his opponents to hit him and giving them free shots.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was probably the first MMA figter to overtly cultivate the trope with a "street thug" persona, which included wearing an industrial chain as a necklace and swearing profusely during interviews. He softened his image somewhat after his religious reawakening, but revived it when feuding with Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal and "Sugar" Rashad Evans, both rival African-American wrestlers.
African-American giant Bob Sapp toyed with this trope in Japan, where he seems to be treated like a living anime character.
Kimbo Slice's appeal came from his streetfighting roots and scary, grizzled appearance, though in person he had a surprisingly mild personality.
Signature Scene: Various promotions have a defining fight in their history:
UFC: Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, during the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, season 1. The fight is credited with singlehandedly generating a fanbase for MMA in the United States. Because the fight was more or less a sloppy stand-up brawl, many keyboard warriors will look down their noses on fans who consider it to be one of the "best" MMA fights.
WEC: Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis's back-and-forth championship fight, culminating in Pettis' flying kick off the side of the cage. The latter gets extra points for the being the organization's very last fight.
Bellator: Pretty much got put on the public eye thanks to Toby Imada performing an inverted triangle choke on a standing Jorge Masvidal — it only hit the ground because Masvidal passed out, apparently too confused to tap out.
Lyoto Machida's legend is centered around his karate-based style and his overt public allusions to a honorable samurai-like image... but on the Internet, he's also notorious for admitting right before UFC 98 that for health reasons, he drinks his own urine every morning. Worse yet, he got it from his dad. Over a year after the story broke, people are still joking about it. When pressed by MMA celebrity reporter Ariel Helwani about the now-infamous story days before UFC 113, his dad Yoshizo Machidaproduced his own urine on the spot and drank it on camera.
A series of escalating pranks on The Ultimate Fighter led to fighters contaminating sushi with their own bodily fluids.
Start My Own: Japan is full of examples. In fact, this was the very origin of the Japanese MMA.
Satoru Sayama left the original Universal Wrestling Federation to found Shooto, the first MMA company ever. When he departed from Shooto, he was brough to Antonio Inoki's Universal Fighting-Arts Organization, but he left again and went to form a martial art of all things, called Seikendo.
Akira Maeda created Fighting Network RINGS after the demise of the Newborn UWF.
Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki left Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi to do real fighting, creating Pancrase.
Stealth Pun: An advertisement for Ultimate Ultimate 1995, which took place near Christmas, featured a clip of Keith Hackney repeatedly punching Joe Son in the groin over music from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker
Stout Strength: Some heavyweight fighters pack on a surprising amount of fat while still competing at the highest levels.
Roy "Big Country" Nelson walks out to Weird Al Yankovic's "Fat" and rubs his enormous belly after wins. In spite of being a top-tier fighter, he was forced to appear on The Ultimate Fighter in order to get into the UFC because Dana White thought that his physique reflected poorly on the sport. Nelson is actually an undersized heavyweight and has come under increasing pressure to drop the weight and move to the light heavyweight division.
Fedor Emelianenko was for the better part of a decade the top fighter in the world despite having an unimpressively pudgy physique
Cole Konrad was nicknamed "the Polar Bear" almost certainly due to the thick layer of blubber he sports, but was a two-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion. He retired from MMA with a perfect 9-0 record and as the Bellator heavyweight champion.
Strange Syntax Speaker: "Often inverted in his syntax is UFC commentator Mike Goldberg, Joe!" He does it as an apparent tactic to avoid repetition. On rare occasions it rubs off on his partner Joe Rogan.
During the open workouts for UFC 153, heavyweight Dave "Pee Wee" Herman declared that "everyone knows jiu-jitsu doesn't work." Four and a half minutes into the second round, Herman was tapping to an armbar from "Minotauro" Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who then promptly declared "Jiu-jitsu does work".
Alistair Overeem showed no respect to "Bigfoot" Silva in the weeks leading up to or during their fight. During the fight, he repeatedly dropped his hands, chin up, without regard for Silva's striking. He ended up on the receiving end of a shocking TKO in the third round after arguably winning the previous two.
Anderson Silva repeatedly clowned title contender Chris Weidman by dropping his hands and presenting his chin. When Weidman connected with a glancing blow, Silva theatrically mimed being hurt. Weidman responded with more punches, landing flush on Silva's chin and ending the middleweight champ's record-breaking win streak.
The UFC decided to only air a single fight on the card of their network television debut: the title fight between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. Velasquez was knocked out in 64 seconds, making the entire hour devoted to 1 minute of fighting.
Those Two Guys: Shinya Aoki and Masakazu Imanari, who were university classmates and often train together.
James Gardner takes a moment◊ to wave to the camera while grappling wizard Shinya Aoki has his back. Both commentators Face Palm at the obvious outcome.
Chael Sonnen dominated the first round of his rematch with Anderson Silva. In round two, after having his takedowns defended against, he got reckless and threw a spinning backfist. Silva slipped the strike easily and Sonnen wound up falling on his ass. This ended as well as you would expect◊.
True Companions: Fighters in the same training camp are traditionally expected to refuse to fight each other due to the closeness of their relationships. This has caused some friction between fighters and the organizations that employ them when camp loyalty interferes with matchmaking. A notable subversion came when Light Heavyweight UFC champion Jon Jones readily agreed to fight title contender and campmate Rashad Evans, who took great offense and left the camp.
Gerard Gordeau was an infamously dirty fighter. He found a way to break the minimal rules of UFC 1 by biting the ear of Royce Gracie, which is the reason Gracie held onto his submission so long after the referee stopped the fight. He also repeatedly eye-gouged Yuki Nakai and permanently blinded him in one eye.
Faking an invitation to touch gloves and then hitting your opponent when he comes in range is widely seen as a dirty tactic, though it is completely within the rules. Fighters get a chance to touch gloves before the fight and are told to "protect yourself at all times" once the bell rings.
Because referees will usually warn a fighter for their first instance of a rule infraction, such as grabbing the fence, some fighters actually plan to "spend" their warning to get an advantage at a critical point without repercussion. This tactic famously blew up in Tito Ortiz's face when he received an immediate point deduction for a flagrant fence grab. After the fight, he stated, "If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying."
Matt Lindland took the term literally by not bathing for days before a fight so that he would nauseate his opponents in grappling exchanges with his body odor.
Underdogs Never Lose: Underdogs usually lose, but the biggest underdog in the history of MMA actually won. Sokoudjou, a judoka with a 2-1 MMA record, was a -2,500 underdog against Antonio Rogerio Nogueria, which is the highest odds on record in MMA. Sokoudjou knocked Nogueria out with a punch in 23 seconds.
The Unfavorite: Top-ranked welterweight Jon Fitch was a long-time unfavorite of the UFC brass for his unpopular grinding style. He had to tie the then-standing record of 8 consecutive victories before being granted a title shot in 2008. In 2013, as the #9 ranked welterweight in the organization (and considered by many the third greatest to ever compete in the division), he was unexpectedly cut after going 1-2-1 in his previous four fights.
Unnecessary Combat Roll: Doing somersaults and cartwheels to passing the guard or just surprising the downed opponent is a pretty common, if highly risky, practice in Japanese MMA.
Kazushi Sakuraba was the first in doing a cartwheel guard pass. He probably got the inspiration from Satoru Sayama, who performed a similar move during a pro wrestling match against Antonio Inoki.
Unorthodox fighters like Ikuhisa Minowa, Daijiro Matsui or Alexander Otsuka often pull somersaults against the opponent's guard in a effort to pass it. While a straight front flip is a generally impractical move, there are some succesful instances in MMA history, as this unnamed fighter can testify.
In a no-fighting context, Charles Benett and Alexander Otsuka often perform a backflip as a victory celebrarion.
The Unpronounceable: Krzysztof Soszynski. While the spelling borders on self-parody, it's actually not that hard to say: "Kris-Toff Soh-Shin-Skee."
Verbal Tic: Listen, Chael Sonnen wants to make sure you're paying attention.
The Worf Effect: A "gatekeeper" is a dangerous veteran fighter in the middle of the division who is nonetheless not good enough to compete for a championship. They are often paired with up-and-coming prospects as a test of mettle. Beating a gatekeeper will add to a prospect's reputation and build their case for a title shot. Well known "Worfs" include Chris Lytle, Vladimir Matyushenko, Chris Leben, and Cheick Kongo.
Worked Shoot: In the early days of Japanese MMA, the lines between fixed and shoot competition was much blurrier. Japanese promotions were fairly notorious for manipulating the results to establish storylines and build up stars. Often this was done through lopsided matchmaking and questionable judging, but there were also outright works.
Ken Shamrock dropped at least two Pancrase matches: one to drop a title before a UFC tournament, and one to build the popularity of Japanese fighter Minoru Suzuki. Pancrase has been accused of regularly working fights.
Several of the first PRIDE events were anchored by Nobuhiko Takada, a popular Japanese professional wrestler, and his stable of fighters. Unfortunately, Takada's skill in real bouts did not match his popularity, causing PRIDE to set up a worked match with Mark Coleman, a former UFC champion, to boost his drawing power. Coleman did a particularly poor job of selling the work when he jumped into Takada's guard and allowed himself to be heelhooked.
Naoya Ogawa is another PRIDE example. Managed by notorious backstage manipulator Antonio Inoki, Ogawa is said to have fought worked bouts again Masaaki Satake and Stefan Leko.
The defunct promotion Fighting Network RINGS featured cards that mixed worked pro wrestling bouts with actual MMA bouts, and sometimes the line was blurred. As Japanese pro wrestlers began finding some success in MMA, the focus shifted more toward shoot fights.
Anthony Macias allowed himself to be submitted by Oleg Taktarov in UFC 6 because they both had the same manager, who convinced Macias to throw the fight so that Taktarov would be fresh for the final later that day. The 12-second guillotine is still officially the fastest UFC submission on record.
Wrestler in All of Us: A wide range of wrestling moves to be used in actual athletic competition, creating some spectacular matches. This six minute compilation provides a number of examples. Note that the German suplex definitely qualifies.