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"Fighting is not what we thought it was."
Jim Brown, UFC 1
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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.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is by far the most prominent MMA promotion.

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    History 
Though similar sports have existed at certain points throughout history, most notably in the Greek Olympic sport Pankration, modern mixed martial arts began in Brazil. Contrary to popular belief MMA is much older than the first UFC, with the first televised MMA event being in Brazil and in 1960 with the first Gracie clan MMA tv show being the “Heróis do Ringue” ("Heroes of the Ring" in portuguese) in 1960. A latter and more successful creation was the Ultimate Fighting Championship by Rorion Gracie and Art Davie in 1993, soon 33 years after "Herois do Ring". The event was billed as a no-holds-barred tournament straight out of Bloodsport to determine in real-life conditions 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 and smallest adult member into the tournament, 27-year-old Royce, to prove that BJJ techniques could 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. The statement had been made that the way to win a "real" fistfight was nothing like viewers were expecting.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship expanded into a series of events with new and returning fighters. Royce won several more tournaments before the Gracies dropped out of the company. Other fighters rose to prominence by researching 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 fledgling sport soon faced political opposition for its perceived barbaric nature, and 36 states passed laws banning "no holds barred fighting." As viewership declined due to the restrictions, the company instituted more safety measures to make competition more akin to a combat sport that focused on individual achievement rather than a no-holds-barred contest between styles. It dropped the tournament format, and senior referee John McCarthy 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.

Things started to turn around when the company was bought by the Fertitta brothers, a pair of Las Vegas billionaires. Forming the company Zuffa (Italian for "brawl") with their close friend Dana White, the Fertittas continued the efforts to legitimize the sport. In 2005, they created The Ultimate Fighter, an MMA-themed reality competition that put the sport into millions of homes when it was picked up by Spike TV. The live season finale featured a now-legendary bout between light heavyweight finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar. The bout is often credited as the most significant fight in MMA history and earned the UFC a legion of new fans.

In Japan, the sport of MMA took a concurrent but separate evolution, with origins in a form of Professional Wrestling called "shoot wrestling." Shoot wrestlers used a hybrid of submission wrestling techniques and striking in real fights similar to MMA. Japanese promotions like the Universal Wrestling Federation, Pancrase and Shooto were already putting on hybrid fighting shows by the time the UFC was founded. The concurrent rise of MMA in America culminated in the creation of PRIDE Fighting Championship (PRIDE FC), a Japanese MMA organization heavily influenced by its pro wrestling roots. PRIDE rivaled the UFC for several years and helped increase the global popularity of the sport before being absorbed by the UFC in 2007.

Many MMA promotions have emerged through the years, but the UFC remains the face of MMA. Their partnership with FOX Sports in 2011 saw MMA gain more prominence on broadcast network television and vastly expanded the sport's reach, while their 2018 partnership with ESPN helped add legitimacy to the sport as a whole. Bellator MMA, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, is the promotion's chief rival in the United States.

One major impact that mixed martial arts has had is the complete discrediting of Supernatural Martial Arts as a trope in real life, debunking centuries of false beliefs, claims and outright scams of many so-called martial arts masters and self-defense trainers. Mixed martial arts demonstrated the inherent weaknesses in many fighting styles, especially ones which claimed to use things such as Pressure Points, Ki Manipulation, or other incredible feats. The "McDojo" became an endangered species, and even Old Masters who felt confident in the invincibility of their generations-old fighting techniques quickly learned that they were no match for a live, resisting opponent.

    Rules 
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 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, but has long been allowed in Japanese MMA. Standard competition lasts for three rounds of five minutes each, with five rounds for most main events and all championship bouts. 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, they must continue to defend themself as their opponent continues to attack them. The referee is vitally important in deciding when a fighter can no longer compete 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" themself, even if they are 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 they wish to surrender, they must "tap out" on the mat or their opponent's body to stop the fight. If the fighter's hands are tied up, they 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. note  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; in an effort to attain uniformity, the UFC in 2001 began allowing smaller promotions to use the eight-sided cage, though they cannot legally refer to them as an "Octagon". Japanese MMA has traditionally used rings due to the influence of professional wrestling, though cages are gaining popularity in major promotions.

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.

Rules vary slightly between promotions, but have gradually migrated to coincide with the Unified Rules.
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    Competition 
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, maintain top position, 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 and transitions to grappling.
  • 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. The predominant art in this field has been Brazilian jiu-jitsu thanks to the UFC and its influences, but it has also seen styles like shoot wrestling, sambo and judo.

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.

    Stigma 
Mixed Martial Arts has yet to completely shed its "human cockfighting" reputation. For many tears, MMA was illegal in many US states, and in some western nations, owing to 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 - if anything, it is more.

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 went on and the sport grew, the next generation of fighters featured a greater number of purists who began training the sport at a young age rather than transferring in from another discipline.


    Appearances in media 

One can track the changing perspective of mixed martial arts by its portrayal in media, from lurid bloodsport to standard athletic competition.

Advertising

  • 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, in the true Japanese style, were quite bizarre.

Anime and Manga

  • Teppu is interesting, as it portrays Japanese MMA neutrally and fairly realistically, though the main character's goal is to beat the eternal smile off her rival's face.
  • All Rounder Meguru is a light-hearted but impressively realistic ongoing series about amateur MMA.
  • High School Exciting Story: Tough and Shootfighter Tekken despite not being all that realistic.
  • 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.
  • In Tiger Mask W, King Tiger, one of Tiger's Den top wrestlers, is mentioned to have a MMA background-and shows it in his fight with Tiger Mask (fought under a slight variation of MMA Unified Rules), using way more strikes and a more down-to-earth style than everyone else. While he ends up defeated when Tiger Mask grabs his ankle and cripples him with a hold, he gave him a good run for his money until that crippling hold, and his signature axe kick is used by Tiger Mask to develop the Tiger Fang.
  • ViVid Strike!, being a Spin-Off of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, is basically MMA filtered through a Magical Girl Warrior lens.
  • Kengan Ashura:
    • The primary style of Okubo Naoya is MMA. Naoya is a MMA fighter who started fighting in high school wrestling and amateur boxing, turning him into a Jack-of-All-Stats when he started his MMA carrer. Different from other fighters in the Kengan tournament, he doesn't rely on superhuman abilities, ancient martial arts, or secret techniques, but simply on using all aspects of combat in synthesis: If they want to grapple, he will strike and if they want to strike, he will grapple. He's good enough on those fundamentals that his fight against Agito goes from an expected Curb-Stomp Battle into going toe-to-toe with Agito, even though he loses at the end.
    • Although Cosmo Imari's primary style is Jiu-Jitsu, he uses a lot of Muay Thai to strike his opponents into opening opportunities for him to grapple, thus making him into an effective MMA fighter, if not specialized in submissions. In the sequel Kengan Omega he becomes a more well-rounded fighter.

Comic Books

  • Batman examples:
    • Barbara Gordon trains in MMA and enters a tournament in Batgirl (Rebirth) #2.
    • As evidenced here, here and here, Batman himself is effectively a MMA fighter (and a frighteningly efficient one), especially in the Golden Age stories.
    • Luke Fox, AKA Batwing II, was an MMA fighter for a brief time.
    • Kate Kane learned Modern Army Combatives, essentially a militarized version of MMA, as a West Point cadet.
  • Kinju Dayal, the protagonist of Spiritus, is a female world-champion fighter in the Open Combat Championships, a futuristic MMA organization.

Film

  • 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 dynamics 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.
  • The French film Banlieue 13 mostly showcases Le Parkour and stylized street fighting, but it also pours some MMA spots on its brawls, especially in the deleted scenes and the final duel between the two main characters. Also, one of the villains is shown watching a UFC event featuring David "Tank" Abbot, probably to help portray him as a thug and the world as half empty through the sport's bad reputation in Europe.
  • In Pineapple Express, Dale's girlfriend Angie has her motel television tuned to a UFC fight in the foreground as they fight about 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 Dustin Poirier and Tim Credeur.
    • Like Water is a documentary about then 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 performances 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 portrayed with some realism, albeit in a overtly spectacular choreography. Its sequel, Undisputed III: Redemption, follows its line, but abandoning the realism to add increasingly crazy martial arts flick stunts to the mix.
  • Iron Man 2: Tony claims he's using MMA in a sparring match with Happy Hogan. He's supposed to be boxing. Happy retorts that he's just cheating.
  • Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva appear as themselves in Tapped Out, a MMA film whose plot is about as awful as its lead's hilarously bad acting skills, and are arguably the best part of the movie.
  • In Ong-Bak, an obnoxious Australian MMA fighter is the first of several national stereotypes to get done over by the hero in an illegal fight club over the course of the film.
  • Virtuosity features a scene set at a UFC event and includes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock. In spite of the Product Placement, the portrayal is laughably inaccurate.

Live-Action TV

  • 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.
  • 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 have become 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 & 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 as 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. It lasted only one season.
  • 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.
  • The NCIS: Los Angeles episode "Hand-To-Hand" has Sam Hanna going undercover at an MMA gym.
  • Dana White: Looking For a Fight has UFC President Dana White and friends go to different towns, take in the sights, try the food, do different dares, rag on each other, and then attend a local MMA show to scout for new talent.

Professional Wrestling

  • 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. Both he and Goldberg have stated in interviews that if MMA had been around (or in Goldberg's case, more popular) when they began their careers, they likely would have gone into it instead of wrestling. The Undertaker's submission move, the Hell's Gate, is a modified version of the MMA gogoplata. He introduced it both as a way to show off his newly trained BJJ skills and as a way to save damage to his knees from his Tombstone finisher.
  • After leaving WWE in 2004, Brock Lesnar achieved fame in UFC, winning the Heavyweight title. When he returned to WWE in 2012, he incorporated more MMA moves into his moveset and changed his look, trading in the wrestling trunks for MMA shorts and gloves.
  • Former long-reigning UFC woman's bantamweight champion Rhonda Rousey transitioned into the WWE after the end of her championship run. Her persona is partially based on her reputation as an MMA fighter.

Video Games

  • 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. EA Sports UFC was released on June 17, 2014, receiving mixed but mostly positive reviews. The game is perhaps most notable for including Bruce Lee as a playable fighter.
  • Video games featuring MMA fighters:
    • Buriki One features tournament in which fighters representing various martial arts and contact sports to determinate which one is the best. The Protagonist Gai Tendo is a MMA fighter who uses a self-taught style called as "Total Fighting", character which is also based on Kazushi Sakuraba.
    • Craig Marduk (Tekken 4)
    • Vanessa Lewis (Virtua Fighter 4)
    • Mila (Dead or Alive 5).

    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 the famous chant "Ali, boma ye!" ("Ali, kill him!") by crowds in the Congo during Muhammad Ali's match against George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle. Inoki and Ali fought a cross-discipline, proto-MMA match in Japan.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Some fighters have a nickname that alliterates with their full name. Examples: "Magic" Marlon Moraes, Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve, Colby "Chaos" Covington, "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, Tecia "The Tiny Tornado" Torres.
  • Always Someone Better:
    • Kiyoshi Tamura to Kazushi Sakuraba. They came from the UWF International dojo, in which Tamura was Sakuraba's sempai and mistreated him. 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 nearly ended his career.
    • Valentina Shevchenko could make a claim for the most dominant woman in the UFC, defeating all of her opponents without breaking a sweat— except for Amanda Nunes, the even-more dominant double champion who defeated Valentina not once, but twice, by very close decision.
    • Alexander Gustafsson is a mauler (it even serves as his nickname), but when he comes up against Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, or Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, he is consistently outperformed.
    • Anthony Johnson is a knockout specialist who could probably render any human being on Earth unconscious with a single well-placed punch, but Daniel Cormier is his kryptonite. Since May 2012, Rumble is 14-2, with both losses coming via submission vs. Cormier.
    • Former two-division champion Daniel Cormier has experienced this in two different weight categories. At light heavyweight, he made three successful title defenses and went 7-0 against all fighters not named Jon Jones. Against Jones, he was 0-2, though one loss was overturned to a no contest. At heavyweight, he is 14-0 against all fighters not named Stipe Miocic, against whom he is 1-2.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano have both posed for glamour magazines, while Rousey and rival Miesha Tate posed for ESPN's "Body Issue" in successive years (2012 & 2013). Other women who have begun making inroads in this regard include UFC flyweights Andrea Lee and Paige Van Zant.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Brendan Schaub's tan complexion and close-cropped hair have gotten him mistaken for a mixed-race black man on occasion, including his castmates on The Ultimate Fighter. In reality, Schaub has entirely European ancestry (English, Italian & German). His last nickname before retiring was "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.
    • Chute Boxe, the legendary MMA and Muay Thai gym, still displays Vale Tudo on its logo, even though the sport evolved to MMA and the term Vale Tudo was mostly abandoned in Brazil. The name still remains as tradition. The gym was first to mix its trademark aggressive Muay Thai with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu achieving major success in early Vale Tudo bouts in Brazil and later would "export" its fighters into PRIDE and UFC with major success.
    • The American Kickboxing Academy began as a kickboxing training camp before becoming one of the top MMA teams.
    • Pancrase still has "Hybrid Wrestling" on its logo as an artifact from its shootwrestling days even though they adopted the unified MMA rules in 2014 and even stopped using the wrestling ring in favor of a octagonal cage.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Joe Silva was an MMA geek and super-fan before becoming the official matchmaker of the UFC. As such, he was considered the third most powerful figure in the sport before retiring in 2016.
  • Ass Kicks You: Mark Hunt once performed the now-famous "Atomic Butt Drop" on Wanderlei Silva. This move has only been attempted once.
  • Audience Participation: A given, since high profile bouts are normally held in front of large crowds, reactions and audience beheaviour may vary depends on where they are from.
    • American audiences tend to encourage American fighters by chanting "USA" repeatedly when fighting someone from a different nationality.
    • A Brazilian audience will traditionally chant "UH, VAI MORRER!" when a Brazilian fighter is on the cage, the chant is best translated as "You're gonna die".
    • In Mexico, one can sometimes hear the crowd chanting "Sparring" when a fight seems slow paced or stale.
    • This can generate some funny moments, as evidenced by the time a man yelled some questionable advice during a fight, causing both the fighters to do a double take and have a laugh before continuing.
    • Japanese Audiences tend to be dead silent for most of the bout but explode in noise and cheering when fighters pick up the pace.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: "Low percentage" techniques are usually flashy and can have an awesome result if they land, but probably won't. These usually include spinning backfists, roundhouse kicks and similar moves. Nick Diaz famously coined the pejorative "spinning shit".
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Some fighters are bestowed cool sounding names at birth, others choose to change it to sound better.
    • Brazilian UFC fighter Johnny Walker, this is actually only his billed name, his real name is Walker Johnny de Souza.
    • Heavyweight Curtis "Razor" Blaydes comes to mind, bonus points for the fact that Blaydes is his actual surname.
  • 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 Seanbaby 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 has been in and out of prison since 2009 for various violent crimes. In 2014, he nearly beat his ex-girlfriend to death and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017, with parole not possible until 36 years in (by which time he'll be in his seventies).
    • And Viacheslav Datsik. 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.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Kimbo Slice was well known for his bushy facial hair. One reporter asked future opponent James Thompson whether it was fair that Thompson had to fight both Kimbo Slice and his beard at the same time.
    • Evan Tanner sported a mighty beard in his last few fights. When he died, thousands of fans and fighters spent a month growing a beard in tribute (including Joe Rogan).
    • Johny Hendricks, known for his fearsome knockout power, sports an equally fearsome beard.
    • Conor McGregor grew a big, bushy blond beard shortly into his UFC career, and it quickly become the anchor of his signature look.
    • Roy "Big Country" Nelson sports a very long beard that combines with his rat tail for a general "white trash" aesthetic.
    • Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski's thick, black beard is part of his "pitbull" look. In addition, he sports fangs on his mouthpiece and frequently sticks his tongue out like a dog.
  • Badass Mustache:
    • Dan Severn sported the original MMA badass mustache, but his protege Don Frye made it a Memetic Mutation.
    • Chuck Liddell'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.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Khabib Nurmagomedov used to wrestle bears when he was a kid. No wonder why he went undefeated throughout his MMA career.
  • 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 (specifically a shoot wrestler, just like Saku) to beat a black belt BJJ fighter by submission when he defeated John Lewis with an armbar.
    • 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" Filipović 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 Filipović 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.
      • In 2004, he was both in the delivering and receiving end of one of these, as Kevin Randleman, a highly skilled wrestler managed to outstrike him and knock him out in less than 2 minutes, then in December, Mirko stepped into the ring with him again in a rematch and proceeded to one up him by choking him out with a standing guillotine, in less than a minute.
    • 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.
    • Dominick Cruz, the long-reigning bantamweight king known for a highly elusive and defensive style, was dethroned at UFC 207 by Cody Garbrandt; who used a highly elusive and defensive style to stymie Cruz and defeat him.
  • The Berserker: The general demeanor of fighters who like the concept of "stand and bang", which, much like the name implies, consists of standing in front of your opponent and throwing hard shots, relying on your own chin's durability to carry you through any incoming damage. While it sounds good on paper, in reality, it has severe drawbacks that rarely make such a style worth the risks.
    • Wanderlei Silva. Following closely the feral Brazilian school of Muay Thai, his offensive was based around swarming his opponents with frightening hooks, knees, kicks and being willing to take hits in order to land his. This, though quite effective against Japanese nonstrikers and highly entertaining for the audience, proved to be a liability on his fights against the precise, technically impeccable Mirko Cro Cop, who was able to outstrike him by reading through his frenzy. It got even worse in the UFC, when his chin started fading after years of constant punishment.
    • Cody Garbrandt has suffered tremendously for his inability to control himself, showing the tendency to lapse into a berserker-like fury when hit cleanly, all 3 of his losses can be attributed to abandoning his defensive game after being tagged, then eating a hard shot that puts him out cold.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • George St-Pierre is one of the nicest, most polite fighters in the history of the sport while being consistently considered the most dominant champion to ever rule the UFC's Welterweight Division.
    • Original TUF winner Forrest Griffin is not only a self-deprecating Deadpan 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.
    • Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson is widely considered to be the nicest, calmest, most positive person in the modern MMA scene, while also being one of the most technically flawless strikers to ever grace the welterweight division. He is aware of his reputation and admits his only moments of true rage are when playing video games.
  • Big Fun: Derrick Lewis can easily pass for a huge Scary Black Man. But he is mostly loved by the fanbase for his permanent goofiness and dedication to not taking things seriously.
    Lewis: I don't stay in the gym all day like just about all my opponents do, y'know, I stay about 30 minutes - 35 minutes and 5 minutes on my phone posting memes.
  • The Big Guy: Stefan "the Skyscraper" Struve is most known for being 7 feet tall and pretty much outranging every opponent he ever fought. Strangely enough, however, he used his prodigious size mostly for his grappling, with most of his striking being powerful short ranged punches like hooks and uppercuts.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Sometimes happened in Japanese promotions when giant fighters face smaller ones, and the smaller one goes for a rear naked choke. Most famous was the case between Carlos Newton and K-1 giant Jean Riviere at Newton's debut.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • A big part of Chael Sonnen's schtick is making ridiculous claims that are obviously bogus. He claimed that he had never been defeated at middleweight, then claimed 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.
    • Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama denied having used body lotion to oil himself before his fight with Sakuraba. Pre-fight footage showed Akiyama applying not one, but six bottles of lotion to his body. His response? The lotion's purpose was not to gain an unfair advantage but to treat his dry skin.
    • A common occurence in the early days of MMA, particularly in the UFC, was fighters claiming to have absurd win-loss records while having little to no experience in combat sports, some of those include:
      • When entering UFC 1 Patrick Smith claimed to be undefeated at 250 fights, despite having no experience in cagefighting and being defeated twice in his boxing career that year alone.
      • In UFC 8, puerto rican Thomas Ramirez claimed to be sitting at an unbelievable 200 wins 0 losses record, only to get knocked out in 8 seconds by Don Frye. Turns out Ramirez was just a cab driver.
    • A common target for mockery within the community is the sheer absurdity of claims some fighters make when being caught abusing Performance Enhancers.
      • Anderson Silva blamed one of his PED test failures on foot cream.
      • Jon Jones claimed one of his (several) drug test failures came from, not taking Performance Enhancing Drugs, but from tainted off brand male sexual enhancements, cue Memetic Mutation and now "dick pills" is an euphemism for steroids.
      • Chael Sonnen made an absurd case in front of an athletic comission for being on testosterone replacement therapy without a medical exemption to do so, making claims such as never going through puberty.
  • Blood Lust: The Brazilian fighter aptly nicknamed as Marcelo Tigre was known for licking his own blood during the matches. Not only that, but he supposedly drank bull's blood before the matches, being that the secret of his strength according to him.
  • 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.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • 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.
    • Japanese fighter Sanae Kikuta, whose grappling style often feature extensive control and lay and pray before making any advance, was in-universe called the most boring fighter in Japan during his public feud against Alexander Otsuka.
    • 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 KOs or submissions. It has worked, but even Dana White called him out on his fighting style.
    • Ben "Funky" Askren was a rising star in North America, reigning supreme as Bellator's welterweight champion for 3 years before attempting to move to the UFC. Despite his skills, he was rejected by UFC's president Dana White because he was "too boring" due to his wrestling focused strategy. In response, Askren signed with ONE Championship, capturing their Welterweight belt within a year, holding it with a series of curbstomps (and one unfortunate no contest) before retiring for the first time in 2017. His unretirement to compete in the UFC was less than fruitful, however.
  • 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: This is a sadly common element MMA, where "aces" or top fighters are pushed to fight the best of their promotions through grueling schedules, which consequently makes their careers end falling off the scale due to injuries and wear-out.
    • Pancrase founders Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki suffered from this. After years of ignoring injuries and facing opponents frequently much younger and/or from weight classes above, they both retired from competition turned into shells of themselves.
    • Before his car accident, Hayato Sakurai was considered one of the greatest fighters of his time, excelling both in stand-up and ground fighting, and being possibly the best fighter ever produced by the Shooto dojo. After the accident, physical and psychological problems from his earlier career come to trouble him and he found himself struggling against very minor opponents.
    • Ben Askren was one of the top grapplers in the world in his prime, fighting in Bellator and ONE Championship for most of his career. He came out of retirement at the age of 37 to try a UFC run; after 1 win and 2 consecutive losses, it came out that his lackluster performances were due to severe hip problems, stemming from his wrestling days, that caused pain and greatly limited his once impressive physical prowess.
    • Lightweight pioneer Jens Pulver holds the distinction of stopping a prime BJ Penn on his fast track to championship and being a dominant champion in the early days of the lightweight division in the UFC. After leaving the organization for better prospects outside, his once serviceable chin was worn out by knockout losses, severely diminishing his ability to fight effectively.
    • BJ Penn was a BJJ ace and a powerful striker with an enviable physical prowess, losing only to the very best opposition available. However, age, years of substance abuse, hard partying and the grueling training regimen inherent to a mixed martial artist caught up to him, landing him on possibly the worst run in the UFC history, with 9 losses, 1 win and 1 draw in ten years.
  • 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 possibly Crazy Awesome, seeing as he's notorious for two things: horrifying leglocks, and horrifying mental lapses in competition! (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.
  • Came Back Strong: Its not unheard of for fighters to have their career basically killed due to bad performances but coming back better due to fixing holes in their game and reinventing themselves as better.
    • Maurice Smith was looking like he would be a sad story of a pioneer that couldnt adapt from his kickboxing base and developing acceptable grappling, with a horrible record of 3 wins and 6 losses, Smith began training with expert grappler Frank Shamrock and developed into an early example of a true mixed martial artist, he went on to become a UFC heavyweight champion by negating Mark Coleman's grappling prowess and retired with an even record.
    • Anthony Johnson's career seemed to be going downhill after a lackluster run in the UFC as a welterweight, being cut after repeatedly failing to make weight. Johnson then decided to move up 2 divisions and compete as a light-heavyweight, which allowed him to develop as one of the greatest power punchers in the sport, he returned to the UFC 2 years after being cut and quickly became one of the most feared men in his division.
    • Vicente Luque had a rough beginning to his career, getting into the UFC with a middling 7-5-1 record and losing his debut, before developing his kickboxing skills to near perfection and demolishing most of the opposition put in front of him, with his only losses since his UFC debut coming from two of the best in his division in Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards.
    • Mark Hunt had perhaps the best career resurrection in MMA. After the UFC acquired Hunt's contract while he was on a five-fight losing streak, they offered to buy him out of the contract and let him quietly go away with an easy paycheck. Hunt refused and insisted on taking fights. In spite of losing his first UFC fight and extending his losing streak to six, he then proceeded to go on spree of walk-off knockouts and epic wars, quickly becoming a fan favorite. By the time he retired, he had headlined seven UFC cards and even challenged for the interim title.
  • 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 was never 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.
    • Michael Bisping rose to fame with a hairy chest and shaved head, then suddenly grew a head of hair and shaved his chest.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Perhaps the most famous in MMA history is Mirko Cro Cop's description of the damage his head kicks can cause: "Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery."
    • Bruce Buffer announces main-event fights by preceeding them with a loud, enthusiastic "IT'S... TIME!"
    • Max Holloway's penchant for saying "It is what it is" during interviews quickly earned meme status.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: despite sometimes looking like and being able to perform acts that may look superhuman, your average top tier fighter's training regimen tends to be fairly mundane, weight training, punching bags and running are among the most commonly used methods.
    • Rich Franklin had huge success in the early days of the UFC middleweight division despite not being a particularly technically impressive fighter. His recipe for success was simply a sensible strength and conditioning training regimen that was actually geared towards improving his physical performance.
    • Nick and Nate Diaz maintain their nigh superhuman stamina by running marathons and triathlons on a regular basis.
  • 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.
    • The famous vale tudo fighter Rei Zulu was known for many things, none of them particularly sane. He did acrobatics and silly faces every time he got into the ring, claimed to eat only molten iron, and gave interviews which would have made Ultimate Warrior seem articulate. He also notoriously lacked any martial arts training, and he claimed to represent a style created by himself called "Tarracá" which was based around wrestling and mocking his opponents.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The UFC has bought out and absorbed almost all of its main competitors.
    • In 2007, they bought their largest rival ever, Pride FC, and planned to run it as the UFC's wing in Japan, but discovered that the brand had been tainted by Yakuza ties. Instead, the UFC liquidated the company and brought over most of its best fighters to the UFC.
    • The WEC was bought out and run for several years as a separate promotion, housing the best fighters of the weight classes that the UFC did not promote as well as serving as a B-league for higher weight classes. It was eventually folded and its fighters absorbed by the UFC. The champions of WEC's lighter weight classes that had not existed in the UFC were immediately crowned UFC champions of those divisions.
    • Strikeforce was acquired by the UFC and run for a short time as a separate promotion. In spite of claims by the UFC that they would do this for the foreseeable future, no one was exactly surprised when Strikeforce was soon after absorbed into the UFC.
  • Confusion Fu:
    • 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.
    • During his short career, Shigeyuki Umeki was an even weirder example. His fighting style was based around resembling a stoned monkey, swinging apathetically his arms toward his opponent and feinting kicks with equal nonchalance, then surprising him with quick rolling takedowns.
    • Tony Ferguson in the UFC, with his habit of rolling mid fight (both in cases of Unnecessary Combat Roll and Rolling Attack), tendency to throw spinning elbow strikes and off balance haymakers.
  • Contortionist: Many fighters can demonstrate flexibility 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 lost the ability to perform this feat later in life. Flexibility is often vital for submission defence, allowing fighters to contort their limbs to ridiculous angles to escape a hold, as former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson has proven time and again.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Many people incorrectly refer to MMA as "ultimate fighting" and the athletes as "ultimate fighters." The UFC probably appreciates this and encourages it with the name of its reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Chael Sonnen got a lot of leeway in the UFC spite of numerous stains on his career due to his preternatural ability to hype fights. He was, for all intents and purposes, commission-shopped (fighting in a non-commission state while pending a license hearing in Nevada) 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 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. Accusation intensified after she was fast-tracked into a fight against the champion, Amanda Nunes, despite coming off a loss against Holly Holm and taking a year off.
    • Conor McGregor was obviously a star in the making when the UFC signed him, and it bent over backwards to develop him. In his early fights, he was given very favorable match-ups and heavily pushed as blue-chip prospect. In spite of his many run-ins with the law and other erratic behavior, the UFC has never gotten close to killing their golden goose. They even let him fight in a co-promoted boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in spite of their history of laughing off the mere hint of co-promotions. Given that Conor has for several years been the UFC's biggest star in the history of its organization, it's easy to see why they've been giving him such leeway.
    • Jon Jones, being perhaps the second biggest male star in the promotion, has earned many instances of preferential treatment, including the relocation of an entire fight card on extremely short notice to dodge commission red tape. His many run-ins with the law have, however, certainly done no favors for his relationship with the promotion.
    • Sage Northcut was heavily pushed as a new prospect due to his clean-cut image and personality combined with his chiseled physique and impressive athleticism. In spite of being treated with kid gloves and set against a string of very green opponents, Sage still couldn't rise to the level the promotion needed him to, and he was eventually let go.
    • Phillip "CM Punk" Brooks was transparently brought into the UFC on name recognition alone and given vastly undue promotion. After getting a main card fight against a 2-0 opponent and losing without landing a single strike, Brooks was granted another main card fight, this time against an 0-1 opponent and still got dominated. At that point, even Dana White had to accept the reality that Brooks didn't belong in the UFC.
  • 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. Griffin, went on to comment on the match on his usual fashion.
      Griffin: I tried to punch him and he literally moved his head outta the way and then looked at me like I was stupid.
    • 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 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 a 5-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.
    • On the womens' side, there's Ronda Rousey; she won 9 of her 12 fights (1 in King of the Cage, one in Hard Knocks, 4 in Strikeforce, 6 in UFC) in 1 minute, 6 seconds or less. She won her fight vs. Alexis Davis in sixteen seconds, and her match against Cat Zingano, which was hyped up as her toughest challenge yet, lasted all of fourteen seconds, a UFC record for shortest title fight. Her first eight wins all came by armbar submission, leading to the popular slogan "Death. Taxes. Rousey by armbar." In her match against Bethe Correia (which Correia had made rather personal), she exclusively used what everyone considered to be her biggest weakness: striking. The fight was still over in only 34 seconds: Rousey hit a right hook on Correia's face, and Correia's face hit the ground immediately.
    • Rousey herself was on the receiving end of one at UFC 193 by Holly Holm, who was able to easily counter Rousey's aggressive fighting style. The bewildered Rousey had no answer for Holm's tactics and amounted no effective offense before getting knocked out early in the second round.
    • Khabib Nurmagomedov's entire career was one long curb-stomp battle. Not only did he win all of his 29 bouts, but all of his victories by decision were unanimous 50-45 (i.e., none of the judges thought he lost a single round) or better. He only lost two rounds in his entire career—one to Conor McGregor in October 2018 and one to Justin Gaethje in Khabib's final fight in October 2020. And the latter loss wasn't unanimous; the three judges split their cards 2–1 in Gaethje's favor. Not that it helped either of them, as Khabib tapped McGregor out in Round 4 and choked Gaethje out in Round 2.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Many fighters, when defending a takedown within reach of the chain-link cage walls, will instinctively grab it to keep from falling, which is illegal in most mainstream promotions.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • Soccer kicks are considered the most dangerous technique in MMA and are outlawed in most western promotions. As the name implies, they involve kicking a downed opponent's head like a soccer ball.
    • The heel hook has been banned in some minor promotions because it can cause long-lasting and career-ending damage to the victim's legs. In major promotions, it is much more rare because it is easily countered, but fighters who are able to use it effectively are greatly feared.
  • David vs. Goliath: Early UFC events were open-weight, sometimes resulting in fighters facing opponents more than 100 lb (45 kg) heavier then themselves. Japanese promotions love these match-ups, often pitting small Japanese fighters against opponents weighing 300-500 lb. 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 gave 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 one's 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 opponents down. The style is sometimes called the "Stockton Slap".
    • There is also the old tactic called "Sinapismo" by Hélio Gracie, which consisted in raining short heel kicks from the guard onto the opponent's back and kidneys to force him to move position and make a mistake.
  • 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".
    • BJ Penn was the first American to ever win a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world title, and came into the UFC's at the time new lightweight division with a well-deserved amount of hype for his grappling abilities. He then proceeded to shock everyone by showcasing incredible speed and striking skills in his first three fights, culminating in an 11-second knockout of highly-regarded Caol Uno and getting a shot at the title held by Jens Pulver, with people acting as though he'd already won. Pulver, however, had other ideas, and after losing the first two rounds of their fight, used his own speed, boxing, and wrestling to win a majority decision.
    • 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 GSP 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 GSP 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. This ended Silva's record-setting 6.5-year, 10-fight title reign and 16-fight UFC undefeated streak.
    • UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey gained a reputation for steamrolling all competition. After winning the Strikeforce championship, she defended her unified title seven times. When she was scheduled to fight Holly Holm, her last four challengers had lasted a total of 130 seconds against her. In spite of being a 12-to-1 favorite against Holm, Rousey was thoroughly dismantled by Holm's striking and eventually knocked unconscious in the second round.
    • Jose Aldo's decade-long reign at featherweight division ended by the hands of rising Irish star Conor McGregor within 13 seconds after the match started.
    • Before her match against Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in late 2018, Cris Cyborg hadn't lost an MMA bout since 2005, usually curbstomping her opponents. Nunes proceeded to pummel her and score a knockout less than a minute into the fight.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: It's very common for fighters to embrace and congratulate each other after the bout is over, even after heated exchanges leading up to the fight. 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.
  • Defictionalization:
  • Determinator:
    • 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 pro wrestlers turned MMA fighters. Despite knowing that their age and lack of training would make them easy prey, they 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 fighting back from the brink of defeat through sheer grit and heart.
  • 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 Dreaded: Being a sport full of scary individuals, the most fearsome among them truly stand out.
    • Tony Ferguson, also known as "El Cucuy" (loosely translated: "The Boogeyman"), has a reputation of monstrous brutality and a Terminator-like ability to eat damage from anyone and continue marching forward. The only fighter to knock Ferguson out is Justin Gaethje, and Ferguson was still standing when it happened.
    • Francis Ngannou and Cris Cyborg will elicit responses of shock from the media if any fighter calls them out specifically because of how dangerous they are and the ease with which they knock their opponents out.
    • Olympic wrestling silver medalist and professional pummeler Yoel Romero is widely considered the one man nobody in the division ever wants to fight due to his greek god-like physique, his ridiculous durability and viciousness as a fighter.
    • Ryan Hall's mild personality and slight physical build may not look intimidating, however, his top level grappling and calculating fighting style make him a nightmare matchup to pretty much anyone, this led to him being slated by one of his trainers as "the most avoided man in the game".
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The UFC was barely recognizable in its earliest forms, existing as a series of one-day elimination tournaments between practitioners of various traditional martial arts. It was more similar to the brazilian Vale Tudo sport (Also referred as No Holds Barred, or NHB, in the early UFC era), with almost no rulesNote , no weight classes, victory only by submission or knockout (In fact, until UFC 3 there was no ref stoppage) and the fighters could bring any kind of gear, such as martial arts gi (Full or only pants), wrestling shoes, rashguards and t-shirts. Over the course of several years, it evolved into its more modern form of an MMA combat sport promotion.
    • It's very strange seeing old promo clips of Chael Sonnen when he was an anonymous and humble WEC fighter with a "Well Done, Son!" Guy backstory. After entering the UFC, he began to talk more trash and quickly transitioned into the larger-than-life braggart and quipster we know today.
  • 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.
    • Former UFC welterweight champion Tyrone Woodley's popularity has suffered from him constantly complaining to the press and social media about his career and his treatment from the UFC.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Nick "The Goat" Thompson was originally nicknamed "the Fainting Goat" due to his tendency 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.
  • End of an Era: MMA history is sometimes divided by "ages" and their end can sometimes be noticed by the slow changes to the sport.
    • The end of the golden age of Japanese MMA happened during the slow collapse of PRIDE, when it was bought out by the UFC and several scandals emerged about the company's less than legal practices.
    • The "dark age" of the UFC refers to the times where the sport was struggling for recognition in the US and several states had outright banned it. The dark age ended with a long period of rule standardisation and popularity growth.
    • We may be seeing a case of this right now, as the sport reached new heights in audience due to the immense popularity of Conor McGregor, some fans have dubbed the current time period "The Conor Era", marked by an increase in bold, attention seeking, trash talking young talent, it can be argued that this age is almost running its course, as plenty of the fighters that encapsulated it, like TJ Dillashaw, Kevin Lee, Colby Covington and even its namesake, have either fallen from grace or embraced a more toned down approach to fight promotion.
  • 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 quickly became Pride's biggest Japanese star.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out:
    • Chael Sonnen came in second place in a national wrestling competition and has been stopped in three championship fights that he was in the process of winning.
    • Kenny Florian has fought well enough to earn four UFC title shots, but lost in every attempt.
    • Michael Bisping lost three Middleweight title eliminators. However, in 2016 he stepped in on short notice as a substitute to fight for the title against Luke Rockhold and pulled one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.
    • At one stretch, Uriah Faber went 10-0 in non-title bouts and 0-6 in title bouts.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero:
    • 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 into MMA due to its increasing influence in Japan. The age-worn and inexperienced Takada was chosen by PRIDE Fighting Championships as its top fighter and set against top competition, such as against the legendary Rickson Gracie. He was easily crushed, but the promotion tried to keep milking his popularity by giving him worked fights pushing the narrative that he was Japan's top fighter. When it became clear that it just wasn't working, Takada stepped down and passed the torch to his trainee Kazushi Sakuraba, who really could fight.
    • 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 Nickname:
    • 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" Filipović. 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. Later in his career, as his chin began to deteriorate, he adopted a more defensive style, being very careful to protect his chin and pick his shots.Fans responded by nicknaming this incarnation of Alistair Overeem as "Econoreem". His latest form takes an approach similar to "Econoreem" but adds slick takedowns and fight ending ground and pound, a tactic favoured by smart, aging veterans of the sport as a result, fans christened him "Vetereem"
      • 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 official 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 the pronunciation of his surname.
      • Twins Antônio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and Antônio Rogério "Minotoro" Nogueira are called "Big Nog" and "Little Nog" respectively.
      • Stipe Miocic is sometimes referred to as "Stiopic". The nickname stuck after Joey Diaz mixed up his first and last names when talking about him in a podcast with Joe Rogan.
      • Chan Sung Jung is "The Korean Zombie" due to his ability to keep on the attack despite taking damage that would drop most other fighters.
    • 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 (referencing The Godfather) and Uncle Dana (referencing Uncle Fester) 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.
    • Rio Heroes was a Brazilian "promotion" formed as a Vale Tudo underground event and maybe the last to have actual no-rule Vale Tudo/No Holds Barred, running from 2007 to 2008. One of their most famous fights was a man vs woman. They were notable to blur the line between competition and pure fight club by holding their "events" in gyms, having anything resembling official sanction and their early events weren't even in a cage or ring, but in a training mat. They ended up inspiring a TV series made by Fox Brazil.
  • Fingerless Gloves: MMA uses 4-ounce fingerless gloves to accommodate 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 (in other words, they can resemble sexual positions). Don't tell that to an MMA fighter, though. Some fighters don't have a sense of humor about it, but others joke, "It's not gay if there's no eye contact."
    • 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 of 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), Wrestling/Satoru Sayama is the Superego (cold and intellectual, known to be rather underhanded) and Nobuhiko Takada is the Ego (balanced and level-headed).
  • Friendly Enemy: Its not unheard of for fighters to have a healthy respect towards each other even when scheduled to fight each other. For example, Georges St-Pierre said he liked Michael Bisping during the promotion for their fight for the middleweight title, including one occasion where the two ran into each other in a bathroom and laughed about the media circus and Bisping's choice of car.
  • "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.
  • Funny Background Event: During UFC 182, two of Joe Rogan's male comedian friends sitting at cageside waited until they were visible in the background of a fight and then made out.
  • 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 rather female-sounding in Japan, which he has recalled as an embarrassing thing for him.
    • Dana is a gender-neutral name, but more commonly applied to women than men. Dana White never attempted to go by Dan or Dane, and no one makes fun of it.
  • 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 holds a 13-5 win record after retirement 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.
    • Julia Avila is a geologist who considers MMA to be a "side gig".
  • Gentle Giant:
    • Former UFC heavyweight fighter Shane Carwin is a big dude, and most of his 12 wins were 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 to have been 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 striking coach.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: While calling a UFC women's fight, Goldberg commented on a cut that had opened on one fighter by saying, "That's a pretty good gash, Joe." Rogan responded, in complete deadpan, "You're not supposed to say that when women are fighting." "Gash" is an offensive term for a woman's vagina.
  • Gimmick Matches: In a unique concept for combat sports, Japanese promotion ZST used to promote authentic tag team MMA fights. They featured a dynamic right out from pro wrestling, with a legal fighter inside the ring and another one waiting outside, with the teammates switching places upon a legal tag. If it was not bizarre enough, the victory system was of the elimination match kind, which means that after the first fighter was eliminated, the other member of his team was obliged to face both opponents in back-to-back rounds.
  • 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.
  • Glass Cannon: Several examples in mixed martial arts, including fighters that have devastating offense but a weak chin, or fighters with ludicrously brilliant skill in one area... and none in any other, in which case it also overlaps with Crippling Overspecialization.
    • 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, laughably little technique, and especially for his lack of heart.
    • 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 and 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.
    • K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and former Strikeforce and Dream Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem was, in his prime, 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. Ironically, after slimming down in his late 30s, Overeem seemingly fixed all those issues.
  • 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.
    • Conor McGregor is known for his flashy stand-up style involving lots of exotic kicks and punches taken from all sorts of styles. Combined with his high level ringcraft, he puts unrelenting pressure upon his opponents and immobilizes them until his straight left knocks them out.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The Spanish and Portuguese languages are extremely prevalent in MMA, given that many Spanish/South American fighters don't speak English, and thus will address their corner, the media, and their opponents in their native tongue. Some fighters also have non-English nicknames, such as Tony "El Cucuy" ("The Mexican Boogeyman") Ferguson, Jessica "Bate Estaca" ("Piledriver") Andrade, and Chris "El Guapo" ("The Handsome One") Gutierrez.
  • The Greatest Style: The Gracie family co-founded the UFC with the intention of showcasing the effectiveness of their Brazilian jiu-jitsu style. The first few UFC events were billed as "style versus style" events, with each fighter representing a specific martial art. Their scheme worked and helped BJJ schools far and wide. Ironically, as fighters began to incorporate grappling techniques into their skill sets, it became clear that no single style held all the answers, necessitating a new hybrid style that was ultimately dubbed "mixed martial arts."
  • Handicapped Badass: While being in peak physical condition is advisable (if not downright a requirement) to compete, its not unheard of for fighters to compete despite having severe physical handicaps.
    • Nick Newell is a submission expert with congenital amputation on his left arm, which ends right below his elbow.
    • Tra Telligman managed to have a pretty respectable career, despite having lost his right lung and the majority of his right pectoral muscles to a childhood car crash.
    • During Vale Tudo Japan 1995, Yuki Nakai was left blind on his right eye for the rest of his life after getting his eye gouged by Gerard Gordeau in a fight he would go on to win, he still went on to submit Craig Pittman the same night, its worth noting that while Nakai is a lightweight, both the opponents he beat in the tournament were very big heavyweights. While he would retire after the tournament, he still competed in submission grappling for several years afterwards.
    • Dominick Cruz managed to take TJ Dillashaw to a decision, which he won, despite suffering from plantar fascia tendinitis, which made it painful for him to even walk.
    • Stefan Struve fought for years before discovering he had a leaking aortic valve and an overly large heart. Both conditions are seriously detrimental to an athlete's performance and overall health, and yet Struve refused to stop fighting.
    • Michael Bisping lost most of one of his right eye's functionality after Vitor Belfort KOd him with a head kick, causing retinal displacement. He still went on to take the UFC Middleweight belt, with only his left eye functioning properly and would later replace his right eye with a glass prosthetic.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works:
    • Karo Parisyan 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."
    • It was also constantly invoked by Pedro Otavio, who was infamous for claiming that he didn't train for any of his matches.
  • Heroic BSoD:
  • 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: Fighters will occasionally knock themselves out when taking down or slamming their opponent. Some noteworthy examples include:
    • Mark Kerr crashed his own head against the mat while taking down Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who took the advantage and pounded him for the win. Japanese media even developed the running joke that Yamamoto had managed to pull a real DDT.
    • Matt Lindland famously knocked himself out during a takedown attempt of Falaniko Vitale.
    • When Gray Maynard slammed Rob Emerson during their fight, Emerson hit his tailbone and Maynard hit his head. Neither fighter was able to continue, so the fight was ruled a No Contest.
  • Implacable Man:
    • 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 title defenses against Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar has earned a reputation for this trope, despite being undersized, Edgar would keep coming forward and putting up the offence while being hit strikes that would put pretty much anyone else down, managing to score a draw in their second first title fight and a spectacular knockout late in their second.
  • Insistent Terminology: Many fighters from Japan, most notoriously Sakuraba and Minowaman, tend to call themselves as "wrestlers" as opposed to "fighters" due to the wrestling heritage of their MMA styles. Similarly, Pancrase used to call its workers "hybrid wrestlers" while Shooto called its simply as "Shootists". This is sometimes taken Up to Eleven in some minor MMA leagues, in which rear naked chokes are called "sleeper holds" and kimuras "double wrist locks". These are actual terms for the moves in Catch Wrestling, but are very rare to use nowadays.
  • 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.
  • Insult Backfire: José Landi-Jons, infamous for taunting his opponents with obscene poses and sexualized during his matches, once tried that against Medjidov Abdoulnassya, only for the latter to smile and putting a face of "want more."
  • Invincible Hero:
    • Georges St-Pierre is one of the longest-reigning UFC champions ever, but his cautious, cerebral style 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.
    • Former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson set the record for most title defenses as a mind-boggling 11, which has been partly to blame for his lack of mainstream popularity. His wins were so dominant that the fights weren't particularly noteworthy or exciting. When he eventually lost his title to Henry Cejudo, some commentators thought that it would bring some life back into the flyweight division and help Johnson's career long-term.
    • Jon Jones, as of late 2020, is 26-1 with 1 no contest, and the sole loss on his record came via disqualification as he blasted his opponent, Matt Hamill, with elbows from the top-mount position. He was the first fighter to defeat Daniel Cormier, and did so a second time before the decision was reversed after Jones tested positive for performance enhancers. With the only blemishes being a self-inflicted loss in a fight he thoroughly dominated and problems with illegal substances, Jones has proven himself essentially unbeatable for over a decade.
    • Khabib Nurmagomedov retired undefeated at 29-0 without any no-contest marks on his record. Additionally, Khabib only lost two rounds (one to Conor McGregor and the other in his final fight to Justin Gaethje) in his 12-year MMA career. Almost every single fight he was in saw Khabib inevitably take his opponents to the ground with his masterful wrestling and absolutely smash their face into the canvas. You could expect to hear "He's getting mauled" (or some variation) on commentary every time the cage door shut behind Nurmagomedov.
  • 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, and in Portuguese, an R is pronounced like an H when it's the first letter. Among others, the Gracie family has a tradition for first names beginning with an R, 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:
    • Wallid Ismail likes to behave like a 80s's pro wrestler when interviewed.
    • 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.
  • Large Ham Announcer: Bruce Buffer is the current standard, but anything involving MMA Announcing should start with Lenne Hardt, better known as PRIDE Crazy Lady.
  • Lensman Arms Race: One of the most interesting examples in sports history:
    • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • 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. It's not surprising when you look at his arms, which seem to be transplants from a welterweight.
    • Its pretty common for fighters in the Light-heavyweight division to be this, the top level talent tends to be leaner than a heavyweight but still carry enough muscle to pack quite a wallop, names such as Lyoto Machida and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson are notable examples.
  • 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, Kazuyuki "Iron Head" Fujita, and "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. Others seem to recover quickly from the very worst shots, such as Antônio 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.
    • Akira Shoji, a famously emotional fighter, described himself in an interview as not being able to stop crying for hours after losing in a poor fashion to Paulo Filho.
    • Khabib Nurmagomedov cried after winning his final fight against Justin Gaethje in October 2020. He later added that his mother did not want him to fight again, as his father and coach died from COVID-19 that July, but he decided to take one last fight in his father's memory.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre always wore one on his way to the cage to honor his Kyokushin Karate background. Ironically, GSP's striking became famously based on his head-jab, while Kyokushin competition does not include punches to the head.
  • Master of None: Some fighters manage to rise to high levels of success despite not excelling in any particular aspect of the sport.
    • A problem observed in most of the shoot-style pro wrestlers during the PRIDE era was that, while they had been cross-training pioneers for years and knew multiple disciplines like Muay Thai, Catch Wrestling, sambo and Judo, they were not proficient in any of them and thus they could not make a difference against their opponents. Sakuraba and Daijiro Matsui finally reverted the trend by focusing in wrestling and anti-game tactics.
    • In an era where almost all MMA fighters transferred into the sport with a solid foundation in another fighting sport, Rich Franklin managed to become the UFC Middleweight Champion despite lacking a pedigree in any other sport. Throughout his career, his game was very well-rounded, but without exceptional skill in any area.
  • Meaningful Name: Randy Couture's surname means "clothing" or "fashion," as in the French haute couture. He started his own clothing line called "Xtreme Couture."
  • Memetic Mutation: The MMA community has a surprisingly deep and developed meme culture, based around copypastas, inside jokes and iconic moments.
  • 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 strength, 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.
    • In a rare case of a smaller fighter, Chan Sung Jung, better known as "The Korean Zombie", is a ranked UFC featherweight known for his grinding constant pressure fighting and being damn near impossible to knock out.
  • Mondegreen: A minor Internet controversy erupted when Yoel Romero delivered a post-victory speech shortly after a pivotal court ruling on gay marriage in the United States. In a thick accent and chastising tone, it sounded like Romero said, "What happen, America? No gay Jesus, America!" Later, Romero's handlers clarified that he said, "Don't forget Jesus", and was speaking generally, not in reference to homosexuality or the gay marriage issue.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong:
    • Fedor Emelianenko's Russian heritage was played up during his heyday, and since then, this seems to be the standard approach used to market up-and-coming Russian fighters. Even before, Igor Vovchancyn and Mirko Cro Cop used to receive the same treatment as ruthless, seemingly invincible fighters from the Eastern bloc.
    • Dagestan, home of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Muslim Salikhov, has become a more localized version of this; the region is home to almost 100 ethnic groups, a hotbed for Islamic insurgency (with heavy participation in the The Chechnya Wars), and also known for its economically poor population. Combat sports such as wrestling are part of the culture and a way of life; it's telling that about 3/4 of the entries in the Wikipedia page for "Notable people from Dagestan" are wrestlers, sambists, judokas, kickboxers and MMA fighters.
  • My Nayme Is: MMA stalwart Travis Wiuff's last name is pronounced the same as "view". Commentators have expressed bafflement at this.
  • Name's the Same:
    • There have been a lot of MMA fighters with the last name "Silva", virtually none of whom have been related. "Silva" is basically Brazil's equivalent to the English last name "Smith", so it makes sense.
    • 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 backgrounds (though the former not so much as the latter), but they are completely unrelated.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Generally the intention with a fighter's nickname. Some fan favorites include Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva.
  • Narm Charm:
    • 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.
  • Nerd Glasses: Shinya Aoki has myopia and uses glasses in all his public apparitions, which has helped him to build his pro wrestling-esque gimmick of a "MMA geek".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Since there were no ref stoppage (at least until UFC 3) and fights lasted much longer (as well, the early alternative name for MMA was No Holds Barred or NHB), they were very common at the early-era of MMA. One of the most infamous examples is MMA pioneer Patrick "Pat" Smith vs ninjutsu pratictioneer Scott "The American Ninja" Morris, the fight lasted 30 seconds as Morris was thrown into the ground and brutally pounded with punches and 12-6 elbows as he was unable to escape.To make matters even worse, he was instructed to not tap out by his trainer/cornerman Robert Bussey, whose style Morris was representing, and he also refused to throw the towel in initially (the other way to stop a match since ref stoppages didn't existed) and when Bussey finally threw the towel he threw backwards towards the audience, the match only ended because Pat Smith saw no reason to continue beating Morris down.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: Anderson Silva's trademark, especially against fighters he doesn't consider a challenge; where every fighter is taught to return fire whenever possible after forcing an opponent to miss, Silva often evades blows and refuses to counter, leaving the opponent feeling embarrassed. Examples against Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, and Yushin Okami. Came back to bite him hard when Chris Weidman knocked him out cold as Silva tried this tactic against him.
  • Numbered Sequels: The UFC popularized this trope when naming its events, and it has become standard for other MMA promotions.
  • Old Master: Due to MMA being a relatively recent sport, the popular "elderly master" image is not as intuitive to imagine in MMA as it is in traditional martial arts, but there are some figures who definitely fit the trope.
    • The late Hélio Gracie is the biggest example, being the patriarch of the Gracie family and one of the impulsors of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as a badass who could roll with much younger guys. He also could be considered one of the first mixed martial artists by creating his famous Gracie Challenges which he or his family would challenge other martial artists in cross-style matches to promote his own Jiu Jitsu style, and he would later promote Vale Tudo in Brazil with the same objective.
    • "Judo" Gene LeBell is revered as one of the first "mixed" martial artists in United States. He trained Bruce Lee in grappling and arguably fought in the first televised cross-discipline match in his bout with boxer Milo Savage. His influence on modern MMA includes training former UFC champ Ronda Rousey.
    • Jon Bluming, pioneer of Judo and Kyokushin Karate, built the field for MMA in Europe, and has trained several Dutch fighters, among them Bas Rutten and Semmy Schilt.
    • Billy Robinson, another Catch Wrestling master, trained guys like Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett.
    • Karl Gotch trained many of the people that would basically create MMA in Japan; his students include those below and even Gene LeBell.
      • Antonio Inoki trained guys like Lyoto Machida and Kazuyuki Fujita and participated in proto-MMA matches, the most infamous against Muhammad Ali.
      • Though currently a semi-retired pro wrestler, old Yoshiaki Fujiwara has trained loads of MMA fighters in Japan like Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki, etc and is considered probably the biggest authority in Catch Wrestling nowadays.
      • Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask and founder of the Super Tiger Gym, Shooto and the martial art of Seikendo. While he has directly trained few of the most known (i.e. modern) Shooto fighters, he was the one who taught the instructors who trained them, which makes him an old master to old masters. Yuki Nakai, Noboru Asahi and Yorinaga Nakamura are his best known Shooto era apprentices. Also, combat wrestling founder Noriaki Kiguchi worked in his gym, and shootboxing pioneer Caesar Takeshi learned grappling from Sayama as well.
      • Akira Maeda, founder of Newborn UWF and Fighting Network RINGS and trained many fighters like Kiyoshi Tamura and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Early Zuffa broadcasts of the UFC were heavily influenced by Gladiator and featured ominous Latin chanting during the opening sequence and each Tale of the Tape. The Tale of the Tape chanting remained long after the gladiator theme was ditched.
  • 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. Additionally, the UFC formerly allowed fighters to wear shoes if they chose, but doing so made it illegal for that fighter to utilize kicks of any kind during the fight in question.
  • 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: Former WEC & 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.
  • Panty Fighter:
    • After decades of "foxy boxing" before it and the "lingerie bowl" in American Football, it was probably inevitable. The Lingerie Fighting Championships purposefully courted this stigma. The most practical "fight gear" worn in LFC cages tends to be the "ring gear" of the pro wrestlers they sometimes contract.
    • Dennis Hallman infamously showed up to a UFC bout in a "banana hammock". He claimed it was because he had lost a bet. The mankini left Hallman momentarily exposed mid-fight, and the irate Dana White awarded his opponent a special bonus for finishing Hallman early and getting him off television.
  • 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.
    • Igor Vovchanchyn is The Pete Best to fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop. He was the first kickboxer to have sustained success against grappling artists in the mid 90s, was universally feared as a striker in the late 90s, and got a scary number of victories over established names. However, because his success happened in the "Dark Ages" of MMA, only hardcore fans remember him.
    • Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons is a fighter active from the mid-90s to present day, skilled in Muay Thai. His body shape and style are both almost identical to that of legendary former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and in fact he trained Silva at one point and had a real life enmity with him. 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 commentary, as well as his infamous self-defense tapes.
    • Wallid Ismail was an early BJJ sensation, winning championships and becoming one of the first "professional" BJJ competitorsnote  In 1992, he dueled and won Ralph Gracie (who was trained specifically to defeat him) in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (aka Mundials) and in 1993 he defeated Renzo Gracie, and then challenged Royce Gracie for a fight, which Royce accepted in 1998 under "special conditions" (no time limit or point system, only winning by submission). Ismail would win by choking Royce out with a "Relógio" (or Clock Choke). For that he became known as the "Gracie Hunter" years before Kazushi Sakuraba. He also became a figure on the early Vale Tudo scene, using the Ground and Pound in 1991 during the Desafio - Jiu Jitsu vs Luta Livre, competing in IVC (International Vale Tudo Championship), UFC, PRIDE, at Antonio Inoki's UFO, Bom-Ba-Ye and even doing cameos at NJPW, and founded Jungle Fight, Brazil and South America's largest MMA promotion. All of this happened before MMA went mainstream.
    • 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 were 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.
  • The Pig-Pen: A very questionable and quite embarrassing technique from the old school days of MMA is using personal hygiene (or lack thereof) as an additional weapon against the opponent. Names like Matt Lindland and Ricardo Morais were infamous for not bathing for days before a fight so that they would nauseate their opponents in grappling exchanges with their miasma, and Minotauro Nogueira once accused the Russian Top Team of doing the same. After Lindland retired, John McCarthy (who had been subjected to the practice several times while refereeing Lindland's fights) drafted an addendum to the Universal Rules that came to be known as "the Lindland rule", which states that commissioners can force a fighter to shower before a bout if their body odor is deemed excessive.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse:
    • Yuki Nakai was a very small fighter, but he joint-locked his way through the Vale Tudo Japan 1995 tournament against fighters almost twice his size. Unfortunately for him, when he met Rickson Gracie at the finals, he was too battered to give his best.
    • Former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is 5'10", which is really short for a heavyweight, but he has consistently outwrestled and outstruck opponents with massive reach and size advantages, working his way up to holding both the heavyweight and the lightheavyweight championship belts.
    • Frankie Edgar made it up to becoming the UFC lightweight champion, despite being massively undersized for the division, being easily able to make featherweight and even talking about how he could go to bantamweight, a full 20 pounds lighter than the weight class he ruled over.
    • Arguably the best mixed martial artist ever in terms of skill, power and speed for his size is Demetrious Johnson, a 5'3" flyweight, known for pulling off incredible performances and finishes that wouldn't be out of place in a movie (the most famous example being him throwing Ray Borg up in the air and locking in a tight armbar before he even hit the floor), only losing in his weight class in a controversial decision to Henry Cejudo, another contender for the title of Greatest of All Time.
    • Former UFC Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade is feared for her one-punch KO power and ferocious slams, despite standing barely over five feet tall.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: Kazushi Sakuraba is probably one of the most imitated fighters around.
    • Shungo Oyama was it terms of fighting style and persona, bonus points for being a real Saku fan. He had a couple of victories against Gracies by imitating Saku.
    • Kazushi's long time Lancer Daijiro Matsui has a similar profile. Very much like Saku, Matsui was known for his heart and creativity, as well as will to fight 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.
  • Powerful, but Inaccurate: The Flying Knee, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, is a move that has resulted in numerous brutal knockouts. It is very tough to time correctly, but if a fighter is hit cleanly by one, chances are they aren't getting back up.
  • Primal Chest-Pound: A specialty of UFC Middleweight Robert Whittaker is to beat his chest with his right fist during his pre-fight introduction. It's not uncommon to see him start the first round with a large welt on his left pectoral muscle.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: A wrong impression of MMA, assumed by uninformed people and in fact marketed as such in some places, is it is just "pro wrestling, only real". It is probably due to the influence of WWE in the United States over a niche which only recently has started to get claimed by UFC. In Japan, however, this assumption is quite correct, as indigenous MMA came directly from pro wrestling becoming real.
  • Pummel Duel:
    • Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama spent a good portion of their 2002 Pride FC fight holding on to the other with one hand and throwing rapid-fire punches with the other.
    • The final round of Max Holloway vs Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199 ended with Holloway pointing to the center of the cage, an invitation to "stand and bang" (i.e, pretty much abandon defense and throw punches as fast and hard as possible) for what would be the last ten seconds of the fight, and that they did.
  • 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, naturally, a poor tactic.
    • Gary Goodridge was famous for no-selling punches and then taunting his opponents asking them to hit another. It's become Harsher in Hindsight due to his onset of pugilistic dementia.
    • Marcelo Tigre was also famous for offering his opponents free leg kicks.
  • Punny Name:
    • Spencer "The King" Fisher's nickname 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.
    • Rick "The Horror" Story's moniker more or less speaks for itself.
    • Andre "Touchy" Fili's (pronounced "Feely") nickname plays on the common phrase as well as his up-close and personal fighting style.
    • Jessica "Evil" Eye, much like many fighters, is ruthless and bloodthirsty in the ring.
  • 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 a draw was not possible under the rules and that Mezger had clearly won the fight, so he prohibited him from entering the tiebreaker in protest, resulting in a forfeit loss.
  • Rags to Riches: Many professional fighters have used MMA to escape 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 there at first (living under a bridge) and, like Aldo, was financially supported by his fellow gym members for a time.
  • Rated M for Manly: There is perhaps no sport more masculine than mixed martial arts, and it reflects in its personnel. Just about every single person who fights in an octagon is intense, grizzled, and 100% badass. Even UFC President Dana White looks like an archetypal tough guy, and he does have boxing experience to his credit. Additionally, taking this trope Up to Eleven, even the UFC's main ring announcer is a badass, having thrown hands with Frank Trigg, who at the time was a fully active pro fighter, in a 2006 incident.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • 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: Not uncommon to be delivered by fighters during verbal exchanges.
    • 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.
    "Akiyama, you betrayed the trust of so many people and children in the ring, and that's something I cannot forgive you for. But, while I was fighting you tonight, your heart reached me. After tonight, you should fight with sincerity and a deep apology in mind for all that people. Will you accept? Judo is the best! Everybody, Japanese people are strong!"
    • Georges St-Pierre is a master of delivering those when truly annoyed by his opponent, a good example being his verbal dismantling of Josh Koscheck, one of the only fighters to truly get under GSP's skin, prior to their second fight after a reporter asked if he would rematch Koscheck should he lose.
    "So now I'm fighting Josh Koscheck, I fought him before, and people are saying, the pressure is on you, you're in Montreal, its true, I'm in Montreal, y'know but I'm at my best when fighting in my hometown, but also, if I win against Josh Koscheck when I'm gonna beat him, its gonna be the end of it, its gonna be two times that I beat him, and if he has the same mentality as me, Josh Koscheck is gonna have to reconsider his career because if he wants to be the best and lose two times to me, its gonna take a long time again to go back to the title or maybe never again, he's gonna have to climb up the ladder a long time. So I'm gonna beat him on Saturday and that's gonna be the end of it, and I'm not gonna talk about him for a long long time and I'm gonna feel very happy"
    • Kevin Lee once delivered a joking one to fellow fighter Michael Johnson during a press conference when explaining his decision to stop trash talking his opponents.
    "Mike Johnson be here talking about how he might kill a motherfucker. He had 30 fights, lost half of them. Ain't killed a motherfucker yet."
  • Red Baron: Some fighters are known almost exclusively by their nickname rather than their actual name:
    • Antônio "Minotauro" Rodrigo Nogueira is best known by his Fan Nickname "Big Nog" and his twin brother Antônio "Minotoro" Rogério Nogueira is best known as "Little Nog". Big Nog fights in the heavyweight division, and Little Nog fights in the Light Heavyweight division.
    • David Abbott is billed and referred to almost exclusively as "Tank Abbott".
    • Both winners of the The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil season: Rony Mariano Bezerra is billed as "Rony Jason" and Cezar Ferreira is billed as "Cesar Mutante."
    • Croatian antiterrorism officer Mirko Filipović is typically billed and referred to as "Cro Cop" or "Mirko Cro Cop".
    • Quinton Jackson is often referred to as "Rampage Jackson", though his first name is also fairly well known.
    • Daniel Cormier took up the nickname "DC". It's just an abbreviation of his name, but it stuck, and now he's rarely referred to anything but it.
    • In an extreme case of this, Jonathan Koppenhaver legally changed his name to "War Machine", which was his nickname in the cage.
    • Walker Johnny Silva Barra de Souza is simply billed as "Johnny Walker"; this is actually an Enforced Trope, as it was changed to sound more memorable and badass name.
    • Jung Chan-sung is best known as "The Korean Zombie" for his non-stop pressure style, which coupled with his veritable iron chin, makes his fighting style very zombie-like. Matter of fact, when he main-events a card, it's officially known as "______ vs. The Korean Zombie".
    • Women's featherweight Cris Justino Venâncio is officially announced and referred to as "Cris Cyborg", and often simply "Cyborg".
    • If Donald Cerrone main-events a fight card, it will be known officially as "______ vs. Cowboy".
      • In a humorous occasion, Cerrone was matched up against Alex Oliveira, a former bull rider who also took the nickname "cowboy", the card was named "UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs Cowboy".
  • Revenge: A common motivator for fighters is to avenge personal grievances or previous losses.
    • In 1996, Yoji Anjo had an incident with 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.
    • Kazushi Sakuraba and the Gracie family were locked in a long cycle of revenge for years after the 90 minutes long fight between Sakuraba and Royce Gracie .The cycle would more or less play out like this: the Gracies would send someone to try and defeat Sakuraba, Sakuraba would beat them, the Gracies swore revenge, rinse and repeat.
    • A partial motivator for Fedor Emelianenko fighting Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović was his desire to avenge his brother Alexander's brutal defeat at the hands of the croatian.
    • Quinton "Rampage" Jackson spent a good chunk of his time trying to avenge his 2003 loss to Wanderlei Silva. His first attempt in 2004 only ended in him being brutalized even worse by Silva, he finally got his revenge 4 years later in 2008 and once more in 2018, evening their score.
  • Religious Bruiser:
    • Cuban wrestler Yoel Romero, ranked second on the UFC middleweight rankings, is known for being vocal about his religious beliefs. This, coupled with his broken English, created some issues for him when he appeared to say "What happened, America? No for gay Jesus!" during a victory speech two days after the U.S. legalized gay marriage. Romero later clarified that he'd said "No forget Jesus", and denied knowing anything about the gay marriage issue.
    • Early MMA pioneer Kimo Leopoldo was very religious, even carrying a cross to the cage on his first appearance in the UFC.
  • Ring Oldies: Most fighter regard their late 30s as a good time to retire, since its the time the great majority of them is falling behind the competition in the athleticism department and it becomes harder to compensate with skill and technique, some, however, survive and even thrive in their 40s
    • Randy Couture fought at the highest levels of the sport into his mid-40s, reigning as UFC heavyweight champion at the age of 45 and winning a non-title bout at the age of 47.
    • Russo-Ukrainian grappling expert Aleksei Oleinik got his shot at the big time in 2016, joining the UFC at the relatively late age of 39. In 2020, at the age of 43, he became the first UFC fighter to win fights in 4 different decades (the 90s, the 2000s, the 2010s and the 2020s).
    • Mark Coleman competed in the UFC for the last time in his mid 40s, winning a bout against TUF 1 alumnus Stephan Bonnar in 2009 and participating in a losing bid against fellow old fighter Randy Couture in 2010.
  • Sadist Teacher:
    • Pretty common in Japanese MMA. Minoru Suzuki was said to be prone to brutalize Pancrase students just because during their trainings, while Shooto founder and Professional Wrestling legend Satoru Sayama is notorious for using a shinai stick to "encourage" his students, and 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.
    • Georges Mehdi, the godfather of Brazilian judo and a force of nature in the vale tudo scene, is considered one of the harshest trainers in Brazil. It is known that he makes a free use of the shinai, just like the aforementioned Sayama, and that training with him is a hell. However, he produces extremely tough athletes, and his most famous trainee, Luiz Virgilio de Castro, is a seven times national champion and possibly the only man to school Rickson Gracie in a sparring match.
  • 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 fighter 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.
    • Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis is a large man (he often has to cut weight in order to make the 265-lb heavyweight limit), is covered in tattoos, and is one of the most powerful punchers to ever step into an MMA ring. Making his goofy and jovial personality outside of competition even more disarming.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The old intro sequence for UFC events features a gladiator rubbing sand into his hands before walking into the arena, an obvious reference to Gladiator.
    • Many fighters have a shoutout in their nickname:
      • Ryan "Darth" Bader references Darth Vader.
      • Dave "Pee-wee" Herman references the Paul Reubens character.
      • Dustin "McLovin" Hazlett references the Superbad character.
      • Dustin "Diamond" Poirier's nickname is a reference to actor Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on Saved by the Bell.
      • Several fighters have the nickname "Hellboy".
      • Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson earned his nickname based on his small stature and the size/shape of his ears.
      • Alexander "Drago" Volkov got his nickname from his physical similarities to the famous antagonist of Rocky IV.
  • Signature Move: Some fighters are known for having a really good grasp of a specific technique or are famous for using or inventing them:
    • Mirko "Cro-Cop" Filipović developed a reputation for his head kicks, particularly when thrown with the left.
    • Jason von Flue is famous for creating the von Flue choke, a counterattack for defending from a guillotine choke, the move was later adopted by Ovince St. Preux, who made great use of it in several fights.
    • Bas Rutten's pinpoint accuracy when it came to liver strikes was his trademark in his time fighting in Pancrase.
    • Michael Bisping was jokingly nicknamed "Left Hook Larry" due to using a long range left hook in the end of a combination to drop Luke Rockhold and finish him in their rematch, winning Bisping the UFC middleweight championship.
    • Fighters training under Team Alpha Male have a noticeable tendency to have a sharp overhand punch.
    • Early on his career, José Aldo was well known for having absolutely crippling leg kicks, to the point that, after a 5 rounder against him, notoriously durable Urijah Faber needed crutches to walk due to taking a few too many.
    • Kazushi Sakuraba was well known for his masterful usage of the kimura shoulder lock, which he used as a means to not only finish fights, but also get out of bad positions and bring his opponents down.
    • Former UFC champion and Jiu-Jitsu ace Fabricio Werdum has a particularly slick backtake to armbar transition which he is fond of using.
    • Anthony "Showtime" Pettis' now legendary fight against Benson Henderson saw Pettis run against the cage wall and jump off of it, using the impulse to get some air time and kick Henderson in the head. The kick has been since christened "the Showtime kick".
  • 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' 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.
  • Sore Loser: Due to the level of competitiveness found in almost any professional sport, plus the highly ambiguous nature of both referee stoppages and decision victories (where a winner is decided by the opinions of three ringside judges), fighters will sometimes make excuses for losing, or claim that (especially in a fight that goes to judge's decision) they did not lose when they literally did, according to the record books. Sometimes this is warranted, such as when an opponent clearly cheats or the referee makes an incorrect call; other times, it's just a fighter's ego refusing to accept defeat.
    • In a particularly egregious example, rising bantamweight star Sean O'Malley was finished in the first round by Marlon Vera after being put down with a leg kick then knocked out with elbows. O'Malley went on several tirades on how he didn't lose and he was still undefeated.
    • TJ Dillashaw's immediate reaction to being steamrolled by Henry Cejudo was claiming it was an early stoppage and that he was still defending himself intelligently after being knocked down 3 times and hit hard roughly 20 times in a space of less than 2 minutes. He then popped for Performance Enhancing Drugs immediately after.
  • Spectacular Spinning:
    • The spinning backfist is a pretty popular, if not very precise, move today.
    • Sanshou artist Cung Le became famous for his incredible spinning kicks, which were almost out of a kung fu flick. Before him, Bazigit Atajev (another sanshou practitioner) was known to land spinning wheel kicks at will.
    • Edson Barboza is a feared striker with immense power and a long and storied career and employs spinning kicks as a big part of his repertoire; his best-known moment is that one time he landed a pitch perfect wheel kick to the head of Terry Etim, sending him stiff to the ground.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": "The" James Krause
  • Squick:
    • 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 Machida produced 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.
    • An example that illustrates just how dangerous the sport can be, even today: At Bellator 158 in 2016, Michael Page caught Evangelista Santos with a flying knee counter to the forehead and literally caved in his skull. Picture (fully SFW) here.
    • One of the most common techniques for defending from leg kicks is "checking" them, which means blocking the opponent's incoming shinbone with a thicker part of your own shin or the knee, while it is normally only painful for the attacker, a particularly well timed check can cause the opponent's shin to break in half, which causes even the most seasoned spectator to physically cringe from the sight of a leg flapping like a noodle.
  • 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 brought 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.
    • Toward the end of his career, "The Dean of Mean" Keith Jardine would wear shirts reading "Mean 1", which was a pun on his name and "Lean 1" brand protein.
  • 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 Division I wrestling champion. He retired from MMA with a perfect 9-0 record and as the Bellator heavyweight champion.
    • Daniel Cormier is possibly the greatest fighter that ever lived and is affectionately referred to by the fans as "the daddest man alive" due to looking like your average suburban father. He has also professed his love for cake and chicken.
    • Mark Hunt is a short, stocky and flabby heavyweight; he is also credited as having had one of the hardest chins in MMA history and having ungodly knockout power.
  • 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.
  • Strong and Skilled: Any professional MMA fighter is an example. The best and top champions are fighters who are equally parts skilled, strong and fast, while fighters who excel only in strength (or only in skill!) are at a disadvantage.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • 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" Antônio 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.
    • UFC Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold showed no respect for the punching power of short-notice opponent Michael Bisping (whom he'd defeated by submission in a prior bout), and continually approached Bisping without tucking his chin or moving his head. After a few minutes in which Rockhold showcased his superior kickboxing, Bisping got the timing right and nailed Rockhold with a perfect overhand left which put the champion on the canvas. Bisping swarmed the dazed Rockhold, dropping him again, and then knocking him completely out with a vicious right against the cage just as the referee moved in to stop the fight.
    • In 2007 the UFC held an event that they tentatively named "UFC 76: Knockout", in which there were no knockouts whatsoever.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • A hallmark of Fedor Emelianenko. Compare his expression while viciously beating on his opponent to being hit in the face to being interviewed. Commentator Michael Schiavello noted this during one of his interviews with Fedor and called it "terrifying." It's also a bit of a meme amongst MMA fans.
    • Gregor Mousasi tends to look outright bored on his way to the cage, and often even in the middle of a fight.
    • The Canadian Rory MacDonald is also known for his rather unnerving empty stare, to the point where UFC commentator Joe Rogan once said that the fighter creeps the hell out of him.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Pride announcer Lenne Hardt's famously bombastic style involved trilling every R in each fighter's name, often for several seconds at a time.
  • 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 UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones readily agreed to fight title contender and campmate Rashad Evans, who took great offense and left the camp.
    • The issue came up again in 2018, when Mike Perry became a part of the Jackson/Winklejohn team. Longtime Jackson/Wink fighter (and potential opponent) Donald Cerrone objected, only for his coach Mike Winklejohn to basically tell him to deal with it and begin training Perry. A frustrated and hurt Cerrone left to start his own gym, and when the fight with Perry finally happened, he utterly dominated the younger fighter before yelling several post-fight insults at Winklejohn.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The whole point. It's called Mixed Martial Arts for a reason.
    • The first UFC events had this vibe going on, especially since most fights were a style vs style bouts.
  • 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 Antônio Rogerio Nogueira, which is the highest odds on record in MMA. Sokoudjou knocked Nogueira out with a punch in 23 seconds.
    • Another of the biggest upsets in MMA history was Jose "Pele" Landi-Jons being defeated by Daijiro Matsui. Though a training partner of Kazushi Sakuraba, Matsui was little more than a PRIDE jobber, and everyone thought him to lose against Pele, who was a vale tudo legend and a much better fighter in every field. However, in a mind-bending exhibition of heart, Daijiro countered Pele's offensive through all kinds of improvised techniques and overpowered him with ground and pound, which won the decision for him. Poor Pele probably never see it coming.
    • A legendary underdog was the Capoeira master Sidney Gonçalves Freitas aka Mestre Hulk in the Desafio Vale Tudo 1995 event. Virtually knowing nothing of MMA or fighting, he managed to defeat two expert grapplers from both the luta livre and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu camps solely thanks to his striking expertise and ended winning the tournament.
  • The Unfavorite: A sad reality of the prizefighting business is that sometimes, fighters will get screwed by the promotion they fight for if they aren't marketable enough.
    • 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.
    • Despite his massive popularity, Nate Diaz was fighting for a truly abysmal paycheck because, according to UFC president Dana White, he was not a "needle mover".
  • 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Stipe Miocic is this at times due to his tendency to talk fast and due to being slightly marble mouthed.
  • The Unpronounceable: Fighters with Polish names have this problem.
    • Krzysztof Soszynski. While the spelling borders on self-parody, it's actually not that hard to say: "Kris-Toff Soh-Shin-Skee."
    • Former Women's UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Her management even released an 11-second video explaining how to pronounce her name. It's close to Yoanna Yen-Jay-Chick. She often goes by "Joanna Champion" to make it easier for fans.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Fans will sometimes use those for comedic effect or to avoid talking about something directly. Steroids and performance-enhancing drugs are a common target for this, among the terms one can find are: "Açaí" (a fruit consumed in Brazil) for a Brazilian setting, "tainted supplements" for the US and Europe, "Eastern medicine" for Chinese fighters, "dick pills" when concerning Jon Jones specifically, "horse meat" when concerning Alistair Overeem and "sugar water" when referencing Yoel Romero.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • Listen, Chael Sonnen wants to make sure you're paying attention.
    • Khabib Nurmagomedov, possibly due to speaking English as a second language, almost exclusively refers to any physical domination over his opponents as "smashing" them.
  • 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" throughout the history of the sport include Chris Lytle, Chris Leben, Cheick Kongo, Clay Guida and Donald Cerrone.
  • Weak, but Skilled: The reason why Royce was chosen to represent the Gracie family was that his body wasn't that physically imposing, yet he was a very skilled grappler. He would defeat opponents that were double his size (and sometimes just as skilled) such as Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn.
  • 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.
  • Worthy Opponent: Many fighters simply do not like each other, and this shows in heated, emotionally charged pre-fight exchanges, the need for extra security, and sometimes actually coming to blows before two competitors are scheduled to fight. However, many times, after going three or five hard rounds against another human being trying to beat you into unconsciousness, the two fighters appear to gain a measure of respect for one another by the end of the bout, and will shake hands and thank each other for the contest.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • A wide range of wrestling moves to be used in actual athletic competition, creating some spectacular matches. Dropkicks, chops and triangle choke-countering powerbombs and piledrivers are the most common ones, but the sport has also seen German suplexes, abdominal stretches, airplane spins, superkicks, elbow drops and even diving attacks.
    • Also inverted. Wrestling/MMA crossover stars tend to bring distinctive MMA moves into their wrestling careers, especially submissions holds. Some have even entered the general vocabulary of wrestling, used by performers without any specific connection to MMA, including the Kimura lock, triangle choke, and rear naked choke, to name a few.

Alternative Title(s): Cage Fighting

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