Finding success in the world of Mixed Martial Arts is no easy task. The training is extremely demanding, it takes a toll on one’s body, and the pay is often underwhelming. It’s a difficult lifestyle…to say the least. Issues like the one’s previously mentioned, make being in a relationship with a fighter extremely challenging. In some cases, the problems are only amplified when both people are involved in the fight game. When young athletes, in peak physical condition, begin to spend time training together, intimate bonds can sometimes manifest. However, like with any relationship, some couples are able to make it work, while others ultimately drift apart.
Being in a committed relationship can be hard when you’re dealing with two celebrity athletes, things like privacy can quickly become an issue. Couples like UFC Heavyweight Travis Browne and Ronda Rousey can no doubt attest to these challenges. Despite the best efforts of many combat couples, in the age of information, keeping your personal life private is rarely an option. That being said, there are still more than a few MMA couples who have been able to do so. In fact, there are several martial artists who dated for quite some time, without most fans even realizing it. Don’t believe me? Then you should take a look at these 15 MMA couples that you probably didn’t know were an item.
15. Tecia Torres & Raquel Pennington
These two originally met while training together in Florida with the American Top-Team. It may seem odd to fall in love with someone while sparring with them, but it certainly makes for a unique story.
Penington is currently riding an impressive 4 fight winning streak, which includes wins over Miesha Tate and Jessica Andrade. In fact, Tate even retired after her loss to Pennington. Torress has also had some success in the octagon. She has won 4 of her last 5 fights and has an overall record of 7-1 as a professional. With both these women competing in different weight classes, it’s possible they could become title holders at the same time.
14. Brendan Schaub & Ronda Rousey
Most fight fans are aware that Ronda Rousey is dating Travis Browne. However, many fans may not realize that prior to Browne, Rousey dated another UFC Heavyweight fighter, Brendan Schaub. Interestingly enough, Schaub’s last bout prior to his retirement was against Rousey’s current boy toy Travis Browne. Browne won the fight via 1st round TKO. Schaub and Rousey called it quits in July of 2014.
When asked about the courtship, Schaub stated,”I’m not the guy for the job. She needs a guy who’s gonna take a backseat.” He went on to say, “She’s surrounded by people that worship her and go yes, yes … that’s a great idea.” Based on these comments, it doesn’t sound like the two will be getting back together anytime soon. After retiring from MMA, Schaub went on to host his own podcast.
13. Miesha Tate & Bryan Caraway
In truth, many readers are probably already aware that Miesha Tate and Bryan Caraway are an item. However, there is still something you may not know about their relationship. Few people realize that Tate actually saved Caraway’s mothers life.
Chris Caraway, Bryan’s mother, suffered an asthma attack while snorkeling during a family vacation in Mexico. Unfortunately, she had dropped her inhaler in the water just prior to the attack. While the family did have an extra inhaler, Chris Caraway had become unresponsive by the time they were able to recover her. “The blood vessels were bursting in her face. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen”, Tate recalled. However, Tate blew the inhaler into her own mouth and then blew air into Chris’s. After repeating the process several times, Caraway’s mother eventually recovered. Bryan Caraway was certainly grateful to have his girlfriend with him on that day.
12. Cristiane Justino & Evangelista Santos
Cristiane Justino, who’s probably better known as Cris Cyborg, might be the most feared woman in all of Mixed Martial Arts. She’s won her last 7 fights in a row, all by TKO. A lot of folks may not realize that the nickname “Cyborg” actually came from her ex-husband, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos. They actually decided to share the nickname.
While Justino is the better-known fighter of the two, Santos had a professional career that lasted almost two decades. He fought in major promotions like Pride, Strikeforce, and most recently Bellator.Santos retired after suffering a fractured skull at the hands of Michael Page. After six years of marriage, the two announced their separation in December of 2011. They would go on the get divorced but remain friends. Cris Cyborg is currently dating her trainer, Ray Elbe Wallace.
11. Donald Cerrone & Brittney Palmer
These two got together several years back when they were both working for the now defunct MMA promotions, WEC. Palmer is arguably the best known UFC ring girl, outside of Arianny Celeste. She was also featured on the cover of Playboy magazine. Cerrone is known as a beer drinking cowboy, who is always down for a fight. It’s not clear exactly how long the two were an item. However, by the time they debuted in the UFC, the relationship had already ended. Palmer would go on to marry a man named Aaron Zalewski, who’s involved in finance. However, Palmer and Zalewski appear to have had a falling out over a domestic dispute. Cerrone was last known to be dating a woman named Lindsay Sheffield, who’s not involved with Mixed Martial Arts.
10. Diego Sanchez & Ali Sonoma
Sanchez originally debuted in UFC on the first season of the reality show, The Ulitmate Fighter. He is known for being durable and putting on exciting fights inside the octagon. However, only the most hardcore MMA fans know that he was in a serious relationship with UFC ring girl Ali Sonoma. In fact, they were even engaged and living together at one point in time. Sanchez decided to break things off, in order to focus on his fighting career, back in 2008. Afterwords, Sonoma released a statement of social media, “As some of you know I was in a almost 2 year relationship with UFC fighter Diego Sanchez, a man who proposed to me after 4 weeks of dating. Diego recently decided he can’t have both: he can’t have the relationship and be the champion. Sigh…and that’s ok…I am the kind of person I believe everything happens for a reason.” Sanchez is now 35 and in the twilight of his career, a title reign seems unlikely at this point.
9. Josh Burkman & Arianny Celeste
UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste is one of the most beautiful women associated with Mixed Martial Arts. However, few people know that she once dated UFC fighter, Josh Burkman. Celeste once posed for Playboy and has received several awards for being UFC’s best ring girl. Burkman is a journeyman fighter who has struggled recently in the octagon. Burkman recalled the first time he noticed Celeste during a fight, “I saw her and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t let myself get choked out in front of her. I had to figure out something to do.” He later asked Celeste out to dinner and the two dated for a few months. The couple split up back in 2007. Burkman would go on to marry Yoga Champion Brandy Winfield, in 2011. Celeste was most recently linked to Blink 182 drummer, Travis Barker.
8. Cody Garbrandt & Paige VanZant
Both Paige VanZant and Cody Garbrandt are members of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. The teammates apparently hit it off while training together in the same gym. There are more than a few guys out there who would have loved to have been in Garbrandt’s shoes, as VanZant is considered one of the hottest women in MMA. It isn’t clear exactly when the two started dating, but the relationship ended sometime around September of 2015. When asked about the breakup, VanZant said,”We’re both focused on our careers, so we put that on the back burner. We’re both very determined to be UFC champions, so we’re putting that to the side for a while.”
Garbrandt would actually go on to achieve his goal, winning the UFC Bantamweight Championship, last December. While VanZant hasn’t been able to capture the women’s strawweight belt, she did come in 2nd place on the reality series Dancing with the Stars.
7. Tito Ortiz & Amber Nichole Miller
Tito Ortiz was previously in a high-profile relationship with adult entertainer Jenna Jameson. However, Ortiz and Jameson called it quits in March of 2013. Since that time, he has been dating Amber Nichole Miller. Long time UFC fans might remember that Miller was actually an Octagon Girl, several years back. In fact, she was even ringside during Ortiz’s first victory over Ken Shamrock. While thinks appear to be going well for the former champ and Miller, there have been some issues involving Ortiz’s Ex, Jenna Jameson. Miller and Jameson engaged in a brief twitter feud. Jameson accused Miller of carrying a purse that supposedly belonged to the former adult film star. Miller, on the other hand, accused Jameson of being jealous and resentful. Ortiz and Miller have been together since 2014.
6. Kyle Kingsbury & Natasha Wicks
Kyle Kingsbury probably won’t be inducted into to the UFC Hall of Fame, but he had a noteworthy career. The California native won 4 consecutive fights early in his UFC career, before dropping his next four bouts. After suffering his 4th consecutive defeat at the hands of Patrick Cummins, Kingsbury would go on the retire, in 2o14. However, during his run in the UFC, he met Octagon Girl, Natasha Wicks.
Wicks actually won a competition, in order to become a ring girl but was released after a relatively short stint with the company. While her time in the UFC was short, her relationship with Kingsbury has gone on for several years. The two were engaged in 2014 and have a child together. It’s good to see that Wicks didn’t leave the UFC empty handed.
5. Amanda Nunes & Nina Ansaroff
Nunes won the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship back in July of 2016 when she defeated Miesha Tate. However, it was her 0:48 second TKO victory over Rhonda Rousey that made a mega star. Amanda Nunes has the distinction of being the first openly lesbian champion in UFC history. Not to mention, she is also the first Brazilian female to hold a UFC belt. Her partner is fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff.
Ansaroff, who is lighter than her girlfriend, competes in the UFC women’s strawweight division. Nina Ansaroff had a rough start in the UFC, losing 2 of her first 3 fights. However, she was able to submit Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, in her most recent bout. Being involved with a high profile fighter like Nunes will likely increase fans interest in her career. The two can often be seen together on social media and appear to be quite happy.
4. Pat Barry & Rose Namajunas
Pat Barry didn’t have the greatest record in the UFC, put he could always be counted to deliver an exciting fight. Barry has since retired from MMA and now competes in Kickboxing. Namajunas is just 24 years old and is considered to be a major prospect in the UFC women’s strawweight division. Since the two have started dating, you rarely see one without the other. When Namajunas had to stay in the Ultimate Fighter house for six weeks, while the show was being filmed, Barry had a tough time coping. He had this to say when asked about Namajunsas’s absents, “I’ve had real life talks with my brother and cousin like ‘if I showed up would that be considered romantic or considered creepy.” Yeah, that probably would have been creepy. The two are currently engaged.
3. Megan Olivi & Joseph Benavidez
Everyone knows that Megan Olivi is one of the hottest reporters in all of Mixed Martial Arts. That being said, few people realize she is married to UFC flyweight contender, Joseph Benavidez. Benavidez has beaten virtually everyone in the division, with the one exception being the current champion, Demetrious Johnson.
Olivi and Benavidez met in 2009 and were initially “just friends.” However, after bonding over Will Ferrell jokes, the two decided to take their relationship to the next level. The UFC standout proposed to Olivi on Thanksgiving Day, in 2014. The couple would go on to be married in October of the following year. The MMA power couple got hitched at a high-end hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two purchased a home together and have a dog named Benny.
2. Randy & Kim Couture
Randy Couture is a legend in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. He has held both the UFC Light heavyweight and Heavyweight Championships. His ex-wife Kim, on the other hand, did not have much success during her MMA career. She had 11 pro fights and was only able to claim 3 victories, leaving her with a record of 3-8. The couple divorced in 2009, though Randy continued to serve as her MMA mentor for a period after the divorce. Kim did not change her last name following the divorce, assuming that having the Couture name made her more marketable to promoters. She suffered a 1st round TKO loss to Alexis Dufresne back in 2014 and hasn’t fought since. Kim “Sugar-Free” Couture was Randy’s 3rd wife. He has not re-married since.
1. Gina Carano & Kit Cope
Despite being retired, Gina Carano is one of the best-known female Mixed Martial Artists in the world. She once dated former training partner and MMA journeyman Kit Cope. The two were rumored to be engaged at one point but were never married. After they broke up, Cope claimed to have a sex tape featuring the two of them. However, no tape ever surfaced and Cope later claimed he was “joking.” Cope’s final MMA fight was in June of 2012. His record in the sport stands at 6-7. Carano, on the other hand, has gone on to have a successful acting career. She even landed a lead role in the Steven Soderbergh film, Haywire. Carano is currently dating Muay Thai Fighter, Kevin Ross. Kit Cope married Lacee Casas in 2016.
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