With the exception of the WWE, which is technically sports entertainment, not many sports involve as much vicious trashtalking and posturing as MMA. These fighters are tough and they talk tough. It is fairly common for fighters to taunt, insult, and disrespectfully bad-mouth their opponents before, during, and after a fight. Of course, winning the smack-talk battle does not translate into winning in the octagon.
It’s no secret that a lot of the feuds that develop between UFC fighters are often promotional tools. Hype results in more viewers and more money for all involved. In short, personal beefs are good for business. With that said, many personal grievances are legitimate. In a sport such as MMA, there's a lot of testosterone and intense competition. It is only natural that adversarial relationships develop. Even the most innocuous statement is sometimes misinterpreted as an insult and causes sparks to fly. It’s funny how easily offended some of these fighters can be. Most times, however, the words are carefully chosen and leave nothing to misinterpretation.
The end of the fight is seldom the end of the dispute. A lot of these guys have long memories and are not easily persuaded to let bygones be bygones. Here are 15 UFC fighters who truly hate each other in real life.
15 Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen will not go down in the history books as the greatest fighter, but he will always be remembered for his entertaining trash-talk and polarizing personality. No incident better illustrated his abrasive demeanor than his combative relationship with Anderson Silva. In the lead-up to their showdown at UFC 117, Sonnen relentlessly pummeled Silva with taunts, criticism, and insults. This personal animosity made their meeting in the octagon one of the most anticipated events in UFC history.
On August 7th, 2010, the two finally battled it out as the headliners of UFC 117. Sonnen came out of the gate looking like he might be able to back up his trash-talking. He had the upper hand until the fifth round when Silva was able to submit his lippy opponent with a masterful triangle armbar. This defeat didn’t exactly silence the bombastic Sonnen but, to everyone’s surprise, he was reasonably gracious towards his opponent during the post-fight presser. He got things going again for their rematch, but he'd again lost to The Spider.
14 Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey
Nothing raises eyebrows like two gorgeous women viciously duking it out. Former Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and current champion Miesha Tate have had one of the bitterest rivalries in MMA. Luckily, this public dislike has translated into women’s MMA gaining more exposure. The two fiery fighters have faced each other twice with Rousey winning both bouts.
Aside from a rematch between Rousey and Holly Holm, UFC fans are pining to see a third bout between Rousey and Tate and it now appears that fight fans will get their wish later in 2016.
Tate is concentrating on her upcoming title defense against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 but she still manages to lob the occasional verbal grenade Rousey’s way. Of course, Rousey can’t stop herself from returning fire.
Both Rousey and Tate have been very public about their dislike for one another and now that a third fight appears almost certain since Tate is champion, the trash-talking and vitriol is escalating quickly.
13 Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans
The tense personal rivalry between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans has boiled for many years. It began way back in 2004 when Jackson didn’t take kindly to Evans’ enthusiastic celebration following his unanimous decision over Hector Ramirez, Jackson’s teammate. Later, Jackson wouldn’t pass up any opportunity to badmouth Evans. Likewise, Evans continued to publicly taunt and insult Jackson.
The war of words evolved into a highly anticipated war in the octagon. On May 29th, 2010, the two headliners of UFC 114 stepped into the cage. Evans got off to a quick start but Rampage held his own and the fight went the distance. Much to Rampage’s chagrin, Evans won by unanimous decision boosting his record to 15-1-1. While one score was settled in the octagon, the two continue to express their displeasure with one another outside the octagon. Entertainment will abound should these men wind up in the same retirement home.
12 Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes
This rivalry between two great fighters turned nasty when Matt Serra was a contestant and Matt Hughes a coach during the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Serra took umbrage with Hughes’ overbearing criticisms of fellow fighters. In particular, he felt that Hughes was unfairly picking on George St-Pierre.
Serra got his opportunity when he and Hughes were scheduled to meet at UFC 98. Serra gave it his all but Hughes came out on top with a unanimous decision in what turned out to be the “Fight of the Night.” It appeared that the score was settled but that was far from the case. Several years later, Matt Hughes and Matt Serra are both retired, but the feud is still heated. They took to Twitter to challenge one another to a rematch but Dana White ended all hope of a rematch between to two legends.
The most we can hope for is more Twitter battles.
11 Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz did little to endear himself to The World’s Most Dangerous Man, Ken Shamrock. In fact, he did everything imaginable to get under the fighter’s skin. On one occasion, following Ortiz’s victory over Shamrock’s Lion’s Den teammate Jerry Bohlander, Ortiz gestured towards Shamrock and then put on a t-shirt with some very NSFW words on it. Shamrock was enraged and the feud was on. After Tito defeated another Lion’s Den fighter a couple of months later, Ortiz put on an even more inflammatory t-shirt and flipped the bird at the opposing corner. Shamrock blew a gasket and had to be stopped from climbing into the cage to confront the smug Ortiz.
Shamrock finally got his chance to shut The Huntington Beach Bad Boy up in the main event of UFC 40. Ortiz dominated The World’s Most Dangerous Man and Shamrock’s corner threw in the towel after the third round. Tito would go on to defeat an over-the-hill Ken Shamrock two more times. Their mutual dislike still festers.
10 Georges St-Pierre vs. Nate Diaz
The George St-Pierre/Nick Diaz drama took hold when the two were up-and-comers in the UFC. In short, Diaz took exception to what he perceived as St-Pierre being fast-tracked while Diaz was left to navigate a harder path which led to his release from the UFC. Diaz carried quite the grudge and openly criticized St-Pierre. Of course, Diaz comes across as the type of guy that talks smack to his own mother.
The two would eventually meet in the octagon in 2013 at UFC 158. As one could imagine, Diaz’s mouth was running non-stop leading up to the match. Like many times before, Diaz couldn’t back up his trash-talk. While he was able to go the distance, Diaz lost by unanimous decision to a fed up St-Pierre.
9 Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
To nobody’s surprise, Chael Sonnen makes the list again. This time, he was feuding with Wanderlei Silva. These two have a long history of some great verbal spars and have even come to blows outside the octagon. Their war escalated during the production of TUF Brazil 3, when they came to blows and ignited a brawl. While there is a lot of well-founded suspicion that these two were simply hyping up TUF, there is also plenty of evidence to support the idea that these two simply don’t like each other. The two fighters were scheduled to settle things in the octagon at UFC 175, but it never materialized. Both fighters found themselves disgraced when Silva refused to submit to a drug test and Sonnen hastily retired as a result of his failed drug test.
UFC fans were deprived of a great match but they always have the video of their TUF Brazil scrap to enjoy.
8 Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock
After a 20-year long grudge between Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, the two UFC pioneers got one last shot at each other in 2016. It was quite disappointing, especially for Shamrock who was the victim of a devastating and illegal knee to the groin which went undetected by the referee. As Shamrock doubled over in pain, Gracie took the opportunity to knock Shamrock senseless and claim his first KO.
It was an anticlimactic finish to this long-running and entertaining feud which began when the two battled at UFC 1. Gracie handed Shamrock his first defeat with a rear-naked choke submission in the first round. The two clashed again at UFC 5 where, due to lack of judges, they fought to a draw. This left Shamrock less than satisfied and he took another blow when Gracie left UFC leaving Shamrock unable to get his revenge. Ken Shamrock is still looking for payback, but he will likely never get it.
7 Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell are two of the most popular and entertaining fighters in history. Their long-running feud is also among the most entertaining. In their early years, Liddell and Ortiz were close friends and training partners. When Ortiz won the title, The Iceman was hungry for an opportunity to take it from his friend. Tito wouldn’t fight Liddell claiming that the two had a pact to never fight each other. Liddell and many in the MMA community saw it as ducking a fight. The friendship sadly dissolved and the epic feud began.
The two would eventually meet twice. At UFC 47, Liddell scored a dramatic knockout 38 seconds into the second round. They fought again at UFC 66 where Liddell won by TKO to win the Light Heavyweight title. These defeats didn’t stop Ortiz from running his mouth. A third fight was scheduled, but an injury to Ortiz put the kibosh on it.
6 Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar
We don’t have to look much further than Frank Mir’s comments in a 2010 interview to see how heated this rivalry is. Mir stated that he wanted to break Lesnar’s neck and see him die in the octagon. Wow, those are some pretty harsh words. The two tough guys have fought twice. At UFC 81, it took Mir a minute and a half to submit Lesnar with a kneebar. In a rematch at UFC 100, Lesnar defended his Heavyweight Championship title and evened the score with a second round TKO.
The war of words has never stopped and with Lesnar’s imminent return to the octagon, fans are hoping that the two will meet again. It would undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated fights ever. Unfortunately, with Mir’s suspension for a failed drug test and Lesnar claiming that his UFC return is a “one off,” fight fans may never get the chance to see the trilogy completed.
5 Frank Trigg vs. Matt Hughes
In a familiar scenario, one fighter throws a barrage of taunts only to lose in the ring. Frank Trigg called out Matt Hughes which added some extra intrigue to their meeting at UFC 45. Despite a fast start by Trigg, Hughes scored a first round submission. Despite the loss, Trigg didn’t back down with the taunts in the lead up to their next meeting at UFC 52. The two finally got it on for the second time and they didn’t disappoint. In what is seen as one of the best comebacks of all time, Trigg nailed Hughes with a shot to the groin that went unnoticed by the referee. Seizing the opportunity, Trigg began to pummel the stunned Hughes, but Hughes gathered his composure and fought his way out of a rear naked choke. Hughes went on to submit Trigg in what Dana White claims is his favorite fight of all time.
4 Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson
After tensions mounted between these competing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter television show, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson faced off on July 11th, 2009, at UFC 100. Henderson surprised the UFC world by knocking Bisping out at the 3:20 mark of the second round. He was the first fighter to ever knock out the Englishman. Bad feelings grew because Henderson threw a flying forearm drop to Bisping who was already unconscious and vulnerable. Henderson defended his actions by saying that the referee hadn’t stopped the fight but the incident didn’t sit well with Bisping who was quick to want revenge.
Naturally, Bisping has called out Henderson for a rematch. With Henderson’s pending retirement, it seems fitting that his last fight would be a rematch with the aggravated Bisping. It certainly seems like a possibility and it would generate a lot of interest and money. Let’s hope the two can settle their grudge with a controversy-free fight.
3 Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
Like many famous feuds, this one began with a bit of trash-talking that turned physical with a brawl between the two. The two raised eyebrows when they came to blows in the lobby of the Las Vegas MGM Grand. Jones and Cormier were then interviewed on Sportscenter (in different rooms of course) and the insults were flying. After going off the air, Jones called Cormier a “p****” and said that he would kill him. Neither of them has passed up an opportunity to bad mouth the other.
They got the chance to take their aggressions out on each other at UFC 182 with Jones’ title on the line. After all the pre-fight trash-talk, the two went to war in the octagon in what turned out to be a great fight. In the end, Jones won by unanimous decision. These two warriors will meet for a rematch at UFC 200 and the lead up to the fight promises to be entertaining.
2 Ronda Rousey vs. Cris “Cyborg” Justino
Ex-women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and Cris “Cyborg” Justino simply must meet in the octagon to settle their mounting list of personal differences. Both of these fighters have talked the talk, but something always comes up to prevent either from walking the walk. It’s really too bad that the chances of this dream matchup happening are so slim.
Rousey recently announced her intentions to return to the UFC for one last fight against Miesha Tate. Should Rousey retire after this fight, she would be turning her back on a lot of unfinished business, as well as fans of women’s MMA. Both have been openly critical of the other. Cyborg has accused Rousey of dodging a fight with her while at the same time refusing to come down in weight class. Of course, Cyborg’s steroid usage is low-hanging fruit for Rousey and Ronda mentions it whenever possible.
UFC fans will feel shortchanged if this fight doesn’t happen.
1 Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor is a master at talking smack and he has used Jose Aldo as a verbal whipping boy. After a 2015 TKO victory over Dennis Siver, McGregor sped out of the octagon to challenge Aldo who was sitting cageside. McGregor got his wish and the two faced off at UFC 194 in December of 2015. It wasn’t much of a fight as McGregor knocked out the long-time champ in just 13 seconds. It was Aldo’s first loss in over 10 years. McGregor went on to lose his next match against Nate Diaz.
Aldo and McGregor are on a collision course to meet again in the near future but, before they do, Aldo needs to take care of business at UFC 200. For his part, McGregor needs to back off on his retirement threats. The fireworks continue as both fighters criticize the other in a back-and-forth that must be settled in the octagon.