MMA is a sport rich with self-expression. The uniqueness and individuality of the athletes is sometimes equally as important as fighting skill when it comes to marketing oneself and attaining title shots and lucrative contracts. The ring entrance is a fighter's first and often most opportune time to make a statement to their fans and opponents. Intimidation, entertainment, martial arts tradition; any and all of these can be a component of the entrance. Regardless of the intended purpose, sometimes it is the most captivating part of a fight. Today, most current MMA organizations have reduced televised fighter entrances, showing only the main event walkouts, in favor of advertising space, making them something of a rarity.
For some of this list, we'll venture outside of the UFC, and take a look back at the heyday of Japanese MMA and organizations like PRIDE FC and Dream, where many of the legends of the sport made their names. Japanese MMA was also filled with pageantry, much like professional wrestling. Elaborate and high-budget fighter entrances were the norm and some of these that you are about to see are my personal favorites. Seeing these will make you value them all the more. It's perhaps the only sport that grants you such an opportunity to showcase an athlete. There are team entrances in some other sports, but the individuality of them nowadays is practically non-existent. Entrances like Ray Lewis's in the NFL or a team entrance like the Miami Hurricanes emerging from the smoke is the stuff of legends. Here, we'll take a look at the sport that has the most opportunity to do something special.
10 Frankie Edgar
9 Ronda Rousey
8 Conor McGregor
7 B.J. Penn
6 King Mo Lawal
5 Yoshihiro Akiyama
Yoshihiro Akiyama is an absolute star in Japan. A fighter, singer, dancer, model, Akiyama is clearly a born performer and the Japanese audience supports him. He was, and still is, one of the biggest drawing fighters in Japan. The judo standout and longtime mixed martial artist, has a knack for showmanship and is the owner of potentially the most beautiful fighter entrances of all time.
4 Kazushi Sakuraba
3 Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Nowadays, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, is mostly known for wild antics, numerous bizarre confrontations with the law, and a disappointing UFC career. Before all of this however, Miller was quite the star in the Japanese MMA scene, fighting big names on what, at the time, was the grandest stage in the world. He was always something of a wildcard, but that helped him gain notoriety and endeared him to the Japanese audience, both as a dangerous grappler, and over-the-top personality which was showcased perfectly during his entrances.
2 Anderson Silva
1 Tom Lawlor
Tom Lawlor is probably the least-known fighter on this list, but for my money is the most entertaining fighter outside the cage. Lawlor is a life-long professional wrestling fan and he makes no efforts to hide it, even going so far as to appear in Ring of Honor as a cornerman/manager to tag team champs Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly. Whenever he gets the chance, Lawlor will put on a show. At weigh-ins he has dressed as Dan Severn, Art Jimmerson, and Steven Segal, to name a few. His entrances are just as entertaining.
At UFC 113 in Montreal, complete with the stars and stripes getup, he recreated Apollo Creed's entrance from Rocky IV. My favorite entrance of all time came at UFC Fight Night 20 when Lawlor did the complete Hulk Hogan walkout. Feather boas, hand gestures, sleeveless shirt that eventually got ripped off, Lawlor pulled out all the stops for this one. Despite having a UFC record of 5-4 and maybe not being the most exciting fighter, I consider Tom Lawlor to be a guy who you can't miss, because he brings so much fun to a sport that sometimes takes itself too seriously.
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