The UFC has an abundance of people that simply want to go about their business, fight their fight, and go onto the next one. The concept of press conferences, media days and even post-fight interviews clearly make them uncomfortable. How many times have we heard Joe Rogan interview the victor and yell into the microphone: "SO WHO DO YOU WANT NEXT?!" This is a clear message that they want the fighter to call someone out and make things interesting. Most of the time this question is met with a meek: "whoever the UFC chooses to put me up against." Well isn't that cute... perhaps the greatest of all-time operated in a similar manner as George St. Pierre was so polite and non-confrontational (with the rare exception of the "I'm not impressed by your performance" fiasco with Matt Hughes).
Ah, but there are token fighters that have taken the exact opposite approach and have gone out of their way to create a buzz. Sometimes it's a case of simply stirring the pot to get attention but not actually having the substance to back up their claims, and there are other cases of them seeking attention and backing up every single world. A certain Irish fellow comes to mind...
As much as sportsmanship and class is a virtue, it's always a little more interesting when there's some eccentric personalities and trash-talking in the mix. Ladies and gentlemen, no stone will remain unturned here as will have a look at the top 15 attention seekers in UFC history!
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14 Rashad Evans
As he's gotten older he's kind of toned down his act and even preached the notion of "being humble" to his one time friend, and now rival Jon Jones. But people often forget that Rashad Evans was anything but humble when he first broke onto the scene. He'd dance in the octagon as he'd make a mockery of his opponents. He'd even grab his crotch on special occasions. It got to the point where a coach on The Ultimate Fighter (Matt Hughes), gave him a lecture on his showboating. Evans responded with: "that's just how I like to have fun." This behaviour got him booed for a solid 5 years as MMA fans have long memories. Evans has finally came around and now conducts himself admirably.
13 Josh Koscheck
Koscheck went out of his way to seek negative attention so much that he even got booed in his hometown of Pittsburgh. His lowlight reel of attention seeking antics include needlessly spraying a drunken Chris Leben with a hose as he was passed out in a stupor outside (we'll get to Leben in a bit). Antagonizing a nurse and constantly informing him: "you're a male nurse, bro" and even attacked him with a plunger. He was also constantly saying ridiculous and outlandish comments in his interviews simply to get heads to turn. Granted, he scored himself many marquee fights and had he not been so much of a sideshow, he probably would have just been a needle in a hay stack in the Welterweight division.
12 Tom Lawlor
Lawlor is known as a 7 year UFC vet fighting for team Syndicate MMA. He also gets much recognition for his wins over the likes of Jason McDonald, C.D. Dollaway, and Gian Villante.
NAH! Just pulling your leg, he's not known for any of that. Tom Lawlor is "the guy" that wears crazy/comical costumes when he walks to the scales for weigh-ins. The weigh-ins are usually a very serious process when you can see the state of mind that the fighter is in, and also how their body looks right after the weight cut. Lawlor chooses to make light of it as he's made his way to the scale dressed up as Art Jimmerson (one boxing glove and all) and Dan Savern, to name a few. He also had a memorable walk to the octagon at UFC 113 in Montreal where he came out dressed as Apollo Creed with the song "Living in America" blaring in the back. The fickle Montreal crowd groaned...but couldn't help but applaud Lawlor for the innovation.
11 Tank Abbott
First of all, let's not get it twisted, Tank Abbott was a dreadful fighter, finishing his career with a 10-15 record. He also showed that he was a jerk right from the start. In his debut against John Matua, he ended up slugging him in the back of the head (legal at the time, but can still be a career ending shot). Matua was clearly knocked out but that wasn't good enough for Tank as he had to throw in another shot, and would have kept going had John McCarthy not thrown him off. Oh yeah, he also mocked his unconscious opponent after the fact
But we digress...Tank was around during MMA's inception. While the Gracie's walked around in their gi's and demonstrated the importance of jiu jitsu, Tank used a completely different approach as he looked like he came straight out of a biker bar after way too many beers. He had the look and the trash talk to garner all sorts of attention, he was just missing the fighting skills...which is kind of important in a fight.
10 Phil Baroni
Another throw-back fighter that wasn't quite as terrible as Tank Abbott. "The New York Badass" was a real life Jersey Shore character, 15 years before the show was created. His wild wardrobe and "come at me, bro" attitude scored him so many big fights/paydays despite his deplorable record. In 2009, he sported a 3-4 record in his last 7 fights, against sub-par competition, and still got brought back to the UFC simply because people wanted to see him fight. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is an entertainment aspect and it's not always the best fighters that are going to get the opportunities. "The Best Eva" currently sports a 15-18 record and has lost 8 of his last 10. But hey: "the best counter to an arm bar is a punch to the face". You're the man Phil!
9 Junie Browning
Nobody even watches The Ultimate Fighter anymore, but everyone has heard of Junie Browning. We are now at season 22 and there has been a lot of "crazies" that have come in and out of that house. Now, they're put in a bit of an unfair situation. It's 16 fighters put in a house with no T.V, internet, cell phones or video games...oh yeah, and the liquor cabinet is fully stocked. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that there is going be trouble.
Browning was however a special case because he appeared unstable right off the hop. He just had this crazy look in his eyes and was instigating confrontations with just about everyone in the house, even Ryan Bader who is twice his size and one of the most mild-mannered men in the UFC. Browning would get belligerently drunk, shoot glasses at people, and even hopped over the cage on one occasion to attack Efrain Escudero after he had just finished fighting. To Browning's credit, TUF was at season 8 at this point and interest was starting to dwindle, but his act gave the show the shot in the arm that it needed. Don't believe me? There are people that did a lot less than Browning on that show and got booted off. Junie was a ratings machine and people were tuning in week after week to see what this nut job would do.
8 Chris Leben
Chris Leben narrowly beats out Junie Browning because he was an "unintentional attention seeker." It just seemed like trouble had a way of finding him, despite his best efforts to clean up his act. Leben also went on to have a decent UFC career whereas Browning faded off into oblivion as he went 1-5 after leaving the promotion.
Leben stole the show on season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter. In the early episodes, his brash demeanor was causing rifts with just about everyone in the house as he even urinated in someone's bed, just for laughs. Bobby Southworth and Josh Koscheck also bullied him on one fateful night where they were all drunk. They pulled antagonizing acts such as calling him a "fatherless bastard" and spraying him with a hose as he was trying to get some sleep. This sent Leben into a blind rage as he punched holes through windows and knocked down doors (comically waking up Forrest Griffin in the process). But unlike Junie Browning, Leben also garnered attention for his fighting. He looked incredible in his fights during The Ultimate Fighter stint, and also score impressive wins over Wanderlei Silva and Yoshihiro Akiyama as his career went forward.
7 The Diaz Brothers
Where to start with these guys...similarly to Leben, they're unintentional attention seekers. We mean that in a sense that they're not seeking attention as a means to further their careers, they're just genuinely crazy people with erratic behaviour that march to the beat of their own drum (we love them for it, by the way). The UFC is filled with "suck ups" and "yes men" that won't utter a word in fear of repercussions, meanwhile Nate Diaz openly tweeted that Dana White and the UFC are full of s**t.
The brothers also took part in a full on brawl after the Jake Shields vs. Dan Henderson fight in Strikeforce. They didn't like how "Mayhem" Miller stormed the octagon after the fight and saw that fisticuffs were about to break out between he and their buddy Shields. The brothers were right on the case as they proceeded to tackle Miller and land some solid punches and kicks in the process.
Nick Diaz even went as far as attacking Joe Riggs in the hospital after their fight at UFC 57. Riggs' version of the events are hilarious, even stating that it was bloody and his intravenous flew out of his arm during the scuffle.
Whatever...don't be scared homie!
6 Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Speaking of Mr. Miller! This guy was/is a walking disaster, and his life is a train wreck. He is a unique case of a fighter seeking attention to further his notoriety as well as seeking unwanted attention by just being a screw-up.
For example, when he stormed the octagon at Strikeforce and interrupted Jake Shield's interview and screamed: "HEY WHERE'S MY REMATCH?!" He was obviously trying to score himself a fight with Shields even though he didn't deserve a rematch in any way shape or form. This was obviously a case of him trying to stir the pot. He's also garnered attention with the fans because of his flashy entrances and exciting fighting style.
But there's been other examples of where he's brought unwanted attention to himself through his lunacy. In 2012, he broke into an Orange Country church and was found sleeping naked. He also caused over $400 to the church in the process.
Mayhem does seem like he has a good heart and needs some help. We wish him the best.
5 Kimbo Slice
Kimbo straight up made himself a millionaire with his attention seeking methods. He would show up to random locations and have street fights with civilians that would challenge him and then post the fights on YouTube. It was almost unbelievable as they would fight in parks, random street corners, and even in a backyard where they had to avoid crashing into a barbeque.
It was so taboo that people wanted to see how Kimbo would do in the octagon against real fighters. He attracted so much attention and had so much momentum behind him that he was main eventing Elite XC events within a year. He even received an open invitation to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 10 and was immediately demolished by Roy Nelson.
Despite getting brutally finished by Nelson, Seth Petruzelli and Roy Nelson. Kimbo remains a huge draw for Bellator.
4 Rampage Jackson
Even people who aren't big fans of MMA know Rampage Jackson. This is because he's a dude with a lot of stand-out characteristics. Rampage is the guy that comes to the octagon with a huge chain and howls like a wolf, he's the guy that damn near power bombed Ricardo Arona through the ring. He's also the fighter that humped a female reporter during an interview and didn't eat for 5 days because he thought it would be a good idea to go on a "red bull only diet," and ended up causing a pursuit on the freeway. Rampage is a bit of an enigma as he's an MMA legend with WWE tendencies while being a loose cannon in his personal life.
4. Ronda Rousey
Hey, we've been hard on Ronda lately but she can't be faulted for much of the attention she sought out when she burst onto the scene. Yeah, lately her comments have been nauseating, arrogant and hypocritical (we're not going to beat a dead horse though, see the last article). But early on in her career, she NEEDED to get the attention of the press in order to push the notion of the UFC accepting women's fighting. She even admitted that it might not have been the most tactful way of doing things, but had she not called out Miesha Tate (who was champion at the time) in Strikeforce and not been so brash, their rivalry wouldn't have received nearly as much hype as it did and they never would have headlined an event. Rousey was working towards something and the attention she was seeking would help place women at the forefront of UFC. Look how big women's MMA is now...there was clearly a method to her madness.
3 Tito Ortiz
Who is he kidding with this new "People's Champ" nick name? Tito is "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy!" His attention seeking antics are part of the reason the sport gained so much notoriety and went mainstream. The Baldfather (Dana White) will never admit it, because he hates Tito, but he's a big part of why the UFC is where it is today. The UFC was stuck in limbo as it was not considered "cock fighting" anymore because more rules were implemented as well as weight classes. But there was also an entertainment aspect that was lacking, people didn't quite understand the ground game yet and couldn't really relate to any of the fighters. They all seemed cut from the same deck and came out to the same stupid entrance song that sounded like Star Trek music.
All of a sudden this guy comes out with bleached blonde hair and fire on his trunks, digging people's graves in the octagon after he'd win fights, and a superstar was born. He also came out to wild pyrotechnics and Limp Bizkit or Eminem blaring in the background. Some people loved him, some hated him. Regardless, he was polarizing and people were tuning in. When he flipped off Ken Shamrock and the Lions Den, it kicked off the first real mainstream rivalry in the UFC.
2 Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen made his UFC debut in 2005, and nobody knew who in the blue hell he was until 2010. Sonnen was always a very capable fighter, but in 2010 he finally realized the recipe to success...win fights and take advantage of his gift of gab. It's very easy to go out there and "talk trash," but it's not always that simple. A lot of fighters have tried to talk trash and it's met with crickets. Sonnen simply promoted his fights better than anyone for a few reasons. For one, he's a smart guy and a very good talker. He was also backing it up at the time as he was on an absolute tear in his career, rattling off wins over Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt. Most importantly, he chose to go after the toughest kid in the school yard in Anderson Silva.
Once the Silva vs. Sonnen match was officially announced, Sonnen's compilation of trash talk was fantastic. It was so far "out there" that even people that weren't necessarily fans of the sport were turning their heads and saying: "is this guy serious?" Silva had barely even lost a round in the UFC at this point, and Sonnen was talking about him as if this was going to be the easiest fight of his career.
He went on to dominate Silva for 4.5 rounds, beating the champ like he's never been beaten before as he out struck him 320-64! We all know Silva pulled off a miraculous submission in the 5th round, but it was still a magical performance by Sonnen.
The way he talked the talk and (nearly) walked the walk in that fight made him a celebrity as he lived off it for the next 4 years, landing numerous main event slots, 2 more title shots and big money fights.
1 Conor McGregor
As mentioned above, Sonnen basked in the glow of his first fight with Silva and cashed in on it for the rest of his career, even though he produced mediocre results. While Sonnen "talked the talk," McGregor did the exact same and is the epitome of "walking the walk." Take it back to his fights with Dustin Poirier and Dennis Siver as he annihilated both of them. People then claimed that his outlandish comments and promotion meant nothing because he hadn't fought anyone...no problem. He then knocked out #2 contender Chad Mendes (after Aldo pulled out, and had only 2 weeks to train for a completely different style fighter) and then knocked out champion Jose Aldo in 13 seconds, even predicting the manner in which he'd do it.
In just under a year, he's turned himself into the biggest star in the UFC (yep, move over Ronda). The way he promotes fights is simply second to none as he steals the show (and even Aldo's championship belt one time) at every single press conference.
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