Just like the sport of MMA itself, tattoos have very mixed reactions when it comes to public opinion: some people think that they are a work of art and are essential to expression and personality. Others see tattoos as a blasphemous drawing that does not belong on the human body, and represents savagery and lack of education.
People get tattoos for different reasons: some want to express their religious or political thoughts, others wants to represent their origins, and some just want to look cool. All these reasons are valid when it comes to getting a tattoo. However, the tattoo should fulfill its original purpose: you wouldn't get a cat tattoo on your leg if your goal is to go for something intimidating, for example. In order for the tattoo to be relevant, most people spend many months or even years thinking about the tattoo they will get, and what it should look like.
In the case of MMA, fighters are often tattooed from head to toe. Some have amazing pieces on them: one of my personal favorites is Kid Yamamoto's full-body Japanese design. It represents his origins and his beliefs, and looks absolutely fantastic. Some other great tattoos include Benson Henderson's wings or Frank Mir's back piece. Others decide to keep their body unchanged, and don't touch the ink.
Most times, fighters get their tattoos done at the right places, by the right artist, with the right design. However, this is not always the case. We have all seen the many pictures that illustrate tattoo ''fails'' but we have yet to see the MMA edition of this list. Here are the top 15 weirdest tattoos in MMA:
17 Cub Swanson
Okay this tattoo makes sense when you look at Swanson in fight shorts. He has palm trees growing out of this pants and reminds everyone where he is from with that ''So Cal'' tattoo across his chest. But here is my question: where do the palm trees stop? Do they end at the waist line or do they go lower? Are they faded out or simply cut at the roots? Or maybe it is done on purpose so that the shorts represent where the trees grow from? Either way, it is unclear how this tattoo is designed and if it is eve related to ''So Cal''.
16 Cain Velasquez
Some people absolutely love the ''brown pride'' tattoo, and that's totally cool. However, I find it a little weird. Why does it say ''brown'' pride? Why not ''Mexican'' pride? Velasquez wants to represent his home country, but it is not the only country in the world with brown-skinned people. Furthermore, there is always the common argument that if some was to tattoo ''white pride'' across their chest, they would never make it into an MMA cage, let alone the UFC.
15 Kimo Leopoldo
If you're into tribal tattoos, you might love this guy's design, and I totally agree with that. But what's up with his stomach tattoo? We all know that Leopoldo wanted to get ''Jesus'' tattooed across his abs, but with the map of Hawaii covering the first letter of the tattoo, it simply comes out as ''Esus''. And Esus is a Gaulish God that has absolutely nothing to do with the Jesus that Leopoldo was trying to represent.
14 Joe Riggs
You may sense a pattern here with all the stomach tattoos but this one has an interesting story. Why do you think Riggs got his Diesel tattoo? His nickname? Wrong. In fact, he got his stomach inked after his kids convinced him to buy a new car. Anyone care to guess the type of car? That's right, a Diesel VW Bug. That's quite a commitment for a beetle car: a nickname and a tattoo totally devoted to it. Does he plan to drive that car for the rest of his life?
13 Aleksander Emilianenko
That back piece though... A full-back grim reaper tattoo can be pretty scary, especially on a guy like Emilianenko. But not only does he have a grim reaper, he has a grim reaper holding a new-born baby with the words ''God With Us'' over the tattoo: now that's just creepy as hell. Oh, and I am not even talking about his other artwork yet, that includes several neo-nazi signs as well as Russian prison tattoos. Talk about an intimidating look.
11 Paulo Filho
You may love pit-bulls, but you clearly don't love them as much as Filho. With yet another stomach tattoo, Filho represents two pitbulls who are probably supposed to be fighting each other, but look more like they are kissing. This tattoo would have been enough to put him on this list but his $10,000,000 bill tattoo right over the pit-bulls put him at the no.9 slot. Oh and the bill does not represent some kind of political figure: it simply illustrates another pit-bull.
10 War Machine
This guy is obviously better known by his nickname than his real name. First of all, that grenade tattoo is supposed to represent the power in his punch. However, I doubt that a punch from War Machine is comparable to a grenade. Then, there is the ''Mack'' tattoo on his neck.
Call me crazy, but I think that if you are going to tattoo your adult film star girlfriend's name on your neck, you shouldn't beat her up after and send her to the hospital. But that's just my humble opinion.
9 Brock Lesnar
This is an obvious one, Brock Lesnar's sword tattoo: some people see it as a majestic sword that instills fear upon his rivals and intimidates any man who dares cross him. Others see it as...well, something entirely different. In order to keep the debates to a minimum, I'd rather not say my opinion on this tattoo. Lesnar's love it or hate it tattoo made the list due to its constant controversy and its numerous photoshops that you can find all over the Internet.
7 Wanderlei Silva
First of all, there is the tattoo on the back of the head, but it is understandable. After all, I would never want to fight someone with a tribal tattoo on the back of their head, would you? Didn't think so. The Axe Murderer also has the logo of his own gym (represented by his face) tattooed on his shoulder. If marketing is what you're looking for, it might have been easier to hire a few professionals to increase your sales. Now, you have your own face tattooed on you forever.
6 Robert Berry
Some people regret getting their ex-lover tattooed on their body, others simply regret the design that they chose. In Berry's case, he got the name of his employer tattooed on his arms: ''Cage Rage''. It is ironic that his latest fight was actually under the Total Combat banner, and he was representing the wrong promoter. No wonder this guy never signed with the UFC, Dana White doesn't like the competition!
5 Jeff Monson
Monson's artwork is another hate it or love it kind of situation. First of all, nearly all of his tattoos (and he does have quite a bit) represent some kind of communist or anarchist idea. But the weird thing about them is that they are not connected: they are kind of just scattered in different places on his body. Perhaps if Monson had a single complex design it would have looked very cool, but the way it is right now seems a little odd to me.
4 Alan Belcher
Same deal as with the pit-bulls: you may love Johnny Cash, but not as much as Alan Belcher does. Now don't get me wrong: if you want to get your favorite musician's face tattooed on your body, go right ahead. However, it might be a good idea to double check the design with your tattoo artist to make sure that it doesn't look like a decomposing zombie face. Looks like Belcher forgot to do that.
3 Shad Smith
Getting your sponsor's name tattooed on your body is weird, no matter what. However, Smith really took it to the next level. He has not one, but two Tapout tattoos: a huge one across his stomach (there it is again) and another one on the back of his neck. Smith might be a talented fighter, but these Tapout tattoos make him look like a 16-year-old MMA fan who simply wanted to look hardcore in order to bully the other kids in his class.
2 Adrian Perez
Two things wrong with this one. First of all, like previously mentioned, it's never a good idea to tattoo your employer's name on your body. Well, Perez got ''King of the Cage'' tattooed on his forehead, good way to get a job one you retire from fighting. The other problem, which can be seen as an intimidation technique, is that Perez shaved off his eyebrows and replaced them with flames. While a good idea, the intimidation technique doesn't seem to have worked for him very well, considering his 2-10 record.
1 Melvin Costa
Not even sure where to begin with this one. It'll start with the obvious Nazi tattoos on his chest. But wait, there's more! A little more discreet but still quite memorable, Costa has a phrase tattooed around his belly button. It would be weird enough just left at that, but Costa takes it to the next level, and that phrase reads ''I have a small penis.'' If that doesn't make him no.1 on this list, I don't know what does.
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