Since holding its first event back in 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been no stranger to controversies both in and outside of the cage. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise. When you have a company based around fighting (skilled fighting, but nonetheless, fighting), you're bound to run into some employees who aren’t exactly sound of mind. Most of their issues stem from troubled personal lives, but every once in awhile they lose it while inside the octagon.
President Dana White has had more than his share of press conferences giving out UFC’s official statement based on whatever the latest embarrassment is for the company, and this list will go over some of the worst ones. Weird fighting styles, brawls at press conferences, and arrests of all kinds will find their way into this collection.
This isn’t just focused on fighters, though; there are plenty of awkward situations that the company put themselves into, like sponsorship deals that ultimately took money out of the fighters pockets or banning media from their events. Even their early rules are a sight to see today, as fighters could actually attack their opponent's bean bags--but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Here are fifteen moments UFC wants you to forget.
29 Jon Jones And Daniel Cormier Media Brawl
Fighters love to hype their upcoming fights with plenty of banter and smack talk, that is usually squashed seconds after the fight is over with. That’s not so much the case between Jones and Cormier as these two seem to have a genuine dislike for each other. This has been seen though a number of intense interviews and when the two met up at a promotional event for their UFC 178 fight.
The two men went meant to do a stare down for the media and instead Jones pushed his forehead against Cormier, causing Cormier to shove back. Jones then charged, tossing UFC VP of Public Relations Dave Sholler aside, causing the entire backdrop to come crashing down. Jones and Cormier tussled off the stage, while a ridiculous amount of people get sucked into the fray, eventually the two men were separated. Afterwards, the fight was canceled when Jones pulled out with an injury, the two met at UFC 182 where Jones won by decision.
27 Brock’s Post-Fight Speech
In what should be one UFC’s crowning moments, Brock Lesnar went a bit off the deep end after defeating Frank Mir in the main event of UFC 100. The crowd had booed Brock at times during the fight and his response was to flick off the entire crowd before going into his strange tirade with Joe Rogan after the fight.
“Frank Mir had a horseshoe up his a**. I told him a year ago. I pulled it out of him and I beat him over the head with it” was just the beginning as he then went after one of UFC’s biggest sponsors. “I'm going to drink a Coors Light. That's right a Coors. Bud Light don't pay me nothing." Clearly, Lesnar was just in the moment saying whatever hit his mind, but Dana White was none too pleased. By the time Brock got to the press conference after the show, he was already apologizing for what he said.
25 Low Blows
In the early days, UFC used the tagline “There are no rules!” and while that was almost true, UFC did outright ban biting and eye-gouging, clearly neither of those took much skill to do and would have made the sport look that much more barbaric. Amazingly, shots to the groin were not banned, although they were “frowned upon” by the company. Most competitors stayed away from this tactic as it didn’t bring much honor to whichever style they were practicing.
There were a few times when shots to the bean bags occurred but none more obvious than when Keith Hackney (a fighter who had no problem stretching the rules) went to town on Joe Son’s boys. While stuck in a guillotine choke, Hackney felt the only way to get out was to repeatedly punch Son in the nuts over and over again, until he finally released the hold. Hackney eventually won the fight, which was his last victory after losing twice more and retiring from MMA. Joe Son is currently serving a life term for assault, torture, and murder (he killed his cell mate soon after being sentenced to prison).
23 War Machine
First off, the guy’s name is War Machine, no it’s not his nickname, it’s his actual name that he legally changed back in 2008. Mr. Machine came to the UFC through their Ultimate Fighter show where he didn’t win, but made a big enough impression that he received a shot with the company later on. To be fair, out of his 19 fights, only two took place with UFC, but what happened is still embarrassing to any company that employed this psycho.
While still in MMA, War decided to get into the adult films business and was romantically linked with fellow porn star, Christy Mack. In 2014, he attacked both Mack and her associate Corey Thomas in brutal fashion where Mack suffered numerous injuries including 18 broken bones, missing teeth, and a ruptured liver. War is currently in prison still awaiting trial (which is set for early 2017) for his crimes. Since entering the prison system, War attempted suicide by strangling himself with linen sheets tied to his bunk bed.
21 On A Rampage
If you’re thinking about only drinking energy drinks and not sleeping or eating for four days, let this story be a deterrent for you. For whatever reason Jackson did just this and ended up getting behind the wheel of his lifted Ford F-350 that also had his name plastered along the side of it. During his joyride, he ended up hitting a number of other vehicles, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving on the sidewalk, and leading a number of cops on a chase. One of the people he hit was a pregnant woman, who later filed a civil suit against Jackson because she lost her baby soon afterwards. Later, it was found that the stillbirth was not due to the accident and her lawsuit was dismissed.
For Jackson, he was charged with a number of felony and misdemeanor counts that could have landed him in prison for up to three years. He was able to get a plea deal that eventually got all of his charges dismissed a year later, so he basically did some community service and was on probation for his crimes. Since this incident, Jackson has gotten back to fighting for UFC and Bellator (winning his last five fights), while also making some appearances for TNA Wrestling.
19 Mayhem Miller
With a nickname like “Mayhem” Miller has sure done his best to live up to the name with numerous arrested over the past five years. With only three out of his thirty-nine fights under the UFC banner (losing all three), he has always been a loose cannon in both his personal and professional life. Dana White publicly fired Miller after his last UFC fight due to “backstage antics,” apparently Miller was trying to walk-out to his fight wearing a gas mask and colorful paper bag.
Since 2012, his arrests include: breaking into a church (while naked), domestic abuse, a five-hour standoff with cops (to which he gave updates, via his Twitter account), assaulting police officers, and attacking a woman outside a bar (while spitting on the arresting officers). The most recent was in July of 2016, but going by his Instagram account, it looks like he’s trying to clean up his act and get back to teaching others MMA.
17 Art Jimmerson
No, that man didn’t lose one of his boxing gloves, he actually came out to the fight against Royce Gracie (of all people!) with just one boxing glove. Even though it looks incredibly goofy, Art had a good reason to do this since he was a professional boxer and didn’t want to hurt his jab hand in a MMA fight. Yes, back in the early days of UFC, fighters could come out with bare hands and fight just like that; those days are long over now though.
Gracie ended up taking Jimmerson to the ground two minutes into the first round and submitting him in quick fashion. This would be Art’s only MMA fight as he went back to boxing where he built up to a respectable 32-7 record. His career quickly took a nose dive as he went 1-11 over his next twelve fighters to finish 33-18 in 2002.
15 Chael Sonnen’s Bad Decisions
In what will go down as one of UFC’s finest fights, Anderson Silva was able to make an incredibly comeback win against Chael Sonnen. Unfortunately, the results was soured when Sonnen failed his post-fight test with an illegal testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio that was four times higher than what’s allowed for the fighters. He was fined $2,500, suspended for one year (it ended up being 9 months) from fighting, and his rematch against Silva was cancelled.
While suspended, the rain continued to pour when Sonnen plead guilty to money laundering connected to real estate sales. While he initially could have faced up to 20 years in prison, he was able to give information on others involved in the fraud investigation, bringing his penalty down to losing his Realtor’s license, two year probation, and paying a $10,000 fine. Sonnen again failed a random drug test in 2014 (his third overall) with presence of Human Growth Hormone, he announced his retirement from fighting altogether soon after. He’s gone on to become an MMA analyst and broadcast announcer for other fighting promotions.
13 Fighter Backlash From UFC/Reebok Deal
Since UFC was sold off for $4 billion, it was clear that their deal with Reebok was a way to bring the promotion into the big leagues with standard “uniforms” for their fighters. Previously, fighters could go out and get all the sponsors they wanted, usually wearing logos of the different companies. UFC was looking to drop this mishmash of companies across their fighter’s shorts, guess they didn’t like “Condom Depot” splashed across the backside of their fighters.
Instead, all of this was dropped and standard uniforms were made by Reebok, most fighters absolutely hate the changes. Basically, a fight tier system was setup where if a guy had 1 to 5 fights with UFC (or WEC/Strikeforce) they would receive $2,500 from the Reebok sponsorship. Not to get too deep in the weeds, but this is chump change for fighters who need much more to train appropriately. A number of fighters have stated they went from making six-figures from sponsorships to only $10-$20k after this deal went though. Reebok has said UFC decides on how the money is spent, while UFC basically dares fighters to go elsewhere, as they have a choke hold on the MMA universe.
11 Nipple Pinching Insanity
Apologies for the imagery, but you have to get a sense of how annoying this was when a number of fighters would do this pre-fight tradition. Apparently, GSP read in a book that Roman soldiers would do this for good luck before heading off to battle. Sure enough, before each of his matches, GSP would do it and the camera seemed to catch it every single time.
This virus then spread to the other Team Jackson members that he trained with including: Rashad Evans and Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine (that’s the guy above). Jardine was particularly creepy as he was not only one ugly looking dude, but he would smile and wink at the camera while doing it! With GSP seemingly gone from MMA (even though he has asked for a few dream fights) the weird tradition is no longer around, not that anyone is complaining.
9 UFC's Supernova
Jon Jones is 22-1 (the only loss coming from an illegal blow and subsequent bad reffing) and is already one of the greatest fighters to ever live, yet, he cannot stay out of legal trouble. In 2012, he crashed his Bentley into a pole and was arrested for driving under the influence. Jones failed a drug test with cocaine in his system and also has a hit-and-run to his name when he ran a red light, hitting two other cars, then running away from the scene. Most recently, he tested positive for clomiphene just before his UFC 200 fight against Daniel Cormier, which forced UFC to bring in Anderson Silva to take his place. Dana was so mad, he refused to talk to Jones and if the doping violation is upheld Jones could be gone for two years.
Aside from his legal problems, Jones was due to fight Dan Henderson, who had to be replaced at the last second by Chael Sonnen, to which Jones pulled out of the fight completely. This ended up getting the entire UFC 151 card cancelled because they didn’t have a sufficient main event. Dana White called it “one of the most selfish, disgusting decisions” as it affected a number of other fighters, sponsors, cable distributors, and, of course, the fans.
7 The Early Days
It’s amazing UFC is still around today after seeing how brutal their early fights were. Fighters couldn’t bite/eye-gouge, but they could still pull hair, use groin strikes, head-butts, punch the back of the head, and kick an opponent in the head when they were grounded. They also did tournaments back then so guys wouldn’t fight just once in a night, but up to three times before winning the tournament. Plus, there were no weight classes back then, so fans could see a 200 pound fighter take on a 600 pound fighter!
If you are a fan of rounds, well forget about those too, fights would just go on and on until there was a winner or they reach the twenty or thirty time limit (depending on the fight). At UFC 5, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought for 36 minutes and it ended in a draw (which was due to there not being any judges!), there was just no way this format could last. It almost didn’t either, as states began banning the promotion one by one, UFC was forced to evolve or go out of business.
5 Banning A Member Of The Media
When news broke that Brock Lesnar would be returning to the UFC to be on their massive UFC 200 card, it came via MMA Journalist Ariel Helwani, rather than the promotion video UFC had planned to use during their UFC 199 PPV. Dana was beyond pissed that the news came out early and ended up throwing Helwani (and two of his associates) out of the building before the show was even over. Helwani was also informed he was banned for life from the UFC, which sent the internet on a crusade to help out one of their most beloved MMA writers.
This wasn’t the first time UFC banned media members as Jonathan Snowden, Loretta Hunt, and Josh Gross (among others) all received the same treatment, but this one got the fans and other media people in such a rage that UFC had to rethink their stance. Days later, UFC rescinded their ban on Helwani, allowing him to cover the events in person yet again. To be clear, UFC has always wanted to control the narrative and has never been very kind to media members who don’t just shill out exactly what UFC wants public. Maybe this incident will change their stance, probably not though.
3 A Boxer Gets Signed
Making a career in boxing, James Toney had a sit-down with Dana White where he was able to sign a multi-fight deal with the UFC at forty-two years old. Eight months after signing, he went up against forty-seven year old Randy Couture at UFC 118. Couture was able to takedown Toney fifteen seconds into the first round and minutes later lock in an arm-triangle choke for the win. Even though he was expected to fight again, Toney was released from his contract soon afterwards.
Toney talked a good game that got plenty of fans interested in the fight, but ultimately he didn’t have the all-around skills to handle even an older MMA fighter like Couture. It was a bit of a circus fight that hearkened back to the older UFC days. Couture had one more fight against Lyoto Machida (losing via jumping front kick) before he retired from MMA competition. Toney went back to boxing and still competes from time to time with a record of 76-10-3.
1 Post-Fight Cheap Shot
At UFC 113, Paul Daley was set to fight Josh Koscheck with the winner going against Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre. While Koscheck used his amateur wrestling background to keep his opponents grounded, Daley was very much a striker who preferred to knock out his opponents. Koscheck’s skills were too much as he neutralized Daley for all three rounds, talking trash along the way.
Once the final bell hit, Daley ended up throwing a sucker punch, hitting his opponent right in the face. Giant-sized referee, Dan Miragliotta, quickly snared Daley up against the cage and instantly starting yelling at him for his actions. After the event, Dana White let the media know Daley would be banned for life from the UFC, which has held up thus far. Daley (38-14-2) went on to fight in numerous other promotions, while Koscheck took a nasty five round beating from GSP, never recovering to his original form.