Thanks to their partnership with Fox, UFC is able to put on a show nearly every week, which means a whole lot of weigh-ins occur for every single show. Sure, there are plenty of pre-taped hype, interviews, and media press conferences, but this is where each fighter gets to come face-to-face with their opponent and sometimes things can get out of hand.
Keep in mind, these guys are fresh off a weight cut that tends to absolutely drain their bodies during this time period. Most fighters just want to get weighed and get something to eat, they’re not in a mindset to do too much more than that. Every once in awhile though something happens like when Russian fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, wore a “If sambo was easy it would be called jiu-jitsu” shirt in (of all places) Sao Paulo, Brazil against Thiago Tavares. That obviously didn’t sit well with the live crowd, but that’s what this list is all about, weird situations arising during a fairly straight-forward event. Another honorable mention goes to Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier when instead of facing off they each stared in opposite directions (Cormier’s back to the audience), it looked like some strange indie rock album cover.
So, you want controversy? Well, we got everything including brawls, masks, middle fingers, even more funny shirts; here are the fifteen of the most controversial UFC weigh-ins!
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15 McGregor And Diaz - UFC 196
Starting out with the most recent weigh-in on the list, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz were set to go to war in UFC 196 after McGregor’s original opponent, Rafael dos Anjos, had to pull out due to injury (broken foot). UFC attempted to bring in Jose Aldo, who declined due to a lack of time to prepare for the fight; next up was Frankie Edgar who passed due to injury, as well.
Nate Diaz stepped up to fight the champion, and good thing he did because he ended up getting the win in the second round via a rear naked choke. At the weigh-in both men did a lot of talking, Dana White had to keep them separated, and Diaz sent a few middle fingers toward McGregor. A rematch was set at UFC 200 between these two, but McGregor thought he could strong arm the UFC by skipping media appearances leading up to the fight, UFC ended up cancelling the fight completely - whoops.
14 Joe Rogan Can’t Help Himself - UFC 168
Rogan first appeared with the UFC way back in 1997, so it's fair to say he’s seen just about everything when it comes to the fight game, that was until he got a front row seat to Ronda Rousey getting ready for her weigh-in. A savvy vet, Rogan does his best to not go full on stalker mode with Rousey, his eyes wandering to the ceiling on numerous occasions.
At one point, the color commentator sees someone off to the side and gives them a “bulging eye” look. It’s pretty funny to watch Rogan keep it professional, but with videos like this, he inevitably received some razzing from others. Eyes up, Rogan!
13 Silva And Sonnen - UFC 148
During their first weigh-in, Silva actually looked away from Sonnen, showing disrespect for the mouthy challenger. Their first fight was a classic battle that nearly saw Sonnen win a decision, but Silva was able to lock in a triangle armbar in the fifth round to get the tap.
For the rematch, Silva looked much more amped up to silence Sonnen, this time looking the challenger right in the eye, Silva got very close, throwing a shoulder right into Sonnen’s face, which Sonnen totally no-sold. Couple people jumped in, Steven Segal (who Silva loves) looked on sternly, and cooler heads prevailed. Silva went on to an easier win this time around winning by TKO in the second round.
12 Staring Woman - UFC Fight Night
Sometimes there’s controversy that doesn’t occur between fighters, trainers, or even Dana White; sometimes, it’s the people in the background that end up in the news, like “Woman in blue shirt.” Earlier this year this woman stood in the background and literally ogled every single guy that stripped down in front of her.
She obviously had no shame in her game as she stared without worry that cameras were totally recording her the entire time. She didn’t give the women quite the same treatment though, giving them “looks” more often than not. Interestingly enough, this spawned a bunch of articles about sexism: if guys are reprimanded for looking at women fighters, the same should go the other way around too. Woman in blue shirt hasn’t been seen since, she’s probably sitting on a bench somewhere… just staring.
11 Liddell And Silva - UFC 79
Here is the earliest weigh-in on the list between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva, two guys that never had a problem throwing absolute bombs in the octagon. The two men went face to face, Silva swaying side to side like usual, giving a head fake at Chuck just as the two are separated.
Chuck then gives Silva a lovely middle finger, causing Wandy to charge him, but getting cut off by a number of people, the two then jawed a little. Chuck was obviously not pleased with Silva trying to punk him out, not surprisingly these two went to war gaining not only “Fight of the Night,” but some pegged it as “Fight of the Year" in 2007. Chuck won via unanimous decision, but neither guy was a loser that night.
10 Arianny Celeste’s Reaction to Overeem - UFC 141
This event was for UFC 141 in 2011, at this point in her career Arianny had been doing this job for five years, so fair to say she was used to fighters coming up and getting weighed. That was until she laid eyes on the horse meat eatin’ mountain of a man, Alistair Overeem.
For the most part, Arianny has rarely reacted to fighters, aside from smiles or clapping at the appropriate times, but this guy get a legit “wow” out of her as she quickly remembered the cameras and toned it back down to keep it super professional. If you’re wondering, Overeem was fighting Brock Lesnar, who he beat in the first round.
9 Silva And Belfort - UFC 126
Before these two hooked up, Belfort was quoted as saying this about Silva:
“I just know one thing: When you say silly things, when you do silly things, it's because you're worried, and you're trying to wear a mask. The way I fight, and the way I am, I have respect. I just need to wear one mask: myself.”
As you can see, Silva heard those words and brought his white mask to the stare down, which is typically ranked as one of the most intense ever. Silva then removed the mask and started talking trash, Belfort returned fire and even though there was no scuffle, you could tell both men were extremely heated. Silva knocked out Belfort with a slick front kick and punches in the very first round.
8 The Tito Ortiz Shirt - UFC 84
Tito Ortiz has always been a fan of putting phrases on his shirts, partly to get attention on the fight and partly to get into his opponent’s head. This time around though he came out with a “Dana [White] is my b****” shirt for his UFC 84 fight against Loyto Machida.
Tito clearly had issues with Dana as he talked a lot of crap about the co-owner of the UFC as things led up to the event. Tito lost via decision to Machida and didn’t get another shot in the octagon until almost a year and a half later.
7 James Irvin - UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones
Irvin typically fought at Light Heavyweight (205 pounds), but after getting knocked out by Anderson Silva (who decided to give LH a shot) in the first round, someone in his camp had the bright idea of moving him down to Middleweight (185 pounds).
After tearing his meniscus twice, Irvin finally went up against Alessio Sakara; Sakara was able to win in the first round via TKO. As you can see in the pictures, Irvin looked insanely drained at the weigh-in, probably one of the worst ever. A move to Middleweight was obviously not a good decision, so back up a weight class he went for his next fight.
6 St. Pierre And Diaz - UFC 158
Now, you’re probably watching the video and thinking not really anything out of the ordinary here, little pose scuffle with Nick Diaz, but honestly when doesn’t he do that? No, instead the controversy here was that St. Pierre was actually a few decimals over the 170 weight limit. With non-title fights a 1 pound grace limit is allowed, but since this was for a title, the Diaz camp complained about the lack of clarity in the Quebec Commission’s rule book.
Some reports said he was .9 over while others said .4, either way they rounded down to 170 and the fight was on! Diaz ended up losing by decision (unanimous), then took almost two years off from fighting before taking on Anderson Silva, while nothing really came out of the weight controversy. After this fight, St. Pierre fought (and defeated via split decision) Johnny Hendrix before going on a long hiatus away from MMA.
5 Edwards And McKenzie - UFC Fight for the Troops 2
Controversy doesn’t always have to be serious, sometimes it can just be counter to the usual thing that’s suppose to occur, even if it’s humorous. As mentioned before, most fighters cutting weight are doing so at a lower weight class than they probably should. So, much of their time is spent in the sauna or working out hard to get that weight down.
In the case of Yves Edwards, he’s always had an easy time cutting weight to 155, so this time around he actually came out eating a bag of BBQ chips while getting weighed (until someone took the bag away while he was on the scale). He got them back and during the super serious stare down, he shared some with his opponent, Cody McKenzie. Edwards tapped McKenzie in the second round of the fight.
4 Rory Markham - UFC 95
For his fight against Dan Hardy, Markham had a particularly difficult time cutting weight; he was able to get down to 155, but ended up cramping so badly that he collapsed one of his lungs. Amazingly, it wasn’t known until a chest x-ray was taken after the fight.
Markham said it was the worst weight cuts he ever experienced, and he paid for it by losing the fight. He went up against Nick Diaz in his next fight and came in seven pounds over; he lost that fight too and was released soon after from UFC. Markham hasn’t fought since 2010.
3 Diaz And Penn - UFC 137
Nick Diaz just can’t help himself when it comes to these face-offs, everything starts out just fine between him and Penn, then Diaz dips his head into Penn’s head. Obviously, Penn pushes back and Dana immediately jumps in between the two fighters.
Compared to most of these entries, this one is fairly tame, but considering how big the names were, this was a fairly big deal. Receiving “Fight of the Night” honors these two went the distance with Diaz getting the decision (unanimous). Penn fought two more times after Diaz; after losing both fights, he took a hiatus from the UFC. He’s currently attempting a comeback in the Featherweight division, but has yet to fight in the division.
2 Rousey And Holm - UFC 193
People always pay attention when Ronda Rousey has a fight, but the upcoming fight against Holly Holm really got fans excited as she was someone who posed a true threat to the champion’s throne. At the weigh-in Rousey weighed in and rushed at Holm, causing Dana to hold her back, the two locked arms during the face off causing a brief scuffle.
Dana got between them again and Rousey starting jawing real hard at Holm until she was led back to the other side of the stage. Unfortunately for Rousey, she couldn’t back up all that talk, as Holm’s superior striking abilities were too much, Holm knocked out Rousey with a high kick, ending her title reign.
1 Jones And Cormier - Media Day Brawl
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat since it didn’t occur at a weigh-in but rather a media day event between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. To put it plainly, these two guys do not like each other, at all. In the video, Jones bumps heads with Cormier, Cormier pushes him back, and Jones charges while pushing UFC Director of Communication Dave Sholler out of the way, knocking down the background canvas.
A bunch of people get involved, with security trying to get control of the situation, Cormier even throws a kick at Jones at one point in the brawl. Jones went on to win via decision and the two will hook up again at UFC 200, hopefully this time they toss Dana White off the stage.
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