Let's face it: when your job consists of beating people up for a living, it is easy to become a cocky and arrogant person. Many athletes also become disrespectful after tasting fame and money: think of Jon Jones, whose career just went downhill after he has virtually cleared out all of his division. Furthermore, trash-talking sells: the biggest and highest-paid martial artists in the world sell their fights with trash-talk and arrogance. However, traditional martial arts have always been based around the values of respect, humility, discipline, and integrity. These values were respected by nearly all martial artists back in the Pride FC days. The fighters always respected each other before and after their fights, and fans sat in their seats in absolute silence without uttering a single boo or cheer until the fight was over. But, as the sport grows and gains popularity, it tends to stray away from its roots. Fighters refuse to touch gloves and insult each other, do not shake hands after the fight, and use dirty moves inside the cage. MMA fans have also become quite rude and arrogant: they insult fighters over the internet, boo athletes for what they consider a "boring" performance, and give virtually no credit for the hard work and dedication that athletes put into their art.
However, not all fighters have forgotten the values and principles behind martial arts. Some still show the qualities and attributes of true martial artists, and help grow the sport as well as their own community. Here is a list of the most humble and respectful men inside and outside of the cage:
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15 Anthony Johnson
Okay, before you get mad at me and start a war over the internet, I want to say that I have ONLY included Rumble in this list for his humility and attitude INSIDE the Octagon. Let's put aside the different accusations and Twitter posts that appeared throughout the years and focus on Anthony Johnson's performance. Even when he was scheduled to fight Jon Jones, the man who seems to never get out of controversy, Rumble was respectful and grateful to the champion. When Jones got arrested and Rumble lost his title shot, he still wished the former champion the best of luck in his personal issues and moved on without the slightest sign of disrespect.
14 John Dodson
Again, let's leave aside his recent rematch against Demetrious Johnson. Mighty Mouse has always been a great guy inside and outside of the cage. He is great with his family and is always willing to talk to fans and reporters. In fact, only days before his title fight with Mighty Mouse, he flew back home for the birth of his daughter and spent some quality time with his family. Always smiling, Dodson never really had a serious moment during the media conferences and the staredowns leading up to his fights.
13 Junior Dos Santos
Junior Dos Santos is without a doubt one of the scariest looking guys in MMA. Personally, I would not want to be standing on the other side of the octagon when he does his signature finger point of death during introductions. When the fight is over however, no matter who the winner is, he is always the first one to come see his opponent, hug it out, and congratulate them.
Outside of competition, he is always smiling, laughing, and talking to everyone. He is always so excited to meet his fans, and talks to everyone in a respectful manner. If you are a fan of Junior and one day have the opportunity to talk or even train with him, he is the kind of guy that will never turn you down. Junior has also done a lot for the children in his community, and is definitely a model for many aspiring martial artists.
12 Uriah Hall
Uriah Hall is a guy who, although he loves competing in MMA more than anything else, does not like hurting people. After winning a fight, Hall dances around and celebrates for a little bit, but then his facial expression starts to change: it becomes filled with sadness and regret, and he begins apologizing several times. This was most obvious in his Ultimate Fighter fight against Adam Cella, where Hall was constantly apologizing. In an interview about this fight, Uriah Hall said "I really thought I killed him". He claimed that right after the knockout, he kept thinking about his future, wondering whether he will go to jail or not.
11 Sam Alvey
Nicknamed "Smiling Sam" for a reason, we have yet to see Sam Alvey's face without a smile on it. Sam is happy when he talks, he is happy when he is cutting weight, he is happy during his fight and he is happy at the end, win or lose. It's quite interesting to watch a man getting punched in the face repeatedly while having a big smile on his face. Sam was also on The Ultimate Fighter season 16, and throughout the whole show, never trash-talked anyone. Not participating in trash-talk is especially difficult when you have to live in the same house as your opponents for several weeks.
10 Brian Stann
Both inside and outside of the octagon, Stann is a role-model for aspiring martial-artist. After serving for the U.S. Military for many years, he kept his respectful attitude when making the transition to MMA. His humility was best shown after his fight with Wanderlei Silva, considered by some as one of the best fights of all time. Stann is also a great guy outside of the octagon, and is the president and CEO of Hire Heroes USA, a non-profit organization aimed at helping retired military veterans.
9 Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson is definitely one of the most humble and respectful fighters towards his fans and his opponents. He does not hesitate to point of the strengths of his opponents, and praise them for their achievements. When talking to his fans and giving seminars, Dan is always answering questions, giving tips, and revealing his whole game plan to anyone who asks. Oh and he has a collection of free wrestling and striking techniques on Youtube, while others are charging over 60$ for collection DVDs.
8 Fabricio Werdum
It has been announced a few months back that Fedor Emilianenko, who has previously been defeated by Werdum, will be making his return to MMA on New Year's Eve. Since that time, Fabricio's social media accounts have been attacked and spammed by a flurry of fans, telling him his win over Fedor was a fluke and that he would be defeated in a rematch. Unlike other UFC superstars, Werdum kept a champion's attitude, respected the fans' opinions, and never said a single hateful word. If anything, all he did is practice his trollface in front of his computer.
7 Fedor Emilianenko
Unlike his brother who has ended up in jail quite a few times, Fedor has always been a quiet and respectful guy. Last year, The Last Emperor ran a seminar in Ottawa, Canada, where, before showing any techniques, he gave a 20 minute speech about the importance of respect and humbleness in martial arts. Leaving his murder face aside, Fedor has never trash talked any of his opponents, and has been the most respectful guy both before and after his bouts.
6 Joe Lauzon
Lauzon recently fought Takanori Gomi and, after beating him up for quite a few minutes, simply got up and walked away, stopping his own fight. After a few seconds of confusion, Herb Dean finally decided to officially wave off the fight. During the post-fight interview, Lauzon said that "Gomi is a legend" and was very humble and respectful. Joe Lauzon has also appeared in Metamoris, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu promotion where, even though he lost his bout, complimented his opponent and remained humble.
5 Clay Guida
An overall fan favorite, Guida leaves it all in the octagon every single time he steps in there. He is definitely a scary fighter inside of the cage, but is an overall very nice guy. Clay Guida is not only always smiling and respectful, he is also a very supportive and accepting person. In 2013, Guida participated in a Spartan Race, and purposely stayed at the end of the race to cheer on and encourage the other participants. When the race was over, Guida personally complimented the participants, saying that he admired their determination and toughness.
4 Demian Maia
Demian Maia is without a doubt one of the most dangerous and accomplished Jiu-Jitsu artists in MMA. Maia once said that “a lot of jiu-jitsu is based around the idea of not hurting people. Jiu-jitsu gives people an option to tap or submit. The intention is not to hurt or punish the opponent. They are given a choice to stop that. That’s what I try and do in my fights. I try and represent jiu-jitsu to the best of my ability and to show the philosophy of the art. I don’t like to hurt people." This quote is probably the best way to explain why Demian Maia is one of the nicest fighters in MMA.
3 Lyoto Machida
Coming from a traditional Karate background, Lyoto Machida is a firm believer in the values of respect, honor, and integrity. After knocking down Mark Munoz with a perfectly placed kick, Machida did not jump on him to get the finish: he simply held him down and waited for the referee to stop the fight. At the end of the fight, after hugging him for several minutes, Machina bought his opponent a dinner that they then enjoyed together. Machida is also another competitor who has managed to reach the highest level of competition and become a world champion without talking trash to any of his opponents.
2 Georges St-Pierre
The only fighter who really managed to get GSP angry and make him trash talk was Nick Diaz. But come on, Nick Diaz can do this to anyone. Like Machida, GSP comes from a traditional martial arts background that is heavily based on respect. For some reason though, GSP has attracted, throughout his whole career, people who disrespected and trash talked him in every way possible. St-Pierre has never retaliated though: keeping quiet during media events and always staying humble, the former champion did his talking inside of the octagon.
1 Mark Munoz
Munoz is just one of those rare cases who has managed to retire from MMA with no enemies, no unsettled rivalries, and no controversies. He is a man that is great with his family: unlike other fighters, whose wives and kids have to beg them to retire from the sport for their own sake, Munoz promised his family to retire at 37 years old, and kept his promise. He never trash talked or put down his competitors, and has always remained humble in victory or defeat. The Philippino Wrecking Machine is also known for doing many things to help his community, such as starting and directing his own anti-bullying campaign.
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