''No wonder he is so stupid, with the amount of times he's been punched/kicked/choked''. We all love to make jokes about MMA fighters being dumb as a rock after some comments made to the media or after some post-fight interviews. Some of the most common fighters that get made fun of are the Diaz brothers, for example, due to their inability to properly express themselves during interviews.
Furthermore, MMA is a fairly new sport, and is still largely criticized by politicians and media. Terms like ''human cockfighting'' are commonly used, making MMA seem like a savage spectacle rather than a professional sport. Thus is created the stereotype of the ''meathead fighter'' commonly referred to by MMA protesters.
By selling PPVs and marketing their fights, organizations such as the UFC are giving their fans a reason to order the event and to follow their favorite fighters, but are also helping in reinforce the meathead fighter stereotype. Take, for example, the UFC 194 promo: for the fans, this is a much anticipated event with lots of tension and a belt at stake. For opponents of MMA, this is merely two savages screaming death threats at each other.
However, not all fighters fit into this stereotype, with some being quite the opposite. With many fighters coming from a wrestling background that they picked up in university, it is no surprise that many MMA competitors are in fact quite educated and do have career plans after retirement. Here is a list of the top 15 smartest fighters in MMA outside of the cage:
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15 Rich Franklin
If you've ever seen videos of Franklin explaining fighting concepts or have been lucky enough to attend a seminar given by the former UFC champion, you know that he is extremely good at explaining techniques and helping fighters reach their full potential. Therefore, it is probably no coincidence that Franklin has a masters degree in education, as well as a bachelors degree in mathematics. In fact, before transitioning to being a professional fighter, Franklin was a math teacher.
14 Jeff Monson
Here is a question, and try to answer honestly: if you were a parent concerned about your child's well-being, would you leave him alone in a room with Monson, the giant tattooed anarchist that looks like he can crush your head with a finger? Come on, answer honestly. Well, it just so happens that Monson, apart from being a world-class grappler and MMA fighter, also has a bachelors and a masters degree in psychology. He also used to work as a child counselor and as a family counselor in his spare time.
13 Mirko Filipovic
Filipovic's career began as a Croatian Special Forces Police officer. When a special forces police officer makes a transition to MMA, this may not be too spectacular: after all, the officer would already be in shape and have some basic combat knowledge. When a politician transitions to MMA however, this can be quite interesting. In fact, right before the won the Pride FC tournament, Cro Cop was elected to the fifth assembly of the Croatian Parliament, representing the capital city of Zagreb.
12 Nick Denis
Denis retired from MMA in 2012, and has never really had much of a talent for pure violence. Even his nickname was "the ninja of love": scary, right? Before trying his luck in MMA, Nick Denis was a doctoral student in biochemistry. Now, he runs his own blog. Anyone wants to guess what the blog is called? That's right, The Loving Ninja. Anyone wants to guess what's the tagline? "Let's think about everything". And if you don't have at least a basic understanding on science, don't bother reading it.
11 Shane Carwin
Shane Carwin has always been somewhat of a jock his whole life: in college, he became the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Champion, and if that wasn't enough, he also played football at the collegiate level. But all this time in sports has not stopped him in getting not one, but two degrees: a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering as well as another bachelor's degree in environmental technology. Looks like Carwin didn't have much spare time while he was in college.
10 Peggy Morgan
If you ever read blog posts put up by former The Ultimate Fighter contestants, you may have realized how little sense they make. Fighters are not writers after all, and simply run their blogs to pass the time. However, Peggy Morgan's blog is interesting, coherent, and insightful. This is mainly because she is an adjunct literature and composition professor at Southern New Hampshire University. Yeah, she can beat you up and then write a best-seller about it.
9 Tor Troeng
This European fighter is still little-known in the UFC, but is quite popular in the math community of Sweden. In fact, he is a project assistant in mathematics and in mathematical statistics at Umea University. Now, for those of you who care what Troeng is actually researching or want to know his specialization, brace yourselves: frequency response analysis using component mode synthesis. Yeah.
8 Chael Sonnen
Okay when I talk about Chael, I don't ONLY mean his smart comebacks and trash-talk, though he does have that too. But did you ever wonder how Sonnen sells his fights so well? A sales background perhaps? Yeah, Sonnen used to be a real estate broker. And if that was not enough, he also tried a career in politics, becoming a former Oregon State Senate Candidate. Too bad politics and trash-talking are two different things.
7 Terry Martin
This guy has quite a fascinating story. Growing up in a bad neighborhood, Martin got involved in drugs since a young age. At 15, he got shot and nearly killed from a drive-by shooting. In the years that followed, he obtained a master's degree in clinical psychology (and is currently working on his doctorate). More impressively, he made it out of his tragic childhood by becoming an accomplished MMA fighter, who competed in the UFC during its early days.
6 Carlos Newton
Here is another man that, by the looks of him, does not scream higher education. However, Newton is fluent in several languages including Japanese, and has had quite a career after this retirement from MMA. At first, Newton was working on a medical degree in geriatric medicine, but decided to switch his focus. He now works as an architect, drawing buildings instead of beating up people inside a cage. If he were to go back into MMA, the 'Architect of Destruction' would make an awesome nickname.
5 Sam Hoger
This former Ultimate Fighter contestant has always had an entrepreneurial mind. Sam Hoger first earned his political science bachelor's degree at Louisiana State University, but that was not enough: he decided to leave his mark in the school by creating the college's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club. He then received his master's degree in business administration, and decided to follow his talent for entrepreneurship but opening and MMA training center in Texas.
4 Takeya Mizugaki
Although he may not have degrees that are as fancy or as elaborate as the other fighters on this list, Mizugaki takes the no.4 spot because he has been competing in Shooto and MMA professionally since BEFORE graduating college. The hours of training he has put into his career while studying did not stop him from graduating with a master's degree in electrical engineering from Kanto Gakuin University.
3 John Cholish
John Cholish is now retired from MMA after suffering two consecutive losses to top-level fighters Danny Castillo and Gleison Tibau. However, his retirement is not an obstacle to his future career, as John Cholish also happens to be a Wall Street commodities trader. When he is not under the stress of cutting weight and preparing for a fight, he has to deal with the constant stress of stock market economics: sounds like quite an intense life.
2 Jake Butler
This ONE FC veteran has been on quite an impressive streak since he started MMA. However, Butler holds a degree in economics and worked with a large Wall Street equities firm for two years. After these two years, Butler realized that his true passion lied in fighting: he traded his high-pay, high-benefits job in order to compete in ONE FC, making a lot less money but following his dreams.
1 Rosi Sexton
First of all Rosi Sexton has TWO black belts: one in Jiu-Jitsu, and another in Taekwondo. She also went to Cambridge University and earned a degree in in mathematics, and then continued her education by receiving a PhD in theoretical computer science from Manchester University. Degrees aside, Sexton has solidified her career as an MMA fighter, but also has a successful practice in osteopathy.
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