Being a professional mixed martial artist means being in the spotlight, for better or worse. Unlike non-combat athletes, mixed martial artists run the risk of being knocked unconscious in front of tens of thousands of people and having it broadcast to millions on TV or PPV.
When putting together this list, a few themes came to the forefront. The first noticeable trend that develops when one looks at lists of images that UFC fighters are embarrassed over is embarrassing knockouts. Even the best fighters in the world get knocked out cold in embarrassing fashion from time to time, and in fact when it is those fighters that get KOd it usually makes for some iconic photos.
Another trend that develops when a collection of embarrassing photos is assembled is that of embarrassing fight gear. On numerous occasions throughout the UFC’s young history, fighters have made some borderline ridiculous decisions regarding what they wear inside the octagon. While such decisions no doubt lead to much regret for the fighter, it also creates memorable and hilarious photographs for MMA fans to look at, collect, and laugh at (we’re looking at you Dennis Hallman).
Yet another trend that relates to embarrassing UFC photographs is when a fighter performs so poorly in the octagon that one has to wonder how they achieved enough success in the sport to make it to the UFC in the first place.
Of all the embarrassing photos that have been taken in the UFC’s history, here are the top 16.
16 Dennis Hallman Speedo
Before the days when Reebok would dictate what a fighter could and could not wear in the UFC, it was sort of like the wild west. Dennis Hallman really tested the limits of what would be allowed in the cage at UFC 133, when he fought Brian Ebersole while wearing a tiny blue speedo, complete with a logo on the front.
Hallman would later state that losing a bet was the reason he entered the octagon wearing such an odd and revealing outfit. After Ebersole defeated Hallman in the first round, he was given a performance of the night bonus by Dana White, with White stating the real reason he gave Ebersole the award was because he got Hallman out of the cage as soon as possible.
15 Kalib Starnes Runs Away from Nate Quarry
Kalib Starnes was cut from the UFC following this debacle of a performance at UFC 83. During his fight with Nate Quarry in Montreal, Starnes avoided his opponent at all cost, even appearing to lightly jog away from him on several occasions.
Quarry grew frustrated with his opponent during the bout and started to do the running man to mock Starnes for running away from him so much during the fight.
Starnes lost via unanimous decision, was loudly mocked by the MMA community, and cut from the UFC.
He has continued to fight, despite his UFC 83 performance being one of the most laughed at moments in mixed martial arts history.
14 Art Jimmerson with One Boxing Glove
Back when the first UFC was held, nobody really knew what to expect. Fighters from all different disciplines were asked to compete in a no rules tournament, and the fighters generally chose to stick with the martial art they were good at.
For Jimmerson it was boxing, and he was thinking that by wearing one boxing glove that he would be able to jab his opponent without damaging his hand. This would allow him to keep the fight at a distance he wanted. Or so he thought. The gloves also prevented him from grabbing his opponent and Royce Gracie easily defeated him.
If we are being honest here, he didn’t have a chance with or without the glove.
13 Chuck Liddell KO’d by Rashad Evans
He looked so peaceful lying there, completely oblivious to the fact that his career would never be the same again.
Liddell was coming off a victory over Wanderlei Silva when he faced Rashad Evans at UFC 88. The victory over Silva had many claiming that Liddell was back, after doubts regarding his abilities surfaced following back-to-back losses against Quinton Jackson and Keith Jardine.
Rashad landed a clean shot, Liddell’s lights went completely out and his body crumbled to the mat. Following this loss, knocking out Chuck Liddell became a lot easier for his opponents, as he was KOd in the first round in his next (and final) two fights.
12 Beat Up Frank Mir
This shot from UFC 100 is right after Brock Lesnar beat Frank Mir and just before Lesnar lost his mind during a post-fight interview.
Lesnar was amped up after avenging his previous loss to Mi, and he let lose in the cage after the ref stopped the fight. Lesnar flipped off the crowd that was booing him unmercifully, then got right up in Mir’s face as Mir was struggling just to get to his feet.
Then in his post-fight interview Lesnar ripped on everyone, including UFC sponsor Bud Light for “not paying him nothin’,’ before stating that he planned to get on top of his wife that night. It was quite a scene.
There’s no doubt that Frank Mir doesn’t like being associated with this image, especially considering he's had a borderline Hall of Fame worthy career.
11 Jon Jones' Mug Shot
It seems cliché to say that someone is their own worst enemy, but in the case of Jon Jones that is exactly the case. The only fight Jon Jones has been in that he wasn’t declared the victor was against Matt Hamill, when he was disqualified for illegal elbows after dominating the fight.
And even though Jon Jones never lost the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, he was stripped of the title following an incident that led to this mug shot.
Jones was charged with a hit-and-run after crashing his rental car into two vehicles and injuring a pregnant woman.
10 Mark Hominick Beat Up
Mark Hominick got to fight in his home country on one of the biggest mixed martial arts cards of all time and he put on a great show.
Hominick fought UFC featherweight Champion Jose Aldo for the title at UFC 129 in Toronto’s packed Rogers Centre. Hominick was beaten handily and lost a decision to Jose Aldo, but showed a lot of heart in the process.
While Hominick would come back in the later rounds, Aldo’s early onslaught is what led Hominick’s face to look like this.
9 Keith Jardine Tweaking His Nipples
Yes, that is a photo of Keith Jardine tweaking his own nipple. He wasn’t the only person to have tweaked his nipples just before a fight was set to begin, but he did look the creepiest of anyone who ever did it.
Rashad Evans saw Georges St-Pierre do it and decided to employ it himself, even licking his fingers before hand.
The theory that this technique was helpful seemed to ingrain itself within Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, though Jackson himself has stated he does not endorse it’s use.
8 Joe Son Punched in the Groin
In the early days of the UFC there were no rules and nobody is more aware of this than Joe Son.
At UFC 4, Keith Hackney defeated Joe Son via TKO due to legal groin strikes. Groin strikes were legal back then, so Hackney reared back and let Joe Son’s groin region have it.
Joe Son probably doesn’t want people to remember him by these images, but nobody should really feel bad for him. In 2008, Joe Son was sentenced to life in prison for torture and murder, stemming from an incident that occurred in 1990. Son was discovered to have been responsible for the crime when DNA he provided after his 2008 conviction for vandalism linked him to the scene.
7 Conor Tapping
Conor McGregor looked to be unstoppable heading into his UFC 196 fight with Nate Diaz. Originally Conor was scheduled to challenge Rafael dos Anjos for the Lightweight title, but when a foot injury prevented RDS from making the fight, Nate Diaz was brought in as a replacement.
The fight started great for Conor, with him finding a home on Diaz’s chin repeatedly. The problem is that Conor would normally knock opponents out with the shots he was hitting Diaz with and once Conor realized he couldn’t KO Diaz, the momentum of the fight changed.
Conor tried to take Diaz down, but Diaz is a black belt in jiu jitsu and had Conor’s back in no time.
Time must have froze for Conor, and probably for Dana White as well, during the moment shown here when Nate Diaz ended the first chapter in the Conor McGregor show by forcing him to tap.
6 Did Bethe Correia Have An Accident?
Whether Bethe Correia did or did not literally get the crap beaten out of her by Ronda Rousey is a legitimate debate that two people can have with one another should they be so inclined.
Rousey pummeled Correia badly when Correia challenged Rousey for her women’s Bantamweight Championship at UFC 190.
Recently, the UFC’s women’s Bantamweight division has been busted wide open but not too long ago the division was purely the Ronda Rousey show. Ronda regularly made short work of her opponents and she did the same to Correia, knocking her out in under a minute.
Then these photos started to come in that seemed to show a stain coming from the back part of Correia’s nice white Reebok shorts, with many believing this to be evidence that Rousey literally beat the crap out of her.
Some have denied this and they may have good explanations for why the above scenario is not what took place, but isn’t it more fun to believe Rousey’s punches are just that powerful?
5 Rashad Evans Having a Nap After Losing to Machida
At UFC 98, Rashad Evans took a little nap and when he woke up Lyoto Machida was the new Light Heavyweight Champion.
Evans, who was responsible for the most devastating knockout that Chuck Liddell was ever on the receiving end of, had karma come around and bite him on this one. After making Liddell’s body go limp and fall to the mat in animated fashion, Lyoto Machida did the exact same thing to him.
Evans crumpled up against the octagon cage, with not a single light left on in his home.
Evans wouldn’t let the knockout loss affect him moving forward, as he went on a four fight winning streak before losing in a championship match against Jon Jones.
4 Matt Mitrione Eye Injury
Matt Mitrione has never been a very handsome guy, but he normally looks better than this. That disgusting bulb-like thing attached to Mitrione’s head is the result of a broken orbital bone he suffered in his January 2016 loss to Travis Browne.
Browne ended the fight late in the third round and most likely earned himself some praise from UFC brass. Matt Mitrione’s contract was up after the fight and he was off to rival MMA promotion Bellator, so Mitrione getting beaten up so badly on his last fight for the promotion sort of prevents Bellator from saying they stole one of the UFC’s top heavyweights.
Mitrione has yet to fight for Bellator, but Travis Browne was rewarded with a spot on the UFC 200 card, fighting opposite former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.
3 Belfort Kicked in the Face
Vitor Belfort had been a professional mixed martial artist for 15 years when Anderson Silva kicked him in the face and defeated him at UFC 126.
Belfort had won a UFC heavyweight tournament, was a former Light Heavyweight Champion and was on a five-fight winning streak heading into his bout with Anderson Silva. He must have felt as though he had finally clawed his way back to the top of a UFC division.
And then, in a minute and a half, it was over. A front kick by Silva landed squarely on Belfort’s chin and there was no amount of PEDs in the world that could save Vitor from losing the fight once the kick landed.
2 Bruised and Battered Georges St. Pierre
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but GSP actually won his fight against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
During the fight, Hendricks would easily take GSP down and ground and pound him, yet the judges controversially awarded the fight to GSP via split decision. Some argue that GSP did in fact win three of the five rounds, but was beaten so badly during the two he lost that most fans lost sight of this.
The real story of this fight, however, is the one that happened in the drug-testing labs beforehand. GSP had grown frustrated with rampant PED use in the sport and offered to pay for additional drug testing for both he and Hendricks leading into the fight, however Hendricks did not want to be tested by the organization that GSP wanted him to be tested by. How much of a role GSP’s frustrations with PED use in MMA played in his decision to step away from the sport following this fight is unclear. Now with new and stricter drug testing policies in place, it seems that GSP might now be ready to return later in 2016.
1 Ronda Rousey Kicked in the Face
What Ronda Rousey has done for the sport of women’s mixed martial arts is incredible. A true pioneer for her sport, Rousey has shown that women can headline pay-per-views, can sell out arenas, and can be bigger stars than the men. Holly Holm has proven that nobody is invincible.
Nobody really gave Holly Holm a chance heading into her UFC 193 title fight with Rousey, and when Holm came out the winner, it was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
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