Mixed martial arts can be a risky profession. Unlike in other sports, when you lose in MMA, you also get beaten up in front of a live audience. It’s a sport where the athlete must really put themselves out there, knowing they could be thoroughly embarrassed in epic fashion at any moment.
Unfortunately for the fighters we cover in this article, not only were they embarrassed in epic fashion, it was caught on camera to forever be immortalized in time. That MMA has come into its own during the same period as social media is really a blessing for fans and a curse for fighters. Getting KO’d in a bout now means you could become a meme or GIF for years afterwards. There’s certainly a few cases of that in this article.
It’s not only bad fighters who made this list, though. In fact, some of the best fighters in the history of the sport have been embarrassed enough at one point or another in their career that they ended up in this article. That is one of the more unique parts about the sport after all; everyone gets embarrassed eventually at some point in their career.
Here are 20 embarrassing pics involving MMA fighters.
20. Anderson Silva And Chris Weidman: Poorly Executed Stare-down
Chris Weidman didn’t want to back down from Anderson Silva, but by the time this stare down was over he probably wished he had. This photo was snapped at the UFC 162 weigh-ins, the day before their first fight. Perhaps Silva wanted to get into Weidman’s head a little, because when the two fighters faced off Silva tried to squish his mouth up as tightly as he could against Weidman’s.
It was a weird face-off to go along with a weird couple of fights the two had. Weidman would knock out Silva at UFC 162 to win the middleweight title and end Silva’s 10-fight title defence streak. Many felt Weidman was only able to catch Silva due to the latter’s clowning around in the bout at the time. Weidman would also win the rematch at UFC 168, after Silva’s leg was broken by a checked kick.
19. CM Punk’s Face After His First (And Only) Fight
Former WWE Champion Phil “CM Punk” Brooks is not a mixed martial artist by trade. He decided he wanted to be one, however, and since he is someone fans would pay to see, the UFC signed him. He can be seen above mentally coming to grips with the fact that he is not a fighter, even if he really wants to be.
Good on the guy for deciding he was going to take a chance and get into the cage. He shouldn’t have fought in the UFC, however, as that promotion is supposed to be for the best, and he is far from that. In fact, Punk is about as far from the best as a professional fighter could possibly be.
18. Matt Mitrione’s Eye Injury
This beautifully snapped photo perfectly caught Matt Mitrione’s frightened reaction to what was happening to his own face. During a bout with Ronda Rousey’s fiancee Travis Browne in January of 2016, Mitrione took repeated eye pokes, which hampered his ability to see. He also took some clean punches to the eye which broke his orbital bone. It was his last fight in the UFC.
Mitrione dropped the fight to Browne in the 3rd round, though how the bout would have gone without the two eye pokes is a source of contention. The shots which caused his massive eye injury were clean, however, at least according to Dana White at the post-fight press conference.
17. Matt Hughes Trolls Frank Trigg
Matt Hughes knows that even when it comes to trash talking, a picture says a thousand words. Things got heated in the rivalry between Hughes and Trigg, who fought twice, first at UFC 45 and then again at UFC 52.
The rivalry got a little mean-spirited, with Trigg’s cockiness clearly getting to Hughes. Evidently, Hughes found some photos Trigg posed for that were sexual in nature. Naturally he decided to share them with the world.
Hughes simply posed for a picture holding up Frank Trigg’s photo spread. The smile on Hughes’ face says more than any trash-talking ever could.
Not that there is anything wrong with Trigg posing for such magazines, but Hughes trolling him for it in the way that he did was pretty hilarious.
16. Mike Goldberg Photobombs UFC Event Weeks After Leaving Company
Literally 15 days after UFC opted not to renew his contract following a 20-year career with the company, cameras caught former UFC commentator Mike Goldberg just hanging out in the crowd at UFC Fight Night 103.
Those who saw it live must have thought it was some strange joke the UFC was playing. It was as if Mike Goldberg had lost his commentating job but they were still giving him tickets to sit in the crowd or something.
Turns out Goldberg had wanted to go to the event to support BJ Penn, who was fighting in the main event that night. Goldberg had been sitting in a box but decided he wanted to be in the crowd for the main event. The cameras just randomly happened to film his section (without knowing he was there), so Goldberg flashed them the old “shaka brah” sign and let things get weird.
15. Dennis Hallman: Speedo in the Octagon
At UFC 133, Dennis Hallman wore a tiny blue Speedo into the cage. He would later explain his actions by stating he lost a bet. He also lost this fight, to Brian Ebersole, via TKO in the 1st round. Dana White would give Ebersole a bonus for ending the bout quickly and getting Hallman off of people’s screens as soon as possible.
White would later state he was more upset with company officials who allowed Hallman to go into the cage with such limited fight gear.
You can’t blame Hallman for taking a more relaxed attitude to fighting at this point in his career, this was his 67th pro fight. It would be his second to the last in the UFC. He was cut from the roster after missing weight twice in a row in 2011.
14. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Leads Police On Pursuit
Less than two weeks after losing the UFC light heavyweight championship to Forrest Griffin, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson led police on a dangerous pursuit around the Newport beach area. Evidently Jackson had not been eating, and had been only drinking energy drinks when he experienced “a break from reality”. That is a nice way of saying he began experiencing delusional thoughts that his friend was in trouble. Believing he needed to save his friend, who he would later learn was not in any trouble, Jackson drove recklessly throughout city streets as police followed behind.
Oh, and just to make things more entertaining, he did all this in a giant truck with his name and picture plastered all over it.
13. Mark “Giant Head Wound” Hominick
Nobody can ever tell Mark Hominick he’s not tough. He kept fighting despite the fact his forehead was made to look as though it was attempting to escape his face.
This iconic/cringe-worthy photo is from UFC 129, which was held in the Rogers Centre in Toronto. At the time, the 55,000 people in attendance was a UFC record. Hominick wasn’t going to allow a little facial swelling to slow him down any. He was facing Jose Aldo for the featherweight championship, and not only did he battle through taking a giant beating for the first 3 rounds, he arguably came back to win the last 2 rounds. He wouldn’t win the title, however, and his career basically ended after this bout.
12. Elizabeth Phillips: MMA Nip Slip History
We all knew it was going to happen at some point after women’s MMA hit the big stage: a nip slip. It almost happened in the first women’s fight in the UFC. Ronda Rousey was forced to adjust her upper body ring gear during that first bout with Liz Carmouche, leading many fans to believe that at some point a nipple is going to make its UFC debut. The only question left was whose nipple would it be?
Elizabeth Phillips has the honour of being the first female fighter to have her nipple appear on UFC programming, although Keith Jardine’s self nipple-tweaking related records are still more impressive. She was given a $5,000 bonus cheque she showed off on Twitter after this bout, though Reebok might think about giving her some better-fitting gear.
11. Ray Mercer Knocks Out Tim Sylvia
Ray Mercer set out to prove that boxers were far better strikers than mixed martial artists. He certainly helped his point when he knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in 9 seconds. Mercer was 48 years old at the time.
The bout looked bad for Sylvia, whose previous fight had been a submission loss to Fedor Emelianenko in 36 seconds. With this loss Tim Sylvia had shown the world he was no longer an elite level fighter. He also gave boxing fans plenty of ammunition for the next time they debate with MMA fans about who the better fighters are.
10. Ronda Rousey Hit By Reality aka Amanda Nunes
Ronda Rousey was a small favourite going into her bout with Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. In hindsight, that is ridiculous. Las Vegas doesn’t determine odds based on who will win, as they base odds based on who people will bet for. People were willing to bet on Rousey in this bout, but they shouldn’t have been.
All the signs were present that Rousey had been broken as a fighter by Holly Holm a year prior. She refused to do media, took a year off from fighting, didn’t change camps and seemed like she was ready to retire. You can’t go into a fight with Amanda Nunes if you aren’t absolutely sure you belong in there. Rousey was definitely not sure she belonged in the cage with Amanda Nunes, and it showed.
9. Jason “Mayhem” Miller Live Tweets Standoff With SWAT Team
Jason Miller is kind of a strange guy. During the prime of his fight career his eccentricities never seemed to go too far. He would get arrested from time to time, but it was never for anything too bad. Once he was arrested for breaking into a church and sleeping there naked. It’s hard to be too angry at a guy for such behaviour.
By 2013, however, charges thrown against Miller started to be of the domestic assault variety. He was charged with two counts of domestic violence and also for violating a restraining order. Police came to arrest him on October 8th, 2014. Miller refused to come out of his home causing a confrontation between him and police. The SWAT team was called in, and in true Jason Miller style, he sent out live updates to his followers on Twitter.
8. Kimbo vs. Dada 5000 Embarrasses All, Nearly Kills Both
Bellator 149 on February 19th, 2016 was a bad day for MMA. That was the event which was headlined by a double main event: Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000, and Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie.
Dada 5000 nearly died of cardiac arrest after this fight, and Kimbo Slice would die of heart failure a few months later. How this bout was sanctioned is a question which should be asked for years to come.
Neither fighter was prepared for a bout that would go more than a few seconds. Both were so gassed throughout the vast majority of the fight, that neither could throw punches hard enough to knock the other guy out. Eventually, Dada 5000 fell to the mat and the ref stopped the fight. After the bout, Dada 5000 spent two weeks in hospital.
7. Rashad Evans – Best/Worst KO Face
Rashad Evans is a former light heavyweight champion and most likely will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame when his career is over. But no matter what else he accomplishes in his career, fans will never forget the time Lyoto Machida knocked him out so completely that he made the face shown above.
The iconic knockout image is from UFC 94 on January 31st, 2009. When Rashad woke up, he was no longer champion.
Evans had just defeated Forrest Griffin in his last bout for the title. Machida was coming into the fight undefeated, with a perfect 16-0 record. His previous fight was a victory over Thiago Silva.
6. Career Ended By Pokemon Trainer
This was Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos’ 39th professional bout. It was also his last. While his opponent, Michael “Venom” Page celebrates on the left side of the photo, Santos is on the mat in serious medical condition on the right.
Page hit Santos with a flying knee at Bellator 158 that fractured Santos’ skull. He then pulled out a Pokemon hat and pretended as though he was a Pokemon trainer who just won an epic Pokemon battle. It was all a bit light-hearted and whimsical to be doing while there is a man with a fractured skull and career-ending injuries only a few feet away.
The 39-year old Chute box team member Santos was told by doctors his injury easily could have been fatal. He announced in early 2017 doctors would never allow him to return to fighting. All because of a Pokemon trainer…
5. Beaten Up Georges St. Pierre
That is the face Georges St. Pierre wore on his head after his last UFC bout. Many felt his opponent that night, Johny Hendricks, was cheated out of a championship win. Others aren’t so sure Hendricks wasn’t the one doing the cheating.
In the lead-up to this bout, Hendricks verbally agreed to advanced drug-testing, which GSP offered to pay for. The bout took place on November 16th 2013, before advanced drug testing was mandatory in the UFC. But when the time came to be tested, Hendricks declined.
GSP was awarded a controversial split-decision victory in the bout, one which many believe should have been awarded to Hendricks. Since USADA testing has come into play, Hendricks has not been nearly as successful as he once was.
4. KO’d Ronda Rousey
This fight took place nearly a year and a half ago, and neither fighter has won a bout since. UFC 193 will always be famously known as the night Holly Holm ended the Ronda Rousey era in MMA.
Ronda Rousey’s popularity caused women’s MMA to go from a small niche to being on par with men’s. Instantly the women’s bantamweight division was seen as the same or greater level of importance than many of the men’s divisions. Rousey made fights feel important. Her contributions to the sport should never be understated.
But she nearly got her head kicked off here. Rousey had gotten through all her previous fights by putting her head down and charging forward. That just wasn’t going to work against a striker like Holm. Holly finished her off and took the title in 59 seconds of the 2nd round.
3. Hermes Franca Mug Shot
Hermes Franca is the only person to ever make Nate Diaz submit. Unfortunately, Franca is now also a convicted sex offender.
He was arrested in 2011, and charged with criminal offences relating to the sexual assault of a jiu-jitsu student. The victim was a minor. Franca pleaded guilty to attempted unlawful penetration and sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
Franca attempted to revive his MMA career upon his release, but things haven’t gone his way. He’s fought 5 times since being released in 2014, losing 4.
At one time, Hermes Franca was one of the best lightweights in the world. He was the WEC lightweight champion, and defended the belt twice. He also unsuccessfully challenged Sean Sherk for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 73.
2. Joe Son Mug Shot
Joe Son is often remembered as the guy who Keith Hackney punched in the groin repeatedly at UFC 4. You also might remember him as “Random Task” in the Austin Powers movies. He’s in prison for life now, having been found guilty of kidnapping, rape and torture. Now most people wish Hackney had punched him harder.
Son was picked up in 2008 on a vandalism charge, but was forced to give up a DNA sample. His DNA was then matched to a horrific crime from 1990. Son eventually pleaded guilty to kidnapping and a host of disturbing sexual assault charges. He was sentenced to 7 years to life.
1. War Machine In Court
There is arguably no bigger embarrassment to the sport of mixed martial arts than War Machine. Born Jonathan Koppenhaver, War Machine participated in Season 6 of the Ultimate Fighter. He lost in the first round of the show, but earned fight of the night honors for his win over Jared Rollins on the season finale show.
He would have his legal troubles over the years, even serving prison time for various assault charges. War Machine will most likely serve the rest of his life in prison as a result of an assault committed against his one-time girlfriend Christie Mack, and her friend Corey Thomas. He was found guilty on 29 charges related to assault, kidnapping and attempted rape, but the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on an attempted murder charge.
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