The sport of mixed martial arts has given us a wide variety of fighters over the years. A majority of those fighters who have competed in our favorite MMA bouts have simply allowed their in ring/cage performance do the talking. At the same time there are plenty of fighters who have taken things a step further and trash talked their opponents in promos and press conferences leading up to their fight. Regardless of how a fighter wants to promote themselves, the brand they are fighting for can hype them up however they want and to whatever extent they feel necessary. Fight promotions want fighters who can connect with their audiences in unique ways. Take someone like Chael Sonnen for example. Sonnen's been in a number of main events (six in the UFC) despite the fact that the Oregon native is just 10-8 in his WEC/UFC career. There's no doubt that his WWE style mic work played a factor in the UFC matchmaking process.
Traits like this have allowed Sonnen and a number of other fighters to cement their legacy in combat sports history regardless of how they may have performed throughout their career. Its hard to formulate an opinion on a fighter when promoters are focusing on certain aspects of a fighter outside of their athletic abilities.
Our previous list of the Top 15 Overrated MMA Fighters discussed fighters primarily associated with the UFC. This list will include some fighters from the flagship MMA promotion but will also feature other fighters outside of the UFC as well. Some fighters are still riding their hype trains while others on the list once rode the hype like non other but crashed and burned into MMA oblivion. Here are the top 20 overrated fighters in mixed martial arts:
20 Paige VanZant
When it comes to the sport of MMA, fighters like Paige VanZant stand out from the rest of the competition. It isn't her striking or her ground game that's turning heads but more so her looks that have won over a good portion of the fighting community. Unfortunately the UFC is no beauty contest; in fact it's probably the farthest thing from it. After racking up three straight wins in the UFC, VanZant was pitted against former Ultimate Fighter contestant Rose Namajunas. The fight would be an eye opener for MMA fans as Namajunas exposed weaknesses in the Team Alpha Male member's game by out striking her 78-6 and controlling her on the ground for a majority of the five round contest.
19 Yoshihiro Akiyama
18 Bob Sapp
Bob Sapp might be one of the most physically imposing fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. Unfortunately MMA is not all about muscles and Bob Sapp is the perfect example of that. The 6-foot-5, 330 pound giant became a fan favorite in Japan and was even pitted against legends in the MMA and kickboxing world such as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop but has been exposed by almost everyone that doesn't let his size get the best of them.
17 Hatsu Hioki
16 Todd Duffee
With a giant fist tattoo on his back and a physique that made the rest of the heavyweight division look like they needed a trip to fat camp, Todd Duffee was ready to set the MMA world on fire and he did just that. At UFC 102, Duffee debuted against UFC veteran Tim Hauge and set a record for the fastest knockout in UFC heavyweight history after landing a straight left jab and some follow up ground and pound to end the fight in just seven seconds. In his next fight at UFC 114 Duffee was set to take on Mike Russow. Three days before the fight, Duffee, in an interview with MMA Fighting, stated “I've been overhyped but I'm not overrated by any means.”
15 Mark Kerr
14 Ben Askren
Ben Askren is one of the more perplexing fighters in the sport of MMA. The former Bellator Welterweight champion is currently 15-0-1 (one No Contest) but don't let the record fool you as Askren has been criticized for playing fights safe and riding out decisions for a majority of his career. It got to the point that Bellator decided not to renew his contract which resulted in Askren becoming a free agent (keep in mind he was still champion at this point).
13 Stephan Bonnar
Stephan Bonnar and Forest Griffin are known for their historic fight at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale. The two had very different career paths afterwards however. Griffin would go on to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship while Bonnar would go back and fourth between wins and losses for a majority of his career. A couple of failed drug tests at UFC 62 and UFC 153 are a bit of a blemish on the fighter's resume as well.
12 Ken Shamrock
If anyone on this list needs to hang up their gloves for good it's Ken Shamrock. His last fight, which was a third match up with Royce Gracie, was one that left MMA fans with a bad taste in their mouths. His nickname of “The World's Most Dangerous Man” probably doesn't apply at this point but the fact that his name is still relevant in the sport today is pretty absurd.
11 Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto
Better known by his nickname, “Kid” Yamamoto is somewhat of a legend in Japan. His flying knee knockout of Kazuyuki Miyata is quite the sight to see but outside of that there isn't much to loathe about when it comes to the MMA veteran. Rather than focusing on one division, Yamamoto bounced around between featherweight, lightweight and bantamweight but hasn't been able to accomplish much in any of them. After signing a contract with the UFC in 2011, he made his debut against current UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126 but lost the fight via unanimous decision.
10 Holly Holm
9 Hector Lombard
8 Travis Lutter
7 Vitor Belfort
When it comes to the USADA era of the UFC, there is no better fighter than Vitor Belfort to use as a prime example of what happens when fighters are not allowed to use banned supplements anymore. In this case Belfort was using TRT, which was banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in February, 2014. UFC 187 would be the first event that Belfort would not be allowed to use TRT after using the supplements and racking up three highlight reel knockouts in his three previous fights against Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson. The winning streak in 2013 earned Belfort a title shot at former champion Chris Weidman. The key note about those wins was that we were seeing Belfort pull off techniques that we didn't see him do when he was 19.
6 Anthony Pettis
5 Sage Northcutt
Our first glimpse of Sage Northcutt came from an episode of Dana White's web series Lookin' for a Fight. After witnessing a near flawless performance by Northcutt at Legacy Fighting Championship 42, White decided to give him shot on the UFC Fight Pass Prelims at UFC 192. He would debut against lightweight Francisco Trevino, who missed weight by five pounds. The weight difference posed no hindrance on Northcutt's abilities as “Super” Sage quickly disposed of Trevino with a TKO in just under a minute in the first round. White was once again impressed with the 20-year-old's talent and stated that he looked “unbelievable”.
4 Michael "Venom" Page
Referred to as simply “MVP” Michael Page is the biggest name and talent currently on the Bellator roster. The 29-year-old first came to the attention of MMA fans when a video showcased the fighter knocking out Ben Dishman with a Tornado Kick in just over a minute into the fight. Along with the fancy striking comes a bit of showboating every now and then as well. There's nothing wrong with a bit of confidence but a step up in competition wouldn't hurt either. He's fought a laundry list of no names with the most notable opponent being Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos. Yes, he did finish Santos with a devastating flying knee but Santos hasn't been relevant in any middleweight division in almost six years.
3 Brock Lesnar
Lesnar is an enigma. The man started a trend for professional wrestlers such as Dave Batista and Bobby Lashley to follow (Yes there is one more but we'll discuss him later) and did so with great success. While he did capture the UFC Heavyweight Championship, there were still questions to be answered regarding Lesnar's true MMA capabilities. He used his size to his advantage against smaller opponents like Randy Couture but fell victim to more seasoned strikers such as Alistair Overeem. When it comes down to it, there are more questions then answers with Brock Lesnar's MMA career. He is most likely finished with MMA after his most recent fight at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt, which was later ruled a no contest after Lesnar tested positive for clomiphene.
2 Ronda Rousey
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Rousey had it all. Movie deals, commercial gigs and the reputation of being the baddest women on the planet. That all came to a screeching halt back in 2015 at UFC 193 when Holly Holm out struck her 44-25 and viciously knocked her out in the second round of Rousey's eighth straight title defense. The fight was an indicator that Rousey's striking may not have been what it seemed to be after she knocked out Bethe Correia three months earlier at UFC 190.
1 CM Punk
CM Punk might be the biggest name to come out of the WWE in the last ten years. His followers march to his every beat and for good reasons. His straight-edge rebel lifestyle is what made wrestling fans fall in love with him since day one. After unceremoniously departing from the WWE in 2014, Punk made it known to his fans that a career in MMA was not out of the question. If Brock Lesnar could do it then why couldn't CM Punk? Well Brock Lesnar was a NCAA Division I wrestling champion with an overall record of 106-5 in his four years of college. CM Punk was simply a fan of the sport. Big difference. That didn't matter though as Dana White decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and sign a fighter with no amateur or professional MMA experience whatsoever.
In January 2015, Punk made his way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and began training at Roufusport MMA Academy. Injuries delayed his debut against Mickey Gall for over a year but the two would finally face off on September 10th, 2016 at UFC 203. Gall shot for a take down moments into the fight and it was all but over from there. A few transitions later Punk found himself in a rear-naked choke and was forced to tap two minutes and 14 seconds into the first round. There were plenty of people interested in the fight though as Punk's UFC experiment doubled UFC 203's pay-per-view revenue. In the end Punk may have been one of the biggest hype machines the sport of MMA has ever seen, but you have to give credit to anyone that's willing to step inside the octagon.
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