Heels: Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar and MMA's 20 Biggest Bad Guys

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterApril 10, 2012

Heels: Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar and MMA's 20 Biggest Bad Guys

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    As you may recall, last week I listed the biggest "babyfaces" in MMA. This week, we were sitting around the virtual newsroom and decided we should close the loop by banging out some slides on MMA's biggest heels. 

    Give a big assist on this to last week's news cycle. First, Alistair Overeem scorched a toilet bowl with his Bane-level testosterone. Then, Brock Lesnar made a dramatic return to dramatic combat performance art on Monday Night Raw, during which time he attacked Jon Cena, whom I believe may be the champion and/or a popular figure. So it was a busy week on the heel front. 

    Before we go any further, I do remember reading something somewhere about Brock Lesnar retiring from mixed martial arts. But you know what? I don't care. No way he's not going on this list. Other than him, it's active fighters only. Here, why don't we say this list covers fighters active as of Dec. 30, 2011? There we go.

    Also, as with the companion list, this covers public personas only (hence the pro wrestling comparison). So if so-and-so didn't sign your cousin's T-shirt one time, I'm truly sorry, but it doesn't mean he necessarily belongs on this list. 

Honorable Mentions: The Insane and the Incarcerated

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    These guys probably aren't famous enough to have "personas," per se. But they're rotten enough to earn a mention nonetheless.

    "Lightning" Lee Murray

    Mike Whitehead

    Joe Son

    Edilberto "Crocota" de Oliveira

    Brandon Saling

20. Maiquel Falcao

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    In 2002, he allegedly committed that most sophisticated of white-collar crimes, the assaulting of a woman. (He was later arrested for it.)

    In addition, his very brief UFC tenure was punctuated by controversy (not all of it his doing, but still).

    The "Big Rig" is on the road back to legitimacy now, provided he can continue his streak of not assaulting women. Less than a month ago, he won his Bellator debut in the middleweight tournament quarterfinals.

19. Jamie Varner

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    During his salad days in the WEC, Varner always came off as less than tough and more than a little underhanded. Even the fighter-on-fighter enmity seemed real in this case.

    He had his moments, but the general MMA public didn't exactly start a riot when they learned he wouldn't move to the Octagon after Zuffa purchased the WEC, or last fall when he announced his retirement, or later in the fall when he unretired.

18. Matt Hughes

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    His legendary status keeps him from being even higher on the list.

    By and large, he generally comports himself with dignity. But make no mistake: Hughes has some villainous tendencies. He seems to have that smirk surgically grafted onto his face. He doesn't have different facial expressions; he just changes smirks.

    And among those who watched season four of The Ultimate Fighter, who could forget Hughes, in a scene straight out of a middle school cafeteria, taunting a young Georges St-Pierre about defending the armbar? Not exactly an endearing moment.

17. Gabe Ruediger

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    Just a terrific heel. He could be even higher if every fight he picked in the UFC hadn't ended with his abject destruction (0-3, two KOs and a submission).

    The beating administered to him by one Joe Lauzon (pictured here on the receiving end of some Ruediger tomfoolery) has gained some fame for its, eh, spiritedness. But apparently Ruediger kept up the grudge even after the fight had ended. Don't know if I'd care enough to see the rematch, though.

16. Joe Warren

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    The "most dangerous person in the world" has some of the same carnival-barker qualities that have worked so well for Uncle Chael. The problem for Warren is that he doesn't have Sonnen's walk-it-like-you-talk-it bona fides, at least not as consistently as he would apparently like to think he does.

    Kind of tough to make too many jokes, though, after his last fight. That wasn't fun. I'm like a sad clown right now.

15. Sean Sherk

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    I think Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk is a Hall of Famer. "I" here meaning "Sean 'The Muscle Shark' Sherk."

14. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

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    Hollywood Super Star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is a funny guy.

    But he's also a heel, often hitting below the belt against unsuspecting reality show competitors, as well as the entire female race.

13. War Machine

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    The only guy in the crazy/incarcerated cohort to have that vaunted crossover appeal. Congratulations, War. You're the king of the Misfit Toys.

    By the way, still waiting on that spitbag sponsorship...what's the hold-up, spitbag manufacturers of America? Fish in a barrel, guys.

12. Josh Barnett

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    Textbook antihero. Despite the fact that he leaves drug test bathrooms in smoking ruins, he remains immensely popular, particularly among those rather enthusiasticMMA discussants who scarf down every morsel of Barnett's Dana-baiting.

11. Paul Daley

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    He was a heel before the Koscheck thing, and he's a heel after.

    If you read his comments, though, it's not hard to tell he's more just having a laugh and hyping a fight than he is being an actual jerk. At least, that is, until he gets carried away, which is borderline inevitable.

    Either way, though, he's good at it. 

10. Shinya Aoki

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    Aoki has a somewhat unusual brand of villainy. The heel stuff he does is malicious, but also random and even slightly confusing. He's like a six-year-old's conception of an MMA bad guy.

9. Nick Diaz

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    One of those guys I really don't suspect is such a bad guy in real life. But don't kid yourself, either. He's a huge black hat for MMA. And despite his public reticence, I believe he wears that hat proudly.

8. Michael Bisping

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    Weirdest thing about him is that part of him seems to think he's a nice guy, or at least justified in his behaviors. That might be even more of a provocation than the original actions, which themselves are irritating at best, and exceptionally nasty at worst.

7. Alistair Overeem

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    The 'Reem isn't ranked so high based on one positive drug test.

    Because, see, the thing is, his heel resume doesn't begin or end with the test. Throughout his career, The 'Reem's been part schoolyard bully, part Terrell Owens.

    Plus, I'm almost positive he gave himself that nickname. Michael Sorrentino approves.

6. Tito Ortiz

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    Here at the end of his career, the Babe Ruth of MMA heels is trying to make a face turn. That fact in and of itself is just the latest evidence that he knew exactly what he was doing when he carried the bad boy mantle all those years.

5. Junie Browning

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    Of all the antagonists who revealed themselves on The Ultimate Fighter, Browning is head and shoulders above the rest. Though he did become a slightly—slightly—sympathetic figure following his ordeal in Thailand.

4. Gilbert Yvel

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    The eye-gouging, biting, ref-punching Yvel is the king of in-cage malevolence.

3. Josh Koscheck

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    Every now and then, the line of thought surfaces that "Josh Koscheck embraces his role as the bad guy." 

    I've got a problem with that line of thought. Because it implies he has a choice.

    The more you learn about Kos, the more you understand what a prickly character he is. The fans can't stand him. Other fighters can't stand him. His former coaches and teammates can't stand him. He leaves a trail of bus victims wherever he goes. Usually when you need a friend in your corner, you can go to an old high school or college mentor. Not Koscheck.

    So might as well run with it, right? The most hated fighter in the UFC (according to Dana White, anyway) would love everyone to think it's all some kind of super-savvy public relations scheme to earn him better fights, more money and more column inches.

    Maybe those are the end results, and that's fine. But the idea that it's all intentional? Horse biscuits. The fact of the matter? Some guys are just jerks.

2. Chael Sonnen

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    Picking fights is Chael Sonnen's business. And business is good.

    If this were a list of guys who could sell a fight, or most soil-yourself-laughing hilarious fighters, Sonnen would be number one. But since it's a list of heels, there's one guy who tops him...who could that be...whoooooo could it be...

1. Brock Lesnar

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    He'll always be the baddest SOB on this list.

    MMA fans hated him. And even though he's gone, they may have more reason to hate him now than ever. After all, the angry, bullying heavyweight left pro wrestling for MMA, won the title, defended it twice and then rid himself of the sport before the sport could rid itself of him.

    (Of course, to the surprise of few, he is fanning those flames now that he's safely back on the prefab side of the athletics spectrum.)

    Sure, a couple of bad losses hastened the exit, as did his struggle with diverticulitis. But he still went out on his shield, fighting the best. He never became an unabashed novelty act. He was never exposed for a subpar or fatally flawed fighter. He never had to lower his championship-level standards. He didn't have to watch himself slowly decline. He came, he saw, he conquered, he left for a cushy WWE contract.

    The demands of the pro wrestling road were what made him leave in the first place. Now, he seems to have an agreement that alleviates those demands. His MMA run surely gave him the leverage he needed to achieve that, against a notoriously hard-headed negotiator in Vince McMahon. 

    I'm not saying it was all part of a grand five-year master plan, but Lesnar's not a dumb guy, either. He read the writing on the wall, and he read it to his advantage. I take my hat off to him. But it has to make MMA purists grind their teeth at night. Their worst fears about Lesnar tarnishing the sport and what not were arguably realized.

    To put it another way, Lesnar fell off the horse that was MMA. To paraphrase what he himself observed after beating Heath Herring back in 2008, he got back on long enough to ride it out of town, baby.