UFC: Power Ranking the 10 Most Hated Champions in the Promotion's History
There are quite a few perks that come with being an UFC champion. You get a nice shiny belt to show off to everyone and having the title of "best in the world" is something nobody can ever take away from you.
Of course that doesn't stop fans from trying every day the champions on this list were on top of their respective divisions. Despite being the best guy in their weight class these fighters were routinely thrown under the bus by fans due to a number of reasons.
Some simply couldn't relate well to fans while others simply bored the hell out of us every time they stepped into the Octagon. Even worse are the ones that fall into both of those categories.
Sure, these guys had their fans that openly cheered as they graced the Octagon, but overall these fighters are without a doubt the most hated champions in UFC history.
Matt Hughes was a dominant force during his reign as welterweight champion. Hughes' strength and wrestling seemed too much for anyone to handle while he wore the UFC title.
Hughes was popular among most MMA fans, but there's certainly a set of fans who've come to dislike Hughes for his stint as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. Hughes didn't bother to hide his religious beliefs and attempted to press those onto his team on the show.
As anyone know religion is one of those topics that people tend to avoid and Hughes' "bible thumping" on national television got under the skin of some circles of fans. Hughes was never considered to be the bad guy by the vast majority of fans during his career but certainly hear a few boos.
Dominick Cruz has two things working against him when it comes to fan popularity.
The first one is his style of fighting. Cruz utilizes footwork and angles to strike his opponent before they have a chance to realize what just happened. It's a sound strategy as it's kept the belt around Cruz's waist since defeating Brian Bowles for it but the "point fighting" strategy isn't exactly fan friendly.
The other negative Cruz has working against him is his main rival in the sport happens to be one of its most popular figures, Urijah Faber. When Faber dropped down to 135 pounds, fans were clearly anticipating a rematch between the two, and a rivalry blossomed.
Cruz defeated Faber in the rematch yet it's "The California Kid" who is the more popular of the two. Even if he hasn't done anything to make people dislike him, Cruz remains an unpopular champion despite all the success he's had inside the Octagon.
Georges St-Pierre has been atop or near the top of MMA's pound-for-pound lists for years. The champion's last loss came all the way back at UFC 69 in 2007. GSP has been a dominant force since the loss, never experiencing a moment of trouble in any of his title defenses since then.
During that time GSP has also become one of the biggest figures to compete in the UFC by obtaining sponsorships with major companies like Under Armour and Gatorade.
Despite all the success GSP has enjoyed, he's received almost equally as much backlash from fans in that time-span. St-Pierre fights a style that a lot of fans don't enjoy as even though he's clearly light years ahead of his competition, GSP hasn't finished an opponent since BJ Penn quit between rounds at UFC 94.
He's certainly not despised by the MMA community but GSP also has his fair share of detractors.
BJ Penn is without a doubt the greatest lightweight champion in UFC history and likely MMA history. Yet despite his accolades both in the UFC and in BJJ, Penn is a figure that many fans don't care for.
It's not for a lack of talent, as Penn is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport. But perhaps Penn knows that too as his lack of consistency in training camps has cost the Hawaiian dearly at times. His slacking off rubbed fans the wrong way at times but it wasn't the biggest detriment to his fan popularity.
That factor would be Penn's attitude following his losses. The Hawaiian has no problem being on top but when he's been knocked off his perch, Penn has responded in almost child-like behavior at times. There was the whole "Greasegate" scandal and then after losing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 118, Penn's camp said the former champion was suffering from a sinus infection.
It may have been a legit excuse given the fact Penn seemed lethargic at times at UFC 118 but the Penn haters simply see it as whining about a loss.
Anderson Silva remains undefeated in the UFC and has looked totally dominant every time he steps into the Octagon.
For all his physical talents "The Spider" hasn't mastered the art of public relations. Silva lost a great deal of fans for his performances at UFC 97 and UFC 112. In each of the fights, Silva looked as if he was bored due to the clowning around he did.
Silva has become a polarizing figure to many fans as virtually everyone can agree he's an extremely talented fighter but after those two poor showings, some fans have become completely turned off by the champion. Their animosity is understood as they spent hard earned money to watch Silva compete but instead witnessed a glorified sparring session.
Since those two performances Silva has showed us his dominance and outside of Chael Sonnen, has made the middleweight title challengers look like child's play.
Tito Ortiz remains one of the most influential figures in UFC history but unfortunately for him most of that history was made being the bad guy to MMA fans.
Ortiz enjoyed a three-year title reign defeating such fighters as Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner and Ken Shamrock. He certainly talked the talk but had the walk to back it up as well. Ortiz had a devastating ground and pound game that was downright brutal at times.
Ortiz's image suffered terribly after his rivalry with Chuck Liddell and Dana White. His rivalry with Liddell was one of the first times the UFC received national exposure and as with any good story there needs to be a good guy and bad guy. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" filled the role of villain perfectly.
Towards the later part of his career Ortiz enjoyed a turn of face as he became a fan favorite despite less than stellar showings in the Octagon.
Brock Lesnar represented what was wrong about the new wave of MMA fighters to a great deal of fans. He had a big name and legitimate skills but was routinely discredited as a MMA fighter due to his time in the WWE.
Lesnar won the UFC title in just his fourth professional MMA bout and made successful title defenses against Frank Mir and Shane Carwin. His bout against Mir at UFC 100, or rather what happened after the bout is what turned fans off to the Lesnar hype train.
He was a very successful heavyweight champion but routinely had to deal with his detractors for his personality and history in the WWE. The reclusive fighter never seemed to be fazed by it and will no doubt be missed by UFC brass when they examine the bottom line of their quarterly reports.
Rashad Evans may have earned a bit more fan support due to his rivalry with Jon Jones but make no mistake about it, he was downright loathed before, during and after his title reign.
The dislike of Evans began with his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 2 where he drew the ire of coach Matt Hughes for being a cocky fighter. It's one thing to be confident but Evans was showboating a bit and going up against a perennial fan favourite like Hughes isn't going to help your standing with the fans.
Fans disliking of Evans continued during his brief title reign as only moments before being knocked unconscious, Evans was taunting title challenger Lyoto Machida.
Regardless of your stance on Evans, almost all MMA fans turned on him following the loss of his title. Evans turned into a "safe fighter" in the eyes of many and his decision to wait for Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to return was both ill-fated and disliked by MMA fans.
If Jon Jones wants any advice on how to handle being despised by MMA fans he may just want to dial up Tim Sylvia. Despite winning the UFC Heavyweight title on two occasions and having one of the longest title runs in UFC history, Sylvia is nothing more than a running joke to most fans.
The main source of discontent for Sylvia stems from his fighting style that utilized his massive height and reach advantage. It was a smart strategy for Sylvia to use his reach but there's only so long that fans are willing to watch someone jab their way to a five round decision.
Like many of the men on this list Sylvia also went up against some perennial fan favorites during his reign as champion. Guys like Andrei Arlovski, Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are some of the most popular fighters in the division's history.
Of course there's always the fact that Syliva was champion in the UFC while many fans considered Pride's heavyweight division to be where the true contenders are at. That didn't stop Sylvia from believing he was the best 205+ pounder in the world, a notion that surely rubbed fans the wrong way.
The youngest UFC champion of all time may also be the most hated before Jon Jones' career is over. Jones' career started with humble beginnings as he entered the division as an exciting prospect.
An injury to teammate Rashad Evans thrust Jones into the national spotlight as he faced Mauricio Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. It would be all downhill for the champion after defeating Rua.
Jones's personality has constantly been under attack by fans as being too fake or cocky and arguments about those will never be settled. Where the true discontent from fans emitted from is when Jones was scheduled to face Evans but pulled out to have hand surgery only to say he didn't need it—after Evans found a new opponent.
The "Go Get Some Fans" incident didn't do him any favors and he's completely destroyed any solid fan base with the UFC 151 debacle. With all the hate from MMA fans aimed at Jones these days, it's hard to imagine he will ever become a fan favorite.