As fans of mixed martial arts, we all have our favourite fighters.
Some are liked because of how they fight, some because of their story, and yet others because of their charisma.
On the flip side, there are also those fighters who fans dislike—nay, hate. Not only do they have a distaste for these athletes, but they appear to derive pleasure from expressing said distaste.
With that in mind, I present to you seven fighters that fans love to hate.
It feels strange having Matt Hughes on a list that documents some of the most hated personalities in the UFC. Once upon a time, the former welterweight king was amongst the most beloved figures in the sport.
Unfortunately, several appearances as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter destroyed that rather generous perception.
On said show, Hughes’ persona was eerily similar to that of a schoolyard bully. I’m not suggesting that he was giving his fighters wedgies or stuffing them in lockers, but his dealings with GSP and Matt Serra were like watching a jock tease a couple of high school geeks.
In addition, Hughes seemed intent on converting his Season 6 team to Christianity in lieu of training them to advance in the competition. It made for a bizarre scene, which doubtless contributed to the downturn in his popularity.
The hate directed at Jon Fitch is, in this writer’s opinion, more than a little unfair. Unlike Matt Hughes, he seems to be reviled exclusively as a result of what he does inside the cage.
One could argue that it shouldn't work any other way. After all, MMA is a sport, not a popularity contest. Fighters should be judged based on what goes on inside the cage. However, this is more than just a touch idealistic.
As fans of mixed martial arts, we do not watch fights in isolation, devoid of context. We become invested in the personalities and storylines that help to sell the fight.
The problem for the AKA veteran is that, up until this point, his style of fighting has been so dull that he would need the combined personalities of Ric Flair, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in order to gain fan approval.
Fitch is a nice guy—and his mean mug is pretty sweet—but he ain’t got the gift of the gab required to render fans indifferent to his fighting style.
Rashad Evans was the original “Jackson’s fighter”—a term used, quite unfairly, in a pejorative sense.
The TUF Season 2 winner seemed content to grind out wins by holding his opponents against the cage and running down the clock—at least that was the perception.
Moreover, Evans had a somewhat off-putting habit of clowning while inside the cage. Indeed, he has even gone so far as to favour clowning over protecting his brittle chin. He was smiling and trash-talking while Lyoto Machida was in the process of knocking him bandy-legged.
Whether it’s because absence makes the heart grow fonder, “Suga’” has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity. There have been fewer boos and more cheers for the former light heavyweight king in recent outings, but he remains, almost paradoxically, one of the UFC’s most popular hate figures.
Unlike everyone else on this list, the perception of Chael Sonnen is almost entirely by design.
His heel persona has been wonderfully executed, but don’t be gullible enough to believe that it is an accurate reflection of the man.
By all accounts, Sonnen is one of the nicest men you are ever likely to meet. Indeed, I actually covered this topic a few months ago. Go here if you are interested in finding out more about the real Chael.
Unfortunately, many people have failed to realise that the Oregon native is simply marketing himself—and doing it well.
They instead believe that he is a xenophobe who thinks that the Nogueira brothers can’t tell the difference between a bus and a horse.
Josh Koscheck is the UFC’s original badboy. The TUF Season 1 veteran was making fans hiss when Jon Jones was taking his SATs.
The former national champion wrestler has turned acting like a tool into a viable business strategy. If you have seen Fight Factory, you already know that Koscheck is living the kind of life normally reserved for Hollywood A-listers.
The fans may hate him, but Josh is cashing in on each and every boo.
Like Rashad Evans, the popularity of Michael Bisping appears to have grown recently.
“The Count” really didn’t deserve the kind of hate that was directed at him, but he seemed to get a kick out of it nonetheless.
While he may be loud, cocky, overly emotional and—gasp—English, Bisping has always shown a good sense of humour.
However, his comically nationalistic stint on TUF Season 9 didn’t exactly endear him to the American fans.
It’s fair to say that his rivalry with Dan Henderson made him a star, while also turning him into a figure of hate.
It’s not hard to see why Jon Jones tops this list, given the backlash to some of his recent choices.
Truthfully, six months ago, he probably wouldn't be at the top of a list like this. However, the hatred for Jones has spiked over the past few months.
Considering the narrative offered by Dana White and Co. after UFC 151 was pronounced dead, it’s no wonder the fans are burning effigies of the light heavyweight champion. He and his coach have been portrayed as cold-blooded card killers by the UFC.
But even prior to the furor surrounding UFC 151, Jones was viewed by many as being disingenuous, as having bought into his own hype.
And after his unfortunate DUI, some fans felt vindicated, as though the New Yorker had confirmed their suspicions.
Only now, several months later, does the ill-feeling appear to be dying down somewhat.