Mixed martial arts is a place where all sorts of cultures clash.
Traditionalists, brawlers, grapplers, wrestlers, boxers; every and any walk of life can be found between the eight caged corners of the Octagon. For the most part, fighters—no matter where they've come from—show mutual respect for their opponents.
These are not those fighters. There are the guys who taunt and scream and bully. The fighters who can't be bargained or reasoned with. The people who, to quote a particularly famous superhero, just want to watch the sport burn.
Maybe it’s his snarky British accent or his disdainful second career as a house DJ. Maybe it’s the way he parts his hair. Whatever the reason, Michael Bisping has gotten a lot of undeserving vitriol from fans during his career.
It makes sense, because on paper Bisping is incredibly easy to dislike. He’s a motor-mouthed pretty boy who came across as the stereotypical redcoat next to Dan Henderson’s true blue American disposition on The Ultimate Fighter. But, by and large, Bisping has proven himself to be a thoughtful, intelligent and genuinely likeable person over the last couple years.
That’s not to say he hasn’t had his discretions. There was the time when he declared himself the unofficial Strikeforce champion, and when he essentially called Joseph Benavidez a 10-year-old girl. Oh yeah, there’s also this:
The most infamous loogie in UFC history.
When you spit on someone after you've just knocked them out, chances are it will haunt you for the rest of your days. It doesn’t really matter how charming Bisping comes off in interviews now or how many terrible techno songs he makes, he’ll always be the guy who hocked a fat one at Jorge Rivera's corner men.
The world's greatest fighter has a delightful, sugary outer coating that's all bowing and black belts and honor. Don't let it fool you. Deep down, Anderson Silva is kind of a jerk.
He doesn't insult people's cultures or talk bad about their mamas; no, Silva just taunts them and beats on their helpless faces until they quite literally flee from the ring in embarrassment. The problem for Silva isn't the lack of a moral compass—it's just that he's so much better than everyone else, and he knows it.
Beethoven had his Fifth Symphony, Francis Ford Coppola had The Godfather, and Silva has the fight against Demian Maia. That's his masterwork right there.
But I'll take it a step further and point to one precise instance during that 25-minute taunt-a-thon that serves as Silva's most disrespectful moment: The thigh punch.
That's right, Silva actually punched Maia on the thigh. When you have the ability and audacity to punch another professional fighter anywhere on his lower body, you're officially yanking away their man card and ripping it into a tiny million pieces.
Little brother Nate has always been second fiddle to big, bad Nick in the Diaz hierarchy. Nick's the bigger star and the better fighter, and that's probably never going to change.
But Nate, unquestionably, is better at giving people the bird.
He's like the da Vinci of middle fingers. It's not so much the technique that makes him a living legend in flipping people off, it's his versatility. Doesn't matter time or place, if someone is pissing him off, Nate's giving him the finger, It's that simple.
Take his fight against Benson Henderson. By all accounts, it was a massacre. But Nate wasn't going to let something as pointless as "winning" get in the way of his showmanship. The dedication he showed for his craft during that beatdown was something for the ages.
Surprisingly, it's not middle finger related.
Before his fight against Donald Cerrone—who seems like one of the most genuine and down-to-earth people in the sport—Diaz refused to shake Cerrone's hand when mutual friend Leonard Garcia tried introducing them. He then proceeded to act every bit like a Diaz at the press conference, knocking off Cerrone's trademark cowboy hat during the staredown.
Oh, and just kidding. He totally flipped him off during the fight.
Shinya Aoki is bit of a conundrum in that he acts exactly the opposite of how he looks.
Seriously, the guy looks like the kid you used to cheat off in middle school. And then he gets in the ring and he's like some unhinged spider monkey wearing obnoxiously flamboyant tights.
Aoki has proven himself to be a submissions savant during the course of his successful career. He's also perhaps the worst winner in MMA history.
In his fight against Mizuto Hirota at Dynamite!! 2009, Aoki was once again wearing some questionable pants and acting like a complete maniac. After he brutally snapped Hirota's arm off, Aoki stood up and took a page out of the Nate Diaz handbook.
But he wasn't finished.
Aoki, for reasons that can't possibly be understood by a sane man, proceeded to flip off the crowd. You know, the people who help him pay for all those fantastic leggings he loves so much. Then he pointed and laughed at Hirota, who was writhing in agony on the mat.
It was a whirling dervish of poor sportsmanship that we're not likely to ever see again.
The easiest way to describe Gilbert Yvel is to picture Shinya Aoki's 30-second whirlwind of disrespect and then extrapolate that over the better part of decade. It's not hyperbole to say that Yvel is perhaps the worst human being to ever fight in the UFC.
Yvel is to sportsmanship what William Hung is to good music. He can't even begin fathom what it is. You know that Yvel has had some dark times when about a third of his wikipedia page is about his bad conduct.
Really, Yvel's whole career is regrettable.
Let's start in 1998 when he bit Karimula Barkalaev. A few years later he was disqualified for nearly clawing Don Frye's eyes out of their sockets. But the pinnacle of Yvel's awfulness was in 2004, when he punched out a referee and then kicked him while he was down.
The only reason Yvel isn't the clear number one choice for this list is because I think disrespect takes a conscious effort, and Yvel clearly has just been flying around in an uncontrolled berserk rage since 1997.
As we've seen so far, disrespect comes in many forms. Rampage Jackson's is born entirely out of ignorance.
Jackson is an incredibly charismatic and funny guy; I truly don't think he's ever deliberately tried to offend anybody, except for maybe longtime nemesis Rashad Evans. Yet, here we are.
The reason is, Jackson doesn't understand there's some places he can't go. You see, there's an imaginary line that most people know not to cross. They know it's there, they flirt with it a little bit, but they always come on back. Rampage jumps over that line with a running start.
He's had a few moments—including a couple of interviews—that ended with awkward grinding and sexual advances.
But during The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, Rampage ridiculed one of the contestants, Darrill Schoonover, until he literally became an alcoholic on the show, something that has to be considered the exact opposite of coaching.
A little horseplay never hurt anybody, but calling someone "Titties" until they're subsequently released from the Army due to high blood pressure is something that only Rampage could find humor in.
Tank Abbott was everything that was wrong with early MMA in one rotund, hairy package.
When Sen. John McCain made his infamous "human cockfighting" comment, there's no doubt the angry, burly image of Abbott was dancing through his mind.
Every time Abbott fought, it looked like he just came directly from Sturges. He had no legitimate martial arts training and referred to his combat style as "pit fighting," which is essentially just drinking a bunch of Jack Daniels and rolling around with someone in the muddy patch of grass outside the bar.
When he fought John Matua at UFC 6, Abbott knocked the 400-pound Hawaiian stiff. Of course, when your fighting experience consists of breaking bar stools over people's heads, simply knocking someone out isn't enough.
As Matua twitched on the canvas, his arms outstretched like he was waiting for death's cold embrace, Abbott impersonated his comatose state. For all he knew, Matua was dead, and yet Abbott decided this was the appropriate time to mock him. It's something the UFC would probably love to forget—but then again, if it wasn't for this moment none of us would probably remember Abbott in the first place.
When Brock Lesnar came to the UFC he was like a T-Rex, so big and god awful, just stomping through a bunch of thunderstuck mortals.
Of course, his MMA tenure was short lived, but during that time he did prove he was really good at three things: Ground and pound, frothing at the mouth and saying ridiculous things every chance he got. In a way, you can't blame the guy, since that's precisely what he was paid to do for years in the WWE.
Then again, yeah, you can.
Everything that proceeded his win against Frank Mir.
Mir probably deserved everything that happened to him during that fight, but Lesnar's post fight tirade and subsequent interview with Joe Rogan went a tad too far.
If you're even vaguely familiar with MMA I'm sure you've already seen this. If not, I don't want to ruin it. Go ahead, bask in the belligerent awesomeness that is Brock Lesnar.
People have tried relentlessly to explain Nick Diaz, and I find that hilarious.
You can't begin to fathom what's happening in the swirling dark abyss that Diaz calls a brain. If you need any proof, just listen to what was supposed to be the UFC 158 conference call but turned into a 40-minute rambling tirade seen through Diaz's distorted world view.
One second Diaz is saying how much he respects Georges St-Pierre, the next he's cursing him out. He tried desperately to come across as pensive and sensitive, but a minute later he was calling current MMA bullsh**t. It's like there's some common sense buried somewhere in the head of his just trying to break free, but his deep seeded psychosis won't let it.
Let's put it this way: Diaz is a very, very interesting person. When he talks, almost none of it makes any sort of sense, but it's incredibly fun to listen to. Some people are fed up with his antics, and at some point this joyous ride we've taken with him is going to end, but for now I'm just letting the madness that is Nick Diaz wash over me one day at a time.
Seriously? Any of it. All of it.
If you've seen Chael Sonnen work as a commentator for FUEL or as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter, you know he's not an evil hate monger. In fact, he's probably the most intellectual and good-hearted person on this list.
Why then, is he number one?
Because when Sonnen is in full-blown promotion mode, he's a walking sound byte. As Jon Jones is likely to find out soon, no one is safe from Sonnen's vituperative stylings when pay-per-view sales are on the line. Yeah, when Sonnen is on his best behavior, he's great. But when he's bad, he's the worst.
I mean where do you even begin? I suppose it all starts with Anderson Silva.
Sonnen verbally eviscerated the longtime champ in every way possible. He criticized his ability, his training partners; he even said he was going to pat his wife on the butt—something he then chastised ESPN's Dan LeBatard for bringing up on his show, going as far to call him a fraud and a Charleton even though it was 100 percent true.
But Sonnen didn't stop at Silva. He once said he saw the Nogueira brothers trying to feed a carrot to a bus. He told Vitor Belfort to show up at his hotel room and pick up his luggage. He likened the country of Brazil to a bunch of homeless kids playing in the mud. Sonnen has done more damage to Brazilians than Dengue fever.
There's no doubt that all these things were said by Sonnen's persona, and not the man himself. And I truly wonder if Sonnen, being as smart as he is, regrets some of the things he said in order to hype himself up.
None of that really matters now though. Sonnen has built himself into one of the UFC's biggest stars by way of his mouth, and the fact is, he's probably been more disrespectful than everyone on this list combined.