Nick Diaz isn't a superstar because of his pre- and post-fight banters. Diaz is popular because he's fearless.
He has a solid argument for being the most courageous fighter in MMA today. But courage is a common trait in this sport.
Fighters who push the pace and throw caution to the wind are what MMA fans love to call warriors. Some of those fighters whom fans love to brand as such are easily justifiable, especially if they have experience in the military like Brian Stann.
Diaz, Stann and so many more great fighters have entertained fans throughout the years with their thrilling bouts. But when it comes down to ranking the top fearless fighters in MMA today, who stands alone at No. 1?
We're kicking this list off with a bang, right?
Make no (jaw) bones about it—Hunt has a strong case for No. 1 on this list. After all, when have you ever seen Hunt back down from a fight? When have you ever seen him play it safe?
The answer to that riddle is never. Whether he has to leap forward to slay a 7'0" giant with a left hook or hang in the pocket with a devastating kickboxer in Mirko Cro Cop, Hunt is always willing to scrap.
It's the biggest reason why fans are clamoring for a Mark Hunt title shot, and it's also going to lead to fans raging over him not breaking the top-10 list...
Other Honorable Mentions: Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Chris Leben
Not the first guy you had in mind?
Alan Belcher is a crafty fighter. He's solid in every aspect of MMA and can beat opponents on the feet with his hands and on the ground with submissions. Belcher is also undaunted at the thought of battling his adversary in either instance, no matter how scary he may be.
Take for instance his fight with Rousimar Palhares. Before Belcher fought Palhares, Palhares was submitting fighters left and right with his highly respected heel hook.
That didn't faze Belcher. Belcher went right in, fought Palhares on the ground, escaped from a heel hook and finished Palhares in his world. Confidence leads to fearlessness, and Belcher has plenty of it.
If this was a top-10 list for most technical fighters, Brian Rogers would be nowhere in sight.
Rogers isn't a technician. Instead, with flying knees and constant haymakers, Rogers is an entertainer.
Wins and losses always matter. But when it comes to watching some fighters, it's not all about that to the fans. The fans want to watch exciting fights, and every time Rogers steps into a Bellator cage, he captivates fans with his flashy style.
Rogers doesn't play the points game in MMA, and whether that may not be the smartest decision for his career, it's certainly a decision that fans can appreciate.
Show us your mean face, Carlos Condit. We love it when you turn into a rabid animal on fight night.
If you can't appreciate Condit's fighting style, than well, you can't appreciate much in life. Condit's wicked ground game allows him to stand and trade strikes with other fighters, which is always a delight to watch.
Condit has knockout power, as seen against Dong Hyun Kim and Dan Hardy. But what makes him so fun to watch is his willingness to stand in the pocket and trade blow for blow with his opponents.
Even against a heavy-handed striker like Johny Hendricks, Condit was willing to stay within striking distance and throw a few knees Hendricks' way. Regardless of how you feel about his performance against Diaz at UFC 143, you have to acknowledge Condit's gritty style of fighting.
It's hard to believe that there's any technique that Anthony Pettis won't try to implement.
Here's a guy who has attempted a kick off the cage, a cartwheel kick, a knee off the cage and other Matrix-type moves inside the Octagon.
That takes a man with some hair on his peaches, if you know what I'm saying. Pettis is unafraid to strike with anybody in the lightweight division because he holds a distinct advantage over everyone.
Pettis is also undaunted at the thought of going on the ground with anyone because of his attack-oriented guard.
Don't let the physique fool you—Roy Nelson is perhaps the most durable fighter in the UFC.
Whether you love his brass personality or not, you have to tip your hat to Nelson inside the Octagon. This guy is all heart.
In his fights against Fabricio Werdum, Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, Nelson took a beating and kept moving forward.
No matter how many shots he takes, Nelson somehow manages to recuperate and press the action. What else would you expect from the Majin Buu of the UFC?
It's hard to imagine putting your health on the line by competing in an MMA bout.
It's even harder to conceptualize doing so while throwing wild spinning techniques. This is a common offense for Jon Jones, or at least it was when he first debuted in the UFC.
As Jones has gotten older and wiser, he's sharpened his striking and has fought more technical in recent bouts. However, that doesn't mean Jones is reluctant to throw his patented spinning back elbows.
Jones may have received some backlash for declining to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice, but make no mistake about it—on April 27, Jones will prove that he was never scared of Sonnen by dominating him with unorthodox striking.
"Don't be scared, homie."
Fear is the last thing on the mind of this man, who paces back and forth mouthing the name of his hometown.
When the fight starts, Diaz goes after his opponent's strength and tries to beat him at it. Just look at his battle with Paul Daley, where he stood toe to toe with a dangerous striker rather than easily submitting him. It's a much different approach than the one his opponent at UFC 158 took.
It may not be the smartest way to fight in a cage fight, but that's what makes Diaz, Diaz.
It's hard to strike fear in the eyes of a U.S. marine.
Therefore, it's hard to intimidate Brian Stann. Stann, a Silver Star recipient, enters the Octagon with a no retreat, no surrender attitude.
In his career, Stann has exchanged strikes with fierce competition, including Chris Leben, Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping.
Brawling with Leben and Silva might make one question a fighter's sanity, but in Stann's case, we all know he's simply unafraid of any type of combat.
Leonard Garcia can brawl with the best of them.
Garcia, who always seems to get himself into slugfests, has built quite the reputation in the UFC.
Whenever Garcia is placed on a card, fans know that no matter what, his fight is a can't-miss. The reason, of course, is because of his never-ending trend of tossing technique out the window and throwing heavy bombs instead.
To fight this way in today's MMA is downright ludicrous, especially when you're on a four-fight losing streak like Garcia. However, it seems Garcia is untroubled at the thought of losing a points battle. Instead, he'd rather put his health on the line and entertain the fans.
It's hard to get more fearless than that.
What else can be said about the career of Wanderlei Silva?
This man embodies the term "warrior." Disregard his wars with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt in the Pride Days, which made him an MMA legend.
Rather, look at his most recent bouts. Against Leben, Silva was knocked out in 27 seconds, and everyone thought it was time to hang up the gloves. What did Silva do? He not only kept fighting, he kept fighting with his brawling style.
He faced Cung Le, Rich Franklin and Stann in memorable striking bouts. No matter how Silva ages, he is always willing to stand in the Octagon and slug it out like he did back in his heyday in Pride.
For that, no one will ever question the fighting spirit of "The Axe Murderer."