15 Worst Ways to Lose an MMA Fight
Akin to any other sport, wins and losses dictate just about everything in the realm of MMA.
A series of high-profile wins can catapult a fighter into top contendership while a cluster of disappointing losses can easily result in a firing.
In some instances, however, a loss in an MMA match won't hinder a fighter's progress.
Take Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's razor-thin loss to Dan Henderson in their epic clash at UFC 139. Shogun didn't get the judges' nod when the dust settled, but he fought valiantly and put on a captivating show. Rua was awarded "Fight of the Year" by several major media outlets for his efforts
But not all setbacks will leave a fighter in good standing with his or her employer. After all, everything gets revealed in an MMA fight, and getting embarrassed in front of thousands of fans never bodes well for an athlete in an individual sport.
Here are the 15 worst ways to lose a fight.
15. Knee to the Body
Wearing punches or kicks to the spleen or the liver never feels pleasant. But taking a series of clean knees to the midsection could crumble even the grittiest fighter.
Losing via a knee to the body would produce a sensation similar to that of absorbing a blow to the gut from a bowling ball.
Although he used some vicious follow-up punches, Anderson Silva offered a perfect illustration of the mind-numbing pain a fighter can experience when he landed a flush knee to Stephan Bonnar's bread basket at UFC 153.
Unlike his middleweight title fights with Rich Franklin, in which Silva landed flurries of knees to the body and head, "The Spider" needed just one precise shot to incapacitate the seemingly indestructible Bonnar.
14. Lyoto Machida-Style Crane Kick
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Lyoto Machida's jumping crane-kick KO at UFC 129 had fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto experiencing déjà vu.
Machida's kick instantly stirred nostalgic memories of the famous crane-kick landed by Daniel LaRusso in the 1984 hit The Karate Kid.
The one person who didn't feel any nostalgia at the time was Machida's opponent, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.
Rather than celebrating the last fight in his storied career in style, Couture scraped himself off the canvas and spent his after-party in a Canadian hospital.
13. Overhand KO
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It's certainly tough to find a mark with a looping overhand punch. But when this haymaker lands, the fighter on the wrong end usually hits the canvas hard.
Cheick Kongo can attest to these sentiments after locking horns with the heavy-hitting Roy Nelson, a longtime advocate of the overhand right and an owner of 12 KO wins, at UFC 159.
Nelson unleashed his patented looping punch on an unsuspecting Kongo, who wore the blow and then crumbled to the mat in a flash.
Kongo managed to elude this type of embarrassment and turn the tables for an exciting win over Pat Barry at UFC Live 4.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, who subsequently got released from the UFC following the loss, Nelson found his mark with the one punch he couldn't recover from.
With just one second left in the second round of his rematch with Leonard Garcia, "The Korean Zombie," Chan-Sung Jung, pulled off the unthinkable at UFC Fight Night 24.
Jung slapped on the modified neck crank from a half back-mount—a move Eddie Bravo popularized in the MMA world and claimed to have learned in high school wrestling—and finished with the bizarre maneuver for the first time in UFC history.
Garcia, who defeated The Korean Zombie in controversial fashion at WEC 48, simply couldn't take the pain from getting his body wrenched and contorted by a determined Jung.
For his efforts, Jung, who admitted that he learned the maneuver watching Bravo on YouTube videos, not only garnered “Submission of the Night” honors from the UFC, he also took home the “Submission of the Year” award from the 2011 World MMA Awards.
11. Reverse Calf Slicer
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Unfortunate victim Eric Wisely squirmed free from Charles Oliveira's loose kneebar attempt at UFC on Fox 2 and tried to advance to side mount, only to get caught in a clever trap set by "Do Bronx."
Oliveira let go of the kneebar and figure-foured his legs behind the knee of Wisely. Do Bronx then rocked forward, grabbed a tight waist and leaned back with force, almost immediately inducing a tap from Wisely, who was already wincing in pain.
Because it was the first of its kind pulled off in the UFC, the loss has made Wisely's name synonymous with the calf slicer submission.
A maneuver that's rarely seen in MMA, let alone in the scope of submission grappling, Oliveira exemplified how the execution of smooth chain grappling can render an unsuspected opponent incapacitated.
10. Leg Kicks
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Tarec Saffiedine may not have finished Nate Marquardt with his punishing leg kicks at Strikeforce's final event, but the 26-year-old Team Quest product mangled "Nate The Great" from the waist down.
Marquardt amazingly survived Saffiedine's brutal assault on his legs on sheer heart and guts. Saffiedine turned his legs black and blue early in the fight and never slowed his chopping process.
But perhaps the most ferocious assault on a fighter's legs occurred in Japan's Pride Fighting Championships in 2006.
For 7:38, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic fired whipping leg kicks at Hidehiko Yoshida at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute until the former Olympic gold medalist (judo) got saved by the referee.
9. Heel Hook
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Typically considered too dangerous to attempt even in training, a heel hook from a top-flight grappler like Rousimar Palhares could easily land an unfortunate victim under a surgeon's knife.
Palhares, who usually opts to snag the traditional heel hook, as opposed to the inverted variety, has pulled off nasty heel hooks in three of his seven UFC wins.
On one occasion, "Toquinho" nearly devastated the knee of opponent Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111. Palhares locked on a deep heel hook and forced a quick tap from Drwal, only to hold onto the submission for several more seconds until the bout's referee had to intervene.
Palhares deservedly received a 90-day suspension for the dangerous stunt that could have ended the career of Drwal.
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With a massive cut under his right eye, Nick Diaz looked liked he'd gone through hell against Takanori Gomi at Pride 33.
And although the former Pride lightweight champ Gomi appeared virtually unscathed, looks can be deceiving in MMA.
Diaz withstood Gomi's spirited offensive assault in the first round before lacing his left leg under Takanori Gomi's right armpit and setting up a gogoplata early in the second.
Diaz slid the front of his shin across Gomi's trachea and draped his right leg across the left side of Gomi's back. "The Stockton Bad Boy" then finished the rare choke by locking his hands while simultaneously elevating his hips.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled the fight a no-contest after the Californian tested positive for elevated marijuana metabolites.
But that doesn't diminish the fact that Diaz choked Gomi unconscious, marking the second time the Japanese fighter needed smelling salts to wake up after a submission loss.
7. Uneventful Decision
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Of the many foul ups that can get a fighter cut in the UFC, losing a vanilla and unsatisfying decision might top the list.
Daniel Cormier and Frank Mir undoubtedly represent two of the UFC's most enthralling heavyweights. However, when the duo did battle at UFC on Fox 7, neither wanted to deviate from a conservative brand of fighting and neither fought like their jobs were in jeopardy.
Cormier won the fight but failed to impress the UFC's brass enough to garner an immediate title shot. Mir, on the other hand, lost a decision, and then had to experience what every fighter dreads in the post-fight press conference—getting virtually ignored by the media.
6. KO by Slam
Fans in Japan's Saitama Super Arena could only cringe at the sight of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's powerbomb KO slam of Ricardo Arona at Pride Critical Countdown 2004.
A slick submission artist, Arona locked up a loose triangle choke on the volatile Jackson. Rampage calmly locked his hands near Arona's waist and picked the Brazilian over his head, violently slamming him to the canvas and leaving him unconscious.
In one instant, Arona was threatening with a submission, and in the next, he was getting hoisted off the mat and helped off to a Japanese hospital.
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The lone smudge on Jon Jones' pristine resume came because of the enforcement of an obscure rule in a bout he was dominating.
The UFC light heavyweight champ thumped Matt Hamill into submission at The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 Finale, only to get disqualified for throwing illegal elbows.
Raining legal elbows on the flattened Hamill, "Bones" switched to an illegal 12-to-6 brand of elbow to finish the job.
The bout's referee recognized that Jones' actions were prohibited by the unified rules of mixed martial arts, and action was stopped.
Hamill attempted to continue but had to throw in the towel when he realized he suffered a separated shoulder.
Jones got disqualified and suffered his first and only loss because of ignorance regarding specific guidelines in the unified rules of mixed martial arts.
Most fans remember how dominant Jones was against Hamill, but he surely still has to explain from time to time how he slipped up.
4. Kick to the Liver
Anthony Pettis used the strike popularized by former UFC champ Bas Rutten, the liver kick, to freeze the seemingly unflappable Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6.
The winner of eight of his previous nine bouts, Cerrone confidently engaged in a striking battle with the hard-hitting Pettis, a mistake that ultimately ruined his night.
Pettis landed a few body kicks early before switching to a southpaw stance and connecting with the blow that dropped Cerrone.
"Showtime" baited Cerrone into raising his hands and then unleashed a chopping kick to the body that set up Pettis' fight-ending punches.
Face-down on the canvas, Cerrone learned a hard lesson against Showtime and suffered his first career loss via knockout in the process.
3. Spinning Wheel Kick
Before getting carted off to the hospital, Adam Cella attempted to laugh off the gruesome spinning wheel-kick KO he suffered at the hands of Uriah Hall on Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter.
It was painfully obvious, though, that in an instant, Cella got dealt the most demoralizing defeat he'll ever experience.
Cella forgot about footwork for just a second, and even though his chin was fairly guarded, he walked directly into Hall's wheelhouse.
Using his fast-twitch muscle fibers, a charged-up Hall whipped his heel around the back of Cella's right ear, making the Missouri native snore before he even hit the canvas.
2. Inverted Triangle Choke
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In a desperate attempt to reach the finals of the Bellator Season 1 Lightweight Tournament, Toby Imada pulled off a Hail Mary submission on the favored Jorge Masvidal at Bellator 5.
Masvidal outstruck and controlled Imada for the better part of three rounds before shooting in for a takedown late in the third round.
Masvidal switched from a single-leg shot to a double-leg, but when he tried to lift and finish Imada, the Miami native got caught in a tight inverted triangle choke.
Imada cinched the unorthodox choke up and squeezed for about 10 seconds before watching Masvidal collapse in an unconscious state.
A fight Masvidal seemingly had in the bag turned in an instant, and rather than flooring Imada and controlling him, the American Top Team standout took the most embarrassing nap of his life.
1. Head Kick
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Rafael Natal can attest to how quickly the tides can turn in an MMA bout when a head kick finds its mark.
Natal looked in utter control of his bout at UFC on Fuel TV 4 after rocking Andrew Craig early in the second round.
But a resilient Craig got back to his feet, cleared the cobwebs and then landed a devastating head kick that rendered Natal temporarily unconscious.
Some fighters are already dominating their respective bout when they get the opportunity to fire a head kick. Others, like Craig, need to use this exceptionally brutal technique like a Hail Mary pass.