Anderson Silva lost to Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
If you're going to stand out for arrogance in a sport chock full of single-member demolition crews, chances are you're pretty arrogant.
And here we have the top 10 such examples fighting in MMA today. No, it doesn't mean you're a hater for identifying fighters as arrogant. It doesn't mean you think they're bad fighters. It doesn't mean you don't think they deserve to get paid or enjoy the finer pleasures of life. It just means you think they're arrogant. That's it. The sky is blue, water is wet and these guys are arrogant. Please enjoy.
Welterweight Rory MacDonald
Someone once described famously prickly Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as "over-programmed." That might also describe MMA savant Rory MacDonald.
Dangerous in all phases, the Zuffa-era UFC's most visible phenom is 14-1 (5-1 UFC) at the age of 23. But the raves over his exciting talents mellow to bemused stares whenever a near-obsessively coiffed MacDonald sits down behind the microphone for another tersely worded tableside chat.
There are also signs of arrogance inside the cage. MacDonald—who nicknamed himself after war god "Ares" because he didn't like the "Waterboy" moniker thrust on him by teammates—defended his clowning of B.J. Penn at UFC on Fox 5, but those comments came as all his comments come: with a side of irritation at having to explain himself to the unclean masses.
Everyone deserves a fresh opportunity in life. The Iron Man comic book villain* formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver is no exception. But taking advantage of that opportunity is a two-way street and a little more complicated than simply keeping oneself out of police blotters and gossip blogs.
Machine may not have learned this yet. Yes, he seems committed to a clean life since leaving prison in 2012. At the same time, one need only check his often-NSFW Twitter feed to see his regular anti-everyone slurs and personal put-downs of other fighters, trainers and fans, all stemming from a general assertion that everyone who doesn't like him is, for various reasons, jealous. That's pretty arrogant. And it shows that being a good person takes more than avoiding arrest for a few months.
(*Update: it seems the comic book War Machine is actually a hero, not a villain. My bad. Thanks, commenters.)
Light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
Division: Light heavyweight
I go back and forth on Jon Jones.
Part of the time, he seems so candid, so earnest, so eager to just be loved, that he doesn't appear to fit here at all.
And then there are the other times. Like that whole UFC 151 debacle. Even if you don't blame Jones for the event's cancellation, you still have to admit the whole thing sort of revealed a bit of a God complex in Jones. But hey, don't take my word for it: take his.
Then there was the diva-ish request of the UFC to get Chael Sonnen to stop all that trash talking. After seeing this kind of stuff, it's not a huge surprise that Jones' publicist quit in frustration last summer.
Lineal bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
The best new MMA analyst on TV is great at what he does both in and out of the squared octagon. And boy, does he know it. And not only does he know it. He knows you know it. And if you don't know it, allow Dominick Cruz to roll his eyes, chortle incredulously and sacrifice a few minutes of his valuable time to set you straight. No, no—sigh—he'll do it. He does it all the time.
Michael Bisping (left) at the weigh-ins with Alan Belcher before UFC 159.
Another guy who, like Jones, seems unfairly labeled as arrogant at times. Key phrase being "at times."
Chael Sonnen in 2012.
Division: Middleweight/Light heavyweight
Easily the best example of a man for whom arrogance is more act than sincerity. When the lights are lower, so is Chael Sonnen's profile.
But to be as good of a salesman as Sonnen is, there has to be a kernel of authenticity there. Sonnen's not above upbraiding, big-timing or just generally threatening the hide of anyone who rubs him the wrong way, be it a media court jester or the King of the NBA.
The thing is, Sonnen would probably be irritated not to see his name here. It would mean it wasn't working. Even if the routine and Sonnen himself are getting a bit long in the tooth, you still want him on this wall, MMA fans. You need him on this wall.
Welterweight Josh Koscheck
With Matt Hughes' retirement, Koscheck has assumed a couple of mantels: cockiest welterweight and most psychologically delayed former high school bully.
Koscheck fans believe (or at least want to believe) that his consistent antagonism of everyone in sight is a stroke of marketing genius. As if every unpleasant personality in MMA is a ploy by its owner to increase brand and put butts in seats. I'm not so sure. Some people are just unpleasant.
For evidence of this trait in Koscheck, I'll go back to my old reliable: When your college wrestling coach calls you a "prick" in an on-camera interview (during the UFC 124 Countdown show), you probably are.
UFC heavyweight Frank Mir.
The mug so smug, they named an expression after it.
But it's more than just The Frank Mir Face. Mir seems like a guy with interests and intelligence outside of fighting. That's great. But it doesn't mean you can't be arrogant. Quite the opposite, in fact. Mir is serially and quite visibly unimpressed with those around him, fighters or otherwise, when compared with the paragon that is himself. That is, unless an autograph session or puff piece is in the offing.
Mir is sometimes, somehow able to scrape the bottom of his emotion jar and scoop out a blob of something resembling humility—usually after he's lost a fight. The most magnanimous he may have ever appeared was in comparison to Brock Lesnar, perhaps the most arrogant and abrasive fighter to ever step inside the chain link.
Anderson Silva (right) fights Chris Weidman.
I really have nothing to add to this photo. Or to the hundreds of column inches decrying the arrogance that directly led to Anderson Silva's fall from grace at UFC 162.
It predates the Chris Weidman fight, of course. Stephan Bonnar. Yushin Okami. Thales Leites. Forrest Griffin. Demian Maia. Patrick Cote. The GOAT mowed all those guys down, and made a point to show full disdain while he did it.
Sure, the strategy fig leaf (i.e., he's trying to goad opponents into swinging so he can counter) gives him some plausible deniability. But he's a smart guy; he could find a way to do that without being arrogant if he deigned to do so.
Alistair Overeem (left) before getting knocked out by Antonio Silva.
At least Silva can claim strategic reasons for his cockiness. At least Frank Mir wipes that smirk off his face when it's time to go to work. Alistair Overeem can neither claim, nor seemingly do, either.
Maybe that's why a good bit of the global MMA community leaned back and laced its fingers behind its collective head in post-canary-eating refraction after Antonio Silva's intensely satisfying knockout of the Dutch centaur at UFC 156. Even Silva himself couldn't resist, bellowing a few choice opinions in the battered face of his fallen opponent, who had been sleepily laughing him off for weeks.
Looks like The Reem awoke a sleeping "giant," if you will. And there wasn't a straight face in the house.