The 10 Best Signature Walkout Songs in the UFC Right Now
In a "Face the Pain" world, we search for an oasis. But who can we rely on? Who can we trust?
We can trust these 10 individuals, is who. These are the 10 best signature entrance songs among active UFC fighters.
The time was right to produce this list. We've dealt with some difficult departures lately on the entrance-song front. Matt Hughes and his steely "A Country Boy Can Survive." Chuck Liddell and that nasty DMX intro. Stephan Bonnar and "Eminence Front," a true all-timer. And of course, who can forget Nick Denis robbing us all of "Genesis" by Justice with his early retirement because of brain injury concerns? What about what I want, Nick Denis? You're a selfish person.
Anyway, we're now just trying to pick up some pieces and move forward. For a song to make this list, the first criterion is that it must be strongly associated with one fighter. If it's a good song but everyone uses it, it's ineligible. I'm glancing in your direction, Rocky theme. I'm talking to you, every single Johnny Cash song from The Man Comes Around.
Second criterion: This is a ranking of songs, not fighters. Nevertheless, it helps if a fighter is more elite because frankly that makes it easier to find his or her song, not to mention the fact that it increases his chances of having a signature walkout song in the first place.
Third and most important criterion: The song has to be, how do I put this, good. Apologies to Kid Rock on this one. If it qualifies as a "signature song," but the song sucks, that doesn't help anybody. It doesn't move the ball forward, know what I mean?
So if you didn't see your favorite signature song on the list, take heart. It's just because the song wasn't good enough. This is not a subjective exercise. Use this as an opportunity to improve.
One more thing: The reason I'm the best in the world when it comes to MMA walkout song lists is because of my eclectic tastes and my ability to understand that just because it's not in my iPod, that doesn't mean it's not a worthy song. I have taste, but I'm not a snob. The rope ladder is hanging unfurled for anyone to climb. All the more reason you should really feel disheartened if your fave isn't on here.
I think that covers it. Please enjoy the list.
10. Jason High: "Run the Jewels" by El-P and Killer Mike
The welterweight worked a long time for his first UFC win, and it wasn't always pretty. It's fitting, then, that Jason High walks out to a track that details life's dirty work. It's also fitting that High, a well-known and charismatic Twitter personality, chose the current media darlings of indie hip-hop as his entrance artists of choice.
Pretty sinister beat, too. That always helps.
9. Joseph Benavidez: "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent
I wish every Team Alpha Male fighter walked out to this song.
I get why they don't, though, at least in certain instances. Urijah Faber is stuck on Dr. Dre and Tupac's "California Love," which just missed the list because of the aforementioned song-not-being-good thing.
This Ted Nugent cut works much better because the team is so well-known for guillotine chokes. "Strangleholds," if you know what I mean. Joseph Benavidez just won a match that way a few weeks ago when he made Tim Elliott tap with his feet.
Would that have happened if Benavidez had walked out to "California Love"? You tell me, bro. You tell me.
8. Anderson Silva: "Aint No Sunshine" by DMX
I remember this more as the theme song for the film Exit Wounds, or as I like to call it, the defining film of our time. Because the wounds enter, but they also exit, you know?
But I'm not here to tell you things you already know. I'm here to rank walkout songs. You might ask why this one isn't higher. Well, most of that has to do with the fact that the GOAT hasn't gotten much done lately. There was a day that when the lights went down and "Ain't No Sunshine" went up, everyone became terrified. That's not the case today.
Tell you what: If Anderson Silva recovers his form while using this song, it will shoot up this list. Or, we make an all-time list and put this No. 2 behind Fedor's funeral dirge.
T-7. Frankie Edgar, "Kick in the Door" by Biggie Smalls
A notoriously big rapper for a notoriously small fighter with a notoriously big heart.
There you go. This signature song is helped along by that nasty, staccato sample from "Screamin" Jay Hawkins. I'm not going to lie and pretend I had heard of "Screamin" Jay Hawkins before the Biggie brain trust sampled him, but I know now that he was a strange, theatrical dude. Think an R&B Alice Cooper, but before Alice Cooper. Maybe that explains the way those horns ring—the same way a good guitar riff captures an audience. And Frankie Edgar has been using it to help capture his audience for years.
T-7. Johny Hendricks: "50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown" by Bleu Edmonson
This is the early and pretty definitive leader in the clubhouse to replace "A Country Boy Can Survive" as the best of MMA's southern-fried walkout songs. So we had to make room for it.
Hendricks is, as Hughes was, completely consistent on his song choice. That helps. The more regularly a fighter plays it, the more likely it is to become his sonic calling card.
It also doesn't hurt that he doesn't have much competition in this area. Matt Brown has walked out to "I'd Love to Knock the Hell Out of You" by Hank Williams, Jr. The song has a fun name but is on the slow side and doesn't exactly get the crowd amped, not to mention that I'm pretty sure it's about spousal abuse. (Brown also hasn't used it lately.)
After that, what are the options? Don't even talk to me about Uncle Chael and "Too Much Fun." The first person to mention "Too Much Fun" gets a rotting tomato to the dome.
6. Josh Barnett: "The IVth Crusade" by Bolt Thrower
What an untapped vein for fighters. They could come out to real metal like this, but instead they usually choose "Bleed it Out" or what not. I feel like we can do better as a community.
Josh Barnett can lead the way. An unabashed metal fan, he makes his entrance to the dulcet tones of British death metal band Bolt Thrower. He's such an aficionado of the band that one of his nicknames, "The Warmaster," is taken from one of the group's album names.
5. Jeremy Stephens: "Work" by Gang Starr
Plenty of hip-hop cognoscenti view Moment of Truth as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time, and "Work" is one of its most adrenalizing and enduring tracks.
It also makes sense because it's about doing work, which is also something MMA fighters do a lot of. See that symmetry?
Props to Jeremy Stephens for the deep cut from one of the rap game's most revered tandems.
4. Cain Velasquez: "Los Mandados" by Vicente Fernandez
I understand that mariachi music may not be to everyone's taste. But when this one starts up, you know the baddest man on the planet is in the building. So that's pretty good.
The song is meaningful beyond simply being a Mexican song for a Mexican-American fighter in Velasquez. Velasquez's father crossed the border to find work in the United States. "Los Mandados" tells the story of a person who is trying repeatedly to break into the land of opportunity.
It also gives Velasquez a needed boost in the showmanship department. Look at that sombrero: Vicente Fernandez is a showman. Velasquez is not a showman. Terrifying, yes. Showman, no.
As such, the upbeat horns offer an energizing foil to Cain's stoic trudge to the ring. The whole thing just works.
3. Ronda Rousey: "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett
Does any other MMA walkout song fit its fighter more than this one?
Ronda Rousey is first and foremost the best fighter in women's MMA and one of the UFC's most popular personalities. But she is nearly as well-known for having some, eh, rough edges. This song from Joan Jett—a pioneer in her own right—encapsulates that roughness and Rousey's position of not caring about said roughness.
For the record, I think Rousey does care about how people perceive her. That's just my opinion. But this song drives home her branding as a rebel and a heel. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
2. Tim Kennedy: "Rooster" by Alice in Chains
Sometimes the slow stuff is what really makes you want to run through a brick wall. And "Rooster" is solidly in that camp.
It's also great to see some '90s rock on the radar. That was good stuff. And Alice in Chains was one of the era's most successful groups and probably the heaviest one to break onto the radio.
But that's not why it's No. 2 on this particular chart. The song is a ballad about the Vietnam War written by AIC guitarist Jerry Cantrell about his father, a Vietnam vet.
Tim Kennedy is a U.S. Army sniper who served multiple tours in Iraq. So it's a meaningful song to him, it fits like a glove, and it's also a darn good track. And that sums it up.
1. BJ Penn: "Hawaii '78" and "E Ala E" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
If this entrance song doesn't give you chicken skin, you may want to consult a dermatologist.
BJ Penn is known among hardcore fans as a fighter's fighter, always picking battles with people who are bigger than him and running his mouth ad infinitum to drive home his points. He's a legend with a chip on his shoulder and, in his own case, the swagger has earned him more followers than haters.
The secret ingredient to that recipe, I believe, is respect. At the end of the proverbial day, Penn deeply respects his opponents, his fans and the fight game. This song captures that perfectly, countering his braggadocio with reverence.
Honoring his Hawaiian heritage, the smooth ukulele and vocals have a remarkable effect on the crowd.
I was there in person for one of his entrances. It was UFC 101, his lightweight title defense against Kenny Florian. When this song came on, the crowd calmed down like it had been hit with a tranq dart. Penn's slow procession to the cage was like ancient fighting royalty moving among the masses. I guess it was.
Not to get too corny, but it was a reminder to everyone, maybe including Penn himself, that there is beauty in the violence and a deep well of love just below the hate. And I'm not going to lie: It was a beautiful thing to watch, and it's a beautiful song to hear. I'll miss it when Penn retires. Until then, I'm going to soak this up every chance I get.
Scott Harris never misses an opportunity to talk walkout songs. If you also like to talk walkouts, follow Scott on Twitter.