MMA's 25 Worst Cheap Shots
MMA is lucky.
Despite its fearsome reputation, the sport is chock full of fighters who work hard, love their families and honor their profession and each other. In nine cases out of 10, MMA fighters are respectful and respectable people.
This slideshow is about the other one.
It seems that no apple barrel is immune to a little spoilage. And when your chosen source of income entails hitting, kicking and twisting another man’s body parts, there’s going to be some bad seeds in the mix.
Every now and then, the result of that equation is a cheap shot. What follows are the 25 dirtiest, nastiest cheapest cheap shots the sport of mixed martial arts has ever produced. Some are cringeworthy, some are strange and most are, to be frank, rather hilarious, in that easy-for-me-to-say kind of way.
25. Brendan Schaub Punches Back of Cro Cop's Head
Schaub was deducted a point at UFC 128 for repeatedly punching Mirko Cro Cop in the back of the head, despite repeated warnings.
The deduction led to a draw in the second round, which could have been significant if Schaub had not knocked Cro Cop out in the final stanza.
24. Henderson Cleans Bisping's Clock
Just because you enjoyed it doesn't mean it's not a cheap shot.
23. Wanderlei Silva Holds Ropes While Stomping Yuki Kondo
Sports fans can be a delusional bunch, and MMA aficionados are no exception.
When a guy they like is dishing out the cheap shots—a guy like, say, Wanderlei Silva—they are often excused. Oh, it was adrenaline! He momentarily thought he was fighting in the streets again!
A look at the replay shows Silva enthusiastically grabbing the ropes to give his stomping that extra something special. At least Wandy isn't conflicted about his dirtiness.
The best part of the video is the ref, hopping around like a flustered pigeon as he tries to work up the courage to call Wandy off.
22. Paul Kelly Uses Glove Touch to Blindside Cerrone
In MMA, one of the dirtiest moves is punching (or kicking, and we'll get to that) your opponent during the touch of gloves, which is the fight game's signature display of sportsmanship.
Paul Kelly provides a decent example here, though it might have succeeded only in angering Donald Cerrone, who went on to get the submission win. Kelly later apologized for his underhandedness.
You almost have to try to get video quality this awful, but it does show it. Fast forward to about the 1:15 mark.
21. Bisping Lands Knee on a Downed Jorge Rivera
Nothing incidental about this. Look at the video…he lines it up like he’s about to try a field goal.
Once Bisping scored the knockout (not long after this knee), he followed it up by spitting on various people in Rivera’s corner.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Michael Bisping needs a sports psychologist.
20. Manny Gamburyan Kicks Jeff Cox Before Glove Touch
Right about now, I wish Bleacher Report accepted GIFs.
But it's not to be, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Or do your own Web search. Either way.
Regardless, at UFC Fight Night 13, Gamburyan delivers a spinning back kick to an unsuspecting Jeff Cox just deci-seconds before their gloves would have touched.
He later dedicated the kick to all the kids out there, which in retrospect made it a lot more meaningful.
19. Rampage Punches Wandy When He’s Down
It’s funny how a couple of the guys on this list appear on both the giving and receiving end of the cheap shot. Insert knowing reap-what-you-sow comment here.
These two had bad blood going back to the heyday of Pride, when Silva defeated Rampage twice—once for the middleweight belt and once for the middleweight grand prix tournament title.
Rampage exacts a measure of revenge when he knocks out Wandy in their third match, then lands three very unabated shots to Wandy's jaw after the referee has called the stoppage.
18. When a Choke and a Late Hit Just Aren't Enough
Arrgh! Another one I couldn't find video for.
After defeating Donnie Chappell by first-round chokeout at UFC 14, Tony Fyrklund dropped a late blow on him and then stepped on him while walking away. He then short-sheeted Chappell's bed that night and spiked his breakfast with sulfuric acid the next morning.
Fyrklund disappointed scumbags everywhere by later apologizing.
17. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou Loses His Mind on Jan Nortje
Sokoudjou lands, by my count, six extracurricular punches after the ref has thrown himself on top of the defenseless Nortje. Extremely egregious here, as evidenced by the scuffle that ensued afterward between members of the two corners.
Why did Sokoudjou do it? Well, to be honest, Nortje looks like a mouth breather. And you know how annoying that can be.
The "incident" starts at about 3:45.
16. Arlovski Rabbit Punches Marcio Cruz, a Lot
The strangest thing about this one is that, despite repeated warnings, the blows somehow led to an Arlovski win at UFC 66.
15. The Groin Slides, Part 1: Keith Hackney
Save your breath. I know this move was technically legal when Hackney pulled it out of his black bag of tricks back at UFC 4.
And yet, here it is on the cheap shots list. Why?
BECAUSE HE IS REPEATEDLY PUNCHING ANOTHER MAN IN THE BALLS.
14. The Groin Slides, Part 2: Cheick Kongo
Lifetime achievement recognition in the field of groin striking goes to "Cup" Cheick Kongo, who has a long and thoroughly documented history of kneeing guys in the yarbles.
I was looking for a YouTube montage of Kongo’s greatest hits, and was disappointed to find none.
What do YouTube montage makers do all day, anyway?
13. Chris “Cheap Shot” Sheridan
When it's the guy's freaking nickname, you know it's bad.
12. Takanori Gomi Charges Luiz Azeredo
At Bushido 7 in 2005, Gomi caught Azeredo and knocked him out. But, for whatever reason, he continued to attack his unconscious opponent as if in a frenzy.
He ultimately had to be restrained by venue security.
11. The Cheap Shot Triple Play
Fellow Bleacher Report columnist Blake Dreisbach sums it up nicely here.
But here's the sequence in a nutshell: Almeida holds the choke on Marquardt a few beats too long, which prompts Nate the Great to punch Almeida after the stoppage, which then prompts Almeida trainer Renzo Gracie to kick Marquardt in the face, which then activates a pulley system that lowers Cheick Kongo into the ring for a series of groin strikes.
What a contraption!
10. Gilbert Yvel Trilogy, Part 1, Wherein He Gouges the Eye of Don Frye
Whenever you have "L -- DQ (eye gouge)" on your record, you're in some pretty select company.
You can check out a GIF of the gouge here.
9. Wes Sims Stomps on Frank Mir’s Head
Wes Sims has a reputation as a cheap shot artist. But at UFC 43, he seemed to blow a fuse when he stomped repeatedly on Mir’s head in plain sight of anyone with eyesight. He earned a DQ loss in the process.
But don’t feel too bad for Mir. He absolutely crushed Sims, fair and square, in their rematch at UFC 46.
8. Babalu Holds Choke on David Heath
Renato "Babalu” Sobral is a very angry young man. Best case in point: UFC 74.
Before their fight, David Heath called Babalu a bad name.
After their fight, Heath was lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood.
Realizing that he had, in the heat of the moment, held the anaconda choke long after Heath tapped, Sobral immediately went into damage control mode after the fight.
“He has to learn respect," Babalu reasoned. "He deserved that.”
LeBron James would be proud.
A few days after the incident, Sobral was booted from the UFC.
7. Paul Daley Sucker Punches Josh Koscheck
For a variety of reasons, Daley got pretty frustrated during his fight with Kos. Unfortunately for Daley and his UFC career, he wasn't able to actually take out those frustrations until after the fight.
You're just encouraging him, Paul. You're just encouraging him.
6. Gilbert Yvel Trilogy, Part 2, Wherein He Bites Another Man
The unlucky Evander Holyfield to Yvel’s Mike Tyson was Karimula Barkalaev, who on the bright side did pick up a DQ win after the ref saw what Yvel did.
I love Herb Dean's expression in this photo. "Gilbert, you just, I mean, you can't just bite people."
5. Palhares Subs Drwal
Palhares holds the heel hook for a loooong time after the stop, long after Drwal nearly goes hoarse from screaming, and the ref nearly strains muscles in an attempt to break the two apart.
Some time later, Drwal shared his thoughts on the moment:
“I think when someone taps and screams it means that he's done, that he concedes the win to the other guy and that the guy should stop the hold without fearing any misunderstandings with the ref.”
I’m no Big John McCarthy, but I think I must concur with that assessment.
For Palhares’ part, he protested the 90-day suspension, saying he was “just waiting for the ref to interrupt the match.” Yes, I can see how the ref pushing on you so hard that his neck tendons pop out may leave a little room for ambiguity. Way to be wishy-washy about it, ref.
(Postscript: thankfully, Drwal was not seriously injured.)
4. Glove Tap, Baby, Glove Tap
The most egregious of the Glove Touch Cheap Shot subgenere.
Atilla Kubilay absolutely wrecks Richard Bowkett with a cheap shot at Cage Rage 13. But he does it before the fight starts.
One wouldn't think that sucker punch would provide much advantage. Then again, one also wouldn't think the ref would allow a fight to happen after this cheap shot.
But allow it he did, and Kubilay shockingly goes on to pound out Bowkett with so much intensity that the referee has to wrap an arm around his throat to pull him off. That was about 30 seconds before the bearded lady entered the ring, which was a great capper. So give Cage Rage credit on that one.
Check out the video. It's so stupid it's almost hypnotic.
3. The Heath Herring Kiss Punch
Maybe not the worst on this list, but probably the most famous. In fact, if memory serves, this video went viral before anyone knew what going viral meant.
The best part is that Herring knocks The Kisser absolutely cold with what looks at a glance like an open-handed slap. He was like some indignant woman who didn't care for a young man's advances. Which I suppose isn't wildly inaccurate.
I never get tired of watching this.
2. Gerard Gordeau
No. 2 is reserved not for a single shot, but for a single man. Give it up for the Ty Cobb of MMA, only if Ty Cobb wasn't all that good at baseball.
Doesn't he look like the dirtiest fighter ever? Well...he is.
Gordeau bit, low-blowed and gouged his way through a decade-long career in various martial arts and MMA promotions. He fought three times in UFC 1 before losing in the final to Royce Gracie.
In his last MMA bout, he gouged the eyes of Yuki Nakai so badly that Nakai lost sight in his right eye.
Gordeau still lost the fight.
1. Gilbert Yvel Trilogy, Part 3: The Ref Punch
As with a few of the preceding examples, I am wondering what the fighter hoped to accomplish here.
That's a referee, Gilbert Yvel. At worst, he's a necessary arbiter of the fight. At best, he's your ally.
Was Yvel expecting a friend to slide under the ropes with a steel chair to help him finish off the opponent? Did Yvel find the referee offensive in some way? Is Yvel just crazy?
I need answers here. I want to know why. Why, Gilbert Yvel? Why?