15 Fighters MMA Fans Just Can't Take Their Eyes Off

Matt JuulContributor IIIAugust 19, 2011

15 Fighters MMA Fans Just Can't Take Their Eyes Off

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    Whether it's their performance in the cage or their antics prior to a fight, there's a reason why MMA fans just can't resist following each and every move that these athletes make.

    Maybe it's their skill.  Maybe it's the trash they talk.  Hell, maybe it's their good looks. 

    For the fighters on this list, there are certain intangibles that make them big names and huge draws.

    Here's 15 MMA stars that fans just can't seem to take their eyes off of. 

15. Anthony Pettis

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    Anthony Pettis became a champion as well as a viral video sensation when he added an exclamation mark to his title run with his "Showtime Kick."

    One of the most creative fighters to enter the cage in a long time, Pettis always puts on entertaining fights and does things that fans wouldn't even think were possible.

    Using his blend of capoeira and Tae Kwon Do kicks, "Showtime" definitely keeps fans watching because of his unique and entertaining style.

    Even in defeat, he showed flashes of brilliance when he capoeira kicked Clay Guida at the Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale.

    Viewers would be remiss to change the channel when Pettis fights because they would lose out on seeing some of the craziest moves in MMA.

14. BJ Penn

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    A two-time champion, BJ Penn is another one of those fighters that keeps fans buzzing, whether it's for his myriad of highlight finishes or his trash talking ways before a fight.

    When he was dominating the lightweight division as the champion, it seemed that no one would ever dethrone him as he blasted through challengers left and right.

    Although his reign may be over, fans still show Penn love for all that he's done for the sport.  He remains one of the biggest names in the UFC and holds onto the adoration of viewers for his gutty performances.

    Questions about his commitment can finally be put to rest as "the Prodigy" looks to make one more run, this time at 170, and cement his position as an all-time great.

    Fans know exactly who to turn to when they want to see a finisher fight in an action packed and exciting bout.

13. Jose Aldo

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    Not every fighter has to be followed for their out of the cage antics and pre-fight diatribes.

    For Jose Aldo, it's his skill and classy behavior that has won over millions of fans.

    Aldo is a phenomenal striker and has a ground game that has yet to be fully seen.  Although not the biggest name in the UFC—yet—he continues to add to his fanbase with each dominating performance.

    Fans better keep their eyes on this guy, because in a blink of an eye the fight may be over, with his hand raised and his opponent ready to be shipped to a hospital bed. 

12. Nick Diaz

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    He's the bad boy, plain and simple, and fans love to follow his every move.

    The former Strikeforce Welterweight champion has somehow found his way to a shot at Georges St. Pierre's title, all while doing it on his own terms.

    Contributing to post-fight brawls, talking smack to his opponents and flipping off cameras, Nick Diaz has been able to back up his rough persona by taking out every single opponent to cross his path in the last three years.

    Although a polarizing figure when it comes to determining pound for pound lists, there's no denying Nick Diaz's skill and his ability to get fans buzzing about his latest antics both during and after his fights.

11. Rampage Jackson

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    The MMA champion turned action star has provided some of the most exciting and sometimes hilarious, moments in the sport.

    He's sort of like the Shaq of MMA and not entirely due to his large physique and bald head.

    Rampage Jackson draws in fans with his highlight reel knockouts and all out wars with his opponents, but his crass and humorous demeanor is what keeps fans locked in on his activities.

    His stints as coach of the Ultimate Fighter has provided fans with an insight into the wild world of Rampage, whose door smashing antics makes for great television.

    Now a movie star and this generations B.A. Baracus, Rampage will continue to gain new fans even when his fighting career is over. 

10. Jason Miller

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    One of the sport's more comedic fighters, Jason Miller has been able to entertain fans with his antics in and outside the cage.

    Mayhem has been able to draw in new fans through his reality show Bully Beatdown, and his witty banter has kept them reeled into everyone of his fights.

    Known for his flashy entrances, bizarre comments, and also a pretty solid fight game, Mayhem keeps people talking and should be able to attract more eyes to his cause as he coaches the upcoming season of the Ultimate Fighter.

    Mayhem also has an ongoing feud with the Diaz brothers, another angle that adds to fans keeping an eye out for whatever this guy will do next.

    Fans just love to watch this guy kick and smirk his way across the cage as he puts the entertainment back in sports entertainment.

9. Tito Ortiz

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    Tito Ortiz's career has gone through many phases, and fans have stayed with him through each one.

    First he was the sport's bad boy, causing controversy with his words and actions as the longest reigning UFC Light-Heavyweight champion.

    Then he became an apparent joke, with fans calling for his retirement after going without a win for almost five years.

    Now it seems that Tito Ortiz is the comeback kid, revitalizing his career after choking out Ryan Bader and valiantly performing against Rashad Evans.

    Ortiz remains a big draw for the UFC because he was one of their first true stars.  Fans loved his cocky attitude and bad boy persona and now continue to follow this future Hall of Famer as he tries to keep his career rolling.

    Going from the polarizing champ to the beloved comeback kid, Ortiz has been able to keep fans saying his name as he's gone through the various stages of his career.

8.Kimbo Slice

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    The viral, backyard brawling sensation caused a stir in the MMA world when he decided to join the sport at the zenith of his Youtube popularity.

    Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, is one of those fighters you have to watch, mainly for all the hype and hysteria that his bouts cause.

    Fans love to watch Kimbo fight because of his street fighting past, heavy hands and scary demeanor. But as viewers got to see on the tenth season of the Ultimate Fighter, he's also a really good guy.

    Although his MMA career may not have panned out the way he may have wanted it to, Kimbo may have found a new home in boxing where he recently took a 10-second KO, winning his debut.

    Manly for the freak show factor, fans love to see Kimbo fight.  Maybe if he was a little younger he could have had the time to mold himself into a legitimate MMA fighter. 

7. Alistair Overeem

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    Fans love to watch a good striker and you don't get any better than the K-1 champion of the world.

    Alistair Overeem has a caused a stir in recent years as he's accrued multiple world titles, including the DREAM and Strikeforce heavyweight belts.

    En route to these accolades, Overeem has brutally KO'd opponents and put on impressive performances has he's ascended the heavyweight rankings.

    Now in negotiations to join the UFC, possibly to face former champion Brock Lesnar, Overeem's popularity should only skyrocket as he continues his quest to become the best heavyweight in the world.

    If he does join Zuffa's ranks once again, expect fans to keep their eyes peeled for one of the best strikers in MMA.

6. Anderson Silva

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    The longest reigning champion in the UFC has become the premier fighter that no one ever wants to miss.

    Anderson Silva comes out and does spectacular things every time he is called upon to headline an event.

    Whether it's pulling out a last minute submission when it looked like his streak was done or rendering a former champion unconscious with a kick to the face, Silva never ceases to provide fans with exciting and interesting shows.

    Although criticized in some recent fights for not taking things seriously, after his last two bouts, there is no doubt where Silva's focus is.

    Headlining UFC: Rio in his home country of Brazil, Silva is turning into a national icon much like Georges St. Pierre is to Canada.

    Fans love to watch "the Spider" at work because you never know what this living legend will do next.

5. Fedor Emelianenko

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    Once considered the greatest fighter of all time, Fedor Emelianenko may have dropped off in recent years, but there's no denying that people still love to watch "the Last Emperor." 

    Fans have followed each and every move that this Russian heavyweight has made since he dominated the MMA scene back when Pride was the premier organization.

    Beloved for his knockout power and slick submissions, he is usually regarded as a class act outside the cage.

    However, it was the drama between his almost signing with the UFC that caused a stir when Fedor looked to fight in the US.

    The MMA community may be polarized about where his legacy stands in comparison with other former greats, but they always come out in force to watch this legend fight regardless of the opponent or organization.

    Fedor's recent fall from greatness has only drawn more eyes to a legacy that few fighters will ever be able to match.

4. Georges St. Pierre

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    If Nick Diaz is the bad boy then UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has to be MMA's white knight.

    People just can't get enough of this squeaky clean star whose popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, especially in Canada.

    The reigning champion is not only loved for his Derek Jeter like public visage, but he is also one of the most talented fighters ever to compete in the UFC.

    Although criticized for not finishing fights, there's a reason why he was chosen to headline the biggest UFC event ever, UFC 129 in Toronto.  GSP is just one of those fighters that you never want to miss when he's fighting.  

    His grace in and outside the cage, wealth of skills and professionalism is why millions of fans adore the Canadian superstar.

3. Jon Jones

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    Fans may not be able to take their eyes off of UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Jon Jones probably because his face has been everywhere since winning the belt in March.

    The youngest champion in UFC history, Jones went on a media blitz following his dominating performance over Shogun Rua at UFC 128.  Whether it was the Tonight Show with Jay Leno or the Mo'Nique Show on BET, "Bones" was literally everywhere, retelling not only his historic win, but his heroic actions as well.

    Who could have scripted that the polished, faith-focused fighter would take down a fleeing robber the day of the biggest fight of his life?

    Add in his flashy moves, dominating wrestling and all the drama with Rashad Evans, and you have a recipe for major marketing success.

    Fans love him for his next-level skills and creative techniques, ensuring that every one of his fights will feature moves that no one has every seen before inside the Octagon.

    If Jones can keep this pace going, he has the chance to become the Michael Jordan of MMA.

2. Chael Sonnen

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    The biggest trash talker in the UFC would have been written off as a dog that was all bark if he didn't dominate pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva for almost five rounds at UFC 117.

    Love him or hate him, Chael Sonnen has provided some of the most hilarious sound bytes at the expense of Silva and his countrymen, and boy did he back up most of what he said (I'm sure he'd like to retract his statement about the Nogueira's jiu-jitsu though).

    Going from a relatively unknown fighter with great wrestling to the UFC's go to stand-up comic, viewers just can't look away when this guy walks on stage.

    Whether it's asking Silva to erect a statue of him in his house or claiming that he is the reigning middleweight champion, Sonnen never ceases to amaze fans with his antics outside of the cage.

1. Brock Lesnar

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    Former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is the biggest draw in the UFC.

    Bringing over hordes of fans from his days in the WWE, Lesnar came out and proved detractors wrongs, defeating some tough competition en route to the UFC belt.

    A massive person, in size and personality, Lesnar is just one of those athletes that fans just can't help but follow, even when his fights are 12 months apart!

    The drama with his diverticulitis, his bashing of Budweiser and Frank Mir after UFC 100, and his monstrous size culminated into a marketing behemoth that has kept fans watching ever since he first stepped into the Octagon in 2008.

    Although he has mellowed out since barely defending his title against Shane Carwin and losing it to Cain Velasquez, Lesnar still generates buzz wherever he goes.

    If Lesnar does indeed return late this year at UFC 140, possibly against Alistair Overeem, expect all eyes to be on the big man as he enters the cage once again.