The 30 Best Entrance Songs in the UFC
When the venerable and careworn UFC Gladiator finally slouched away to that big focus group in the sky, his memorial service was depressingly bereft of mourners. But I, for one, am mourning. I can't help but think of all those good years, all those gallons of adrenaline, all those members of Stemm who now have no readily discernible means of feeding themselves. And, of course, those legions upon legions of fraternity brothers, who in the throes of sheer exaltation crushed shanty towns worth of beverage cans on their collective forehead every time The Gladiator took the screen. I mourn for all of it, really.
And I'm not going to kid myself; it may be some time before I'm whole again. It's a process, is what it is. But in the meantime, I find solace in the gladiator spirit that continues to permeate the sport he so valiantly represented for so long. Sure, the fighting is part of that. But really what I'm talking about are the entrance songs.
Here are my picks for the 30 best entrance songs in the UFC today. They are the fanfare of the fighter, the announcement of his presence, the clarion call for battle and for blood. You may recall that I've previously covered the best (and worst) selections in MMA history. But that was a while back. Time for an update.
This covers active UFC fighters only. And, unfortunately, because of limitations on usable UFC footage, videos for the songs themselves are used in most cases. You'll just have to use your imagination. But that's OK. I suspect The Gladiator would have wanted it that way. As you read, pour some American-style pilsner on the pavement for this fallen hero. Because this one's for him.
30. Matt Brown, "I'd Love to Knock the Hell out of You" by Hank Williams, Jr.
Right off the bat, the entrance song sets the tone. This one is a pretty straightforward illustration. Boot-stompin' brawler walks out to boot-stompin' country classic about not takin' nothin' from nobody. Gotta like that.
29. Jason Brilz, "Bro Hymn" by Pennywise
Not the best track from these Warped Tour mainstays but still a good song from a good '90s punk act. And it gets you pretty pumped, too.
28. Frankie Edgar, "Kick in the Door" by Notorious B.I.G.
A big New York hip-hop track for a big-hearted New York (er, New Jersey) fighter.
27. DaMarques Johnson, "Mice and Gods" by Clutch
Apparently DaMarques is a Clutch fan, as he has chosen multiple walkout anthems from this venerable spacecore outfit from Maryland.
The first line in the chorus—"fire it up, and let the flesh be damned"—is delivered with a snarl that almost demands confrontation.
26. Vitor Belfort and Erick Silva, "300 Violin Ochestra" by Jorge Quintero
Not only used by both fighters, but used by both fighters at the same event! They both walked out to it at UFC 142. It was like a waking nightmare! It was Pink and Shakira all over again.
It is still a good song, though. Plenty of fighters, especially of the Brazilian persuasion (think Royce Gracie) love their walkout songs on the cinematic side.
25. Thiago Silva, "Ratamahatta" by Sepultura
OK, time to wash away that Pink and Shakira reference.
And what better way to do so than with the guttural tribal chants and trademark brutality of Brazilian metal machine Sepultura? Just another reason to look forward to Thiago Silva's return to the Octagon.
24. Frank Mir, "Amazing" by Kanye West
This is a great example of a walkout song perfectly attuned to its owner.
The song's swaggering electric beat combined with the shoulder-chip refrain of "no matter what, you'll never take that from me" provides an appropriate pairing for the cocky but sometimes-overlooked former heavyweight champion.
23. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, "Sail" by Armin Van Buuren
Whenever I hear this song, I immediately think of Shogun. I guess that's a good thing.
Personally, I prefer Christopher Cross' "Sailing," but hey, that's my issue.
22. Edson Barboza, "Na Frente Do Reto" by O Rappa
Not to get all Pitchfork on you here, but there's something about this sonic landscape that suggests both celebration and determination. Patience and urgency. Joy and rage. Just a really, really good fighter entrance song.
21. Anderson Silva, "Ain't No Sunshine" by DMX
If MMA fighters were the only people who bought music, DMX would top the charts every week, followed closely by Kid Rock, AC/DC and every Rocky soundtrack.
And I get it, with the growling and confronting and the barking and menacing. It's appropriate to the circumstances. Still, everyone falls all over themselves to talk about what a great song this is, and I'm not sure that would be the case if it didn't happen to be the entrance song of the best fighter on planet Earth.
I don't even think it's the best song Anderson has ever used—that would be this, from his Pride days. In fact, I don't even think this is the best DMX walkout song in current circulation.
20. Rory MacDonald, "One More Road to Cross" by DMX
I would give that distinction to this one.
19. Wanderlei Silva, "Sandstorm" by DJ Darude
Anyone who had anything even vaguely resembling an adult social life in the mid-late '90s is still sick of this song. And these days, it definitely has a "Go Diamondbacks" sort of feel to it.
But whatever. It's definitely iconic for Wanderlei, so here it is.
18. Joseph Benavidez, "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent
Another entry for the song-fits-the-fighter file, as Benavidez has seven of his 15 pro wins by choke out. Ha, get it?
The fact that it's a bad-ass '70s rock anthem doesn't hurt either. Party at the Moon Tower!
17. Chris Leben and Jimy Hettes, "Welcome to Jamrock" by Damian Marley
This is probably the biggest U.S. hit for Bob Marley's son and perhaps the entire toasting sub-genre (basically Jamaican hip-hop).
Those signature air horns are tailor-made for a good MMA walkout, as is the song's refrain: "Out in the streets, they call it murrrr-derrrrr..."
16. Rashad Evans, “Survival of the Fittest” by Mobb Deep
Evans has good taste in hip-hop. KRS-One and Immortal Technique are two of the artists to narrate his walkouts.
But this track from Mobb Deep, which he used for UFC on FOX 2, might be his latest and greatest. Three minutes and 40 seconds of barely-controlled fury.
15. Spencer Fisher, "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash
Best song title on this list.
Great video, too...lots of random celebs. If you've ever wondered what Chris Rock would look like lip-syncing to a Johnny Cash song, wonder no more.
14. B.J. Penn, "Hawaii '78" into "E Ala E" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
One of the most distinctive theme songs in MMA history. The song starts, and a hush comes over the crowd. It puts the fight--and Penn himself--in a completely different light.
13. Yoshihiro Akiyama, "Time to Say Good-Bye" by Andrea Bocelli/Sarah Brightman
Say what you want about Sexyama—the guy has style.
This song's ethereal, operatic tones lend a lot of dignity (no other word for it) to the proceedings. But it's surprisingly effective as an intimidation tool, because it bestows the engagement with the feel of a reckoning. It's like he's saying, "I apologize in advance for the fact that I'm about to either kill you or die trying."
12. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones
Major goosebump factor just a shot away.
11. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, "Da Rockwilder" by Method Man and Red Man
Apparently the Nogueira brothers know their music.
This track, recorded back when Method Man and Red Man still had artistic credibility, is a large-bore adrenaline shot deciphered into an auditory file.
10. Stephan Bonnar, "Eminence Front" by the Who
A softer tune, but one with a hard purposefulness about it. You'd never guess this was The Who if you didn't already know.
9. Dan Hardy, "England Belongs to Me" by Cock Sparrer (feat Dan Hardy)
Like the cocksure fighter it represents, this song bursts through the curtain and belts you in the face. But the more you listen, the more you realize you kind of like where its head is at.
Hardy may be on an extended downswing, but thanks to this razor-sharp British street punk standard, he'll always have a place on this ranking as far as I'm concerned.
And as an added bonus, the version you hear as Hardy walks out features on vocals one Mr. Dan Hardy. Normally that kind of thing comes across as forced, or worse, but in this case, I'd say it works.
8. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, PRIDE Theme Song
Other fighters had used the PRIDE theme before, but when Rampage used it at UFC 123, it was an unexpectedly poignant tribute to the defunct promotion where Jackson had so many of his career highlights.
7. Alan Belcher, "The Hurricane" by Bob Dylan
Here comes the story of a fighter who (eventually) succeeded against long odds, and it's told by the greatest songwriter in American rock history. Nothing to dislike here.
6. Jon Fitch, "Rusty Cage" by Johnny Cash
The UFC entrance song that best encapsulates the fighter it represents.
Never did the late-career Johnny Cash's death rattle sound so at home as it did while picking its way through this grungy Soundgarden ballad, looking for a place to bury its axe.
It's the perfect complement to Fitch and his unique brand of combat, which seems to try to submit your soul more than your physical body.
Both are reminders that the worst kind of suffering doesn't always happen at the point of some high-octane, laser-guided prototype. Sometimes it happens beneath sludgy, slow-grinding wheels.
5. Dan Henderson, "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider
In case you didn't know, this rock radio standard is also the theme from Vision Quest, a 1985 movie about a high school wrestler. So yeah...that's why it's popular in MMA circles. That, and it's a pretty good song.
4. Forrest Griffin, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys
Some people believe this song to be a little past its prime. But when Forrest comes bounding toward the cage with this rollicking barstool screamer in the background and everyone shouting along at the tops of their lungs, it could be the most underrated entrance of any era.
3. Matt Hughes, "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams, Jr.
Probably the entrance song most closely associated with its fighter and the soundtrack for the best non-choreographed entrance in MMA. It's the perfect understated accompaniment for the cold steel that is Matt Hughes.
Also, give it up for Bocephus, who along with Johnny Cash and DMX is the only artist to make this list twice.
2. Tom Lawlor, "Real American" by Rick Derringer
And all these years, I thought Rick Derringer's millions were coming solely from "Rock n' Roll Hoochie Koo." But no...he was getting those sweet, sweet Hulk Hogan royalty checks the whole time.
This was the masterstroke for one Mr. Tom Lawlor, or as I like to call him, the Pablo Picasso of the UFC entrance song.
Don't care for Rick Derringer? How about Olivia Newton John's magnum opus, "Physical," which The Filthy Mauler walked out to at UFC 139.
Or, "Who Let The Dogs Out," the unforgettable single from the Baha Men. Yes, those Baha Men.
Or "Living in America." Or any of the other ones. Whatever the selection, Lawlor knows how to use his entrance song to get the crowd on his side. And in the end, isn't that the point?
If you've never heard the full version of "Real American" before, close your office door or throw a tarp over your cubicle, sit back and indulge yourself.
1. Nick Denis, “Genesis” by Justice
The best walkout song in the UFC today. Nothing else better embodies The Spirit of the Gladiator. He lives on in you, Nick Denis. He lives on in you.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I feel an uncontrollable urge to go fight something.