The 5 Dirtiest Fighters in MMA History

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2012

The 5 Dirtiest Fighters in MMA History

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    Every sport has its heels whose on-the-field antics end up having them vilified by fans and media alike.

    Sometimes, it is a slight jab after the referee calls a stop to action. Sometimes, it is full-blown violence. Sometimes, they get publicly shamed. Sometimes, they just get away with it their entire career.

    MMA is no different. It too has its share of Ndamukong Suhs, Kyle Busches, Marty McSorleys and Roger Clemenses.

    So who are those fighters who have done the worst job representing the sport? Find out right here, in the "Dirtiest Fighters in MMA History."

    Here, we will primarily focus in on fighters who have had issues in the cage. While MMA has had some truly bad people competing, we will concentrate on those who actually fight dirty.

Josh Barnett

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    Josh Barnett does not fight dirty...but he is unquestionably a dirty fighter. While he has been a fixture in the top ten heavyweight lists for many years now, his career has been outright defined by his numerous steroids scandals.

    The first major instance came after he beat Randy Couture in a title bout to become the UFC heavyweight champ. Years later, he successfully destroyed the entire Affliction promotion when he tested positive again. This resulted in a card, originally scheduled to have a Barnett vs. Fedor Emelianenko headline, getting canceled. The financial hit was a major factor in Affliction closing its doors.

    Most fighters in this situation have been apologetic, a la Thiago Silva. Josh Barnett, though, has blamed essentially everyone that he could come up with, from promotional brass to the Athletic Commissions to his opponents.

    That complete lack of repentance has made him the poster boy for PED use in MMA and also one of the most widely disliked fighters in sports.

Keith Hackney

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    Ruptured testicle.

    If you did not cringe just reading those two words, you are probably not a man.

    Groin shots, unfortunately, are very common in MMA, though they are unintentional a vast majority of the time. While men often laugh at that sort of hit, be it in fighting or otherwise, we all secretly feel sympathy for the victim. After all, they hurt a whole lot.

    Some fighters, though, seem to make a habit out of working over an opponent's squishier bits. When this writer was considering who to slot in as MMA's foremost practitioner of the knapsack attack, a few names crossed the mind including Cheick Kongo, Donald Cerrone and Alex Caceres. However, they cannot hold a candle to Keith Hackney, whose entire MMA career was defined by his merciless delivery of premature comeuppance on Joe Son's man parts.

    For those who have not heard of Keith Hackney, that is understandable. He fought in both UFC 3 and UFC 4, in bouts that can only be viewed as the greatest examples of how far the promotion has come.

    In his first bout at UFC 4 with Joe Son, Son had Hackney deep in a guillotine choke, at which point, Hackney decided the best defense against this was to repeatedly punch Son in balls. When I say repeatedly, I mean he landed six wound-up punches with a good bit of time and effort dedicated to each one.

    While that was legal in the UFC at the time, no list of dirty mixed martial artists is complete without bringing up Keith Hackney.

Mike Kyle

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    Mike Kyle has one of the most well-earned bad reputations around. Saying he is a dirty fighter is, in fact, a disservice to him. He is not just a dirty fighter, but also just generally a crappy human being.

    He bit Wes Sims at UFC 47. He thumbed Tsuyoshi Kohsaka's eye at Pancrase: Spiral 8 and then did the same to Krzysztof Soszynski at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Gracie. Most famously, he delivered an illegal soccer kick to Brian Olsen and then repeatedly punched him in the face as the ref tried to separate them at WEC 20.

    Yes, he was a DQ in Dream short of breaking rules in essentially every major MMA promotion ever.

    Kyle is not a nice guy and, because of that, should be regarded as one of the dirtiest fighters ever. Why Zuffa is keeping him employed in Strikeforce right now remains a mystery.

Nate Marquardt

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    Seeing this name pop up may surprise many. Nate Marquardt, after all, is primarily remembered for his many years as a top middleweight contender in the UFC.

    However, what many do not remember is his Paul Daley-style swipe at Ricardo Almeida after a Pancrase bout. The same goes for his illegal knees on Thales Leites. The same goes for his sucker-punch knockout of Rousimar Palhares.

    The thing is, Marquardt has numerous cases of unsporting conduct in the cage, and numerous issues with illegally using testosterone. This resulted in him being suddenly ejected from the UFC in 2011 and eventually finding his way to Strikeforce.

    Though he is now their welterweight champion, he is still one of the dirtiest fighters in UFC history.

Gilbert Yvel

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    Gilbert Yvel has been in MMA for a very long while now, and is among the most underrated strikers in MMA history. He was one of the first fighters to have success built upon Muay Thai proficiency and remains one of the best heavyweight kickboxers in Europe. Nobody really remembers that, though.

    The reason for this? He is one of the dirtiest fighters with one of the worst attitudes in the history of combat sports.

    He has three DQ losses to his name for a variety of offenses including biting, eye-gouging and punching a referee and delivering an illegal kick to the head of a downed referee.

    While many folks are considered “dirty” because of their attitudes or PED use, Yvel simply acted like a violent hothead. He has calmed down in recent years, with his last DQ loss all the way back in 2004.

    Still, Yvel was thoroughly destroyed in his most recent stint in the UFC, racking up back-to-back-to-back losses to Junior dos Santos, Ben Rothwell and Jon Madsen. Because of that, he is likely never going to shed that reputation, and his contributions to MMA will likely end up forgotten amidst those bad highlights.

"Honorable" Mentions

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    We can't fit everybody on this list. There are plenty of fighters that have done improper things in and out of the cage that deserve to have a finger wagged at them. Here are a few of them!

    Wes Sims' UFC 43 stomping of Frank Mir is one of the worst DQ losses in MMA history.

    Michael Bisping's attitude after his fights with Matt Hamill and Jorge Rivera really makes me feel good about the general lack of respect he gets.

    The unsporting flop Josh Koscheck did to draw a point deduction against Paul Daley and the following sucker-punch by Daley. Those were both pretty bad.

    Various fighters with Neo-Nazi connections like Melvin Costa and Brandon Saling. Being a Neo-Nazi is worse than most of the stuff on this list.

    Joe Son, who fought (and lost) four times in his MMA career is by far the guy with the most secure place in hell in this article, having been convicted of torturing and raping a woman in 1990 and, more recently, admitting to killing his cellmate.


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