Conor McGregor and the 10 Best Trash-Talkers in the UFC Right Now

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterApril 9, 2015

Conor McGregor and the 10 Best Trash-Talkers in the UFC Right Now

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    Conor McGregor
    Conor McGregorBuda Mendes/Getty Images

    There is a new dawn afoot. Will you be able to say you were there?

    We are witnesses to a changing of the guard, and MMA trash talk, well, never shall it be the same.

    Gone are the golden-agers. Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn, Matthew Serra and the godfather of this game, Uncle Chael P. Sonnen, have all shuffled off that mortal combat coil (and yes, I count Tito in this group, burn!). 

    But let us not fashion an epoch of mourning for those fallen. Let us instead look toward the East, from whence rides a fledgling generation of trash. Ones in whom the trash is so strong, that it may well lift away our boredom before our nodding chins ever brush the necklines of our Ed Hardys.

    Indeed, the future is so bright for MMA smack talk, that we, as a people, may be forced to wear shades. Just as the man at the vanguard of this charge (pictured) has done.

    Right. So Conor McGregor is indeed No. 1. If that spoiled the list for you, well, I'm glad you unfroze. But it goes so far beyond McGregor. These are the 10 best trash-talkers active in the UFC right now. They are ranked based on, you know, their ability to talk trash. Just remember: Although a fighter being "right" in his or her smack talk is helpful, it's not necessary in order for the smack to be "good." In fact, one mark of excellent trash talk is that it sways you to the talker's point of view, no matter how right or wrong it might be.

    Please enjoy. Unless you're yellow, in which case, go running to your mommy. Oh yeah.

Honorable Mentions, Non-UFC Edition

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    Ben Askren
    Ben AskrenTY RUSSELL/Associated Press

    These fighters are ineligible because they are not in the UFC, but a list of the best active trash-talkers in MMA would be incomplete without them:

    • Ben Askren 
    • Paul Daley
    • Will Brooks
    • Vinny Magalhaes
    • Cody McKenzie
    • "King" Mo Lawal
    • Tito Ortiz
    • Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
    • Stephan Bonnar
    • Phil Baroni

Honorable Mentions, UFC Edition

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    Rashad Evans
    Rashad EvansScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    These guys are active UFC fighters who didn't quite make the cut:

    • Jon Jones
    • Rashad Evans
    • Nate Diaz
    • Bec Hyatt
    • Cathal Pendred
    • Roy Nelson
    • Diego Brandao

10. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

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    She may not be the champion the women's strawweight division wants, but she may be the champion the division needs.

    It was kind of generally assumed that this new UFC weight class would be commandeered and indefinitely controlled by someone or a group of someones from that all-strawweight season of The Ultimate Fighter.

    Not the case. Joanna "Thank God for Cut and Paste" Jedrzejczyk stormed onto the scene and hasn't really given the scene back yet. 

    During a photo-op faceoff to promote their title bout at UFC 185, the Polish strawweight asked then-champ Carla Esparza, "Why you smiling? I'm gonna wipe that smile off your face."

    Then at the official weigh-ins, Jedrzejczyk handed Esparza a cookie. Esparza's nickname is "Cookie Monster." I don't know exactly what it was supposed to mean. But it was badass.

    And then the next night, Jedrzejczyk knocked Esparza out and took the belt. She certainly has a way, in and out of the cage, and the 27-year-old could be among this new guard of trash-talkers for a long time to come.  

9. Cole Miller

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Just because you're not a top-10 fighter doesn't mean you can't be a top-10 trash-talker.

    But persistent misconceptions to the contrary, or perhaps just the hard fact of the matter that the rate of decline in available microphones is directly proportional to the worsening of one's ranking, keeps lower-tier fighters on the fringes of the trash-talking discourse.

    And it's a shame, because Cole Miller does some darn fine work in this area, as evidenced by his broadsides toward the aforementioned Mr. McGregor after McGregor's win over Diego Brandao in July 2014:

    It's pretty easy to look good when everything's made for you to look good. He got to fight in his home town with all those people there supporting him. He got a full camp of preparation when his opponent didn't...I think when these people are spoon-fed what their opinions should be they start saying the same stuff they've already been hearing from the UFC and the brass...Absolutely, I think [the UFC is] behind [McGregor]. I don't think that he's a bad thing. I'm not saying he's great for the sport but he's probably pretty good for the division. I don't think Jose Aldo is that big of a draw amongst the fighters. Everyone's always looking for the gold and he's the best, but I don't get a good vibe from fans. Nobody really wants to watch Aldo fight...I did see something where Dana said Conor reminds him of Ronda Rousey. That's a pretty bold statement. I told my brother they're both blond. That must be it.

    Tell me what you really believe, Cole Miller.

    What makes that smack so nice is that he uses a question about McGregor to springboard into insults of all sorts of different people and things. That's called taking initiative, and that's what I like to see in my smack-talkers.

8. Tim Kennedy

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Tim Kennedy is more of a self-styled truth-teller than a pure talker of smack. But when he gets rolling, it's hard to tell the difference between the two.

    I personally enjoyed Kennedy's attack on Vitor Belfort from September 2014. Testosterone replacement therapy had recently been banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and Belfort—long accused of various performance-enhancing drug abuses by his fellow fighters—was looking noticeably slimmer. 

    "You want to look like Vitor did two years ago? Use steroids," Kennedy smacked in his smack attack. "You want to perform like he did? Use steroids. They're amazing. If you want to look like how Vitor looks now, don't use steroids and then try to compete against guys like us who work hard...If he doesn't make it [to his next fight], it's because he realized that he has no chance without his magic juice."

    Kennedy, a U.S. Army Ranger and decorated Army sniper, also takes on the big whales in the proverbial pond. He once said he'd make more money as a "trash collector" than he does fighting in the UFC (he later apologized). 

    There was also his epic rant against iconic ref John McCarthy after Kennedy's fight with Yoel Romero, in which Romero stayed on his stool for a few extra seconds between rounds and went on to knock Kennedy out.

    Here's a guy who's pretty fearless about "going there." That's the mark of a good trash-talker.

7. Michael Bisping

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    Michael Bisping (right) talks it up with Luke Rockhold.
    Michael Bisping (right) talks it up with Luke Rockhold.Matt King/Getty Images

    Output.

    It's what makes Bisping good in the cage, and it's what makes him good at smack-talking.

    He never seems to land that big knockout blow. But he stays busy. He peppers you until he wears you down.

    Last November, Bisping danced with Luke Rockhold

    Before that, it was Cung Le

    Before that, it was Tim Kennedy.

    Lather, rinse, repeat. It's all a little, eh, familiar at that point. He's a bum! He's pathetic! He's a cheater! I shall knock him out! All in that unmistakable Manchester accent.

    At age 36, Bisping is holding it down for the older generations. He may be slowly moving over to the novelty circuit, but at least his smack will be there to great him. It's been living comfortably there for years. 

6. Bethe Correia

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Bethe Correia may be the purest successor to the Uncle Chael bloodline. Just as Sonnen famously and repeatedly blustered his way to the front of UFC contender lists, the Brazilian has now almost literally talked her way into a women's bantamweight title shot.

    All she had to do was beat two of Ronda Rousey's "four horsewomen" stablemates, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, and then talk smack to Rousey the whole entire time.

    After unimpressively besting an unimpressive Duke at UFC 172 last April, Correia made the unmemorable quite memorable by looking into the camera, holding up four fingers, and peeling one down. Three to go.

    And like a 1980s video game and/or action movie, up pops another bad guy. Correia bested Baszler, and because Marina Shafir is not in the UFC, that left only Rousey.

    "I already proved to the world that the Four Horsewomen are a big joke," Correia said. "I just need to conclude my work getting the number one, the leader...The only thing I recognize [about Rousey] as an athlete is what she did for women's MMA. But even as the UFC champion she still hasn't proven she's the best woman fighter."

    Rousey, being the rather extremely temperamental person that she is, couldn't help but take the bait. The match is set for UFC 190 in August, and in Correia's home country no less.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do it.

5. Ian McCall

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    There are fighters who talk trash for business purposes (Correia), fighters who talk trash as a form of truth telling (Miller) and fighters who talk trash as a way to amp themselves up for a fight (Nick Diaz, and we're getting to him).

    Ian McCall seems to have a foot in all three camps. He doesn't actually have three feet, but you understand the metaphor.

    Last October, Uncle Creepy made waves on The MMA Hour by calling out flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, the UFC, UFC fans and even himself in one pithy sound bite:

    No one cares about [flyweights]. It's not racism, it's like small-person-ism. No one really gives a s--t about us, and it's true. Maybe it's Demetrious' fault for not being, you know, the guy, marketable, even though he's an amazing athlete. Maybe it's my fault for not beating him up when I should have. Maybe people just don't care about watching small people fight. I don't know what it is.

    Not all the trash talk is that expansive, of course. When you're dealing with a guy who willingly calls himself "Uncle Creepy" and rocks that silent-movie-villain mustache, you're not always going to get doctoral dissertations over there.

    But that's OK. It was still entertaining when he observed that Brad Pickett's move down to 125 pounds was "a recipe for getting [his] a-- kicked."

    Or when he pasted the face of opponent John Lineker (who is well-known for a tendency to miss weight) on the body of what looks to be a decidedly pudgy baby. 

    And in perhaps my favorite line, from the same interview above, McCall said Johnson had the personality of a "coffee mug." C'mon now. That's good stuff.

4. Nick Diaz

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    When it comes to Nick Diaz, the trash talk is all about emotion. He's trying to stoke his up and pull yours down, and that's it. 

    Some people like to think that Diaz is just as much a savant with marketing as he is at fighting. I don't see it that way. Does he have a filter? No. Does he say hilarious things? Yes. Does this serve as an excellent mechanism of hype? Surely.

    Is it all a calculated move to sell tickets and pay-per-views? Nah.

    This smack functions just fine at face value. As analyst Joe Rogan once said, Diaz talks the kind of trash that makes you rethink your life.

    The "Where you at, Georges?" (warning: language NSFW) line, which subsequently included the "I think he's scared" line for Georges St-Pierre, is probably his most famous quotable.

    But there are so many more. Just naming all his quotes against GSP would be an article in and of itself (language NSFW).

    How about the time he lambasted Rich Franklin for having the nerve to be a teacher (NSFW)?

    How about the time he told broadcaster Ariel Helwani (NSFW) that "where I come from, people like [you] get slapped." 

    How about his beef with K.J. Noons, which spawned another famous Diaz quote: "Don't be scared, homie" (NSFW)?

    You get the idea.

3. Ronda Rousey

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    Neil Davidson/Associated Press

    The champ did indeed allow herself to be baited into a fight with the probably-undeserving Correia, but at least she's taking advantage of the situation.

    In calling for the fight, Rousey issued a few proclamations of her own, per MMA Fighting:

    There is this young, up-and-coming Brazilian chick with an undefeated record that beat two of my friends and has been trying to rub it in my face. Pretty much trying to get in an argument with me, because when you're in an argument with me, you're suddenly more important. I guess this chick figured that out. Messing with mama bear is a very bad idea. She might be next on my radar.

    I'm scared for Bethe Correia.

    What makes Rousey so great is not only her skill but a killer instinct that borders on being literal.

    Before her rematch with Miesha Tate—who had the gall to play a prank on one of Rousey's coaches, thereby inciting a lifetime of blood hatred from the champ—Rousey completely trashed the challenger's bona fides, per MMA Mania:

    Miesha has a nice a-- and she has an ongoing rivalry with me and that's the only reason she was picked for this fight. The rivalry is why she is even around. It's not because of her athletic merit. She really has to play that part of it up (rivalry) because that's all she really has. She has to make it personal because you can't make it an athletic rivalry because there really is no comparison. I'm an Olympic athlete and she's a high school wrestler.

    Never mind that Tate is 16-5, a former Strikeforce champ and the only fighter to ever take Rousey out of the first round. Never mind that! Good trash is good trash, consarn it.

    And when you're talking Rousey, you're not just talking trash talk in the MMA sense. Rousey has also taken on the queen bee of all the celebrities, one Kim Kardashian. And she did so on multiple occasions

    I think, one of the reasons why [Kim Kardashian] bothers me so much is because there's plenty of pornstars out there that do the same thing for a living, but she's like a glorified pornstar that's been taken and somehow pushed to be some sort of role model. She's selling Skechers to little kids in ads all over the place, and what kind of example does that set?

    Why my little sister is watching this stuff, and thinking, 'Wow, if I perform,' sorry, I was a little too blatant on the red carpet when I talked. 'If I perform f----- on a C-list celebrity, I suddenly have fame and stuff.' I mean, I don't know. It's wrong in every way, and if I had a chance, if I had to pick anyone, yeah of course, I would beat her up....This girl should be selling lube or something like that instead. Why is she selling shoes?

    Good God! 

    And don't even get Ronda started on Arianny Celeste. Don't even

2. Khabib Nurmagomedov

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    Andre Penner/Associated Press

    Khabib Nurmagomedov is No. 2 with a bullet.

    That comes thanks to his relentless hectoring of upcoming opponent Donald Cerrone. The fighter from the North Caucasus region of Russia said Cerrone was "a fake cowboy" who "all the time drink."

    The broken English only heightens the experience. 

    "I no say trash talk, I say truth, and he's a little bit nervous," Nurmagomedov said of Cerrone, per MMA Fighting. "He needs wrestling, he needs wrestling partners. But it's OK. After two months we have fight, we have crazy fight, and when cage close, he understand, ‘Wow, this guy's crazy. Why I take this fight? Why I take this fight?'"

    But true trash talk devotees know it goes back a little further. There was the Photoshop beatdown of current champ Rafael dos Anjos that preceded his actual beatdown of the now-champ.  

    He also likes to talk trash to reigning champs. After then-champ Anthony Pettis said his boxing was better than Nurm's, The Eagle responded in hearty fashion, noting that "maybe he should box instead of get three haircuts a week."

    It goes on and on and transcends traditional media boundaries

    Many people expect him to be the lightweight champ soon. He'd be the trash-talk champ right now. Except, of course, for...

1. Conor McGregor

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    Here we go.

    The brash Irishman McGregor has the blessed tongue bespoken of by so many of his countrymen.

    But his true talent is being prolific. He never stops. He's the R.L. Stine of MMA trash-talkers.

    It's why the UFC gave him his own whistle-stop tour for his UFC 189 title fight with Jose Aldo. That world tour spawned all sorts of highlights. 

    It's impossible that you haven't been paying attention, because that's what good smack talk demands. And that's why McGregor is the best. 

    Whether he's calling his own shot against Dustin Poirier (which turned out to be completely correct) or talking body parts and Chad Mendes (language NSFW), it's just a cavalcade of quotability. 

    Ah, forget it. I can't do it justice. Just click on the video and enjoy.

    All hail the king. 


    Scott Harris talks trash about MMA for Bleacher Report. He consumes fine trash talk like wine. For more trash like this, follow Scott on Twitter.

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