TGIFighting: The 5 Scariest Fighters in MMA Right Now, Conor McGregor and More

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterOctober 22, 2021

Tony Ferguson
Tony FergusonCarmen Mandato/Getty Images

Welcome back to TGIFighting, where we talk to top fighters, preview the weekend's combat sports action and make crotchety observations about the combat sports news of the day. Ready? Let's proceed.

*Door creaks open*

Good eeeeeevening.

Welcome to this thrilling and spine-chilling pre-Halloween edition of TGIFighting. Facing our fourth lackluster UFC card in as many weeks, now may be the perfect time to celebrate the scariest season on Earth. Here, that means ranking the scariest fighters in mixed martial arts.

To be in the running for this award, you have to stick out as a particularly frightening member of the cage-fighting community. That's not easy. It's a little like picking out the bubbliest elf in Santa's workshop, only the polar opposite.

But we're up to the task, and our list is sure to chill you down to your very bone marrow. We took into account a combination of fighting style and overall intimidation factor (success level doesn't hurt, either). Here's one question we tried to answer: If this person were walking down the beach and no one knew they were a fighter, how would people react?

OK, that's it. Let's get into the fighters now, listed in no particular order.

GLENDALE, AZ - JUNE 12: Deiveson Figueiredo (red gloves) and Brandon Moreno (blue gloves) during UFC 263 on June 12, 2021, at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1)

With that signature scowl and ultra-violent style, Figgy (and you have to be pretty tough to pull off that nickname) is at the very least the scariest fighter in the flyweight division.

He doesn't have the highest output in the cage, but when he strikes, he does it with extreme prejudice. Remember when he choked Joseph Benavidez (28-8) unconscious to win the 125-pound title? Or the time in 2017 when he survived an early onslaught from Marco Beltran (12-7), only to force the referee to call a corner stoppage after the second?

With 17 stoppages in 20 wins, it's clear where Figueiredo's head is. And it's clear no one who fights him will come out unscathed.

Amanda Nunes (right) punches Megan Anderson
Amanda Nunes (right) punches Megan AndersonJeff Bottari/Getty Images

Amanda Nunes (21-4) 

This one isn't difficult to explain or understand. Nunes is both the best and scariest female fighter in MMA history.

The previous holder of both titles was Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (24-2, 1 NC). That is until Nunes blitzed her for a 51-second knockout in 2018. Now, The Lioness rules both the UFC bantamweight and featherweight divisions, bringing an evil grin that tells you she's enjoying her job far too much.

John Raoux/Associated Press

Tony Ferguson (25-6)

Ferguson might be the most intense competitor in all the UFC. His wild workouts are the stuff of legend, as is the toughness that saw him take a near-horrifying beating last year from Justin Gaethje (22-3). According to official UFC stats, Ferguson took an even 100 significant strikes to the head from the notoriously hard-hitting Gaethje. Frankenstein's monster would have gone down before Ferguson that night. It was truly disturbing. Gutting out that Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) armbar in December before losing by decision was another one for the books.

Tony Ferguson @TonyFergusonXT

“Active🌱Rest” # Breakin’ASweatAfterBusinessTrip # Let’s🥇Go -CSO- # WorkMoar # 💪🕶 🇺🇸🏆🇲🇽 https://t.co/AWB28ma8II

Ferguson has dropped three straight, but he's still a fan favorite thanks to the fact that you never know what he's capable of in the cage. He's a loose cannon straight out of central casting.

Francis Ngannou (16-3)

Another one that essentially goes without saying. Ngannou is huge, he purportedly hits with as much horsepower as a compact car, and he knows precisely what to do with that power—namely, take your head off.

His right hook is probably the single most devastating weapon in the sport today. 

The record speaks for itself. His last five tilts all ended in knockout, with only one—then-champ Stipe Miocic (20-4)—making it out of the first round, and that one didn't even last a minute into the second.

If Ciryl Gane (10-0) is going to beat Ngannou in January at UFC 270, he won't do it with a firefight. Any game plan to dethrone the champ will include more than its share of tiptoeing. 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 02:  Thiago Santos of Brazil poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 02, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Mike Roach/Getty Images

Thiago Santos (22-9)

Raise your hand if you think you can pull off a tattoo of a medieval war hammer going down your chest. If you raised your hand and you're not Santos, you may very well be telling us and yourself a falsehood.

Santos has the physique and the disposition—embodied by a berserker style that has netted him 15 knockouts in 22 pro victories—to make it work. His ultra-aggressive approach doesn't leave a lot of room for error, but that's what fans like about him. He's not a perfect fighter, but he's bloodthirsty enough to make up for it with pure entertainment value. If light heavyweight had its own BMF belt, the wearer would likely be Santos. 

Honorable mentions: Josh Emmett (16-2), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), Marvin Vettori (17-5-1), Rose Namajunas (10-4), Cat Zingano (12-4), Yoel Romero (13-6)


As the Irishman Turns 

The MMA world's stars can't seem to stay on the good side of the law.

First came Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) earlier this month. Now it's Conor McGregor's (22-6) turn. 

According to a Wednesday report from Jack Guy and Nicola Ruotolo of CNN, an Italian DJ is pressing charges against McGregor after he allegedly suffered multiple injuries from an unprovoked attack in a Rome hotel. 

Why did the DJ, Francesco Facchinetti, choose to move forward with charges? "Because the world needs to know the fact that he is dangerous," Facchinetti said.

We'll see how the legal process shakes out, but this isn't McGregor's first brush with legal trouble. You hope that at some point someone gets through to these guys. We'll see, said the Zen master.


What Is Paulo Costa Doing?

To paraphrase Office Space, Paulo Costa got tired of cutting weight. So he's not going to do it anymore.

Costa (13-1) is an exciting middleweight. Wait, strike that sentence. You can't really say that right now given Costa's announcement that he was approximately 25 pounds over the 186-pound middleweight limit. (It's technically 185, but you get one pound of leeway in non-title fights.) 

The UFC has announced a 195-pound scrap with Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) in the name of salvaging Saturday's UFC Fight Night 196 main event. In the meantime, Costa may want to revisit his pre-fight routine. Remember, this is the same guy who said he fought Israel Adesanya (21-1) hungover after drinking "too much wine" the night before. What in the name of Diego Sanchez is going on here? Also, when did making weight become optional? I guess if you're in a big enough card slot, you can get away with all sorts of stuff.

Randa Markos (right)
Randa Markos (right)Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Stone-Cold Lead Pipe Lock of the Week

Record to date: 21-6

Livia Renata Souza (14-3) is a -130 favorite over Randa Markos (10-11-1). Souza has lost two of three, which might explain why she's buried on the undercard, but Markos has dropped four straight and five of six. Her relative lack of explosiveness and apparent inability to develop a well-rounded game (she's pretty much exclusively a wrestler) put Markos behind the eightball unless or until she proves otherwise. Lock in Souza to take care of business as the narrow favorite.


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Scott Harris writes about MMA and other sports topics for Bleacher Report and CNN.


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