One of the most noteworthy pieces of news regarding the UFC this week involved current Lightweight contender Kevin Lee.
‘The Motown Phenom’ hasn’t fought since his March loss to Charles Oliveira due to injury, but made the headlines yesterday after revealing a pretty insane new tattoo. Lee has always sported plenty of ink, but his latest piece spreads across the back of his head and neck, giving him one of the wildest looks in UFC history.
However, Lee won’t be the first UFC fighter to sport bizarre or wild tattoos inside the Octagon. The majority of the UFC’s stars sport ink, but some of them have become pretty well-known for having questionable ones.
Here are ten of the worst tattoos in the UFC’s modern history.
#1 Alan Belcher
Alan ‘The Talent’ Belcher was once considered one of the best and most exciting Middleweights on the UFC’s roster. Debuting back in 2006 with a tight loss to Yushin Okami, Belcher went on to put together a UFC record of 9-6, beating notable opponents such as Rousimar Palhares, Denis Kang and Patrick Cote.
However, fans will probably remember Belcher – who retired in 2013 due to an eye injury – more for a strange tattoo on his left arm than his fighting skills. And considering the heights he reached inside the Octagon, that’s saying a lot.
The tattoo in question? A portrait of legendary singer Johnny Cash. The only problem? The tattoo – which appeared to have stretched somewhat due to Belcher’s bulging biceps – didn’t exactly look like the country and western superstar. In fact, a Reddit thread from 2015 suggested the piece looked more like North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, Otho from Beetlejuice, or former WWE wrestler the Honky Tonk Man.
Belcher’s questionable ink even garnered abuse from his fellow fighters. In a 2011 quip, Michael Bisping – who would eventually beat Belcher in 2013 – suggested ‘The Talent’ should sue his tattoo artist for “that abomination on his arm”.
#2 Darren Elkins
Featherweight veteran Darren Elkins is a highly underrated fighter who sports a UFC record of 14-8 and has wins over the likes of Dennis Bermudez, Michael Johnson and Hatsu Hioki. However, he’s probably best known for his toughness and ability to take a lot of punishment from his opponents.
It’s that ability that clearly earned him his nickname, as he’s known as ‘The Damage’. But while plenty of fighters have their nicknames tattooed on their body somewhere, it’s probably fair to suggest that Elkins has gone a little too far.
The Featherweight contender sports a tattoo of his nickname in the middle of his chest, and if that wasn’t enough, ‘The Damage’ is written in a pretty crazy font that makes it appear to have been stitched onto his skin.
Many fans were horrified when they saw this artwork, but Elkins clearly doesn’t care what the doubters think. In fact, he said exactly that in a 2018 interview with MMAJunkie:
“If you see my fights, I’m always stitched up, cut up, bleeding – I’m embracing who I am. I really don’t give a (expletive) what anyone else thinks, thank you. I’m comfortable with who I am, and that’s all that matters”.
#3 Brock Lesnar
In his prime, from 2008 to 2010 when he held the UFC Heavyweight title, it was hard to dispute the idea that Brock Lesnar was one of the most intimidating figures in MMA history. A hugely muscled figure who looked more like a 1980’s cartoon character, Lesnar also sported one of the coolest tattoos in UFC history too in the form of a demonic skull complete with horns on his back.
Unfortunately, Lesnar didn’t stop there in terms of his ink, and instead, he arrived in the UFC sporting one of the most questionable tattoos in the promotion’s history, too.
The tattoo in question is of a fist holding a sword, positioned just underneath Lesnar’s neck and going down his body onto his midsection. Unfortunately, at a glance, the tattoo doesn’t exactly resemble a sword all that much.
Instead, it’s been compared to all sorts of more unsavoury things. Most notably, famed internet personality Adam Blampied once described it as looking more like “a knuckleduster glued to a dildo”.
And while it’s almost certain that nobody would want to say such a thing to Lesnar’s face, it’s probably fair to suspect that plenty of UFC fans would agree with the assessment.
#4 Joey Beltran
Mexican-American brawler Joey Beltran fought in the UFC from 2010 to 2013, putting together a record of 3-6 with one No Contest in the process. And while ‘The Mexicutioner’ never threatened the UFC title picture, he was definitely a notable fighter at one point – even welcoming future UFC Heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic into the Octagon for his UFC debut.
Unfortunately, Beltran also sported one of the most unintentionally hilarious tattoos in UFC history, too.
In this case, it’s difficult to blame Beltran for his questionable artwork. The piece in question was written in an almost unreadable curly font, and states ‘You’ve got you’re fools mixed up”. This wouldn’t be so bad – had Beltran’s tattoo artist had a better grasp of grammar.
Thankfully for ‘The Mexecutioner’, the font used for the tattoo was so wild that it was difficult to make out anyway. Regardless, hopefully Beltran didn’t return to the same tattooist for any of his other pieces!
#5 Conor McGregor
Love or hate Conor McGregor, it’s hard to dispute that ‘The Notorious One’ is probably the biggest star in UFC history. While the majority of his fame has come from his fighting ability and his willingness to talk trash, it’s also fair to say that his unique, marketable look has helped too.
McGregor’s tattoos are a great part of that look, and they’ve developed over the years that we’ve seen him in the UFC. Initially sporting a crucifix piece on his back and his surname on his midsection, ‘The Notorious One’ has over time added two major pieces.
Those pieces – on his upper chest and stomach - show a crowned gorilla eating a heart and the face of a tiger. The whole combination would definitely be cool, if it were not for a 2016 news piece that seemed to suggest McGregor’s tattoos were almost a direct copy of those sported by Canadian model Josh Mario John.
Given that John also sported the same hairstyle and beard as ‘The Notorious One’, it was hard not to believe that something fishy was going on. McGregor has never really dealt with the accusations – but during the build-up to their eventually cancelled fight, Rafael Dos Anjos made reference to it on Instagram.
His post was quickly deleted by McGregor – perhaps suggesting there’s some truth to the whole idea.