In most combat sports, a fighter can win as much with a microphone as he can by putting his limbs to good use inside the Octagon. The post Conor McGregor era in the UFC is an excellent example of how fighters need to be eloquent with their words as they are with their fists inside the octagon.
Many well-skilled fighters have found themselves passed over for opportunities by lesser fighters who dish out insults and are charismatic in front of the camera in recent times in the UFC.
More fighters have taken up this blueprint as a road to success for their UFC careers with Kevin Lee and Colby Covington emerging as the standout “loudmouths” of this era so far, following on the Irishman's footsteps. However, such an approach by fighters can sometimes lead to things getting nasty as the trash talk gets heated and things get personal.
Today we look at five fights in the UFC where things got too personal.
Five UFC fights that got too personal:
# 5 Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been one of the very few superstars in women’s MMA and for a point in time, she even carried the strawweight division on her own for a multiple no. of years after winning tee title from Carla Esparza.
The Polish native had always been an ‘in-your-face’ type of fighter but in what was her sixth title defense at UFC 217 against Rose Namajunas, Joanna took things too far and attacked her opponent’s past against her in the build-up to the fight.
# 4 Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
“Oh Chael Sonnen. Chael. Chael talks too much. Because I think Chael believes what he say. Chael. Chael hands down. Nobody talks more s*** than Chael. Mike Tyson on who is the better trash talker, Sonnen or Muhammad Ali.
Chael Sonnen was the most gifted trash talker in the whole of UFC roster before McGregor and laid the foundation upon which the Irishman built his reputation.
Humorous and poetic in the most natural of ways, his trash-talking campaign against Silva before both of their fight means this has to be on the list.
Sonnen imposed himself in the first fight as promised in his pre-fight press conference and even dropped Silva twice.
Chael fell at the last hurdle though and got himself submitted via a triangle choke in the fifth round of a fight where he had been leading on all the judges’ scorecard (40–34, 40–36, and 40–35).
Anderson Silva would emerge as the winner even in their rematch, as Sonnen would end up being confined as one of the best fighters to not have won a UFC belt.
Silva meanwhile would end up losing his title to Chris Weidman two fights after his rematch with Sonnen and has never looked the same since.
Despite Sonnen’s trash talks, things never got too personal between them the way it would with our last three entries on the list.
# 3 Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier
At the start of this rivalry, Jon Jones was the all-conquering Light heavyweight champion who had made seven consecutive title defense and in the process had defeated some real legends in his division, the likes of Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, etc.
Daniel Cormier meanwhile stood out as one of the top contenders with his background in high-level freestyle wrestling coming in handy.
UFC scheduled the first meeting between these two after Alexander Gustafsson pulled out from a rematch against Jon Jones after suffering a torn meniscus.
While Jon Jones won both times over Daniel Cormier, the build-up to their bouts was always spicy with Jones and Cormier shoving each other by the neck at a face-off before their first fight at UFC 178.
“I beat you after a weekend of cocaine”, was the pick of the trash talks before their second bout at UFC 214 where Jon would end up stopping DC via a head kick and flurry of punches to finish him.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission would overturn the results of the second fight after Jones would test positive for turinabol.
This would lead to a 15 month suspension by USADA for Jones while also being stripped of the title for the third time.
UFC reassigned Daniel Cormier as champion and he would become the second “Champ-Champ” for the promotion as he defeated Stipe Miocic for the Light Heavyweight strap.
Jon Jones meanwhile returned from his suspension to regain his status as champion in a return fight against Alexander Gustafson at UFC 232 and has defended the title twice since.
We may never get to see them fight again considering DC’s aspirations of fighting Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight belt in what should be his retirement fight.
# 2 Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor
In what was one of the best examples of mental warfare in the fight game, Conor McGregor broke Jose Aldo and made the Brazilian look foolish as he belittled him at every turn.
This fight made Conor McGregor the superstar he is today with a 13-second performance at UFC 194 which would send “Mystic Mac’s” celebrity into another stratosphere.
From tearing up pictures of Aldo, taking his belt while at a press conference, and yelling “you’re gonna die” in Portuguese, McGregor did everything he could to get inside the head of the Brazilian.
Aldo had looked imperious up to that point in the UFC and had gone through seven successful title defense.
The Brazilian was always a step slower in his response in front of the media and inside the octagon against Conor when it mattered most.
McGregor would fight for the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez next and became the first fighter in the UFC to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously.
Aldo meanwhile would never look the same after UFC 194 and would lose three of his six fights at featherweight before his move down to bantamweight.
# 1 Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor
Khabib and Conor would always find themselves on a collision course since the Irishman jumped a weight class to win the Lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
UFC 223 served as the catalyst for this rivalry as McGregor flew over from Ireland to attack Khabib after Conor’s training partner and friend Artem Lobov found himself slapped by Khabib.
McGregor threw a hand truck at the bus where the Dagestani native was sitting after McGregor’s training partner and friend Artem Lobov found himself slapped by Khabib.
Conor looked to take a page out of his “Aldo Playbook” and looked to attack Khabib mentally with comments which included insults against his father, his religion, race, etc.
Khabib though played off McGregor’s mind games and gave the Irishman a beat down of a lifetime before submitting him in the fourth round with a neck crank at UFC 229.
This victory meant Nurmagomedov became the first Russian and Muslim champion in the UFC while also breaking out as one of the unprecedented superstars in the sport today.
McGregor meanwhile would sit out for the better part of fifteen months before making his comeback against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 at the start of this year.
Nurmagomedov would defend his lightweight title one more time against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi before his bout with Tony Ferguson was scrapped due to the current pandemic.