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5 most unpopular UFC champions

These UFC Champions irked certain sections of the MMA world with their actions
These UFC Champions irked certain sections of the MMA world with their actions
JM Payne

It's indeed an undisputed fact that stepping into the cage and fighting another trained combatant takes tremendous mental fortitude as well as physical toughness. That, in turn, is one of the biggest reasons behind the large majority of Mixed Martial Arts competitors being so widely revered in the sports community as a whole.

On that note, if you are to broach the topic of UFC champions, then the aforementioned reverence and respect accorded to said fighters gets somewhat of an added layer to it - especially due to the fact that competing in the UFC, let alone winning a UFC title, is a indeed a momentous task.

Nevertheless, at times, certain sections of fans and experts come to dislike a given UFC champion. This strange phenomenon has become increasingly common in this day and age, with most champions outright refusing to fight top contenders, and instead, choosing to hold up the entire division just to pick a relatively easier fight with a more popular opponent.

Today, we take a look at the 5 most unpopular UFC Champions...


#5 Germaine de Randamie

Germaine de Randamie refused to defend her title against Cris Cyborg
Germaine de Randamie refused to defend her title against Cris Cyborg

At UFC 208 back in 2017, highly reputable Dutch kickboxing phenom Germaine de Randamie faced former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm for the inaugural UFC Women's Featherweight Title. De Randamie ended up winning a controversial decision over the course of 5 rounds, with the fight featuring multiple fouls from the Dutch KO artist.

De Randamie punched Holm after the buzzer had signaled the end of the round, on not one but two separate occasions. Most MMA experts, including veteran UFC commentator Joe Rogan, believed that Holm should've been awarded the win, especially since she out-classed her foe with excellent kicks and punches.

Regardless, the fight still ended up being close, and De Randamie became the first UFC Women's Featherweight Champion. Moreover, after the fight, she downright refused to defend her title against number-1 contender Cris Cyborg, and asserted that she won't fight Cyborg due to the latter's previous failed steroid tests.

Certain sections of the MMA world levied a considerable amount of criticism on De Randamie for her aforesaid stance. She then went on to return to the UFC Bantamweight division, with the title being vacated and Cyborg winning the vacant belt against Holly Holm...

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#4 Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley has been at loggerheads with the majority of fans as well as UFC President Dana White
Tyron Woodley has been at loggerheads with the majority of fans as well as UFC President Dana White

The case of Tyron Woodley has been a rather curious one, so to speak. 'The Chosen One' finally reached the pinnacle of the sport by knocking out Robbie Lawler to win the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 201. However, since then, Woodley's actions outside the cage, seem to have rubbed certain sections of fans and experts the wrong way.

Most fans pointed out Woodley's trash talk against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson before their pair of bouts as being rather disrespectful. Woodley claimed in several interviews that the fans as well as promoters have been discriminating against him.

Following his aforementioned statements, the fans have been known to viciously rain down boos on Woodley, be it in the build-up or the post-fight Octagon interviews of his fights. Furthermore, Woodley has engaged in a long-running war of words with UFC President Dana White, as T-Wood has repeatedly claimed that White has a personal vendetta against him.

White, on his part, has denied any such rumored ill-feelings towards Woodley. However, Woodley has often reiterated that the fans as well as White don't give him enough respect. Needless to say, most fans haven't taken too kindly to Woodley accusing them of disrespecting him...

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#3 Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has irked the large majority of hardcore MMA fans
Conor McGregor has irked the large majority of hardcore MMA fans

How could one of the most popular personalities in all of sports be an unpopular champion? That may very well be the question popping up in your mind right about now! However, in this case, I don't mean to address Conor McGregor's popularity in an all-encompassing manner, but rather only in the context of the hardcore MMA fan-base.

The hardcore MMA fans and experts have accused McGregor of holding up entire divisions, due to his penchant for chasing big money fights. Besides, most of his critics harp on the fact that the Notorious Irishman never defends his belts, criticism which may have merit, especially because the man never defended the UFC Featherweight Title he won from Jose Aldo, nor did he defend the UFC Lightweight Championship that he won from Eddie Alvarez.

Furthermore, his detractors also claim that McGregor often goes too far with his trash talk, targeting his opponent's personal lives in the process of trying to get in their heads.

Although most fans the world over may love McGregor, a large section of the hardcore MMA fan-base loves to hate the former 'Champ Champ'.

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#2 Demetrious Johnson

'Mighty Mouse' didn't really connect with the casual fan-base
'Mighty Mouse' didn't really connect with the casual fan-base

The case of Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson is somewhat the opposite of Conor McGregor's. In Johnson's case, the hardcore fans and experts absolutely adore his martial arts brilliance as well as respectful persona. However, most of the casual fans don't really care to follow the former pound-for-pound MMA king.

Johnson is the longest-reigning champion in UFC history, with the most number of title defenses, and held the UFC Flyweight Title from 2012 until his split-decision loss to Henry Cejudo at UFC 227 in 2018. Most fight pundits believe that the aforesaid decision could've gone either way, and following his loss to Cejudo, Johnson parted ways with the UFC.

'Mighty Mouse' subsequently signed with One Championship as a part of a fighter trade deal between One Championship and the UFC; Johnson would fight for the former, and Ben Askren would fight for the UFC.

It's indeed undeniable that despite his popularity in the hardcore MMA community, Johnson was one of the most unpopular UFC Champions in the sport's history...

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#1 Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping was accused of ducking the top contenders at 185 pounds
Michael Bisping was accused of ducking the top contenders at 185 pounds

Michael Bisping fulfilled his dream of becoming UFC Champion by knocking out Luke Rockhold in the very first round of their fight at UFC 199, thereby winning the UFC Middleweight Title. Bisping then chose to defend his title against then-46 year old MMA legend Dan Henderson in a rematch of a fight that Henderson had won via KO at UFC 100.

In their 5-round bout at UFC 204, Bisping was almost finished via strikes on multiple occasions, but ended up winning a Unanimous Decision. After this, most fans claimed that the judges' had shown favoritism towards Bisping, given that the fight took place in his homeland of England.

Furthermore, certain sections of fans and experts accused Bisping of ducking top contenders such as Yoel Romero, Chris Weidman, Robert Whittaker, Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza, as Bisping eventually chose to fight Henderson rather than them.

Moreover, at UFC 217, Bisping faced Georges St-Pierre, who was returning to the sport of MMA after a 4-year hiatus from competition. GSP shockingly ended up submitting Bisping and winning the UFC Middleweight Title, despite the ring rust as well as having moved up from Welterweight to Middleweight.

Bisping then faced Kelvin Gastelum, getting knocked out by the latter, after which the former retired from the sport of MMA.

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Which UFC Champions do you think are the most unpopular? Sound off in the comments!

Edited by Gabby Duran

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