5 scariest fighters in UFC history

The scariest fighters in UFC history

UFC fighters are the apex predators of the MMA world. So it's natural to think of them as the most terrifying athletes in combat sports. Mixed martial artists come from a world that's far closer to unrestricted combat compared to the likes of boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Thus, they're widely feared across the globe. But even in MMA circles, there are fighters who elicit more fear than others. Few can forget how terrifying Wanderlei Silva was at the peak of his career. Everything from the Brazilian's gaze during staredowns to his brutal knockout power left many of his foes frightened.

But the sport has changed and other fighters who left their opponents frozen in fear have emerged. These are the UFC fighters that this list covers: the scariest fighters in the promotion's history.

#5. Alex Pereira, UFC middleweight champion

Former two-division Glory kickboxing champion Alex Pereira has achieved nearly overnight success in MMA. In only his seventh professional bout as a mixed martial artist, 'Poatan' dethroned his longtime rival Israel Adesanya to capture the UFC middleweight title.

To do so, the Brazilian power-puncher used the most destructive weapon in MMA: his left hook. The world-shattering amount of power he possesses is intimidating enough. But Pereira's sharp facial features, collection of tattoos, deep voice and cold-blooded demeanor render him especially frightening.

The UFC middleweight kingpin has an unblinking death stare that magnifies his no-nonsense presence. He rarely smiles and most of his opponents understand that as long as one second remains in their bout, his left hook can blast them into the shadow realm of unconsciousness.

#4. Francis Ngannou, former UFC heavyweight

While Francis Ngannou has a generally approachable demeanor, the soft-spoken giant is a terrifying force of nature in the cage. He is arguably the most powerful puncher in MMA history, and his power manifests differently compared to other knockout artists who have competed in the UFC.

Most knockout artists have a signature punch that fighters must be wary of. Conor McGregor's straight left is his most dangerous punch, just as Dan Henderson's overhand-right is capable of ending any foe's night. But 'The Predator' is a different beast entirely. His fists are akin to weapons of mass destruction.

There is no specific blow from Ngannou that fighters must avoid, they must simply avoid being hit altogether. This makes him even more terrifying because one of the first lessons MMA fighters are taught is that no matter how dominant they are in a bout, they'll be hit once.

The problem with being hit once by Ngannou is that it's enough to flatline anyone. Besides his fearsome knockout power, his hulking physique and towering stature render him a looming and intimidating presence noted by others.

#3. Yoel Romero, former UFC middleweight

Years ago, Robert Whittaker described what it felt like to hit Yoel Romero. He claimed that the Olympic silver medalist felt like concrete. Luke Rockhold echoed similar sentiments after he described kicking the Cuban as kicking a man made out of cement. His freakish athleticism was always a point of interest.

'The Soldier of God' is sculpted like a Greek god with mountainous traps, bulging shoulders and an all-around rippling physique. He remains extremely powerful, even in his mid-forties. His most shocking attributes, however, are his agility and explosiveness. Despite weighing well over 200 lbs, he can perform backflips.

When combined with his ability to generate maximum force under minimum time, it enabled him to suddenly flatten opponents like Chris Weidman with flying knees with zero buildup. Furthermore, his general demeanor and vacant stare magnified his intimidating aura. Even Michael Bisping avoided defending his title against him.

#2. Rousimar Palhares, former UFC welterweight/middleweight

Some fans might not remember who Rousimar Palhares is. The Brazilian hasn't had a noteworthy career in the UFC, but his reputation among hardcore fans is well-known. First, 'Toquinho' is muscled like a compact monster of a man with every one of his muscles bulging out in an almost cartoonish fashion.

What makes the second-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt more terrifying than almost any other fighter is his use of leg-locks. Of Palhares' 16 submission wins, 12 of them have been via leg-locks. Most submissions have a small window for fighters to surrender if they're trapped in one.

Unfortunately, the window for leg-locks before permanent damage is dealt is much smaller. They run the risk of completely tearing a fighter's ligaments and even cripple them for life if they don't tap quick enough. But Palhares' frequent refusal to release leg-locks after his opponents have tapped makes him terrifying.

He is a danger to his opponents and always the runs the risk of permanently crippling them as he refuses to release submissions even after the referee steps in. These tendencies have led to him being blacklisted by the UFC and WSOF (now PFL).

#1. Vitor Belfort, former UFC middleweight/light heavyweight/heavyweight

No fighter has ever been as frightening a force as Vitor Belfort was during the height of his TRT use. 'The Phenom' is a lifelong fighter with decades of martial arts skills. He possessed a freakish amount of knockout power, speed and explosiveness that made him a deadly striker.

He was six-feet of fast-twitch muscle fibers and possessed a lethal finishing instinct that enabled him to pounce on the slightest sign of vulnerability from his foes. The former UFC light heavyweight champion was so vicious during his TRT use that he was responsible for Michael Bisping's compromised eye.

He detached the Englishman's retina with a head kick, snapped Luke Rockhold's 9-fight win streak with a spinning heel kick, and became the first fighter to shatter Dan Henderson’s granite chin.

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