One of the biggest reasons for the UFC's rise in popularity over the past two decades has been the star power of some of its top fighters and their unique personalities.
Like in other sports, the UFC’s top stars all have their own unique way of doing things. This includes some of their pre and post-fight rituals.
Of course, some fighters have far stranger pre and post-fight rituals than others – and this often makes them even more popular.
With this in mind, here are five of the strangest pre and post-fight rituals used by UFC fighters.
#1 Diego Sanchez – YES!
Diego Sanchez is widely recognized as one of the most eccentric fighters in UFC history.
The Nightmare has stunned fans with his bizarre behavior since debuting in the UFC back in 2005. And some of his oddest moments include walking to the octagon while carrying a large cross – like a vampire hunter – and performing yoga during a thunderstorm.
But Sanchez is most heavily linked with arguably the most memorable pre-fight ritual in UFC history.
Starting from his fight with Joe Stevenson at UFC 95, Sanchez would walk to the octagon pumping his fist while shouting “YES!” at the top of his lungs.
The ritual took off with UFC fans and only increased Sanchez’s cult appeal. And its popularity meant that it was eventually co-opted by WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan, who arguably took it to another level at his 2014 peak.
Of course, Sanchez didn’t come up with the “YES!” chants himself. The Nightmare actually took the idea from self-help guru Tony Robbins. In his best-selling book Unlimited Power, Robbins suggests that the ritual can bring an individual to a maximum positive mindset.
Whether this is the case is up for debate, but over the years, it’s definitely worked for Sanchez, who remains a favorite of longtime UFC fans.
#2 Tai Tuivasa – Shoey
Plenty of UFC fighters celebrate a victory in the octagon in strange fashion, be it with acrobatics, dancing, or leaping into the crowd.
Australian heavyweight Tai Tuivasa, however, takes things to another level entirely each time he wins in the UFC.
Bam Bam has become renowned for a post-fight celebration known as “the shoey."
For those who don’t know, a shoey involves drinking a beer directly from a shoe – usually one that’s been worn by a fan in attendance.
Apparently, the shoey is an Australian tradition of sorts. But despite plenty of Down Under-based fighters entering the octagon over the years, this stomach-churning post-fight ritual had never been seen in the UFC until Tuivasa’s debut in 2017.
And to make things more bizarre, Bam Bam reportedly even offered to drink a shoey of another kind – filled with urine rather than beer – after his win over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 225.
#3 Jackson’s MMA – Nipple Tweak
With a number of UFC champions fighting out of the camp, Greg Jackson’s MMA team was one of the most successful of the mid-2000s.
Essentially, a number of fighters representing Jackson’s – including GSP, Evans, Keith Jardine and Nate Marquardt – would tweak their nipples right before their fights were set to begin.
At the time, this ritual utterly baffled UFC fans, who couldn’t understand why Jackson’s fighters would do such a strange thing.
Rumors that St. Pierre had been told that the ritual would stimulate electricity through the body were shot down by Jackson during an interview in 2009, who labeled his fighters “dorks.”
However, GSP did clear things up a little later, suggesting in an interview with Ariel Helwani that the ritual would help to “disconnect” from any pre-fight stress, at least for a moment.
And evidently, the ritual worked for the Canadian, who is still widely recognized as the UFC’s greatest fighter of all time.
#4 Conor McGregor – Billionaire Strut
UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s pre-fight entrance was already one of the promotion’s most memorable thanks to his use of the traditional Irish song ‘The Foggy Dew.'
But prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, The Notorious One took things to another level with a new pre-fight ritual stolen directly from WWE chairman Vince McMahon.
McGregor debuted the so-called 'Billionaire Strut,' walking around the octagon while swinging his arms in an exaggerated manner, exactly like McMahon would do when entering the WWE ring.
Unsurprisingly, the strut took off virally once McGregor began to do it, with fans and other athletes – including footballers Sergio Ramos and Paul Pogba – imitating it.
Quite what McMahon thought of McGregor stealing one of his trademarks is unknown.
But despite claiming that he “perfected” the strut, an interview saw McGregor claim that he loved McMahon – labeling the WWE chairman a “mad b*stard” in the process.
#5 Clay Guida – Slaps
It probably goes without saying that to have success in the UFC, a fighter probably ought to avoid getting hit.
Incredibly, though, one fighter decided to introduce a bizarre pre-fight ritual that would see him slapped in the face – pretty hard, it must be said – by his own cornermen, including his brother.
That fighter? Lightweight veteran Clay Guida.
According to a 2010 interview, Guida began using the ritual while he was fighting on the regional circuit prior to his 2006 arrival in the UFC.
He claimed that the slaps were performed in order to put him into the right frame of mind – and also that no fighter he’d ever faced in the UFC had hit him as hard as his brother Jason prior to a fight.
Given that some of Guida’s UFC opponents have included Anthony Pettis, Chad Mendes and Charles Oliveira, quite how true that statement is would definitely be up for debate.
But with a crazy 30 UFC fights under his belt, it’s safe to say that this odd ritual clearly works for The Carpenter, who picked up an octagon victory as recently as February.