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5 times UFC fighters were legitimately afraid of their opponents

UFC 218: Overeem v Ngannou
UFC 218: Overeem v Ngannou
Modified 30 Mar 2021

To be a high-level UFC fighter you have to be able to rise above your fear. Anyone who steps into the octagon is doing something that most humans will (or could) never do.

After Francis Ngannou was crowned UFC heavyweight champion many were matchmaking him against the great Jon ‘Bones’ Jones next. However, Dana White seemed to infer that Jones was scared to fight Ngannou.

While it seems Jon Jones is not afraid of facing Francis, here are five times UFC fighters were afraid of their opponents.

5. Megan Anderson vs Amanda Nunes

UFC 259 Nunes vs Anderson: Weigh-Ins
UFC 259 Nunes vs Anderson: Weigh-Ins

At UFC 259 in Las Vegas, Australia’s Megan Anderson finally got her opportunity to fight for the UFC featherweight championship. Standing across from her in the octagon was the women’s MMA GOAT Amanda Nunes.

Now anyone would be a little daunted having to face "The Lioness" in a cage fight, and by the look on Megan Anderson’s face she was feeling the heat. She had tried to put on a brave face at the press conference but once the fight began it was immediately apparent that the Aussie wanted no part of Nunes.

The first significant strike Nunes landed had Anderson on wobbly legs doing the chicken dance. She was quickly dropped by another Nunes punch and submitted moments later. The entire fight took just 2 minutes. Megan Anderson was released by the UFC shortly after UFC 259.


4. Chris Cariaso vs Demetrious Johnson

UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis
UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis

Now many people would scoff at the idea of being scared of a fighter who only weighs 125 pounds and has the nickname ‘Mighty Mouse’. However, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson was a fearsome competitor in the octagon. Johnson finished Joe Benavidez, Kyogi Horiguchi, and ‘Triple C’ Henry Cejudo during his UFC title run.

At UFC 178 in September 2014, Johnson faced unlikely title challenger Chris Cariaso. No one gave the 17-5 Arizona-based fighter a chance against the reigning champion. As Cariaso walked into the octagon, he looked petrified and overawed by the occasion.

To the challenger’s credit, he survived the first round before being submitted 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the second round.


3. Brock Lesnar vs Alastair Overeem

In the WWE, former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is known as "The Beast Incarnate". However, at UFC 141 in 2011, against MMA legend Alistair Overeem, he looked more like a scared lamb.

The main event bout was the UFC debut for Overeem while Lesnar was returning to the octagon after battling diverticulitis. The normally intimidating Lesnar was very sheepish during the faceoff and fighter instructions.

Once the fight started, Overeem used precise and powerful knees to Lesnar’s body and finished the fight with a kick to the liver and subsequent punches at 2:26 of the first round. ‘The Demolition Man’ had lived up to his nickname, sending Brock Lesnar into his first MMA retirement.

2. Ryan Bader vs Anthony Johnson

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson is one of the scariest knockout artists in MMA history. So it’s no surprise that when top UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader came face to face with ‘Rumble’ that he looked fearful.

The two UFC veterans met in the main event of UFC on FOX 18 on January 30th, 2016. The prize for the winner was a light heavyweight title shot. Bader came into the bout on a five-fight win streak but it was instantly obvious that he was worried about Johnson’s power.


After desperately shooting for a takedown, Bader was quickly put on his back by Johnson, who then reigned down thunderous punchers to finish the fight in less than 90 seconds.

1. Everyone vs Francis Ngannou

The new UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is the most frightening fighter in MMA. He has 10 UFC knockouts to his name. ‘The Predator’ has finished former UFC champions Andrei Arlovski, Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, and Junior Dos Santos.

The Cameroon fighter has also KO’d top contender Curtis Blaydes twice and brutally knocked out MMA legend Alistair Overeem. It would be unfair to single out one fighter who was scared of the new champ. Jon Jones says he’s not afraid but let's see what happens when the two finally meet in the octagon.

Published 30 Mar 2021, 05:26 IST
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