Over the past two decades, MMA has seen an exponential rise in popularity. The sport has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, with the UFC alone valued at over $9 billion. This growth has attracted droves of new fans.
Icons like Georges St-Pierre, Chuck Liddell, Conor McGregor and others have catapulted the sport and its athletes to new heights. Even some fighters with less flattering records, like Nate Diaz with 20 wins and 13 losses, have massive fan bases.
However, some fighters don't need anyone to cheer them on, nor do they care about fan perception. With immense faith in their abilities, they are never hesitant to call out the best, regardless of the outcome. They can vouch for their skills all by themselves.
Let's take a look at five such UFC fighters.
#5. Kevin Lee: Chasing glory
When it comes to self-confidence, Kevin Lee is among the most confident fighters you'll see. He made his debut on February 1, 2014, at UFC 169 and lost against Al Iaquinta. So far, the highlight of Lee's career has been fighting for the interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson.
Despite suffering seven losses and missing weight multiple times, Kevin Lee hasn't shied away from comparing himself to some of the best UFC fighters. Over the years, in many interviews, Lee has repeatedly emphasized that he is among the best and even claimed to be the most complete fighter on the planet.
Lee has often lost after stringing together a few wins. The skepticism of fans has only risen after he lost four of his last six matches. However, Lee keeps calling out the champions in different weight classes. He has even talked about challenging Khabib Nurmagomedov in the past.
Prior to his most recent loss against Daniel Rodriguez, he declared himself the biggest threat to Kamaru Usman:
"He needs challengers and there’s nobody else that has my style that can take it to him. I’m excited to put together a few wins and show I’m the guy who can beat him."
Watch the interview below:
#4. Henry Cejudo: The UFC king?
'Triple C' has been one of the greatest champions in UFC history. His accomplishments in two weight divisions and an Olympic Wrestling gold medal rank him among the best.
Winning over fans, however, has never been among Cejudo's strong suits. Labeled by the internet as one of the most 'cringe' fighters in the UFC, Cejudo has never let the detractors put him down.
Though mostly ignored by fans in the GOAT argument, Cejudo has insisted that he is the best combat sports athlete ever. However, unlike Lee, Cejudo has some stats to support his claims.
From dethroning flyweight legend Demetrious Johnson to being an Olympic gold medalist to simultaneously defending two UFC titles, Henry Cejudo has done it all. Although fans may not agree, his confidence in himself has earned him praise from Khabib Nurmagomedov.
#3. Colby 'Chaos' Covington: The people's champ?
Not many fighters in the UFC are as controversial as Colby Covington. Covington has also been the most vocal about his political stance among everyone in the UFC. Claiming himself to be former US President Donald Trump's favorite, he has never shied away from voicing his support for Trump.
Since making his UFC debut on August 23, 2014, his fiery personality and dominant performances have earned him many fans. However, when it comes to defending his performances and vouching for his skills as a fighter, no one does it better than Covington himself. He even proclaimed himself the people's champ before his title fight against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Even after his loss, he has always maintained that the referee stopped that fight early. Now set for a rematch against Usman at the upcoming UFC 267, Covington's confidence levels are higher than ever. He believes he can end Usman's reign and prove that he is as good as he claims to be.
''There's just no one alive that can stop me right now'' - Colby Covington
Watch the full interview below:
#2. Ajamain Sterling: The accidental UFC champion
The story of how Aljamain Sterling became a part of this list is truly dramatic. Sterling challenged Petr Yan for the bantamweight title at UFC 259. Yan dominated the fight until he landed an illegal knee and lost the belt via disqualification.
Sterling expressed his disappointment at winning the title in such a manner. However, he soon started to flaunt and celebrate with the belt on social media. His actions led to an immediate backlash from fans who've been demanding a rematch ever since. Sterling had to go under the knife, putting the rematch on hold indefinitely.
Now fully recovered, Sterling believes he will beat Petr Yan in their rematch, a prediction with which very few agree. With supreme confidence in his skillset, Sterling hasn't hesitated in insulting the fans either.
#1. Luke Rockhold: Highest of highs, lowest of lows
No other fighter in the UFC may be as big of a fan of his own abilities as Luke Rockhold. Once a middleweight champion, Rockhold has some significant wins over former champions like Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman. He believed himself to be the best fighter in all of MMA.
Luke Rockhold's faith in himself would not be enough to support his claims. In his first title defense, Rockhold lost his belt to Michael Bisping at UFC 199. Having beaten Bisping previously, Rockhold brushed aside the challenge and paid for it dearly.
Rockhold would then lose to Yoel Romero before moving up a weight class to light heavyweight. He lost his debut fight at light heavyweight via knockout in the second round against current champ Jan Blachowicz. Rockhold will return to the octagon at UFC 268 after a long break. He has already explained how he'll beat current middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, even though he is unranked.
Watch the Submission Radio interview below: