The UFC is a hub of competitiveness. Men and women from all walks of life have come together to express the totality of their martial arts skills in an effort to crown the best fighters from every division. While competition can be healthy and even friendly, it often breeds contention and enmity.
In a sport that involves physically assaulting one's competitors to achieve victory, the feelings involved can escalate to outright hatred and anger. Yet, some fighters earn more scorn and vitriol from their rivals and the roster as a whole than others. At times, it is due to other fighters taking offense to showmanship.
In other instances, some fighters exhibit personalities that their colleagues find so intolerable that they can't help but hate them. Some of these fighters have since retired from MMA or have been cut from the UFC, but the legacy of the hatred they inspire in others lives on. This list details five such fighters.
#5. Ronda Rousey, former UFC bantamweight
While Ronda Rousey has always had a polarizing reputation among fans, she was just as conflicting for her peers. At the height of her career, 'Rowdy' was often the subject of hyperbolic claims that she would never have to prove. She once expressed her belief in being able to beat any woman on the mat.
However, it was her combative attitude that led to her alienation by her roster-mates. Two of the former champion's biggest rivals were Miesha Tate and Cris Cyborg. The Olympic bronze medalist's feud with 'Cupcake' stems from competitiveness and trash talk from their first encounter.
When it comes to her issues with the Brazilian power-puncher, however, it's far worse. Vitriolic comments regarding Cris Cyborg's appearance and past PED usage culminated in 'Rowdy' referring to her foe as an 'it'. Throughout her career, this unapologetic disposition extended to the rest of the roster.
She even tried to manufacture ill-will towards Holly Holm during their face-off. So when Ronda Rousey suffered a second-round knockout loss against Holm, many of her peers celebrated her loss, including Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate and Bethe Correia. Even Ian McCall, who had nothing to do with 'Rowdy', celebrated the loss.
#4. Conor McGregor, UFC lightweight
Conor McGregor's approach to promoting his bouts was always destined to make him more enemies than friends. Initially, his trash talk was wittier and focused on the perceived disparity between his skills and his opponent's. However, as he became a more prominent fighter, his trash talk grew more vicious.
The Irishman has crossed the line several times throughout his career. His most high-profile incidents involve the religiously and culturally insensitive comments he made about Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as the death threats issued to Dustin Poirier and his wife Jolie Poirier.
Not only were his comments a precursor to the brawl involving 'The Eagle' and his team after their bout at UFC 229, but they've also led to fighters who the Irishman has yet to face calling his character into question. Justin Gaethje famously criticized the Irishman's worth as a father and a man.
'The Highlight' referred to 'The Notorious' as a "a piece of sh*t" which is a sentiment echoed by many other fighters. Brock Lesnar once humorously claimed to produce stools larger than the Irishman after the former bantamweight's comments about not respecting 'The Beast' reached his ears.
The list of fighters who dislike him goes on, including the likes of Michael Bisping, Eddie Alvarez and even Fabricio Werdum, who once called Conor McGregor a prostitute.
#3. Tony Kelley, former UFC bantamweight
Initially, Tony Kelley was a UFC bantamweight of no true renown. He is a serviceable fighter who possessed a record eight wins and two losses at the time. However, when he cornered his girlfriend and fellow MMA fighter Andrea Lee, he made unfortunate comments about her opponent Viviane Araújo.
The comments were widely criticized for having prejudiced undertones that earned the Team Alpha Male member the ire of the UFC's Brazilian fighters. The hatred expressed by others only intensified after Tony Kelley refused to apologize and instead claimed to hate everyone equally.
So when he faced Adrian Yanez, a large number of fighters, both Brazilian and otherwise, threw their support behind the Texas native. Welterweight contender Gilbert Burns even offered to pay him on top of his fighter purse should he defeat the Team Alpha Male member.
Adrian Yanez, who showed enmity towards Tony Kelley after being referred to as a discount Jorge Masvidal, made good on his promise by TKO'ing his foe within three minutes of the first round. According to Yanez, countless fighters and even members of UFC management detested Kelley.
Tony Kelley's release from the promotion after suffering only his second defeat under Dana White's banner lends credence to the Texas native's statement that he was intensely disliked even by people who never said anything publicly.
#2. Josh Koscheck, former UFC welterweight
During Georges St-Pierre's memorable run through the welterweight division, multiple standout wrestlers competed alongside him. Jon Fitch is one, and Josh Koscheck is another. The retired 170'er was one of the most notorious UFC fighters at the time due to his persona.
'Kos' had a cocky personality but lacked the kind of charisma that someone like Conor McGregor or Chael Sonnen possessed to outweigh his apparent overconfidence. The former NCAA Division I wrestler was an incessant trash-talker, but also earned a reputation for being a cheater.
Not only did 'Kos' engage in standard cheating behaviors like eye-pokes, fence-grabbing and holding his opponent's shorts, but he took it a step further. Josh Koscheck learned to fake being illegally kneed in the head and he used it to a significant extent.
This approach to fighting completely overshadowed the former NCAA Division I wrestler's skill inside the octagon. His reputation as a dirty fighter and condescending trash-talker culminated in Paul Daley sucker-punching him after the bell, leading to 'Semtex' being permanently banned from the UFC.
No one in UFC history has ever hated their foe to such an extent that their temper flared enough to get themselves blackballed from the promotion. No one else had their entire reputation and memory as a fighter be relegated to how intensely they were disliked by their peers. No other fighter has ever said, "I'd hate me too."
#1. Colby Covington, UFC welterweight
Years ago, Colby Covington was on the verge of being released from the promotion despite his lengthy win streak. After being told that he possessed neither an entertaining fighting style nor a charismatic personality, 'Chaos' made the decision to introduce a permanent change.
The former interim welterweight titleholder became a cartoonishly vitriolic trash-talker in the hopes that the fans would become emotionally invested in seeing him lose, thus turning him into a PPV star. Colby Covington's attempts were successful, causing him to exaggerate his antics even more.
The former NCAA Division I wrestler went from trolling fans by posting movie spoilers online to verbally attacking fighters that aren't anywhere close to the division he competes in, including former women's strawweight queen Joanna Jędrzejczyk.
Colby Covington's antics came back to haunt him, leading to confrontations with several fighters at gyms. Not only was 'Chaos' forced to leave American Top Team due to near-brawls with the likes of Dustin Poirier, he allegedly had to train at the UFC Performance Institute at night to avoid crossing paths with other fighters.
Even Jorge Masvidal, who was once Colby Covington's closest friend, entered a bitter feud with him leading to a bout at UFC 272. 'Chaos' emerged victorious but was assaulted by his former best friend weeks after their bout. The hatred the former interim welterweight champion has stirred is such that he now often requires security guards.