Feuds in the UFC are often between the promotion's fighters. The competitive nature of MMA often leads to heated exchanges between scheduled opponents. In other cases, a specific fighter takes it upon themselves to engage in promotional tactics to generate fan interest in their bouts.
Whether an opponent understands what's being done determines how the feud progresses. However, in most cases, there is genuine animosity between feuding fighters. Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington are prime examples. The two welterweights were once close friends.
Unfortunately, the exaggerated lengths that 'Chaos' took his trash-talking to eventually lead to an explosive split. While feuds are typically between fighters, sometimes a UFC fighter's ire extends to promotional figures in non-combat roles.
This list takes a look at five such feuds.
#5. Nate Diaz vs. Jon Anik
Years ago, Rafael dos Anjos suffered a fractured foot that forced him to withdraw from a scheduled bout with Conor McGregor. In his place, Nate Diaz stepped up as a short-notice foe for the Irishman. Given the win-loss dynamic of the Stockton legend's UFC run, many were dismissive of his chances.
Among those who doubted Nate Diaz's ability to defeat 'The Notorious' was Jon Anik. The UFC commentator angered Stockton's finest by predicting that Conor McGregor would win with a first-round TKO. To further express his lack of faith in him, Jon Anik claimed that he'd get a 209 tattoo if the Californian won.
After catching wind of Anik's words, Diaz threatened to slap him. While the level-headed Anik apologized for his remarks, Diaz held him to his word. In the immediate aftermath of his win over McGregor, the Stockton superstar jokingly threatened to assault Anik if he didn't get the tattoo.
#4. Jon Jones vs. John McCarthy
Jon Jones is not a fan of John McCarthy. He is on record stating his preference for any other referee but 'Big John'. According to 'Bones' himself, he feels that there's a mismatch in the "energy" radiating between them. He subtly accused McCarthy of favoring others over him and negatively interfering in his fights.
From John McCarthy's standpoint, he merely disallows the former UFC light heavyweight champion from gaming the rules. 'Big John' is notorious for his strictness when it comes to fighters keeping their palms closed whenever they extend their arms.
Jon Jones often extends his arm with his palm open, leading to countless eye pokes. Furthermore, 'Bones' developed a habit of crawling across the mat on all fours to prevent head kicks from landing. 'Big John' never shied away from criticizing the former 205 lbs titleholder when necessary.
This willingness to call Jones to task earned McCarthy the UFC legend's ire. It remains one of the most bizarre feuds between two people in MMA.
#3. Colby Covington vs. Marc Goddard
At UFC 245, Colby Covington faced Kamaru Usman for the first time ever. The bout was contested for the UFC welterweight title. Unfortunately, for 'Chaos', he lost the matchup via fifth-round TKO. He was dropped by 'The Nigerian Nightmare' and subsequently finished on the mat via ground-and-pound.
However, Covington was not knocked out cold. According to him, he was still intelligently defending himself, but referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop the fight. 'Chaos' declared the referee's actions unjustified and described the stoppage as premature.
He expressed his fury over the circumstances surrounding his defeat by claiming that Marc Goddard was complicit in facilitating a fixed result. Additionally, he highlighted that many of Kamaru Usman's shots en route to the TKO were to the back of his head.
According to the English referee, he received online death threats from Covington fans. In Covington's own words, he never again wanted Goddard to referee a bout involving him.
#2. Conor McGregor vs. Joe Rogan
Conor McGregor recently unleashed one of his typical tirades on Twitter. He took aim at his greatest rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov, by criticizing him over his early retirement from the sport. However, a second target was also chosen, leaving countless UFC fans scratching their heads.
The Irish superstar directed several insults at the UFC's most well-known color commentator, Joe Rogan. He initially criticized the podcaster's assertion that 'The Eagle' had smashed him during their lone bout. Conor McGregor posted an image of a battered Donald Cerrone to illustrate what 'smashed' truly looked like.
His second insult revolved around Joe Rogan correctly pointing out the illegal knee that 'The Notorious' landed against Khabib Nurmagomedov. In an expletive-laced response, the Irishman ridiculed the color commentator's observations before insulting him further.
While Rogan is yet to respond to the former double champion, it is one of the most inexplicable feuds to emerge between a fighter and a non-fighter.
#1. Dominick Cruz vs. Keith Peterson
Dominick Cruz last fought for the bantamweight title back in 2020. 'The Dominator' faced Olympic gold medalist and two-division champion Henry Cejudo. During the bout, he was made to pay for his habit of dipping his head in an exaggerated manner. 'The King of Cringe' timed his dip with a knee, rocking him badly.
Cruz stumbled and was shoved to the mat. A storm of follow-up strikes from Henry Cejudo landed, causing his foe's body to go limp for a moment. Keith Peterson, the match referee, stepped in to call a stoppage for the bout, declaring Cejudo the winner.
Displeased with the stoppage, Dominick Cruz claimed that he was still fine and that the fight ended prematurely. However, it wasn't enough to question Keith Peterson's decision-making. He claimed that the referee smelled of alcohol and cigarettes.
The implication being that Keith Peterson was unprofessional enough to be under the influence of a substance while working. Additionally, 'The Dominator' requested any other referee for his UFC 259 bout against Casey Kenney.