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5 times UFC stars belittled other fighters

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor at the UFC 229 pre-fight press conference

Whenever UFC fighters engage in trash talk, it's often done with the intention of drumming up fan interest for their upcoming bouts. It's a sensible tactic since people are likely to tune in for a fight if there's a chance they could witness a fighter they dislike taste defeat.

This is the formula used by the likes of Colby Covington and Conor McGregor to great success. While both men engage in vitriolic verbal attacks that target the personal lives of their rivals, the bulk of their trash talk entails disparaging their foes as fighters. It is an interesting avenue, especially considering how damaging it can be to lose to an opponent one has downplayed.

Other times, however, UFC fighters belittle their foes in a more direct manner. They criticize the quality of competitors that their targets had to face, among other things.

It is a frequent occurrence in MMA. So this list looks at 5 times a UFC fighter belittled another fighter, whether they were scheduled to face each other or not.


#5. Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera

Last year, Sean O'Malley was given the stiffest test of his career with the exception of his upcoming bout against former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan. 'Sugar' faced Marlon 'Chito' Vera in a losing effort that saw the 27-year-old taste defeat for the first time in his career as a professional.

Safe to say O’Malley took the loss well https://t.co/Yv6aEPx3A5

Vera's calf kicks paid dividends in the bout as they compromised O'Malley's ability to plant his own feet on the mat. Unable to keep his footing, 'Sugar' soon found himself on his back. 'Chito' capitalized and earned a TKO win by landing ground-and-pound. After the bout, the 27-year-old donwplayed the loss.

O'Malley went so far as to deny the loss altogether by claiming he was mentally undefeated. Furthermore, 'Sugar' downplayed the merits of Vera's win and even his quality as a fighter on an episode of his podcast.

"But also, what makes me feel better... say, okay, let's look at his career in five years, let's look at mine. I'm gonna be f**king world champ, he's gonna be a f**king journeyman."

#4. Uriah Hall vs. Israel Adesanya

Prior to his retirement from MMA, Uriah Hall shifted tactics in terms of navigating his own career. Typically soft-spoken and respectful, 'Prime Time' began verbally disparaging potential foes.

During the leadup to his bout against Paulo Costa, the Jamaican-American accused his Brazilian adversary of steroid use in a departure from his usual character.

Middleweight contender Uriah Hall accuses Israel Adesanya of taking 'easy fights'bit.ly/3jHhUnW https://t.co/dGMdz4pPxV

He also accused Darren Till of ducking him and strangely enough, describing Scouser as ugly. However, the most consistent target of Uriah Hall's criticisms was Israel Adesanya.

Oddly enough, despite losing to four opponents that Adesanya defeated, Hall downplayed the Nigerian's accomplishments by accusing him of hand-picking easy matchups. He even insinuated that he used politics to keep a dynamic fighter like himself from getting a title fight.


#3. Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler

Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler are scheduled to settle their differences in the cage at UFC 281. The root of their feud was Poirier's decision to make little of Chandler's merits as a fighter. When 'Iron' signed with the UFC, his debut was followed by enormous intrigue.

As a three-time Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler was immediately given a bout against a skilled mainstay of the 155 lbs weight class. At UFC 257, both Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler competed, but not against each other. 'The Diamond' faced Conor McGregor, while 'Iron' crossed swords with Dan Hooker.

.@DustinPoirier isn't overly interested in facing Michael Chandler after his TKO win at #UFC257:"He should fight Charles Oliveira… I'm the champ."Watch full video: youtu.be/8qv0XtCy3N8 https://t.co/jjTxF41E59

Both men emerged victorious and journalists at the post-fight press conference immediately fielded questions about the two of them potentially fighting for the then (and now again) vacant UFC lightweight title. Dustin Poirier was dismissive of the idea.

Instead, he crowned himself the 155lbs unofficial champion before proposing a matchup between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. 'The Diamond' reiterated his disinterest in facing 'Iron' by downplaying his win over Dan Hooker and claiming that he'd rather sell hot sauce than fight the former Bellator champion.


#2. Michael Chandler vs. Islam Makhachev

Even during his days as a Bellator lightweight, Michael Chandler exhibited a strong interest in facing Khabib Nurmagomedov. Unfortunately, the timing of his signing with the UFC coincided with the undefeated Russian's retirement from MMA. In the wake of 'The Eagle's retirement, interest in his close friend and training partner Islam Makhachev surged.

When asked about any comparisons between the two Dagestanis, Michael Chandler was quick to downplay the comparisons by citing Khabib Nurmagomedov's dominance in the top 5 as opposed to Islam Makhachev's then sole win over a top 10 foe. As the Dagestani sensation's bout with Charles Oliveira nears, Michael Chandler reinforced his opinion.

.@MikeChandlerMMA calls the praise of Islam Makhachev "premature." "He hasn’t really fought anybody. That’s really the truth."Full interview with @DamonMartin ▶️ youtu.be/Or8vIFifmio https://t.co/rFtfrzeN9i

He claimed that Islam Makhachev is yet to face anyone noteworthy and that despite defeating a mutual opponent in Dan Hooker, 'Iron' incorrectly claimed that 'The Hangman' was on a three or four-fight losing streak at the time. Dan Hooker defeated Nasrat Haqparast prior to facing Islam Makhachev.

Chandler claimed that the praise Makhachev has received is premature and that he isn't as good as most people make him out to be.


#1. Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Like Sean O'Malley did with Marlon Vera, Conor McGregor reserved his worst criticism of Khabib Nurmagomedov's skill-set as a fighter after losing to the undefeated Dagestani. Ever since losing to 'The Eagle' at UFC 229, the Irishman had hoped to avenge the defeat in a rematch.

Unfortunately, Khabib Nurmagomedov showed little interest in facing 'The Notorious' again, citing his dominance in their first bout as the reason behind his lack of competitive desire for a potential rematch. Once Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from MMA, Conor McGregor became even more vitriolic.

"He's done nothing in the sport."@TheNotoriousMMA doesn't think highly of Khabib's resume 😬 #UFC264 (via @stephenasmith) https://t.co/6IwtPAyB6L

He accused his rival of running away from him, and during the leadup to his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, he disparaged the Russian's legacy.

He claimed that 'The Eagle' had done nothing in the sport. When he was reminded of his rival's undefeated record, the Irishman dismissed it as the product of Nurmagomedov fighting foes with poor records on regional shows organized by his late father.

Furthermore, McGregor disparaged his rival's past struggles with weight cuts and having to withdraw from scheduled bouts due to injury. He then claimed that he only counts knockouts as wins and that therefore, he never lost to the undefeated Dagestani.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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