The 10 Most Hated Fighters in MMA History

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

The 10 Most Hated Fighters in MMA History

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    Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    Regardless of why they became focal points of scrutiny, or if the criticism was justified, MMA fans just enjoy seeing certain fighters vilify themselves.

    While they don't share the same flaws or talents, the most heavily targeted heels in MMA have one bond in common: The sound of their names routinely invokes scowls from fans.

    Strangely, this list of immortal MMA misfits consists primarily of a blend of convicted felons and UFC champions.

    Here are the 10 most loathed fighters in MMA history.

Honorable Mentions: Cristiane 'Cyborg' Justino and War Machine

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    Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino: Although she seems closer than ever to landing a UFC contract, fans have always held a general distaste for Cyborg and her manly persona, particularly during the time of her partnership with former manager Tito Ortiz.

    Cyborg confirmed the suspicions of many naysayers when she tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol after her featherweight title fight at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal in December 2011.

    Justino must now prove that she can drop to 135 pounds without the help of any illegal substances. If she can't get to 135 and eventually strike a deal with the UFC, Cyborg will remain unpopular with the masses.

    War Machine: War Machine, formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver, sadly possesses the grit and talent to compete in the UFC's cutthroat lightweight division.

    Unfortunately for the 32-year-old Californian, living an outlandish lifestyle that includes stints in both jail and in the pornography business just doesn't jive with a career in the UFC.

    But it's not necessarily his actions that make War Machine an unlikable character. Truth be told, fans just can't stand Koppenhaver's relentlessly unapologetic nature or his propensity to keep bouncing back from states of misery.

    War Machine started a two-fight winning streak in Bellator MMA following his latest stay in jail. To the delight of his critics, however, War Machine naturally dropped his Bellator Season 9 Welterweight Tournament semifinal bout with Ron Keslar via first-round submission in October.

10. Jason 'Mayhem' Miller

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    Once wildly popular, Jason "Mayhem" Miller unceremoniously morphed from a main event attraction in the UFC to an utter outcast in a remarkably short time frame.

    Miller shockingly hung up his gloves in the summer of 2012 following back-to-back setbacks in his second stint with the UFC.

    Then, in the year following his decision to leave MMA, Mayhem's life spiraled out of control and the former Bully Beatdown host found himself in jail on several occasions.

    Mayhem abandoned his portrayal of the likable outlaw long ago, and when he did so, he lost the support of the foundation of his fanbase.

    He's only 33 years old and seemingly still capable of competing in the UFC, so perhaps Miller will reemerge and resurrect his once-inspiring persona.

    At the very least, Miller could clean up his act and contribute to the sport in a positive light, perhaps as a coach or an analyst. 

9. Josh Koscheck

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    For just an instant in May 2010, Paul Daley made fans in Montreal forget just how much they hated former NCAA Division I wrestling champ Josh Koscheck.

    Daley sucker-punched Koscheck following a one-sided loss at UFC 113 to momentarily make the controversial Pennsylvanian seem like a likable character and a good sport.

    But during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Koscheck quickly reminded fans in Bell Centre of why he's such a polarizing figure by saying: "Hey, don't worry. Pittsburgh Penguins are going to kick your (the Montreal Canadiens') a**. Next week baby, yeah. And then I'm going to beat St-Pierre, so you guys are going to lose twice. How about that? Yeah, that's right Montreal."

8. Bryan Caraway

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    If Bryan Caraway would have made more of a name for himself earlier in his career, the 10-year MMA pro would have surely landed higher on this countdown.

    But Caraway, who has angered fans with antics both inside and outside of the cage, didn't step into the limelight until he got picked as a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 in 2011.

    Since then, Caraway, the UFC's eighth-ranked bantamweight, has engaged in a highly publicized and ongoing dispute with women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.

    Caraway's second straight submission win in the UFC didn't occur without controversy, either. In the first round of his bout with Erik Perez at UFC Fight Night 42, Caraway fish hooked "Goyito's" mouth while in back mount. 

    Perez survived the round and the fish hook, but got submitted with a rear-naked choke the following round.

    To make matters worse for Caraway, he's in a relationship with second-ranked women's bantamweight Miesha Tate, another polarizing figure that will keep Caraway perpetually under the microscope.

7. Jon Jones

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    It's only natural that UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones draws criticism from virtually every errant move he makes. After all, he's unanimously considered the world's best pound-for-pound fighter.

    Jones' extraordinary rise in the sport has naturally been accompanied by a handful of self-destructive moments that his critics naturally exploited to the fullest.

    Fans first saw the pristine image of "Bones" smudged when he crashed his 2012 Bentley into a telephone pole drunk in New York. 

    Jones' naysayers got more ammo less than four months later when the 26-year-old refused to take a fight with Chael Sonnen on late notice, a decision that caused the company's brass to cancel UFC 151. The cancellation marked the first of its kind in UFC pay-per-view history.

    Most recently, Jones' unorthodox style has sparked debates from critics on whether or not he's a clean fighter.

    With unmatched talent, a brash attitude and plenty of his prime years still ahead of him, Jones must get used to the idea that the hatred he draws comes with the territory.

6. Ronda Rousey

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    Like Jon Jones, her male counterpart, UFC women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey routinely incites jealously from fans.

    Rousey couldn't hide her unapologetic, me-against-the-world attitude during her highly-publicized feud with Miesha Tate on Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. And when the season culminated with the two fighting at UFC 168, the lions share of fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena expressed their displeasure for Rousey through boos.

    Rousey seemingly made matters worse when she finished Tate with a third-round armbar and then refused to shake the Washington native's hand.

    It wasn't until her fourth title defense at UFC 175 earlier this month that the post-fight cheers for Rousey outweighed the boos. 

    She represents the unofficial queen of MMA and Rousey's not afraid to declare it. It seems obvious that like Jones, Rousey brews hate among fans and respect among fighters because she's not afraid to dare people to come after what she's earned.

5. Michael Bisping

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    Unlike some of his peers on this list, eighth-ranked UFC middleweight Michael Bisping has never violated any laws or failed any drug tests. 

    In fact, Bisping has managed, through sheer arrogance, to turn into one of MMA's most hated heels.

    Bisping's uniquely cocky and carefree approach toward the game apparently enraged a large clan of fans that got a heavy dose of his personality during his time on The Ultimate Fighter Season 3. 

    Bisping has won 14 of 20 scraps in the UFC, but he's had to live with the sound of the majority of crowds booing during each of those weigh-ins and fights.

4. Chael Sonnen

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    In 2008, months before his second stint with the UFC, only hardcore MMA fans recognized the name Chael Sonnen.

    But not long after his informal coming-out party in 2009, Sonnen quickly transformed into the sport's pound-for-pound king of trash talking.

    "The American Gangster" apparently learned that being silent and essentially ambiguous in the first 12 years of his career wasn't a winning remedy. So Sonnen began to liberally offer unfiltered and unadulterated insight on a wide spectrum of issues.

    Along the way, the 37-year-old Oregonian made it clear that he doesn't mind offending large groups of fans—or even the entire country of Brazilas long as he remains relevant.

    Roughly three years after pleading guilty to a federal money-laundering charge, Sonnen gave his naysayers even more reason to talk when he failed a drug test prior to a scheduled bout at UFC 175. The test showed that Sonnen had both HGH and EPO in his system, among other banned substances, a result that rendered him fired from his posts with Fox Sports and the UFC.

3. Tito Ortiz

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    If Chuck Liddell represented the ideal American hero in the first decade of the 2000's in the UFC, then Tito Ortiz played the anti-hero role to perfection during that same span. 

    Wearing black shades and shiny, flamed-up fight trunks, Ortiz took on the part of unstoppable light heavyweight villain for over two years between April 2000 and November 2002. 

    But once his heyday ended, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" became the butt of many jokes, dropping seven of his last nine fights in the UFC, all while maintaining the same audacious attitude.

    A toxic marriage to former porn star Jenna Jameson contributed to arrests for domestic violence and DUI for Ortiz.

    A year after leaving Jameson, Ortiz retired from MMA, only to resurface two years later with Bellator MMA, where he is still accumulating new fans and fresh haters.

2. Brock Lesnar

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    When Brock Lesnar inked a deal with the UFC in 2007, few fans envisioned the former NCAA Division I wrestling champ and WWE wrestler taking the heavyweight throne by force in just a year's time.

    In reality, many pundits considered Lesnar a one-dimensional fighter with specific skills but little acumen in the Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu departments.

    Fans also didn't foresee Lesnar assuming the same heel role in MMA that he inherited during his first stint with the WWE between 2000 and 2004.

    But toward the end of his career, not even diverticulitis could convince fans to ease up on the bashing of Lesnar, particularly following his lopsided loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141.

    Some loved him, but many couldn't wait to confirm their beliefs that Lesnar was a fraud from the get-go. When it came down to it, Lesnar's in-cage theatrics, his old-fashioned stance on life and his inclination for generating true disdain from his opponents made him a bona fide villain.

1. Joe Son

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    It may not seem justifiable to place an obscure fighter from the UFC's early days like Joe Son at the top of this list.

    However, even though Son's not universally recognized in the realm of MMA, he's unanimously disliked by those familiar with the Korean kick boxer's role in a 1990 gang rape of a woman in California.

    Son, who played the character Random Task in the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in 1997, competed in both the UFC and PRIDE FC, losing each of his four pro fights.

    In October 2008, Huntington Beach Police Department detectives linked Son to the 1990 rape through DNA analysis. Son was found guilty of the rape and sentenced to life in prison in 2011.

    Some fans still look back on Karate black belt Keith Hackney's win over Son in the Korean's only UFC bout as a prophetic punishment. Hackney crushed Son's genitalia with punches to set up a fight-ending choke just 2:44 into their bout at UFC 4.