Nicknames are to be received and worn as a badge of honor. No
matter how absurd they are, it is one’s job to make them
sound tough and are a sign of one’s own formidable nature.
One would think it’s easier to do that with a moniker like
“The Natural Born Killer”, but if Carlos Condit
hadn’t won 27 of his 29 fights by finish then people would
laugh when his nickname was yelled by Bruce Buffer.
Basically, one has to live up to their nickname’s edge or
surpass its inherent silliness. Here are the top 20 nicknames in
UFC history and the fighters forever tied to them.
With a last name like his, what else would be the nickname?
Andre “Touchy” Fili is the latest Team Alpha Male
prospect to enter the Octagon, win, and win by TKO. The 23 year old
recently debuted at UFC 166 against TUF
alum Jeremy Larsen. “Touchy” took the featherweight
bout on about a week’s notice while preparing for a local
fight where he would compete at welterweight. If you’re
unfamiliar with those poundages, welterweights are 170 pounds and
featherweights are 145; meaning, Fili cut 30 pounds in less than
An impressive stoppage win after a nightmarish weightcut while
scrapping on the biggest stage on short notice. The nickname sounds
like a joke, but the fighter who carries it is deadly serious.
#19: “New York Bad Ass”
It’s pretty simple. He’s from New York and
he’s a Bad Ass.
The former bodybuilder who made his grand UFC entrances sporting
a sparkly robe straight out of “The Nature Boy” Ric
Flair’s wardrobe was an always entertaining character in all
10 of his Octagon appearances.
Not one to mince words or pull punches, Baroni scored his
biggest win in a 2002 KO over the UFC’s first middleweight
champ Dave Menne at UFC 39. The “N.Y.B.A.” took to the
top of the Octagon’s cage to scream from the proverbial
mountain top that he was the best “eva!” Maybe not the
best, but the Long Island native was more than meets the eye as a
former NCAA Division I wrestler from Hofstra University and
graduated Central Michigan University with a degree in
#18: “The Law”
They call him “The Law”. It sounds like a line from
a Clint Eastwood western. Somewhat surprising, the nickname
isn’t for a former sheriff or even a judge. It’s the
moniker that was most definitely earned by Greco-Roman wrestler
turned MMA fighter Matt Lindland.
If one doesn’t already know, but athletes on a
country’s Olympic team need to qualify for them and are not
simply appointed to them. For the former NCAA Division I wrestler
from the University of Nebraska, Lindland found his way onto the
2000 US Olympic team with the help of the court system. During the
Olympic trials’ finals, Lindland lost to Keith Sieracki, but
Lindland protested that Sieracki tripped him, which is illegal in
Lindland took his case to a federal district judge and a three
judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled
in favor of Lindland and granted a rematch. Lindland dominated the
rematch 9-0. From there, “The Law” went to Sydney,
Australia for the 2000 Games and won a silver medal 76 kg, which
was 1 of 3 medals the US Greco-Roman team won that Olympics.
If one bumped into Dustin Hazelett on the street, one might
guess he excels in math competitions, but not cagefighting. Yes,
the owner of two of the slickest submission finishes in UFC history
looks more like a mathlete than a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt.
And, Hazelett agrees as he went by “McLovin” due to a
vague similarity in look to the nerdy high schooler in
With a t-shirt on and going about his day, the 6’1”
stringbean known to Octagon enthusiasts as “McLovin”
would never be confused with a professional fighter. It’s
just how the Kentucky native naturally looks. Meanwhile, with a
t-shirt off and in the cage or on a wrestling mat,
“McLovin” is a lanky, muscular taut, tap or snap artist
with back-to-back Submission of the Night wins in 2008 for equally
Unassuming looking fighters like Hazelett are the reason why you
should never judge a book by its cover or let your mouth get ahead
of itself when out at a bar.
It’s such a good nickname that it’s completely
erased a very interesting first name. Quinton is a great name.
It’s a fun name to say and can be shortened to
“Quint”. What about Q? Who doesn’t want a friend
they can call Q? Ok, ok. “Rampage” it is.
The former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton
“Rampage” Jackson was a bodyslamming force in the Pride
ring and a knockout puncher in the UFC cage. Over in Japan,
“Rampage” did rampage the competition going 18-5 with
almost all of his wins coming by KO/TKO. The most famous of these
is the powerbomb KO of Ricardo Arona in June 2004.
The biggest wins in Jackson’s career came in both
organizations and were against the same UFC Hall of Famer. While
pretty much everyone in the UFC couldn’t stop Chuck Liddell,
“Rampage” did it twice. The first was a brutal TKO in
2003 in Pride and four years later “Rampage” one punch
KOed Liddell to win the UFC strap at UFC 71. “Rampage”
was the first and last man to beat Liddell in that span of
Liz Carmouche was a lot of “firsts” in the UFC.
“Girl-Rilla” was the first woman ever to walkout to
fight in the Octagon, first female challenger for a UFC title,
first lady to headline a UFC pay-per-view and/or event, and first
woman to get a second fight in the UFC to name a few. Besides the
gender barriers, Carmouche was the first openly gay fighter to do
absolutely anything in the UFC. Basically, Carmouche is an MMA
fighting Jackie Robinson every time she has done something this
The former Marine Corps helicopter electrician who did three
tours of duty in the Middle East is also a helluva cagefighter. At
29 years old with a pro record of 9-3, “Girl-Rilla” is
tough as nails a penchant for ground and pounding her opponents
into oblivion. Carmouche’s groundbreaking UFC 157 title fight
with champ Ronda Rousey did end in a loss for the
“Girl-Rilla”, but before that she put Rousey in a near
face-crushing rear naked choke. Carmouche did better against the
champ than anybody and got back to her winning ways with a TKO
finish of Jessica Andrade in July.
It’s an alligator. Technically, a caiman, which is a
smaller alligator in South and Central America. And, Ronaldo Souza
has embrace his nickname to the point that after he wins does his
trademark alligator dance. Seriously, he has a celebration dance
for himself and his nickname.
“Jacare”, the fighter, is an exceptional BJJ
blackbelt of the highest caliber and the middleweight is becoming a
scary striker. “Jacare”, the nickname, is fun to say
and is pretty cool when translated. There’s an odd trend
among Brazilian fighters that they have a nickname that sounds
intriguing in the native Portuguese, but is quite mundane when
translated to English. For instance, Gabriel “Napao”
Gonzaga. Pronounced “nuh”-”pow”; means
The imagery for “Jacare” is great and accurate as
well. You don’t want to let an alligator to get a hold of you
because they’ll pull you under water, death roll you, and
you’re done. Don’t let Souza get ahold of you either.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champ with 14 wins by
submission and countless BJJ titles will probably do worse to you
than an alligator.
#13: “Cro Cop”
Not as much a nickname as a statement of fact, but it’s
only one small piece of the incredible life story of Mirko
Filipovic. “Cro Cop” is short for Croatian cop, which
Filipovic was when he started his kickboxing career. And not just a
police officer, Filipovic was a member of Croatia’s elite
police special forces tactical unit called “Lucko”,
which specialized in anti-terrorism. That wasn’t his only
high falutin membership, Filipovic was a member of the Croatian
Parliament from 2003 to 2007.
Politician, special forces, professional kickboxer, and prolific
MMA fighter. Amazingly enough, “Cro Cop” is still
racking up wins in the kickboxing world at 39 years old including
the K-1 World Grand Prix 2012 championship. Sadly for the multitude
of “Cro Cop” fans worldwide, Filipovic did not perform
at his best inside the Octagon. Filipovic’s fame comes from
his left high kick, which tore up the scene in Japan while
“Cro Cop” fought in Pride. Filipovic’s greatest
MMA achievement was the 2006 Pride World Grand Prix Open Weight
She definitely didn’t need to, but she did ask
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper if she had his blessing on carrying
the famed moniker. And, Piper gave it to her because she’s
earned it and if he didn’t, Ronda Rousey would have broken
his damn arm.
The undefeated and undisputed UFC women’s bantamweight
champion has a nickname that is both appropriate and alliterative
and to that we should all thank her. Thus far, the
“Rowdy” one has been an unstoppable wrecking ball as a
fighter and as a personality both in and out of the cage. First
things first, Rousey has won all 7 of her MMA bouts by armbar
within the first round, 5 within the first minute.
“Rowdy” is legit dangerous.
Outside of the cage, the former 2008 US Olympic bronze medalist
is an interviewer’s dream as Rousey will rawly cut down an
opponent or an idea without any phony diplomacy. The wins and the
words caught everyone’s attention including UFC President
Dana White who finally understood the appeal of women’s MMA
because of “Rowdy”. And she’s still turning heads
as Rousey is a coach on this season’s The
Ultimate Fighter and is filming back-to-back action movies:
“The Expendables 3” and “Fast & Furious
#11: “The American Gangster”
Nicknames are given, not assigned by oneself, but Chael P.
Sonnen is the exception to that rule.
For the lion’s share of his career, Sonnen operated
moniker-less. The fighting pride of West Linn, Oregon, began MMA
way back in 1997 during his time as an NCAA Division I All-American
wrestler at the University of Oregon and his time on the
Greco-Roman wrestling circuit. By the early 2000’s, Sonnen
chose MMA over pursuing an Olympic team spot and fought all over
the country and went to Japan in smaller shows. Sonnen did make it
to the UFC, but was cut after going 1-2 in 2006. Sonnen made a
resurgence in the WEC and the UFC in 2008 to 2010.
But what made Sonnen earn the nickname “The American
Gangster”, which he self-appointed was his campaign for the
UFC middleweight title shot against then champ Anderson Silva.
Often forgot, Sonnen did score the requisite wins needed for a
title shot by beating Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt
in back-to-back-to-back unanimous decisions. Nevertheless,
“The American Gangster” emerged as an unrelenting
mouthpiece that captured a sport’s attention and then some as
he attacked the seemingly unstoppable champ with words for a year
and backed them up in the cage for 23 minutes until Silva caught
Sonnen in a sophisticated submission.
No fighter has ever embodied their nickname more than David
Abbott. The man was a fixture in the early Octagon days competing
in more UFC tournaments (5) than anyone else. The goatee, the beer
belly, and a ferocious punching attack that looked more appropriate
in a saloon slugfest than a boxing gym. In short, he was a bad dude
with a bad attitude who blasted and flattened his first two
opponents as one would guess a tank would.
Abbott was a cagefighting cultural icon well before Chuck
Liddell took the mantle in the 2000’s. Despite their haymaker
throwing style, “Tank” and Liddell were both at one
time collegiate wrestlers, but those skills rarely showed in any of
their Octagon appearances. They both had the allure of street
toughs who could win a punching duel in every back alley of
Abbott’s fame came from his style and from his one-liners.
Joking about losing to Dan Severn and his moustache, “I felt
like I was being raped by Freddie Mercury”. As if Archie
Bunker could deliver a knockout punch.
#9: “The Smashing Machine”
It was his gameplan, his insightful documentary, and maybe a
future infomercial for a garbage disposal unit he invents.
One of the original prized prospects inside the Octagon,
“The Smashing Machine” Mark Kerr won back-to-back
heavyweight tournaments at UFC 14 and UFC 15 in 1997. The former
NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler from Syracuse University
was a natural winner in MMA with his hulking physique, unstoppable
takedowns, and brutal hammerfists. Kerr was a force of nature who
became ingratiated into the MMA world winning a Vale Tudo
tournament in Brazil, winning tournaments in the UFC, winning bouts
in Pride, and even winning tournaments and superfights in ADCC
World Submission Wrestling.
“The Smashing Machine’s” story took a nose
dive more or less after the highest highs mentioned above, but Kerr
was a mythical figure for a few years at the end of the 90’s.
“The Smashing Machine” was the brightest burning star
and was pretty much gone as quickly as he came. What does remain
from his short time at the top, the “The Smashing Machine” documentary
by HBO which was ahead of its time and is still better than by far
the majority of articles done by major news outlets.
#8: “The Janitor”
A nickname coined by US Olympic wrestling great Dave Schultz. It
doesn’t get better than that.
Originally, an anecdote about Vladimir Matyushenko in his youth
when he was the Soviet National Wrestling Champion. In a meet
between the US and the Russians in Siberia, Matyushenko wiped the
floor with the vaunted Americans including Olympic gold medalist
Kevin Jackson, but it was the day before they first saw Matyushenko
cleaning the mats before a practice. Thus, Schultz joked his US
team wasn’t beat by a Russian wrestler, but a common
The nickname “The Janitor” does have a sense of
imagery that Matyushenko is going to “clean the cage”
with his opponent’s face or something. And that does sound
tough, which is good. But the story behind the nickname, a young
wrestler who beat gold medal winning Olympians and earned the
respect of Schultz. Now, that’s 1,000,000x tougher of a
#7: “The Natural”
First, it’s a classy moniker. There’s no blood or
guts or xtreme-ness involved here. It’s the type of nickname
that would befit any athlete from the golden days of American
civilization. A black and white era nickname, a Jimmy Stewart
nickname. It’s timeless and so is its owner UFC Hall of Famer
Possibly a reference to the odd and dramatic baseball movie,
“The Natural”, starring Robert Redford as a pitcher who
becomes a hitter, and, seemingly, comes back from the dead.
Nevertheless, “The Natural” fits Couture as the
ever-evolving and never stale athletic monster that was the 3x UFC
heavyweight champion and 2x UFC light-heavyweight champion.
Couture did it all. He was in the Army, he boxed in the army, he
3x NCAA Division I All-American wrestler in college at Oklahoma
State University, he was a 3x US Olympic alternate in Greco-Roman
wrestling, he started MMA at 34 and won the UFC 13 heavyweight
tournament that first night, he won the UFC heavyweight strap two
fights later, and so on and so on and so on until at 43 years old
he won the UFC heavyweight strap again. Couture retired at 47 in
2011 and there’s got to be a voice in the back of
everyone’s mind that the old man could still put a hurting on
half the fighters who step inside the Octagon.
#6: “Kimbo Slice”
He looked exactly like a “Kimbo Slice”.
Most assumed or hoped that was his given name, but Kevin
Ferguson was pretty much an average guy turned MMA celebrity.
That’s presupposing an “average guy” is some
jacked dude with gold teeth and the most glistening yet glorious
beard one could ever imagine.
Born in the Bahamas and raised in South Florida, Kimbo Slice
became an internet icon in his mid-30’s from a series of
street fights he won that were recorded and uploaded to
Youtube. Somehow, everyone and their mother had seen Kimbo
dropping other wannabe street toughs in parking lots and in
backyards. Kimbo Slice made the bar fight fans into MMA fans for a
short while as Ferguson tried out the caged sport.
A short stint on The
Ultimate Fighter 10 followed by an even shorter stint in the
UFC, Ferguson was not meant for professional fighting with his
limited background and a low desire to really learn the martial
arts needed to be successful. But, Kimbo Slice was meant for the
backyard brawls that he became famous for. Ferguson helped
indirectly define the UFC and its fighters by showing that a mean
looking guy with one good punch stands absolutely no chance against
the pro MMA fighters who truly earned their spot inside the
#5: “The Axe-Murderer”
There were several prolific champions in Pride history like
Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight and Takaknori Gomi at lightweight,
but none was more beloved than Brazilian knockout artist Wanderlei
“The Axe-Murderer” Silva. The heavy-handed barrages of
Silva netted him 22 wins with 15 knockouts while fighting in the
premiere Japanese organization, which are both Pride records.
Since re-entering the UFC, Silva has lost more than he’s
won, but “The Axe-Murderer” still knows how to
throwdown for the fans by winning 5 Fight of the Night awards.
Silva’s most recent Octagon performance was back in his old
Japanese stomping grounds where “The Axe-Murderer” and
Brian Stann teed off on each other like Rock ‘em Sock
‘em robots with Silva earning a wild KO near the end of the
Watch a frenzied exchange from that bout or one of the many from
his tangles with “Rampage” Jackson in Pride and
you’ll fully understand why Silva’s called “The
#4: “The Mexicutioner”
It makes one smile just to say it.
Known for his granite chin and his Octagon slobberknockers, Joey
Beltran took a well worn nickname and made it his own. Combining
the fighting Mexican spirit of his ancestors and the grim imagery
of an executioner, and, TA-DA, Beltran will forever be “The
Mexicutioner”. Beltran would be smart to copyright that
nickname as no doubt Robert Rodriguez will catch wind of it someday
and realize how much better it is than “Machete”.
“The Mexicutioner” became a heavy fan-favorite in
the UFC for a series of fights that highlighted his ability to take
punishment as well as his ability to give it back. Specifically,
his heavyweight bouts with Pat Barry, Aaron Rosa, Stipe Miocic, and
the Fight of the Night with Matt Mitrione. In 2012, “The
Mexicutioner” dropped to 205 and scored earned his second
Fight of the Night bonus in a unanimous decision loss to James Te
#3: “Uncle Creepy”
Spoiler alert: in no way does the story behind the name make it
less weird, but it’s altogether harmless and somehow fitting
for its owner.
A friend’s son called UFC flyweight Ian McCall,
“Uncle Creepy”, in front of friends and family alike
and the name stuck, obviously. If someone had to wear the nickname
and do so with pride, it would be the tattooed, mustachioed
fearless fighter McCall.
“Uncle Creepy” is known for that name, for his
Rollie Fingers mustache, and that he’s one of the top 125
pound fighters to grace the Octagon. At 12-4-1, McCall was a 135er
with a solid record of 8-2, but, after battling some demons in his
life, “Uncle Creepy” got serious and made the weightcut
to flyweight. McCall would win 3 fights in a row over some of the
best the division had to offer and made his UFC debut as part of a
mini-tournament to decide the company’s first flyweight
McCall fought three razor thin decisions against Joseph
Benavidez and UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson before earning
his first Octagon win in his second Fight of the Night at UFC
#2: “The Korean Zombie”
Such a popular nickname, UFC President Dana White doesn’t
ever refer to Chan Sung Jung by his given one. Actually, it’s
pretty rare to see or hear anyone reference him as Jung because
when given the opportunity to call someone “The Korean
Zombie” one must take it.
The Korean bit is probably from Jung being born in Pohang, South
Korea. Why a zombie? Because the dude can eat a punch and keep on
moving forward. Amazingly, Jung was already known as “The
Korean Zombie” before the WEC 48 war with Leonard Garcia.
That epic clash proved the nickname true enough. Jung went 1-1 in
the WEC before going 3-1 in the UFC.
Inside the Octagon, “The Korean Zombie” has been
phenomenal to watch. In the rematch with Garcia, Jung pulled off
the first ever “Twister” submission in the UFC. In his
second and third fights, “The Korean Zombie” scored a 7
second knockout followed by a 4th round D’arce choke. Three
fights, three finishes, 4 bonuses (2 Fight of the Night, 1
Submission of the Night, 1 Knockout of the Night).
In his 4th fight, “The Korean Zombie” went
toe-to-toe with UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo until Jung
somehow popped his shoulder out while throwing a punch. As one
would expect, “The Korean Zombie” tried to continue
fighting, but Aldo pounced when he saw Jung was hurt.
A nickname only the internet could have created. Or more like
observed and noted.
Yoshihiro Akiyama was an accomplished Judo player who became an
MMA star in his native Japan. Also, he was born with the looks, the
demeanor, the fashion sense, and the confidence to be called
“Sexyama”. SEXYAMA! Yes, thousands if not millions of
grown men on the dedicated MMA messageboards the world over
declared what we’ve all been thinking while watching Akiyama
strut with his perfect tan and well-maintained hair – that man is
Like an Asian Burt Reynolds circa the 70’s, men want to be
him and women want to be with him. Let’s be honest,
it’s 2013, there are plenty of men who want to be with
“Sexyama” too. Whether its his frosted tips look or his
impeccable suits or his romantic entrances to the Octagon or, most
likely, his prolific amount of modeling pictorials,
“Sexyama” lives up to his name.