Top 20 nicknames in UFC history
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 two weeks.
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 psychology.
#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 Greco-Roman wrestling.
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 “Superbad”.
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 skillful armbars.
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 time.
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 year.
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 “nose”. Seriously.
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 championship.
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 7”
#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 America.
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 janitor.
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 nickname.
#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 Randy Couture.
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 Octagon.
#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 second round.
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 Axe-Murderer”.
#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 Huna.
#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 champ.
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 163.
#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 sexy.
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.