Fighting is a test of your body, sure, but it’s also a test of your mind. Some of the greatest fighters in history have landed blows before the bell even rang. Smack talk is a great way to get in your opponent’s head, and mixed martial artists have learned it can be very effective. In this feature, we’ll spotlight the ten best smack talkers in MMA and share some of their greatest lines.
After making his debut on "The Ultimate Fighter," former collegiate wrestler Josh Koscheck has had some truly unforgettable matches, including his sickening KO on Yoshiyuki Yoshida at "UFC: Fight for the Troops" and his nasty brawl with Georges St-Pierre. Kos has even talked crap about his former training partners, wishing that the American Kickboxing Academy where he learned much of his stand-up game would burn to the ground.
Money Quote: "Hey, don't worry! The Pittsburgh Penguins are gonna kick your ass next week. And then I'm gonna beat St-Pierre so you guys are gonna lose twice. How 'bout that? That's right Montreal!"
One quality that characterizes a true trash talker is the willingness to deploy verbal bombshells against any opponent. Frank Mir is a perfect example of that. No matter how terrifying the specimen he’s paired up against, Mir will deliver the abuse. He’s one of the UFC’s most verbally skilled fighters, even doing commentating for WEC for a while, so it should be no surprise that he has a gift for getting under his opponents’ skin. From Brock Lesnar to Junior dos Santos, Mir has zinged them all.
Money Quote: "I want to fight Brock Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies to Octagon-related injuries."
One of the earliest stars to be made by the UFC, Tank Abbott didn’t have an ounce of refinement to him. The beefy brawler learned to fight in the bars of Huntington Beach, and after several arrests he made his debut at UFC 6 and quickly became one of the promotion’s most recognizable stars. Tank’s lack of polish didn’t make him a less effective trash talker, though – he was notorious for his blunt assessments of his opponents like Paul Varelans and Kimbo Slice.
Money Quote: “I don’t like beating up people in my hometown. I like to go to their hometown, so they can see what they’re all about.”
Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy is currently on the disabled list due to a recently-diagnosed heart condition, but when he was fighting he didn’t spare any words for his opponents. The mohawked British fighter is notorious for his brutal punches, but his words sting just as much. He’s taken aim at a number of the biggest fighters in the UFC, including Mike Swick and Georges St-Pierre. When Hardy faced off against Marcus Davis, his brutal needling leading up to the fight had Davis beaten before the bell rang.
Money Quote: "I hope he can take punches better than he can take criticism, or it will be a very short night for him. I really don’t mind if he doesn’t like me, I don’t care for him much either. I do have a big mouth, but I can back it up and I really don’t care that he dislikes the way I look, he is hardly a style guru himself! For a start, his website looks like a St Patrick’s Day gift shop."
British middleweight Michael Bisping isn’t over the top with his smack talk, which is what makes it so effective. The fighter has an impressive record against some of the toughest men to ever step into the Octagon, and his opponents know that he’s not to be trifled with. When he faced Jorge Rivera, the pre-match trash talk got so intense that the two fighters had to be restrained at the weigh-in, and his pre-match with Vitor Belfort, in which Bisping looked the devout Christian in the eye and said “There is no Jesus,” was epically evil.
Money Quote: “I bumped into Hector Lombard for the first time yesterday in the elevator and I thought somebody was playing a practical joke. I was like ‘Who’s this little poison dwarf?’”
Some trash talkers craft their words with care, honing them to a razor focus to cause the most damage. Not Nick Diaz. The Stockton-born welterweight talks smack like a shotgun, blowing up anyone in his vicinity with foul-mouthed tirades. He’s even been known to trash-talk during his fights to really get his opponents flustered. Diaz’s recent salvo against Georges St-Pierre was effective enough to get GSP to demand a fight with him (which Diaz went on to lose).
Money Quote: “The bottom line is Georges is being a little bitch. He didn't step up and say anything when the UFC pulled me out of this fight. I understand sometimes you have to do what you're told, but why wouldn't you tell the media you still want to fight me? [...] But he sits there like a robot and doesn't say anything at all, just like he's not going to say anything about me calling him a bitch now.”
The introduction of women’s fighting to the UFC has drawn criticism from long-time fight fans, but these ladies can get it done in the Octagon just as hard as men can. And they can talk trash, too. The female MMA fighter with the most brutal mouth is probably Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, who puts just about anyone who crosses her path on blast. Her recent explosion on Cris “Cyborg” Santos was epic.
Money Quote: "She can either do the drugs and fight me at 135 and have the drugs be just as much a detriment as a help to her during the weight cut, or she can cut out all the doping and make the weight easily. As long as she makes 135, I don't care if she's injecting horse semen into her eyeballs but that's the only way I feel it would be a fair fight."
Jason “Mayhem” Miller is one of the sport’s true crossover stars, hosting his own MTV show and taking on movie roles including Kevin James’ "Here Comes the Boom." Part of what got him such notoriety is his motormouth, which lays down the law on just about every opponent he faces. Miller’s 2012 retirement came amidst a flurry of controversy regarding how the UFC and other promotions treat fighters dealing with mental health issues.
Money Quote: "He doesn't deserve to be in there with me, and I'll prove it. I'll prove it in under a round."
The man known as “Rampage” is at the tail end of his UFC career, which is probably a wise move as his last few fights haven’t gone well. In his prime, though, he was a dominant fighter who was also incredibly charismatic on the microphone. Jackson brought a street corner sensibility to his pre-fight interviews, delivering smack talk that sounded like it could have come from running the dozens. He has laid down the law on Wanderlei Silva, Matt Lindland and more.
Money Quote: “When I beat Wanderlei, Imma take his belt, pull down his pants and spank him for being so ugly.”
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Let’s close this list with the absolute undisputed trash-talker in the UFC today. Light heavyweight Chael Sonnen is an irresistible motormouth who lets loose on just about everyone he fights, to great effect. One of the UFC’s top five Pay-Per-View draws despite never holding a title, Chael can hype a match like no other fighter. He’s unleashed his verbal beast on targets as diverse as Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar (who is way out of his weight class).
Money Quote: “Anderson Silva’s got a black belt under the Nogueiras. I think a black belt under the Nogueiras is saying, like, I got a free toy in my Happy Meal. I don’t really understand what the big deal is.”