Top 5 Trash Talkers in MMA History

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As much as perhaps we would like to think that MMA fans are mixed martial arts purists and that we only care about the quality of the fighting, the glory of the competition, and the honor that comes with it, there is an undeniable element of hype that comes from trash talk leading up to a fight. Trash talk provides a glimpse into the actual personality of a fighter. It can turn someone who would have been a standard fighter with a promising career into a household name beloved across the MMA community. Let’s look at five of the best to pick up the mic.

Best Trash Talkers in MMA History

Number 5 – Dominick Cruz

The Bantamweight GOAT, Dominick Cruz, was as difficult to beat on the mic as he was in the octagon, possibly even more so. Perhaps most interesting about Cruz is that he would not come for opponents loudly or aggressively, hurling insults and threats to their direction. Instead, in an incredibly level-headed and intelligent way, he would articulately dismantle everything his opponent said and give a reason for why he was correct and they were, in fact, wrong. Press conferences and face-offs seemed less like an MMA event and more like a debate club, with his opponents often needing to be more in their depth. Cruz won verbally against Urijah Faber, TJ Dillashaw, and perhaps most famously, Cody Garbrandt. While the Garbrandt trash talk has aged poorly, given how the fight went down, Cruz decimated Garbrandt on the mic in the lead-up to the battle at every opportunity in one-sided verbal beatdowns that were uncomfortable to watch at points.

Best line – “I was able to buy a house with all the wins I got over your team, who do you think is going to teach you how to beat me?” to Cody Garbrandt ahead of their fight at UFC 207.

Number 4 – Sean Strickland

A relatively new addition to the world of MMA, Sean Strickland has been around for some time but has only broken into the MMA mainstream in the last few years or so. An individual who certainly has issues of their own, Strickland’s trash talk borders anywhere from deranged to hilarious. From saying he wanted to kill someone in the octagon to joking about Israel Adesanya’s personal activities, you never quite know what you are going to get from Strickland, but it will always be outrageous. Now that he is champion as well, that does not look to be changing anytime soon, as seen from his recent feuds with Ian Garry online, where the Irishman has threatened Strickland with a possible lawsuit if he continues commenting publicly on his relationship and living situation.

Best line – “No man who beats off to cartoons is going to beat me” to Israel Adesanya at the UFC 276 Press Conference

Number 3 – Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping is an OG of the UFC and was one of the pioneers of trash talk in the organization. Making his way into the company via The Ultimate Fighter, the English wit of Bisping was a breath of fresh air and immediately made him a known personality in the world of MMA, for good or bad. Disliked by many at the start of his career, he played the heel excellently, yet by the end, Bisping had won over most MMA fans with his hilarious trash talk, willingness to fight through all odds, and fantastic underdog story. His quick wit was almost unrivaled, and he had no problems going after any fighter, whether they were in his weight division or not. Doing this for over a decade, Michael Bisping deservedly ranks as one of the best to ever pick up a microphone in UFC history.

Best Line – “Sounds like the worst self help book I’ve ever read, conceive, believe, achieve. Shut the f**k up”  to Luke Rockhold giving a ‘motivational’ speech before their fight at the UFC 199 Press Conference

Number 2 – Conor McGregor

Of course, “The Notorious” would have to appear on this list, with many fans likely wondering why he is not placed in the number one spot. A case can certainly be made for McGregor to be at number one. Mystic Mac made a name for himself after joining the UFC in 2013 and quickly rose to be a fan favorite partly due to his magnetic personality outside of the octagon and his excellent performances inside. Fans fondly remember this era of McGregor for his hilarious trash talk at opponents such as Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Rafael Dos Anjos, Urijah Faber, and many others. While he has kept going since then, the real magic was in that initial run-up to capturing the Lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez, where everything McGregor said was going to happen seemed to come true.

Best Line – A tough choice but who could forget “Who the f**k is that guy?” in response to Jeremy Stephens trying to insert himself into a position to fight McGregor at a Press Conference for UFC 205. Truly iconic. 

Number 1 – Chael Sonnen

The “Bad Guy,” Chael Sonnen, is the most eloquent, intelligent, witty, and hard-hitting trash talker in MMA history. Sonnen played the character of the “American Gangster” so well that it sometimes felt like you were watching something out of the WWE rather than UFC, yet it never came across as forced, cringe, or fake. There are too many hilarious moments to go through. Still, throughout his entire career, whether it be press conferences with his opponents, interviews with Joe Rogan, or interactions with mainstream media, Sonnen always made himself the main attraction wherever he was. He is the gold standard of trash talk that fighters today hold themselves by, and many try to emulate him, often unsuccessfully. (looking at you, Colby Covington) If you have never experienced the words of Chael P. Sonnen before, do yourself a favor and look at one of his many compilations on Youtube. You won’t regret it.

Best Line – Genuinely too hard to pick but check at the entire Press Conference with Tito Ortiz before Bellator 170 where you will see Sonnen at his best. 

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