Top 10 MMA Trash Talkers of All Time

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Top 10 MMA Trash Talkers of All Time

Ireland's Conor McGregor weighing in.
Ireland's Conor McGregor weighing in. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

What makes a great trash talker?  Globally, they cause us to anticipate fights more than most.  However, when you really break it down, the best MMA trash talkers should probably be rated based on the following factors:

1) The emotional reaction (good or bad) that they tend to elicit from the press and fans.

2) The way their words impact their opponents mindset and ability to compete.

3) Creativity, quick wit, and humor.

Keep in mind that this list isn't about small market fighters- we're talking about UFC, PRIDE, maybe former Strikeforce and/or Bellator competitors if they're really, really good.  With that said, check out our list of the top 10 MMA trash talkers of all-time here by following the numbered links below.  This is going to be fun.

 

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10. Ken Shamrock

Shamrock vs. Gracie in Bellator
Shamrock vs. Gracie in Bellator. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 7): One of MMA's early feuds occurred when Shamrock verbally engaged Tito Ortiz after seeing him wearing a shirt that said "Gay Mezger is My Bitch" after defeating Mezger (Shamrock's teammate) in a rematch.  There was some serious emotion tied to those early bouts with Ortiz, particularly the first, and that stemmed as much from Shamrock as his opponent.  He's also good at threatening to hold onto submissions, etc., prior to matches.  The bottom line is that the guy moved the needle throughout his career.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 5): Fact is that most of Shamrock's biggest fights have ended in the other guy winning.  Don't get me wrong- he's an all-time great.  But the effect of his trash talk has not been all that one would want in several instances.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 5): Shamrock was always more about angry verbal warfare or attempting to intimidate.  He was never really capable of jumping in and out talk with great wit, but there have been moments.

Total: 17

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9. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Courtesy of Sherdog.com.

 

Emotional Reaction (rating- 7): The talk before Rampage's bout with Rashad Evans at UFC 114 was memorable.  In fact, it was some of the most memorable trash talk in TUF history leading up to their historic bout (when they were both coaches).  Fans tend to like what he brings to the table in a verbal sense.  It's fun.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 4): He had Rashad Evans were angry when they coached opposite one another on TUF (though Evans had him feeling the same, perhaps).  That said, Evans won their fight.  Jackson definitely was up for the challenge against Wanderlei Silva, who was seemingly not one of his favorite guys, but he lost two of three against the former PRIDE champ.  In other words, the words that came out of Rampage's mouth were fun, crisp, and witty.  But there wasn't always a strategy behind it, so it didn't have as great an effect, perhaps.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 7.5): Jackson is funny and quick witted. There is simply no question about it.  Check out the conversation below with Bas Rutten courtesy of Bleacher Report for confirmation, followed by two more quotes:

Bas Rutten: “Okay Minowa, what do you know about him?" 


Rampage: “You're talking about manure?"

Bas Rutten: “No Minowa."

Rampage: “Manure. I thought his name was Manure, when they told me I thought he was the sh*t."

Other Nice Ones- 

Back in UFC 67 against Marvin Eastman, Jackson said, “I love Marvin, he’s like a brother to me. But right now, it’s time for black on black crime.”

On fighting Chuck Liddell at UFC 71, Jackson said, “Chuck said in his pre-fight interview it’s gonna be a first round knockout. If he plans on getting knocked out in the first round that’s his business.”

Total: 18.5

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8. Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping poses with Edith and Arianny in the background.
Michael Bisping poses with Edith and Arianny in the background. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 7.5): Unless you're British, there's probably a 50-50 chance you find Bisping annoying.  In that sense, he reminds me of someone like Hines Ward, former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If he's with you, you love him.  If not, you definitely don't.  And it's that kind of personality that draws fans, causes media to pounce, and generally creates interest.  We're not talking about an emotional reaction the likes of Chael Sonnen or Conor McGregor here.  But it's still pretty impressive.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 4): Bisping has denounced performance enhancing drugs on numerous occasions, and has gotten his adversaries angry (either obviously or probably).  That said, his talking really hasn't done much in the way of throwing his opponents off of their game, possibly because he's not a stoppage kind of fighter.  In other words, even if they come in a bit too angry, they still have time to get it together.  And the talk he engaged in prior to his now legendary bout with Dan Henderson definitively went the other way for him in a big way, via highlight reel knockout.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 7): He's quick and smart.  That said, there really aren't any legendary quotes- just solid day in, day out.

Total: 18.5

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7. Jon Jones

Jon Jones elbows Matt Hamill.
Jon Jones elbows Matt Hamill. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 6): The bottom line is that Jones, when engaged with a fighter that he wants to talk with, moves the needle.  Prior to his initial fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, this ability was on full display.  His talk with Rashad Evans prior to their fight was also pretty high level.  That said, Jones is not an everyday kind of talker; he's somewhat of a newbie to this part of the game.  In other words, whereas Conor McGregor is always talking and hyping a bout, Jones is a bit more choosy on this front.   Hence, this somewhat lesser rating, even if his now growing trash talk with former UFC Light Heavyweight Chuck Liddell seems to indicate that this rating will improve in the future.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 7): He's never lost, and opponents don't tend to like him.  That said, I think it's more about his physical capabilities than anything else.  Check out the following back and forth between he and Cormier via MMAJunkie.com, which seems to show Jones' confidence (which can be intimidating):

Cormier: It’s unbelievable how fake you can really be. It’s like you’re just such an [expletive]. My God. It is amazing. It is amazing. But hats off to you. You’ve got a great PR person because they do a great job of training you because you are just terrible. You’re the scum of the [expletive] Earth. You are a terrible human being. But you can sure turn it on.

Jones: Thank you.

Cormier: I wish they would let me next door so I can spit in your [expletive] face.

Jones: You know I would absolutely kill you if you ever did something like that, right?

Cormier: You could never kill me.

Jones: Oh, I bet you I could.

Cormier: Then you should try, Jon. You really should try, Jon.

Jones: I will literally kill you if you spit in my face. Literally kill you

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 6): Nothing amazing, but Jones has a pretty quick wit.

Total: 19

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6. Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz getting ready for a fight.
Tito Ortiz getting ready for a fight. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 9): Remember that Ortiz was really the first bad boy of MMA.  His coffin routine at the end of fights was something that fans got into.  The shirts he wore- yep, I'm counting that as trash talk because it conveys a message- were dreaded by opponents.  And one of them- the one that said "Gay Mezger is My Bitch"- ended up initiating the feud between he and Mezger's Lion's Den teammate Ken Shamrock, one which netted big time Pay Per View numbers and helped the UFC to make a comeback. Said another way, Ortiz's trash talk and literal disregard for opponents while doing it caused extreme emotional reactions amongst fans and media.  Only Conor McGregor and Chael Sonnen have garnered more extreme reactions than Ortiz.  The hate that we saw from some fans, as well as the love his hardcore fan base has for him tell the story on the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 7): The bottom line is that people were mad coming into bouts with Ortiz.  They knew he was good, and that plus the talk made for some truly intimidating situations.  We're talking about a man who won 11-of-13 matches in the UFC at one point, and his use of trash talk helped in that regard for sure.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 6.5): Nothing amazing here.  It was more the shock of it all with Ortiz, in that he was really one of the first MMA fighters to truly come after his opponents both before and after fights with verbal warfare.

Total: 22.5

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5. Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz lands a kick.
Nate Diaz lands a kick. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

 

Emotional Reaction (rating- 8): Nate Diaz, like his brother Nick, brings fans to MMA contests.  He is brash, like his brother, and people tend to either love him or hate him.  However, he is a little bit less abrasive, and tends to make all of the pre-fight events.  So because he's a bit easier going and more social, the emotional reaction hasn't always been as severe with him as compared to Nick.  That said, he certainly brought a reaction to his fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 196.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 9.5): Talking WHILE you're fighting is an art form.  No one does that better than Nate and his brother.  Remember when the tide turned against McGregor?  That tide turning was accompanied by a ton of trash talk.  The Diaz's impact opponents like no one else while in the Octagon with their verbage.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 6): Diaz utilizes his words to get in his opponent's head.  But those words aren't usually the kind that offer great quotes.  Not a great soundbite.  But that doesn't make it all any less effective.

Total: 23.5

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4. Ronda Rousey

Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 9): Here's an understatement: Fans and media literally hang on Rousey's every word.  She moves the needle like few ever before her.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 8.5): She's only lost once in MMA, and the majority of her adversaries have lost before even entering the cage against her.  Here are a couple of things she's said to opponents or would be opponents that got them angry enough to later make mistakes.

Via Bleacher Report: "I wasn't looking to make friends in this sport. I just wanted to make a living so I didn't have to catch coins. But it doesn't matter if people don't like me because it's mostly current or former champs who think everyone should throw petals at their feet. Honestly, I don't care if a bunch of girls I don't know don't like me. I'm doing this to support myself and not work night shifts at the gym. I don't have respect for Meisha's inconsistency. One minute it's about the sport, the next she is wearing booty shorts on her website, and it's the entertainment business."

On Cyborg: I feel like anyone with half a brain isn’t surprised. I have mixed emotions of Cyborg being caught cheating because I know everyone knew she was cheating and I wanted to make an example of her because you don’t need to take steroids to win. I think her getting caught is a great thing too. I don’t have the least bit respect for her because I always knew she was a cheater, and now everyone else knows too. If she ever comes back to fight again, she won’t be the same beast she was before. She might even try doing different things like HGH that are harder to get caught for. Who knows if Strikeforce even wants her back?

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 6.5): Here's what she said on that, according to Bleacher Report.  Fact is, she's come up with some pretty good stuff over time.

"If someone wants to play Twitter war with me, I'm the wrong person to mess with. I come from a family of a lot of quick-witted and accomplished women."

Total: 24

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3. Nick Diaz

Nick Diaz defeats Thomas Denny. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

 

Emotional Reaction (rating- 8.5): Nick Diaz brings fans to MMA contests, plain and simple.  His brash style rubs some people the wrong way, as do some of his decisions regarding pre-fight publicity.  For example, remember when he missed multiple flights for a press event to support his upcoming 137 bout against Georges St. Pierre, prompting UFC President Dana White to pull him from the event?  That said, there are also legions of fans who love his fight first style.  The bottom line is that Diaz doesn't care what you think of his style.  And most would not be willing to tell him if they didn't like it anyway.  So the emotional reaction to him is clearly there.

Effect on Opponents (rating- 9.5): The Diaz brothers are the best at one thing- talking junk during the actual fight.  Many of their opponents have discussed the effect it can have on you while fighting.  Simply put, Diaz is not the most powerful man.  But the way he talks fighters out of their game both prior and especially during contests is perhaps the best in the game.  And for that reason, he gets this high a rating.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 6): Diaz's brash pre-fight, sometimes swearing style doesn't make for great sound bites.  There certainly is an intelligence behind some of his talk, but that was mostly covered in the previous two categories.

Total: 24

Diaz gets the nod over Ronda Rousey because he has been doing it for way longer than her.  What's more, there is no one better at taking an opponent out of their game during a fight than he is, and that says something.

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2. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor weighing in.
Conor McGregor weighing in. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Emotional Reaction (rating- 9): Here is a man who said the following- “Me and Jesus are cool. I’m cool with all the gods. Gods recognize gods.”.  So yeah, he definitely got on the bad side of people with some of his comments.  That said, his talk has hyped bouts to the point that the PPV buys when he fought Nate Diaz at UFC 196 were some of the best, if not the best, that the UFC has ever put out. Did Diaz help?  You're darned right he did.  But we all know that McGregor brings emotion to fights big time. 

Effect on Opponents (rating- 9): Former Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo came to kill him.  The aggression was so great due to all of the pre-fight talk that he literally ran right into a punch he might never have encountered in a different fight.  Chad Mendes didn't even look like himself in their match up.  McGregor gets in his opponent's heads.  With time, as he's only been at this for a short period of time, this rating could increase.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 9): McGregor is about as quick witted and creative as they come.  He's only been at this on the big stage for a short period of time.  And although he deserves his rating of 9 here, McGregor falls just below the best ever at this category (see our number one fighter for more).

Total: 27

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1. Chael Sonnen

Sonnen moving in for the takedown.
Sonnen moving in for the takedown. Courtesy of Sherdog.com

 

Emotional Reaction (rating- 10): Here's the thing- when you get an entire country mad at you, such as Sonnen did throughout his two fights with Anderson Silva, it's hard to argue that anyone was ever better at getting fans/media emotional about a fight. I considered giving him a 9.5 because the emotional reactions he tended to garner via trash talk actually didn't start until pretty late in his career.  But then I remembered that he got a whole country mad at him.  If that doesn't deserve a 10, what does?

Effect on Opponents (rating- 7): If we're being honest, Sonnen's trash talk clearly impacted Anderson Silva prior to his first shot at the all time great's middleweight throne.  Beyond that?  Hard to know if his words impacted anyone else.  In fact, most don't even remember much of what he had to say prior to that first bout with Silva at UFC 117.

That said, he was in Silva's head big time prior to his first shot at the belt.  And it almost....ALMOST..... resulted in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.  For that reason alone, he gets points.  After all, it was Anderson Silva, folks.

Creativity, Quick Wit, and Humor (rating- 10): You just can't get better than Sonnen here. Of course, much of his best work was done before, during, and between the Silva encounters.  See below for some of his best quotes 

"Anderson Silva is as fake as Mike Tyson was. They called him the hardest, ‘the baddest man in the world’ but he wasn’t even the toughest guy in America and we had to sit through and listen to that over and over again as he fought lots of tomato cans. Anderson Silva has no interested (sic) in the fight with me and I don’t know what his deal is …"- Source

"I stomped you before and I will stomp you again (regarding Silva). You are a nuisance to me and to everybody else. You ducked me for six years. You ducked me for two years after that. There's nothing I can do more than pick a fight. You put every stipulation on this thing that you could think of and I answered them all, including coming to Brazil like that's some kind of a big deal. What's the difference? It's a plane ride somewhere. I'm not fighting you in Brazil, I'm not fighting you in Chicago, I'm not fighting you in Florida; I'm fighting you in the Octagon. And when you get in there and I get in there, I'm going to stomp you this time same as I did last time. You can complain about your rib. I'm sure your rib did hurt; your rib is inside of a coward. That's the problem your rib's got, it's got the same problem your hands and feet have -- they're attached to you, dummy. I'm going to be attached to you, too, for 25 minutes or until you give up."- Source

"Yushin (Okami) and I are in Brazil to follow in Andy's ways. Got ballet shoes, a team of has-beens, even brought a fat talentless celeb for trainer."- Source

"Greetings from Sao Paulo! I'm learning the language: breakdancing in the Special Olympics is called capoiera and cocaine is called brunch."- Source

Total: 27

Sonnen gets the nod over Conor McGregor because he did it longer, and no one- I mean no one- has ever been more quick-witted than he with verbal warfare.