8 Dirtiest UFC Fighters: Past & Present

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While MMA and the UFC can be pretty dog-eat-dog, there are still expectations to follow the rules and compete with integrity. However, some occasionally take a different approach, thus landing on a list of the dirtiest UFC fighters to date.

These are fighters engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct or bending the rules. And so, in this post, we’re making a list and checking it twice for fighters with a reputation for naughty behavior in the Octagon.

Let’s get into it!

Dirtiest UFC Fighters To Date

Here is the list of fighters known to be the dirtiest in the UFC history

Jon Jones

Jon Jones is considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever – if not the best. But he’s had a storied and controversial career inside and outside the Octagon. His talent and achievements in the UFC are sometimes overshadowed by his controversial behavior and issues with the rules.

Jones has been criticized for his frequent use of eye pokes during fights. This is considered a dangerous and illegal technique, leading to complaints from opponents and fans alike.

During their fight at UFC 145, Jones poked Evans in the eye, resulting in a brief pause.

In their bout at UFC 172, Jones eye-poked Teixeira multiple times, which was a point of criticism following the fight.

In both their fights at UFC 182 and UFC 214, Jones was involved in eye-poking incidents against Cormier.

At The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale, Jones was disqualified for using illegal 12-to-6 elbow strikes against Matt Hamill. This remains the only loss on Jones’ professional record.

Jon Jones has also been involved in multiple controversies related to Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). In 2016, Jones was pulled from his scheduled fight against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 after testing positive for banned substances. He was later suspended for 15 months by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency).

In 2018, Jones returned to the Octagon to defeat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232, but a drug test taken prior to the fight revealed trace amounts of Turinabol, the same substance he tested positive for in 2016. Despite this, the USADA determined that the amount detected in his system was residual from his previous use, and Jones was cleared to fight.

In 2020, Jones once again tested positive for banned substances and was stripped of his Light Heavyweight Championship. He received a 15-month suspension from the USADA after agreeing to cooperate with the agency’s investigation into his drug use.

These controversies have put a cloud over Jones’ career and raised concerns about his use of PEDs. Although he has continued to fight and achieve success in the Octagon, the controversies related to PEDs have damaged his reputation and led to criticism from fans and fellow fighters.

Jon Jones showing another side of his personality

Despite these controversies, there is no denying that Jon Jones is one of the best fighters in history and a dominant force in the UFC. He has defeated some of the most prominent names in the sport, including Ciryl Gane, in his recent move to the heavyweight division.

While his in-Octagon behavior has been criticized, he remains an incredibly skilled and accomplished fighter. However, it is also essential to acknowledge that he has faced multiple issues outside the Octagon, such as legal troubles and failed drug tests, which have further tarnished his legacy.

Vitor Belfort

Vitor Belfort has had an impressive and extensive mixed martial arts career with numerous remarkable achievements.

Belfort captured the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in 2004 and won the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament in 1997 at just 19 years old. He also secured the fastest knockout in a UFC Heavyweight Title fight, defeating Randy Couture in their first match at UFC 15 within 49 seconds. Throughout his career, he has claimed victories over renowned fighters like Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Dan Henderson, and Luke Rockhold.

Additionally, Belfort won the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Championship in 2007 and achieved an upset victory against former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Matt Lindland at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. His MMA career has spanned over 20 years, including competing in various organizations like UFC, PRIDE, Strikeforce, and Affliction.

In any case, it is essential to acknowledge that Vitor Belfort’s reputation has been impacted by controversy.

Belfort was one of several fighters who used TRT during a time when it was allowed in the sport under the premise of treating hypogonadism. However, it is believed that the therapy gave athletes an unfair advantage. Belfort’s impressive performances during his TRT use raised eyebrows and led to skepticism about the legitimacy of his success. The UFC and athletic commissions eventually banned TRT in 2014.

In a similar vein (no pun intended), Belfort failed multiple drug tests throughout his career. He tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2006 after his fight against Dan Henderson at Pride 32. Additionally, in 2014, before his fight against Chris Weidman, an out-of-competition drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed elevated testosterone levels. And the fight was canceled as a result.

In 2013, Belfort fought Luke Rockhold and scored a spectacular knockout victory. However, it was later revealed that Belfort’s pre-fight drug test results were suspicious, as his testosterone levels were allegedly higher than the normal range. The test results were not publicly disclosed until after the fight, further harming Belfort’s reputation.

Belfort is also infamous for making Michael Bisping legally blind while fighting with the unfair advantage of PEDs in his system.

These instances have cast a shadow over Vitor Belfort’s career and accomplishments in the UFC. While he is undeniably a talented and experienced fighter, the accusations of cheating and PED use have led many to question the legitimacy of some of his victories and tarnished his reputation in the sport.

Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva is often considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. He had a highly successful career in the UFC, marked by numerous accomplishments. However, his career has also been marred by controversies, particularly related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

On the positive side of his career, Silva claimed the UFC Middleweight title by defeating Rich Franklin at UFC 64 in 2006. He successfully defended it 10 times, a record that stood until 2018.

His Middleweight Championship reign lasted for 2,457 days, from 2006 to 2013. This remains the longest title reign in UFC history.

At the same time, Silva managed 16 consecutive victories – a record that was later only surpassed by Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Silva triumphed over numerous top fighters throughout his illustrious career, such as Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, and Demian Maia.

Now for the dark side of his career:

In 2015, after his fight against Nick Diaz, Silva tested positive for multiple banned substances, including drostanolone and androsterone. He was suspended for one year and fined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Silva has also been criticized for his in-cage antics, such as excessive showboating and taunting opponents. This behavior was most notably seen during his fight against Demian Maia at UFC 112, which was widely criticized by fans and UFC President Dana White.

Anderson Silva’s career has been a mix of incredible accomplishments and notable controversies. Despite the PED-related issues, his talent and achievements in the UFC have solidified his status as one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history but also a dirty fighter.

Chael Sonnen

Chael Sonnen, an accomplished fighter, competed for the UFC Middleweight Championship on two occasions. His first attempt came at UFC 117 in a thrilling, closely contested match against Anderson Silva, followed by a rematch at UFC 148. Although he was defeated both times by Silva, Sonnen went on to contend for the Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 159, where he was ultimately unsuccessful against Jon Jones.

Throughout his career, Sonnen claimed notable victories over several prominent fighters, such as Brian Stann, Michael Bisping, and Nate Marquardt. His charismatic and often controversial trash-talking skills have made him a fan favorite and a significant draw for the UFC, as he expertly hyped fights and captured the audience’s attention.

Chael Sonnen’s career was marred by multiple failed drug tests. In 2010, after his fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117, he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, leading to a suspension. Later, in 2014, Sonnen failed two drug tests for multiple banned substances, such as human growth hormone (HGH), erythropoietin (EPO), and anastrozole.

He was also among several fighters who used Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) when it was permitted in the sport. TRT became controversial, with many believing it offered an unfair advantage. Consequently, it was eventually banned by the UFC and athletic commissions in 2014.

Following the 2014 failed drug tests, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Sonnen for two years, prompting him to announce his retirement from the sport. While he later returned to fight in Bellator MMA, his UFC career concluded amidst controversy.

Rousimar Palhares

Palhares has defeated several notable opponents throughout his career, and his signature move, the heel hook, has been a dangerous weapon for him inside the cage.

However, Palhares’s career has been marred by controversies, most notably involving his refusal to release submissions even after his opponents tapped out. This behavior led to accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct and put the safety of his opponents at risk.

He was suspended for 90 days in the UFC after holding onto a heel hook submission too long against Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111. Despite this warning, Palhares continued to exhibit the same dangerous behavior in other organizations, including a notorious incident in the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) where he held a submission too long against Jake Shields.

His repeated offenses led to severe consequences, including being released from the UFC and suspended indefinitely from the WSOF.

Rousimar Palhares’s career has been a mix of impressive grappling skills and accomplishments, overshadowed by controversies that have damaged his reputation and the safety of his opponents.

Paul Daley

Paul Daley is an English mixed martial artist who competed in the UFC for a brief period. Here’s a brief summary of his UFC career:

Paul Daley made his UFC debut in 2009 with a first-round knockout victory over Martin Kampmann. This win propelled him into the spotlight and earned him a reputation as a dangerous striker in the welterweight division.

Daley’s next fight was a loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 113, where he was deducted two points for an illegal punch after the bell. This incident resulted in his release from the UFC, and he went on to compete in various organizations, including Strikeforce, Bellator MMA, and BAMMA.

Daley returned to the UFC for one fight in 2012, where he defeated Patrick Cote via unanimous decision at UFC 113. However, he was released from the UFC after making controversial comments about fellow fighter Tyron Woodley on social media.

Although Daley’s UFC career was short-lived, he earned a reputation for his striking skills and knockout power. But he was released twice from the promotion in shame.

Gilbert Yvel

Gilbert Yvel is a Dutch mixed martial artist who competed in the UFC briefly. Here’s a quick summary of his UFC career:

Gilbert Yvel made his UFC debut in 2010 at UFC 108, where he lost to Junior dos Santos via TKO in the first round. Yvel was known for his striking skills and aggressive fighting style, but his UFC run was marred by controversy.

In his next fight at UFC 115, Yvel was disqualified for repeatedly striking his opponent, Jon Madsen, in the groin. This incident resulted in Yvel’s release from the UFC.

Yvel went on to compete in various organizations, including PRIDE, K-1, and Rizin FF. He had notable victories over fighters such as Pedro Rizzo and Semmy Schilt. He gained a reputation as a dangerous striker.

Despite his brief and controversial stint in the UFC, Gilbert Yvel remains a respected fighter in the mixed martial arts community. His aggressive fighting style and striking skills have made him a fan favorite. He has had a successful career in other organizations.

Travis Brown

Travis Browne is a retired American mixed martial artist who has a legacy in the UFC as a dirty fighter.

Browne began his UFC career in 2010 with a first-round knockout victory over James McSweeney. He quickly rose through the ranks of the heavyweight division with notable wins over fighters like Stefan Struve and Alistair Overeem.

Despite his early success, Browne’s UFC career was marred by several controversies. In 2015, his then-wife, fitness model Jenna Renee Webb, accused him of domestic violence, leading to an investigation by the UFC and law enforcement.

Browne was also involved in several incidents of eye pokes during his UFC career, leading to criticism and controversy. Browne poked Arlovski in the eye several times in his fight against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 187.

In 2016, Browne faced Fabricio Werdum in a heavyweight title eliminator at UFC 203. During the fight, Werdum landed an illegal knee to Browne’s head, which the referee did not deduct a point from Werdum. Werdum won the fight via unanimous decision, but the controversy surrounding the illegal knee impacted the bout’s outcome.

Browne’s UFC career also had other controversies, such as when he made anti-LGBTQ comments during an interview in 2017, leading to criticism from fans and members of the LGBTQ community.

Despite his controversies, Browne remained a respected fighter with notable victories over top heavyweights, including Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem. However, his career was also marked by several losses to lower-ranked opponents, leading to questions about his consistency and ability to perform at the highest level.

In 2018, Browne announced his retirement from professional fighting with a record of 18 wins, 7 losses, and 1 draw (learn all about UFC scoring here).

Despite some controversies, Browne remains a respected fighter with a legacy that includes several notable victories and memorable moments inside the Octagon, including a fast and brutal elbow knockout of Josh Barnett.

(Dis)Honorable Mention

Sometimes there are cases where accidental mistakes take place and unfortunate occurrences take place. That’s where dishonorable mentions occur!

Urijah Faber

While Urijah Faber is not known for being a dirty fighter per se, he did have multiple incidents of eye gouges during his UFC career.

One of the most notable was in his fight against Francisco Rivera (one of the shortest UFC fighters) at UFC 181.

Faber accidentally poked Rivera in the eye with his left hand. The poke was not intentional (although Rivera believes it was a bit), but it caused significant damage to Rivera’s eye and impacted the fight’s outcome. The referee deducted a point from Faber for the eye poke, but he ultimately won the fight via submission.

This incident led to criticism from some fans and observers, who argued that eye pokes were becoming too familiar in the sport and needed to be addressed more seriously.

Closing On The Dirtiest UFC Fighters

We all know that the UFC is full of tough fighters, but unfortunately, some have also been known to be dirty as hell. From Jon Jones’ infamous eye pokes to Vitor Belfort’s suspiciously jacked physique to Chael Sonnen’s trash-talking mouth, these fighters have certainly left their mark on the sport, even if it’s not always a positive one.

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