One of the great things about sports is the inevitable debates that come up when certain athlete’s names get mentioned.
Best friends can become heated rivals as they take up the argument for and against figures who have as many fans as they do detractors.
Just as every other major sports league has a cast of characters that are equally loved and hated, the UFC is no different.
Here are the Top 5 Polarizing Personalities in the UFC.
5. Kimbo Slice
As his exposure on The Ultimate Fighter continues, more and more people are becoming fans of the man born Kevin Ferguson.
The original disdain for the bearded brawler wasn’t even his fault to begin with; blame for the initial opposition to Kimbo belongs squarely on the shoulders of the people at EliteXC, who used an Internet street fighter as a marketing tool in our much loved sport’s first foray onto network television.
His lack of experience and fundamentals came shining through, and as quickly as he was built up, Kimbo came crashing down courtesy of a Seth Petruzelli punch. Now he’s back on TV and showing himself to be a humble, hardworking man intent on improving his game and learning everything he can to evolve in the sport.
But there are still haters and there always will be. That’s just the way it goes.
4. Matt Hughes
On one hand, he’s one of the most dominant champions in UFC history; a welterweight Goliath who beat some of the best in the business over seven title defenses and two reigns as champ.
On the other hand, he comes off as one of the most arrogant men to ever set foot in the Octagon. He rarely gives his opponents any credit in victory, rationalizing away his losses because of the mistakes he made, as opposed to getting beaten by a better man.
Currently, he’s openly questioning why welterweight up-and-comers are interested in fighting him, despite the fact that he seems more interested in getting his own hunting show than setting foot inside the cage.
Hughes might be the one guy on this list that you can love and hate at the same time without question. Love him for his dominance and stellar career, but hate him for his superior attitude and unwillingness to accept the fact that sometimes, even the best get beaten by a better man.
3. B.J. Penn
It wasn’t long ago that Baby Jay would have topped this list. The lightweight champ held down the top spot for a long time, cementing his standing by combining dominant performances in the ring with accusations of cheating and steroid use against the universally-loved Georges St-Pierre.
Whether it was his outstanding performance in defending his title against Kenny Florian at UFC 101 or simply an increase in attention for the two figures to follow, Penn’s position in the pantheon of polarizing figures is slipping.
That could also mean that another B.J. outburst is just around the corner, as “The Prodigy” doesn’t like being overshadowed by anyone.
2. Dana White
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Some people praise the UFC President for his business acumen, the impact he’s had on the sport as a whole and take no issue with his foul-mouthed rants and occasional lack of tact.
Then there are his detractors, who see him as a tyrannical dictator who is out for one thing and one thing only: his own personal gain.
They despise his frequent use of “The F Word” and the way he ridicules fighters who make decisions he disagrees with, wanting nothing more for the former aerobics instructor and childhood friend of the Fertitta’s to fall off the face of the MMA landscape, never to be heard from again.
Somewhere in the middle of the two would probably be best; still passionate and dedicated to the sport, but with a little less cursing and more of a filter from time-to-time would work perfectly.
1. Brock Lesnar
All he does is lay on people. He’s not a real fighter. What talent does it take to be bigger than everyone else?
The guy is a freak athlete and the next evolution of the sport. There have been big guys before him and no one had issue with them. Why should Lesnar be any different?
His WWE past has pretty much dissipated from the debate, as Lesnar has been around MMA for more than a minute now and made his mark as a guy who is in this long-term and not just for a quick paycheck.
That being said, he is easily the most polarizing figure in the UFC and probably the sport as a whole. His detractors discredit his wins based on his size advantage and find flaws in his opponents so that his victories are less meaningful in their eyes.
Supporters trumpet him as the next wave of fighters in the heavyweight division, a combination of size and athleticism the likes of which the sport had not seen until the mammoth Minnesota Golden Gopher stepped on the scene.
Let the debates begin…