Controversies are a part of life, but in the fight game, they reign supreme. With action inside and outside the Octagon, the UFC fans always have something and someone to talk about. Here are the five most controversial fighters in UFC history.
Colby Covington is arguably the most hated man in mixed martial arts right now. Things weren’t always like that, however. Covington was just another fighter in the welterweight division before he burst onto the scene with his post-fight interview at UFC Sao Paulo in 2017, where he went full heel, going as far as calling the crowd ‘filthy animals’.
Apparently, he was told by the UFC that he would be cut from the roster because he was boring, so he did what he considered necessary to save his career. His villain-ish persona has come at a price, as he has lost many dear friends, and had to leave the American Top Team because his teammates were turning their backs on him.
However, Covington doesn’t care about anything other than becoming the champion, and he’s willing to go to any lengths to do it.
Jon Jones is one of the greatest fighters the world has ever seen, but he’s also probably the most controversial in UFC history. From failed drug tests to prison visits, Jones has seen it all.
Jones first made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2012, when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Jones had smashed his new Bentley Continental GT into a utility pole in the city of Binghamton, in New York state. His second major controversy was a failed drug test before his UFC 182 fight with Daniel Cormier.
Things went from bad to worse for him, as months later, he was involved in a hit-and-run incident. ‘Bones’ crashed into two vehicles, one containing a pregnant woman, upon running a red light. He fled the scene, but returned moments later to pick up the cash he had left behind. Jones surrendered to an arrest warrant and was released upon posting bail of $2,500.
Jones failed another drug test at UFC 200 and was pulled out of his fight with Ovince Saint Preux. He returned at UFC 214 and beat Daniel Cormier to win the light heavyweight champion, but days later, he was stripped of his title because he tested positive for the anabolic steroid, Turinbol.
That’s not it. In 2019, Jones was charged with battery relating to an incident with a waitress, and in 2020, Jones was again arrested for DWI and possession of firearms.
Like Jon Jones, Conor McGregor is also one of the most popular, and controversial fighters in the UFC. His ruthless trash-talking and performances inside the Octagon have made him into the megastar he is today. But he has been in the news for the wrong reasons too.
Before UFC 223, headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov, McGregor stormed the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn after the media day and smashed the fighter bus, which had Nurmagomedov and some other fighters in it. McGregor did it in retaliation to Khabib confronting his friend, Artem Lobov earlier. The Irishman surrendered to an arrest warrant and was later released.
In 2017, McGregor caused chaos inside the Bellator cage when he stormed inside to celebrate his teammate Charlie Ward’s victory over John Redmond, which hadn’t been made official yet by referee Marc Goddard. When Goddard tried to stop McGregor, he shoved the referee and also aimed crude barbs at him.
McGregor also attacked an old man in a bar in his hometown of Dublin, after the man allegedly refused to taste his Proper 12 whiskey. He has now bought the bar and banned the person from entering. Additionally, the Irish superstar was also accused of sexual assault, but was later cleared of the allegation.
Chael Sonnen is the CEO of Bad Guy Inc, and he never shies away from playing the villain. Known as one of the finest trash talkers in the game, Sonnen has also been in the news for the wrong reasons.
In 2006, Sonnen was convicted of money laundering. The former UFC title challenger had a real estate license in the state of Oregon and admitted to committing a wire fraud. He was sentenced to 24 months probation, had his license suspended, and was slapped a $10,000 fine.
At UFC 117, Sonnen was defeated by Anderson Silva via submission in the fifth round, but after he had dominated the Brazilian for four rounds, and was cruising to a unanimous decision victory. If the defeat wasn’t enough, Sonnen failed a drug test and was suspended for 1 year. His ban was later reduced to 6 months.
Khabib Nurmagomedov kick started a massive post-fight melee when he jumped out of the cage and attacked McGregor’s team after beating the Irishman via fourth-round submission at UFC 229. But it was the Diaz brothers who paved the way.
Before Khabib-McGregor melee took over, Nick Diaz’s infamous ‘Nashville Brawl’ was the most popular in MMA. After Jake Shields’ win over Dan Henderson in their title fight in 2010, Jason Miller entered the cage to challenge the champion. Infuriated at ‘Mayhem’ for ruining Shields’ big moment, the Diaz brothers let things loose. It was chaos soon after.
Nick last fought Anderson Silva in 2015, when he lost via unanimous decision. However, the fight was ruled a no-contest after both fighters failed drug tests. Silva tested positive for anabolic steroids drostanolone and androsterone, while Diaz tested positive for marijuana. The Stockton native was suspended for 5 years, but his ban was later reduced to 18 months.
Interestingly, Diaz defeated Takanori Gomi years before he fought Anderson Silva via a Gogoplata, while he was still potentially high on marijuana.