The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – which was initially designed as an eight-man, open-weight tournament – was conceived in 1993 with one goal in mind: to decide which martial art discipline was the best. Since its inception, the organization has exploded into one of the most familiar brands in the world, premiering via pay-per-view around the globe and showcasing some of the toughest fighters on the planet.
Hybrid athletes spend countless hours training to prove their worth inside the cage. While grit and determination mostly pave the path to success, another element sculpts the quintessential MMA fighter: a solid nickname.
Nowadays, UFC fighters are ranked based on their performance, but the most prominent and flashy brawlers have creative nicknames. Among the current pool of MMA fighters, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson are acknowledged for their unique yet formidable monikers. Whether reflecting a fighter’s natural ability or representing their physical characteristics and form, a nickname should be worn as a badge of honor – living up to the hype no matter how nonsensical it may sound.
Continue reading to see which nicknames have been glorified as the most formidable monikers in the organization, and which epithets conquer all levels of absurdity and humiliation.
You Might Also Know Me As ____
We discovered that 57 percent of fighters adopted their moniker based on five personality traits or characteristics. These are defined as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. While these features are broad in translation, fighters craft their brand based on their form and performance.
Some frenzied fighters step into the Octagon with formidable nicknames like Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva – a prolific brawler notorious for ending matches with a knockout – while others, such as Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama, are natural lookers and are equipped with a strong fashion sense and well-kept mane.
Thirteen percent of nicknames took inspiration from animals, such as the legendary Anderson “The Spider” Silva (addressed as Brazil’s Spider-Man after an announcer spotted him dressed in T-shirt with the character). However, 10 percent of monikers originated from fictional characters, like Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg (a twist on the ravenous, short-tempered Looney Toons character).
Chan Sung Jung – UFC featherweight fighter – is recognized for one of the most popular monikers in the UFC. “The Korean Zombie” is so synonymous with his name that even UFC President Dana White solely refers to Jung by his undead alias. The Korean portion is a nod to his native South Korea, so where does the zombie come into play? Well, Jung is known to eat punches as a flesh-eating monster would and still advances on the offensive.
One cursory glance at Ian McCall, and it may be obvious as to why he’s referred to as “Uncle Creepy.” Alas, the reason you’re thinking isn’t exactly the truth. Mustaches and tattoos aside, this UFC flyweight competitor actually acquired this unusual moniker in the company of family and friends. During a formal outing, his friend’s son called him “Uncle Creepy” in front of the group and instead of fighting the sinister title, McCall decide to roll with the punches and embrace the name.
Awaken the Inner Animal
Animals serve as the second largest category of nicknames employed by UFC fighters. Within this “furry” department, canines hail as the reigning champs – supplying 17 percent of combatants with animalistic monikers. The majority of these pooch impersonators integrate two primary breeds into their nicknames: pit bulls and bulldogs.
Fighters tend to gravitate toward species that define their style and personality. According to the data, primates trail behind the mangy mutts with 15 percent of common UFC nicknames – serving as the inspiration behind several primal monikers. Big cats, insects and arachnids, and monsters (hello, Christian “Godzilla” Colombo) round out the top five, each clocking in with a 9 percent usage rate.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is an exceptional middleweight fighter who is mostly known for his Strikeforce career and first-rate grappling skills. A Jacare is a caiman, or a small-sized alligator native to Central and South America – the perfect scaly striker for Souza to imitate. Jacare channels his inner reptilian by dragging opponents to the floor and forcing them into submission (the tactic earned Jacare 14 of his 18 career victories).
Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche helped revolutionize the UFC as the first female and openly gay fighter to enter the Octagon. As her moniker suggests, “Girl-Rilla” unleashes her true inner animal in the Octagon – climbing along the cage and flipping off at the right moment to implement her notable “ground and pound” technique.
Same Name, Different Game
At the start of their careers, fighters are poised with a challenging task: choosing a nickname. It’s paramount that a fighter chooses a descriptive moniker that best fits his or her persona and fighting style. Whether it’s a unique epithet or a commonly used nickname, fighters are responsible for living up to the name’s edge.
Among the current pool of active fighters, three nicknames share mass appeal throughout the UFC: “The Spartan,” “The Predator,” and “Pit Bull.”
Dating back to ancient Greece, the city of Sparta established itself as a warrior society with high military prowess, placing excessive focus on discipline, endurance, and strength training. Alex Nicholson, Alex White, and Elias Theodorou have all adopted the combatant nickname with the hope of displaying Spartan dominance in the Octagon.
“The Predator” is an alpha nickname used by Desmond Green, Francis Ngannou, and Patrick Cote. In the wild, predators are engineered with prime characteristics to hunt and devour prey. But, if you’re a fan of classic Sci-Fi films, you probably know predators as the merciless alien race that tracks humans via thermal imaging and hunts for sport.
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