MMA has been around for long to have its fair share of controversy.
From poor judging decisions to transgender fights, there have been many instances whereby the Mixed Martial Arts world has stirred up a hornet’s nest of debate.
Just this year, Joe Rogan, one the sports most highly regarded commentators, was vocal in his desire for a change in the way it is scored and even going so far to call out he judge during Jones vs. Reyes at UFC 247.
Suffice to say, and it seems to be getting to breaking point whereby the UFC and MMA, in general, will be forced to change some of the bad behaviour of its members or face the ire of angry fans.
However, judging something to be more controversial than something else is an unscientific art. In no particular order, here is our list of 7 of the most contentious fights in recent MMA history.
Dana White’s use of anti-gay speech
As the current president of the largest MMA organization globally, it is fair to say the spotlight is firmly on Dana White. When he speaks, we listen!
So when in 2009, he launched a tirade against MMA journalist Loretta Hunt for her article condemning UFC managers’ treatment that included some regretful slurs against gay people, women, and the disabled, he faced a pretty severe outcry.
Being the figurehead of such a large and respected organization comes with some responsibly, not least being measured in your comments, no matter how angry you become.
He has since apologized for his remarks but stands by his criticism of the Sherdog article.
Chael Sonnen’s TRT scandal
UFC 117 had some fantastic fights, but perhaps the most contentious was the bout between Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva. Many MMA fans rejoiced in seeing something alternative to what was considered a sure thing for Silva by delivering some ferocious fighting and defying the odds.
Even though Silva eventually defeated Sonnen with a triangle armbar in the last minutes, Sonnen became somewhat of a hero..that That is until his post-fight drug test.
His TRT levels were WAY above the allowed ratio of 4:1, at a whopping 16.9 to 1!
He was given a year-long suspension that was eventually reduced to just a 6-month ban on appeal, which angered many fo fans who equated it to just a slap on the wrist.
Fallon Fox vs. Allanna Jones CFA11: MMA’s first transgender fighter
Transgenerism has been a controversial subject for a long time and no more so than in sports, even more so in something as visceral as MMA.
This fight led to many fans and speculators to question whether or not transgender fighters should compete due to a possible unfair advantage.
In fact, according to the MMA Guru, Joe Rogan (who we mentioned at the start) was quoted as suggesting that the physiological differences between a man and women should be enough to preclude transgender people from fighting.
Brawling in Nashville
During the post-fight interviews at the Strikeforce: Nashville event in 2010, a full-scale brawl erupted, creating what is considered as an awkward moment for MMA.
After the Jake Shields Vs. Dan Henderson fight, Jason Miller jumped into the cage and cut into Shields’ post-fight interview, demanding a rematch from an earlier bout that he had lost.
The first punches were thrown by Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz, which set off a massive brawl that ended up being broken up, but not after some severe blows were thrown, mostly in Miller’s direction!
Nate Marquardt premature release from the UFC
This controversy was yet another TRT hormone supplement issue that drew controversy from both fans and officials alike.
In 2011, Marquardt was released from his UFC contract by Dana White for “failing to pass medical requirements.” All sorts of speculation were floating around, but eventually, he failed a drug test for artificially boosting his testosterone via TRT or testosterone replacement therapy.
As we have seen with the whole Fallon Fox affair, any form of competitive benefit that a fighter can achieve is received poorly by fans, and it is for this reason that it made a list.
Bas Rutten vs. Kevin Randleman baffling decision
Way back in the wild west days of UFC 20, this fight remains one of the most confusing judging decisions in the sport.
After being soundly beaten by Randleman during the initial 15-minute rounds (remember, before the introduction of 5 minute rounds) and during the two overtime periods, the three judges declared Rutten to be the match-winner.
While Rutten did land some decent blows using hard elbow strikes, it was clear to anyone watching that he was well and truly outmatched.
It is still unclear even to this day, what the reasoning was behind the judge’s decision, especially since Randleman thoroughly controlled the match.
Pretty much all of Conor McGregor’s decisions.
OK, so that might be a touch of hyperbole, and to be fair, he is a decent fighter, but he is so well known that he can cause controversy not only in the ring but out of it! Perhaps because he mercilessly markets himself and his brand and is very good at doing so.
Being arguably the most well-known fighter in MMA, he has a similar responsibility to that of Dana White…and has similarly caused controversy to White.
During UFC 118, he used a derogatory term to describe Andre Fili in defense of his recently defeated friend.
However, it should be noted that his apology was from the heart when he admitted that he said some things almost every day that he regretted later on.
From its humble beginnings as a form of mixing different martial art styles, MMA has become a powerhouse of sports entertainment.
Along with this excitement and competitive spirit, it has courted controversy since its beginnings and even more so with the advent of organizations like the UFC that have brought it more into the spotlight than ever.
MMA is a sport that we all love, so many of us can forgive some indiscretions; however, we should all be aware of the impact that some of the more egregious issues could cause.