Ranking the top 5 heels in the history of MMA

Colby Covington (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Colby Covington (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

In a society where everyone wants to be known as good, here are five MMA fighters who weren’t afraid to be bad inside and outside of the cage.

In today’s day and age, every fighter seems to want to be good. They want to be role models for young children and aspiring athletes alike. They want the fans to cheer them, to shower them with nothing but praise and love. However, there are a select few who don’t view their career this way. The heel (also known as the villain, or bad-guy) wants the crowd to boo them. They want to be hated and feed off of the negative energy, as they know it can line their pockets with cash. Let’s take a look at the top five heels in the history of Mixed Martial Arts.

5. Tito Ortiz

“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz is one of MMA’s original heels. He helped bring new fans over to the sport fight after fight. Known as much for his trash talk and in-cage antics, as he was for his actual fights themselves, Ortiz has been fighting and entertaining since 1997. Some of Ortiz’s best work came in his trilogy of fights against Ken Shamrock. From comical pre and post-fight shirts to memorable interviews and a classic grave-digger celebration, Ortiz had the routine down pat. He came away 3-0 against Shamrock and seemed to steal all of the veteran’s shine in the process. Now 45 years old, Ortiz has calmed down quite a bit, but he’s still fighting, having beaten Alberto Rodriguez this past December.

4. Ben Askren

A long-time Bellator champion, Ben Askren was an effective wrestler, who was known for his grinding style and not-so-nasty ground and pound. Arguably one of MMA’s most boring fighters inside of the cage, Askren’s personality shone outside the cage. After signing with the UFC, Askren went right to work prior to his 2019 debut. Making fun of, starting a feud with and calling out every 170-pound fighter on the roster.  After coining champion Kamaru Usman “Marty from Nebraska,” it seemed Askren was always one win away from a title shot. Although he ended up going just 1-2 inside the Octagon, Askren was the UFC’s most talked about fighter during his tenure. People would tune in to watch him fight for a number of reasons, whether it was to see a former Bellator champion lose or to see a trash-talking-loud-mouth get what he had coming. He may not have had the most exciting style, or been the best fighter overall, but Askren took full advantage of his time in the spotlight.

3. Conor McGregor

Whether it be by accident, or on purpose, Conor McGregor is undoubtedly one of the sport’s biggest heels right now. Odds are if you’re not Irish, or a die-hard McGregor fanatic, you don’t much care from him. Once MMA’s most beloved athlete, McGregor is now seen more as a money-hungry millionaire who hand-picks his opponents. From a nearly two year hiatus to pursue a boxing super fight to multiple bouts with legal trouble, many fans believe McGregor’s become too much of a big-time star and has let the fame and fortune get the better of him. He now gives us less than heartfelt apologies and shows off his wealth far too often. However, the fact is, whether we love him or hate him, we’ll all pay to watch it – something McGregor knows and takes advantage of on a daily basis.

2. Colby Covington

Even the mere mention of the name Colby Covington is enough to get people’s blood boiling in some MMA circles. That’s the sign of a good heel. After being nothing more than an average mid-card wrestler, Covington decided to turn his career around before his fight with Damien Maia. In a shtick he largely ripped off from our No.1 heel, Covington took aim at Maia’s hometown Brazilian crowd. After getting the win, Covington immediately got on the microphone and called them filthy animals, causing every Brazilian fan and fighter to take notice. He instantly became MMA’s most hated man and ran with it. From a boomerang throwing incident, involving Fabricio Werdum, to showing full support for U.S President Donald Trump, Covington knows how to push everyone’s buttons. A former interim welterweight champion and title challenger, Covington’s title aspirations are still there and once MMA resumes he’ll be looking to make a big splash in 2020.

1. Chael Sonnen

There never should have been any doubt who was MMA’s No.1 heel. Chael Sonnen is MMA’s ultimate bad guy and he knows it. Retiring with an MMA record of 30-17-1, Sonnen’s favorite tools during his career were his mouth and a microphone. After a stunning fifth-round submission loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 117, Sonnen really earned the bad guy nickname. He was hit with a suspension for PED’s, as well as a legal charge for money laundering – everyone thought his career was over, except for Sonnen. After sorting out his troubles, Sonnen reeled off two wins in a row and gave us his infamous “Anderson Silva you absolutely suck” speech. He talked the talk and walked the walk, back into a rematch with Silva. The biggest fight of 2012, Sonnen ultimately lost to Silva again but made a bunch of money in the process. Finishing his career on a 3-6 run, Sonnen made the absolute most out of his MMA journey. He’s proof that you can literally talk your way into a fight if you want to.

Next. 8 fictional characters we'd love to see in MMA. dark