The last decade has seen a shocking decrease in the amount of fat athletes. It used to be that every baseball team had a fat first baseman, and if you were in the American League you might even have a fat DH as well.
Pro-wrestling used to have fat guys, but it’s pretty rare to find one these days. When was the last time you saw a big fat guy in the WWE? Evidently at some point in the last decade Vince McMahon sent a memo to their talent scouts that read “no more fat guys.”
Yes, the fat athlete appears to be an endangered species.
Aside from offensive linemen in football the only other sport catering to the fat athlete left is mixed martial arts.
The reason we still get to see the occasional rotund mixed martial artist is because the heavyweight division is sometimes not as talent-rich as the other divisions, so the occasional carbohydrate-filled jiggle weight can sometimes find its way to the top of rankings despite their conditioning.
We believe you need to celebrate these athletes however, which is why this list was created.
A very strict judging standard was applied to those athletes covered here. We took all the fat fighters who ever competed at a high level and combined their career accomplishments and multiplied it by their weight - the higher the number the higher the ranking.
In the course of putting this list together we discovered that there has been a professional mixed martial artist known only by the name of “Fat Guy”. Fat Guy, whose real name is not known, fought once in 2005 and lost.
We are dedicating this list to Fat Guy, wherever you are, this is for you.
9 Tim Sylvia
Tim Sylvia is a former 2x UFC Heavyweight Champion of the world, and he did it all with sizeable love handles jiggling throughout his fights.
At no point during Sylvia’s 16-year MMA career could he have been considered in good shape, and when his last fight was cancelled he weighed in excess of 370lbs.
Probably Sylvia’s biggest accomplishment in his MMA career was winning a trilogy of fights with Andrei Arlovski for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, before losing the title to Randy Couture who was coming out of retirement purely because he was confident he could beat Sylvia for the belt.
Zuluzinho (shown here executing a tandem somersault with Butterbean) didn't have a great mixed martial arts career, but man was he big!
It’s been 6 years since we’ve seen the big Brazilian Zuluzinho, but the son of the legendary Vale Tudo fighter King Zulu racked up a 1-3 record in Pride. His most significant fight in Pride was a 1st round (under 30 seconds) knockout loss to Fedor Emelianenko in a super heavyweight division fight. It was just the sixth fight of Fedor’s career.
Billed at weighing in at just under 400lbs there is some controversy regarding Zuluzinho’s early career. Many claim that Zuluzinho racked up a 38-0 Vale Tudo record before beginning modern day mixed martial arts, but it is very difficult to confirm this. At least 5 of his Vale Tudo victories have been confirmed.
7 Emmanuel Yarborough
Before the UFC opened its doors to women’s mixed martial arts, the largest breasted athlete ever to compete in the Octagon was Emmanuel Yarborough.
At one point Yarborough was considered the world’s largest living athlete, weighing in at over 700lbs and listed as being 6 feet, 8 inches.
Yarborough’s first fight in the UFC was a loss to Keith Hackney at UFC 3, an opening round tournament fight back in the early days where each event was a single-night single-elimination tournament.
A former World Amateur Sumo Champion, Yarborough would wait 4 years until competing again, this time in the Shooto promotion where he earned his first MMA victory.
Much like his only fight in the UFC was at UFC 3, Yarborough’s 1st and only fight in Pride was at Pride 3, where he lost in the 2nd round.
6 Frank Mir
Calling Frank Mir a "fat guy" is probably harsh, but when belly begins to drape over short, as is the case with Mir, the fighter becomes fair game for this list.
Frank Mir has not spent his entire career with excess weight on him, but ever since he lost to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 he has added a lot of extra poundage, and not of muscle.
The UFC heavyweight division went through a transitionary period following UFC 100, with much larger fighters entering the mix, some having to cut weight to get to 265lbs. Mir, perhaps feeling like he needed there to be more of him in order to compete with the likes of Lesnar, Carwin, and Velasquez, put on a lot of weight. But it wasn’t as if Mir was doing a lot of heavy lifting and putting on a lot of productive weight, he was just eating a lot more.
He was quoted as having said, “Food is Fuel”, which seemed as though he was just making excuses to eat a lot.
As of this writing Mir has tied the record for most UFC appearances with 27.
6. Vitor Belfort
Calling Vitor Belfort “fat” is probably a little harsh as well, but if we can’t make fun of a pro-athlete that was on steroids for years and is now rocking a “dad bod” then the entire purpose of the internet has been defeated.
On Valentine’s Day this year, Vitor’s wife posted a photo of him that appeared to show quite the gut protruding from his abdomen, making many wonder if he would be cleared to fight considering he looked as though he might be "with child".
For years Belfort had been granted a testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) exemption since his body’s ability to produce testosterone has been diminished due to (allegedly) using steroids for so long. Under new rules there can be no more TRT for Vitor and that might be what has allowed his belly to grow.
3 months after the Valentine’s Day man-bod pic was posted on Instagram, the much trimmer Jacare Souza defeated him soundly at UFC 198.
5 Teila Tuli
Teila Tuli’s mixed martial arts career didn’t last long, but it sure was memorable! The former Sumo champion who is listed as having weighed 440lbs took part in the 1st ever UFC fight to air on UFC 1 (there was an alternate bout that took place before this fight but it was not televised).
Nobody really knew what to expect during that fight at UFC 1, nobody really knew what the UFC was. It was advertised as no holds barred fighting, with no rules, but it couldn’t really be that, could it? When Gerard Gordeau, a champion kickboxer, kicked Tuli square in the face and sent his tooth hurdling through the air it was confirmation that the UFC really was a real fighting competition.
The fight at UFC 1 would be the only MMA bout for Tuli, who has since become an actor and has a reoccurring role on the TV show Hawaii 5.0.
Real name Eric Esch, Butterbean made a name for himself as being an enormous super heavyweight boxer. For years Butterbean dominated the super heavyweight ranks of boxing, and had his public challenges to Mike Tyson go unanswered. Butterbean would also make some waves at WrestleMania 15 when he knocked out “Brawl for All” tournament winner Bart Gunn in 35 seconds.
Butterbean would take up mixed martial arts in 2003, and has a 17-10 record with his last fight having been in 2011. Some key victories for Butterbean in Pride were over the likes of Zuluzinho, James Thompson, and former pro-wrestler Sean O’Haire.
3 Tank Abbott
Tank Abbott amassed quite a following in mixed martial arts, despite never being all that good. While Abbott did manage to get deep into early UFC tournaments in 1995 and 1996, outside of those two years he was generally quite terrible in his mixed martial arts career.
Post 1996 Tank Abbott’s official MMA record is 4-11. While the biker-looking, beer-belly having, hairy beast of a man did have vicious knockout power early in his career, he never really developed the other skills necessary to become an accomplished mixed martial artist.
His unathletic look and grizzled appearance made him marketable however, and Abbott would use that to enter the world of pro-wrestling, where he competed with WCW during the company’s declining period in the late 90s.
2 Mark Hunt
Mark Hunt is a native New Zealander, but his genes have a lot of Samoan in them. Anybody who has followed Samoans in professional wrestling knows that they tend to get a little bigger with age. Ever notice how the Usos and Roman Reigns both wrestle with shirts on? Yeah, they’re Samoan and the jiggle around their waistline is something Vince McMahon most likely isn’t a fan of. This isn’t to say that all Samoans pack on the pounds when they get a little older, but it’s hard not to notice that the pro fighters and wrestlers certainly have.
Mark Hunt is a beast in the ring however, and just recently KO’ed fellow jiggle-weight fighter Frank Mir. Not bad for a fighter who at one point was considered finished. After going 5-1 in his first 6 pro fights, Mark Hunt went on an epic Tito Ortiz-esque losing streak. From 2006-2011 Mark Hunt lost every single one of his fights, 6 in total. His losses were to a whose-who of mixed martial arts however, including Fedor, Overeem, Josh Barnett, and Gegard Mousasi. But then Hunt turned it all around and became a contender in the heavyweight division. Since the long losing streak Hunt is 7-3-1, his only losses coming to Werdum, Miocic, and Dos Santos, all of whom are former or current UFC Heavyweight Champions.
1 Roy Nelson
Was there any doubt about who would top this list? Roy Nelson is a hero to fat guys everywhere. He is the modern day Jackie Robinson of fat athletes, single-handedly trailblazing a path for his rotund brothers. So long as Roy Nelson continues to be a top heavyweight in the UFC, promoters and matchmakers will not be able to write off fat mixed martial artists as not being able to compete at a high level.
Nelson’s 1st fight in the UFC, though considered an exhibition, took place on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, when he defeated Kimbo Slice on an episode that brought in killer ratings.
But Nelson, set to turn 40 in June of this year, is on the downside of his career. Nelson has lost 5 of his last 7 fights, and while they have all been to tremendous fighters, it raises doubts about how much longer Nelson will be competing at the top of the rankings.
This means that someone needs to replace Nelson as the poster child of fat mixed martial artists. A new jiggle-weight competitor must emerge, and through the strength of excessive carbohydrate intake, take on and defeat much trimmer, leaner, opponents. The fate of the fat athlete depends on it.