There are those who love mixed martial arts because it is a test of skill and athletic performance, a competition to see which athlete, which fearless beast will walk out of the cage the victor. Then there are those that just love seeing people get the pulp smashed out of their face. Most mixed martial arts fans are probably a combination of both, but this article is really geared towards those who love seeing people get beat up.
A few notes about this list before we begin: To be considered for this list a fight must have taken place in a major promotion. Eligible major promotions include: the UFC, Strikeforce, Pride, Bellator, Affliction, and heck we’ll even include EliteXC in there just for the fun of it. This means that the handful of fighters who were all tragically killed as a result of injuries sustained during MMA bouts, are not eligible for this list, as those all occurred on smaller shows. Also, including those names would make us sad, and watching people get beat up is supposed to be fun!
Scoring for this list is based on the degree of beat-down sustained in the fight, visible damage done to the fighter, as well as the importance that the fight carried at the time the beat down occurred. This means if two fights are tied in terms of the degree of beat down, the tie-breaker goes to whichever fight was more high profile than the other one. A preference is given to beat downs that are seen as memorable as well, meaning high profile fighters are more likely to have their beat-downs (whether giving or receiving) appear on this list than lesser-known fighters.
Now with the rules set, let’s relive times in which people got badly beaten up.
10 Gerard Gordeau vs. Teila Touli UFC 1
The first televised fight in UFC history was a brutal beat down, one vicious enough that it made a large section of the live crowd, PPV audience, and some of the competitors wonder just how good of an idea this new sport really was.
At the time (1993) vale tudo fights had existed in places around the world, but this was really the first time a no-holds barred fighting competition like this took place in a high-profile manner in the United States.
The early UFC contests were billed as martial art vs. martial art to see which discipline was the supreme fighting style. In this contest Teila Touli was representing the discipline of Sumo, and Gordeau was a striker from Holland.
The fight started with Touli charging at Gordeau, but the Dutch kickboxer avoided him and kicked the much larger amateur Sumo champion so hard in the face that his tooth flew out of the cage.
The kick to the face was so vicious that the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, despite the rules not allowing for that at the time.
9 Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring UFC 87
This was Lesnar’s second fight in the UFC, and his most impressive victory. Lesnar never really recovered from his bout with diverticulitis, which is a shame as he was on pace to become one of the most dominant heavyweights of all time.
By this time Lesnar had already lost his debut fight against Frank Mir, but did look dangerous until Mir caught him in a heel-hook. At UFC 87 Brock Lesnar made believers out of a lot of people when he dominated Herring in this fight, earning a decision victory. Lesnar marked his true arrival as a mixed martial artist early in the bout when his right hand collided with Herring’s face so hard it caused the former Pride fighting veteran to somersault backwards across the cage.
By the time the fight was over Herring had been beaten for 3 straight rounds; he would never fight a mixed martial arts bout ever again.
Lesnar would defeat Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in his next fight.
8 Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia UFC 190
Up until her loss to Holly Holm, there was nothing more fun to watch in sports than an angry Ronda Rousey, on the war path to embarrass her opponents. That was the case when Rousey travelled to Brazil to take on top Brazilian bantamweight Bethe Correia.
This is how popular Rousey was at the time of this fight: the fight was in Brazil, she was facing a Brazilian, and the fans cheered for her. There were definitely Correia fans at the event, but the weigh-ins were very much pro-Rousey, far from the reception that most opponents of Brazilian fighters receive.
There is a vicious, unconfirmed rumor that the savage beat down Rousey laid on Correia in the 1st round was so severe that it caused Bethe’s bowels to release. There does appear to be some evidence of this, with photos circulating online of a darkened stain on the back of Correia’s white shorts. Those close to the situation believe this to be untrue however, and even if it is true it’s probably happened to more fighters than we think.
Rousey seemed unlikely to ever be stopped at this point in her career, but her next fight would be against Holly Holm, and everything would change.
7 BJ Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre UFC 94
For a guy that is generally given the label “legend,” BJ Penn sure has lost a lot of big fights. This was a “super fight,” the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time. UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn was moving up to welterweight and challenging Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, attempting to become the 1st fighter in UFC history to hold titles in 2 weight divisions at the same time.
The only problem for BJ, who was a former Welterweight Champion, was that Georges St. Pierre was a considerably better fighter. The 2 had met previously at UFC 58 with GSP earning a split decision victory, but this fight was not nearly as close.
GSP dominated Penn on the ground for 4 rounds before Penn’s corner stopped the fight before the 5th round could start.
6 Pat Smith vs. Scott Morris UFC 2
This was the original UFC walk-off victory. This was before UFC had very many rules, and a referee could not end the fight. The only way a fight could end during this period in UFC history was via tapout, verbal submission, or a corner throwing the towel in.
This was a quarterfinal match in the 2nd UFC tournament. Smith had competed in the 1st tournament and was considered one of the favorites. Ken Shamrock would spoil Smith’s MMA debut however, by earning a submission victory.
Now Smith, a boxing and kickboxing veteran, was back in the octagon and looking to make an impact. Scott Morris was from some generic martial arts school and was in way over his head in this fight. Morris charged Smith but Smith quickly got into the full mount position and elbowed the pulp out of Morris’ face.
The fun part of this fight was that once Morris was knocked out Smith just got up, celebrated a bit, and then walked over to Morris corner and told them to throw in the towel to officially end the fight, which they did.
5 Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey UFC 193
You can’t blame Ronda Rousey for being over-confident heading into this fight; she was undefeated and nobody had even proved to be a challenge for her as of late. Then she’s booked for a fight in Australia with the fighter ranked #9 in the division. Granted Holly Holm was a very successful boxer, and obviously did prove to be a real threat, but it’s still hard to blame anyone for not giving Holm much of a chance heading into this fight.
Rousey tried to do what she’s done in every other one of her fights: push forward, be aggressive and end the fight. The only problem was that this strategy is possibly the worst you could use against a striker as advanced as Holly Holm is.
The end result is that Rousey looked lost out there, took numerous hard shots, and ultimately a head kick from Holly broke her jaw.
Rousey was left looking like she had just been run over by a truck, her title was gone, her legacy taken down several pegs, and just like that there were doubts about whether she would ever be back.
4 Cain Velasquez vs. Brock Lesnar UFC 121
This was Brock’s second fight back after his bout of diverticulitis, and he did not look good. Lesnar did not look good in his previous bout against Shane Carwin either. While Lesnar technically won his bout with Carwin, it was only because Carwin gassed himself out by beating up Lesnar so badly in the 1st round that he had nothing left for the 2nd. Many people feel that the ref should have stopped the bout and awarded the fight to Carwin in that 1st round.
Lesnar charged at Cain early in the fight, even took Cain down briefly, but after recovering from diverticulitis Lesnar just didn’t have the strength to hold down a guy like Cain anymore. Once Cain was able to take down Lesnar and land a few shots there was nothing Lesnar could do to get back on offense. Lesnar was so disoriented that he flew back around the cage in a manner so out of control it resembled what Lesnar had done to Heath Herring back at UFC 87. Referee Herb Dean finally ended things late in the 1st and Cain Velasquez became the new UFC Heavyweight Champion.
3 Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva UFC 101
Forrest Griffin is a UFC Hall of Famer, and Anderson Silva will surely be there once he retires.
When this fight took place in August of 2009 Silva was the Middleweight Champion, but had defeated James Irvin at light heavyweight the previous summer and decided to book a super-fight against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin. Griffin was coming off of a fairytale story that saw him go from contestant on UFC’s original Ultimate Fighter season to unlikely champion of a tough division, having defeated “Rampage” Jackson for the light heavyweight belt. In his previous fight however, Griffin was defeated by Rashad Evans.
Anderson Silva made the former Light Heavyweight Champion and future Hall of Famer look like he didn’t even belong in the same sport as him. Silva counter-punched all the confidence out of Griffin, ended the fight in 3.5 minutes, and caused Griffin to run to the back before the official announcement could be made.
2 Aldo vs Hominick UFC 129
UFC 129 from Toronto, ON Canada broke records for the UFC. The sold out Rogers SkyDome was the largest crowd for a UFC event, with a sell out attendance of 55,000. The main event was Canadian Georges St. Pierre defending his Welterweight Championship against Jake Shields, but the co-main event saw another Canadian, Mark Hominick, challenge Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.
Aldo was unstoppable at this stage of his career, and there really was nothing Hominick could do about it. The silver-lining for Hominick and his fans here is that despite receiving a beating that did elephant-man like things to his face, Hominick came back to arguably win the final two rounds of the fight. He showed a lot of heart, and despite receiving one of the worst beat downs in MMA history and losing to Aldo, he won over a lot of fans with his bulldog mentality and toughness.
Unfortunately for Hominick he would never be the same fighter again, dropping his next 3 fights and ultimately retiring from the sport.
1 Dada 5000 and Kimbo Slice vs. Themselves Bellator 149
Nothing about this was good. The worst beat down in the history of MMA was done by two fighters to themselves at a Bellator sideshow fighting contest held in late 2015. Since taking over Bellator, longtime fight promotor Scott Coker had been holding fights with big names that are past their prime. The previous sideshow fight Coker had organized was Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock, evidently feeling that most fight fans missed EliteXC.
Coker’s sideshow fighting went a step too far this night. Neither Kimbo nor Dada 5000 were in any shape to be fighting. They were both gassed out minutes into the 1st round but by the rules of the sport had to continue. What followed was 2.5 rounds of slapstick comedy, which ended only when Dada 5000 could no longer stand up.
Dada 5000 had to be taken to the hospital where his heart apparently stopped, meaning this debacle almost killed one of its competitors.
To throw a cherry on top of this depressing sundae, Kimbo would test positive for steroids afterwards.