Trash talk is as much a part of combat sports as punches and judging controversy. Not every fighter, however, is good at it. Try as they might, some people just can’t hang on the mic.
Then, of course, there are those fighters with a natural gift of the gab; fighters with the quick wit and confidence to roast their opponents at will. These fighters are often applauded for their ability to pry their way into their opponents’ heads, throwing them off their game before the fight even begins.
Without further ado, here are the 5 best trash talkers currently competing in mixed martial arts.
Honorable mentions: Rashad Evans, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Nick Diaz, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
5. Nate Diaz
It takes a special fighter to hang with Conor McGregor on the mic, but in the buildup to their two, record-breaking 2016 showdowns, that’s just what Nate Diaz did. In a way that no fighter has before, the Stockton slugger went toe-to-toe with the Irishman at their pre-fight press conferences, reaffirming himself as one of the best trash talkers in the game in the process.
Granted, Diaz is not the most articulate fighter out there, but his unique blend of profanity and nonchalance make him a force to be reckoned with on the microphone. See some of his best moments from his first fight with McGregor in the video above.
4. Michael Bisping:
Any lingering doubts about Michael Bisping’s talent were dispelled when he won the UFC middleweight title from Luke Rockhold earlier this year. While it was previously suggested that the Brit was not a championship-level fighter, however, there has never been any doubt about his ability to trash talk.
With his razor sharp wit, Bisping has been able to verbally eviscerate nearly all of his previous opponents. Case in point: his tongue-lashing of Luke Rockhold in the video above.
3. Dominick Cruz
The truth hurts. That’s exactly what makes UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz’s trash talk so venomous. There is nothing theatrical about it. It’s not accompanied by bravado or bird-flipping. He just tells the truth. He hits his opponents where it hurts, calling them on their shortcomings and shining the spotlight on their insecurities. And he does it all with the same sprawling lexicon that has made him one of the finest MMA analysts on the Fox Sports payroll.
Check out the video above for some of Cruz’s finest verbal assaults.
2. Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen could easily have taken the number-one spot on this list. The three-time UFC title challenger and current Bellator fighter thrust the fight game into a trash talk renaissance in the buildup to his two fights with Anderson Silva, showing that proficiency on the mic could be almost as powerful a tool in earning a title shot as winning fights.
While Sonnen is arguably the greatest trash talker in MMA history, however, many of his lines are clearly pre-rehearsed. While he’s certainly quick off the cuff, his apparent tendency to practice his lines ahead of time is the reason the number one spot has to go to…
1. Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor’s spot on the top of this list will surprise very few people. Like Sonnen, he definitely seems to prepare some of his best trash talk ahead of time, yet he’s also shown he can be absolutely deadly off the cuff. Perhaps his best moment of the year, after all, was his response to Jeremy Stephens’ unexpected outburst at the UFC 205 pre-fight press conference – something he couldn’t possibly have prepared for.
While McGregor’s skills in the Octagon are undeniable, it’s unlikely that he would have become the megastar he is today if it weren’t for his unshakeable bravado and silver tongue. For some of the best moments of McGregor’s trash talk filled career see the video above.