In the sport of face-punching, violence is always a charming prerequisite. But while some MMA fighters simply embrace it, others excel at it.
MMA as a sport has had a long, storied history of brutality. From its earliest incarnation in Japan to present day UFC, MMA has experienced so much violence it would be near impossible to measure in any conceivable way.
The nineties flourished in this arena. With limited rules and rudimentary skill sets many fighters met their inevitable and often violent fate. Those on the receiving end generally returned to the shadows – or at least back to the regionals – while those inflicting the damage did so to a raucous and ravenous crowd.
Those were the fighters that fans would love to watch, in equal parts fascination and horror.
In that era of the UFC, David ‘Tank’ Abbott embodied that type of fighter, and he certainly helped usher in the bloodthirsty ‘Just Bleed‘ crowd, famed for craving high octane fights packed with violence. They generally didn’t care who won as long as the fight came to a brutal end.
At this time Brazil was also gaining traction for hosting some of the most savage fight cards imaginable, as International Vale Tudo Championship – IVC – gave a platform to fighters who had been bred with a ferocious Muay Thai pedigree and an appetite for violence. Chute Boxe legend, Jose ‘Pele’ Landi-Jons would become one such notable fighter, as he looked to decimate any man who dared to stand across the ring from him.
As MMA became more regulated the raw brutality became refined brutality.
While the UFC attempted to clean it’s act up through the early aughts, the onus shifted to Japan, as more liberal regulations allowed for certain techniques to still be used in-fight. The more discerning face-punching fans picked up on the shift. Soccer kicks and stomps were still legal and their favourite fighter still had most of their tools at their disposal.
More famed Chute Boxe stars could be seen playing their trade through this era, as Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and his brother Murillo ‘Ninja’ Rua looked to decapitate foes in wild fashion.
Japan really became a hotbed for violence, with breakout stars and fan favourites such as Hayato Sakurai, ‘Kid’ Yamamoto and Takanori Gomi. It wasn’t just reserved for their countrymen either as Mirko ‘Cro cop’, Joachim ‘Hellboy’ Hansen, ‘Rampage’ Jackson and even lesser skilled fighters such as James Thompson, illustrated the bloodlust and zealous violence the fans craved.
As Japanese MMA died down North America once again picked up the slack and even took on board some of the more violent fighters from overseas.
The sport has settled somewhat since.
While today’s MMA is in slight contrast to the raw violence of its formative years, it does offer us a more skilled and refined version of it, which is just as intriguing and often as brutal and instant.
With all that in mind, here are our Top Five Most Violent Fighters In MMA History.