(Step 1. Absorb EVERY kick, Step 2. ??????, Step 3. Profit. Props to the brilliant cine-files over at Pajiba for the inspiration behind this article.)
Mixed martial arts fans are perhaps the most ruthless group of people out there; a quick scroll down any one of our comments sections only confirms this. One minute, a certain fighter is praised as a ruthless, badass hombre cut from the same cloth as the greatest champions the sport has ever known, and the next, they’re being told to save themselves the embarrassment of another performance and just retire already. It’s a crazy sport.
But then there are those few and far between fighters that we choose to rally behind regardless of where they currently stand in the MMA ranking system. Sometimes it’s simply because they can make us laugh, and other times it’s their “go for broke” mentality that wins us over. Sure, they’ve dropped seven of their last eight, including one to a drunken bar patron who accidentally stumbled into the ring, but all of those fights were like totally awesome, bro, so who are we to complain when they are kept around while other, more talented fighters are let go?
Here are eight fighters we will continue to root for, no matter how quickly their performances make us silently wish otherwise.
#8 – Aaron Riley
(Even when Riley *doesn’t* lose a fight, he still loses the fight.)
Current record: 30-13-1
Record in last five fights: 2-3
Aaron Riley‘s nickname could very well be “TUF Fodder,” because the man has fought nothing but The Ultimate Fighter alums, and often winners, for the better part of his UFC career. And it’s a shame, because the dude always brings the fight to these whippersnappers, but simply hasn’t been able to put any of them away. Most recently, he had his jaw broken again by TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson at UFC 135. Back at UFC 105, he was made into mince meat by TUF 9 winner Ross Pearson. Set to square off against, you guessed it, TUF 12 alum Cody McKenzie, at UFC on FUEL 3 in May, Riley may be looking at his final chance to prove he can hang with these young guns before he is demoted to the Strikeforce roster. Speaking of a certain Alaskan native…
Don’t let the numbers fool you, Cody McKenzie is in dire straights. Coming off two rear-naked choke losses in a row, the inventor of “The McKenzietine” is in a must win situation against Aaron Riley come May 15th. Some of you may bash the “AK kid” for being a one-trick pony, and you are most certainly right, but let us not forget that this man once made Josh Koscheck eat crow in one of the greatest moments in TUF History. That alone warrants our worship, so here’s hoping McKenzie either finds a way to win against Riley or at least look good enough to get a fourth shot under the Zuffa banner.
#6 – Pat Barry
Current record: 7-4
Record in last five fights: 2-3
Pat Barry is one funny motherfucker. This we know. Sure, some of his jokes are a little out of date by internet terms, but the man is undoubtedly an entertainer. He is also 4-4 in the octagon thus far, and has been submitted by Tim Hague and KO’d by Cheick Kongo, the latter of which is nothing to complain about, but still, you get the point. Perhaps it is too early in Barry’s career to truly gauge his success, being that he is relatively new to the whole ground aspect of MMA. And he did show some improvement when he escaped that (poorly applied) armbar of Christian Morecraft‘s, right? In either case, “HD” won’t have to be worried about getting submitted when he takes on hard hitting Lavar Johnson at UFC on FOX 3 in May. Let’s just pray his chin holds up better than last time.
After crushing any of Mirko Cro Cop‘s dreams of a UFC Heavyweight title back at UFC 70 with one of the most shocking victories in the history of the sport, hard times befell the mythical mountain creature known as “Napao.” He would get punched out by Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum in his next two contests, and would spend the rest of his first octagon run picking up wins over sub-UFC competition sandwiched between violent knockout losses to the likes of Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos. Thankfully, Gonzaga has gone back to his BJJ roots as of late and scored two straight submission wins, because he will need to pull out every trick in his arsenal when he faces undefeated powerhouse Shane Del Rosario at UFC 146.