The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is dictated by skill, athleticism, experience, and the willingness to put it all on the line.
Throughout the years, countless combat crusaders have forged greatness inside of the cage by channeling these specific attributes. In turn, they’ve created unforgettable magic.
But as good as some of these contests have been, there are those that produce polar opposite results. There are fights that seem to shrink the creativity of the sport itself, offering little to cheer and even less to be impressed with.
In many cases, both fighters are to blame. Whether due to cancelling fighting styles or hesitant trigger pulling, their matchups have failed miserably. As for the other group of terrible performances, those manifest from the actions (or lack thereof) of one, and only one, party involved.
Either way, these atrocious MMA contests should be swept under the rug until the end of time. Because no one is going to miss the worst of the worst.
Here are the 10 poorest fights in the history of the sport.
- 1 10) Randy Couture vs. James Toney
- 2 9) Dave Bautista vs. Vince Lucera
- 3 8) Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock
- 4 7) Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida
- 5 6) Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites
- 6 5) Chael Sonnen vs. Paulo Filho II
- 7 4) Nate Quarry vs. Kalib Starnes
- 8 3) Jose Canseco vs. Hong Man Choi
- 9 2) Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia
- 10 1) Kimbo Slice vs Dada 5000
10) Randy Couture vs. James Toney
Former UFC two-division champion Randy Couture is a MMA legend. James Toney is not.
So when the former boxing standout entered the Octagon untrained in ground warfare at UFC 118, it took Couture just over three minutes to take Toney down, pepper him with strikes, and sink in an arm triangle choke.
It was the first, and presumably going to be the last, time a boxer has tested the world of cage fighting without any proper experience in wrestling or grappling.
9) Dave Bautista vs. Vince Lucera
Well-known for his days as a WWE champion and his ongoing career as a Hollywood action star, Dave “The Animal” Bautista took a shot at MMA back in 2012.
His heavyweight showdown opposite out-of-shape journeyman Vince Lucera looked like a matchup between the neighborhood bully and the kid who worked on the ice cream truck.
Bautista’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt did not come into play, as he finished Lucera via first-round TKO, but he still looked considerably uncoordinated on his feet against a guy who had won just two pro bouts in the four years prior.
8) Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock
It’s a shame that Ken Shamrock’s career has come down to collecting paychecks opposite street fighting defectors like Kimbo Slice, but we all fall on hard times one way or another.
For Shamrock, it meant stepping inside of the cage at Bellator 138 as an out-of-shape, over-the-hill, 51-year-old shell of his former self.
Despite taking Slice’s back in the first round, Shamrock was still too weak and physically incapable of sinking in one of his patented rear naked chokes, soon losing to the amateur striker via knockout in just over two minutes.
7) Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida
As someone who has watched countless MMA events in person, Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida is undoubtedly the most boring, uneventful, disappointing, and uncharacteristic fight I’ve ever seen live.
Their UFC on FX 4 clash in 2012 is arguably the worst main event in promotional history. And considering how game both of these guys were throughout their entire careers, their inability to exchange for 25-straight minutes was borderline visual homicide.
Referee Dan Miragliotta actually had to warn Guida multiple times to stop running around the Octagon and engage “The Bully.” Maynard would go on to win via spit decision.
6) Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites
Anderson Silva‘s UFC 97 middleweight title fight opposite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard Thales Leites remains one of the most uneventful championship tilts of all time.
For nearly the entire contest, Leites willingly flopped to the canvas and invited the world-class striker to engage in a grappling match. Silva understandably wanted nothing to do with the Brazilian on the ground and subsequently danced, slapped, and lightly kicked his way to a unanimous decision victory.
The fact that Silva broke the UFC record for most consecutive wins (9) with this performance is an absolute shame.
5) Chael Sonnen vs. Paulo Filho II
Chael Sonnen was seeking revenge for a submission loss to champion Paulo Filho at WEC 31 when the two middleweights met at WEC 36 in 2008.
The rematch was also supposed to be contested for the 185-pound title, but Filho missed weight by an astounding seven pounds and the belt was taken off the table.
During the fight, Filho was seen pulling guard for the majority of the first two rounds, while Sonnen offered little in exchange. But when the third frame began, the Brazilian proceeded to drop his hands, started talking to himself, looked off into the distance, and allowed Sonnen to land countless jabs, which resulted in a unanimous decision win for “The American Gangster.”
It has been speculated that Filho may have been under the influence of drugs, seeing as he checked into rehab just eight months prior. Regardless, it remains one of the weirdest, unprofessional, and uneventful fights in MMA history.
4) Nate Quarry vs. Kalib Starnes
There was certainly something afoot at UFC 83 as middleweight Kalib Starnes refused to engage Nate “The Rock” Quarry for the duration of their three-round fight.
Seen backing off of exchanges and actually running around the Octagon to get away, Starnes seemed to have willingly entered the cage that night with the idea of throwing the fight. The action was so stagnant that by the final few seconds, Quarry was seen mocking Starnes’ effort to the tune of the “running man.”
Quarry would go on to win via unanimous decision, with one judge actually scoring it 30-24 (second-largest margin of victory in UFC history), and Starnes would immediately be released from the promotion.
3) Jose Canseco vs. Hong Man Choi
Anytime an ex-MLB player and former steroid head enters the ring, it’s bound to gain traction.
Unfortunately for combat fans, despite Jose Canseco’s fame and popularity around the world, he couldn’t stomach more than 77 seconds opposite South Korean kickboxer Hong Man Choi before tapping out to strikes in the first round.
It remains one of the worst, if not the worst, MMA performances by a crossover sports star of all time.
2) Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia
In a disgraceful performance that UFC president Dana White would easily consider his least favorite fight of all time, then middleweight champion Anderson Silva showboated his way to a win at UFC 122 opposite Demian Maia.
For nearly five-straight rounds, Silva taunted Maia to exchange on the feet. Knowing how dangerous the champion was when it came to counter-striking, Maia offered Silva little to work with.
But by the end, it was Silva who unwillingly went in for the kill and refused to initiate with a far inferior opponent on the feet. He was actually warned by referee Dan Miragliotta in the fifth round to do something.
Silva later stated that he wanted to punish Maia for disrespecting him before the fight, but that excuse did little to mask one of the most lackadaisical outings of his career, and a bout that forced White to apologize to fight fans for.
1) Kimbo Slice vs Dada 5000
The idea that Bellator can promote fights like Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson vs. Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris and actually gain recognition around the sport is absolutely ridiculous.
Despite months to train and get in somewhat decent shape, both Ferguson and Harris looked like two overweight, out-of-shape, inexperienced car salesmen who decided to put MMA gloves on and fight in their basement.
The former street fighters rested their tired bodies on one another for nearly 12-straight minutes before “Dada 5000” collapsed from exhaustion and Ferguson earned a TKO win. Harris would later be taken to the hospital for respiratory failure (he made a full recovery) in what can be considered a fight that figuratively set the sport back 10 years.