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Welcome to TGIFighting, where we chat with the best fighters, preview the weekend combat sports action, and make cranky observations on today’s combat sports news. Ready? Let’s go on.
* The door creaks *
Have a good evening.
Welcome to this thrilling and spooky pre-Halloween edition of TGIFighting. Faced with our fourth lackluster UFC card in as many weeks, this might be the perfect time to celebrate the scariest season on Earth. Here it means ranking the scariest fighters in mixed martial arts.
To be in the running for this award, you have to stand out as a particularly spooky member of the cage-fighting community. It is not easy. It’s a bit like choosing the most sparkling elf in Santa’s workshop, in contrast.
But we’re up to the task, and our list is sure to chill you down to your bone marrow. We took into account a combination of fighting style and overall intimidation factor (the level of achievement doesn’t hurt either). Here’s a question we tried to answer: If this person was walking on the beach and no one knew they were a fighter, how would people react?
OK there it is. Now let’s go into the fighters, listed in no particular order.
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Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1)
With his scowl and ultra-violent style, Figgy (and you have to be tough enough to pull that nickname off) is at the very least the scariest fighter in the flyweight division.
He doesn’t have the highest yield in the cage, but when he hits he does so with extreme prejudice. Remember when he choked unconscious Joseph Benavidez (28-8) to win the 125-pound title? Or the moment in 2017 when he survived an early assault from Marco Beltran (12-7), to force the referee to request a corner stoppage after the second?
With 17 saves in 20 wins, Figueiredo’s header is clear. And it is clear that no one who fights it will come out unscathed.
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Amanda Nunes (21-4)
This one is not difficult to explain or understand. Nunes is both the best and scariest fighter in MMA history.
The former holder of both titles was Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (24-2, 1 NC). That is until Nunes hits her for a 51-second knockout in 2018. Now, the Lioness leads both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions of the UFC, bringing an evil smile that tells you she appreciates his work way too much.
John Raoux / Associated press
Tony Ferguson (25-6)
Ferguson could be the most intense contender in all of the UFC. His wild training is legendary, as is the tenacity that saw him beaten last year by Justin Gaethje (22-3). According to official UFC stats, Ferguson even took 100 important strikes to the head of the notoriously hard-hitting Gaethje. Frankenstein’s monster would have fallen before Ferguson that night. It was really disturbing. To oust this armband from Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) in December before losing by decision was another for the pounds.
Ferguson has lost three games in a row, but he’s still a fan favorite because you never know what he’s capable of in the cage. It’s a loose cannon straight out of the center cast.
Francois Ngannou (16-3)
Another that is essentially self-evident. Ngannou is huge, he supposedly hits with so much power like a compact car, and he knows exactly what to do with that power, namely, to behead you.
His right hook is arguably the most devastating weapon in the sport today.
The record speaks for itself. His last five tilts have all ended in knockout, with just one – then champion Stipe Miocic (20-4) – coming out of the first round, and it didn’t even last a minute in the second.
If Ciryl Gane (10-0) is going to beat Ngannou in January at UFC 270, he won’t do it with a shootout. Any game plan to dethrone the champion will include more than his share of tiptoeing.
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Thiago Santos (22-9)
Raise your hand if you think you could get a tattoo of a medieval war hammer that runs down your chest. If you’ve raised your hand and you’re not Santos, you and yourself can tell a lie.
Santos has the physique and the disposition – embodied in a berserker style that has earned him 15 knockouts in 22 pro wins – to make it work. His ultra-aggressive approach doesn’t leave much room for error, but that’s what fans love about him. He’s not a perfect fighter, but he’s bloodthirsty enough to make up for it with pure entertainment value. If light heavyweights had their own BMF belt, the wearer would likely be Santos.
Honorable mentions: Josh Emmett (16-2), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), Marvin Vettori (17-5-1), Rose Namajunas (10-4), Cat Zingano (12-4), Yoel Romero (13-6)
As the Irishman turns
Global MMA stars don’t seem to stay on the right side of the law.
The first arrived Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) earlier this month. It’s now Conor McGregor‘s turn (22-6).
According to a report released Wednesday by CNN’s Jack Guy and Nicola Ruotolo, an Italian DJ is suing McGregor after he allegedly suffered multiple injuries in an unprovoked attack at a hotel in Rome.
Why did DJ Francesco Facchinetti choose to go ahead with accusations? “Because the world needs to know that it is dangerous,” Facchinetti said.
We’ll see how the legal process plays out, but this isn’t McGregor’s first contact with legal issues. You hope that at some point someone manages to reach these guys. We’ll see, said the Zen master.
What is Paulo Costa doing?
Paraphrase Office space, Paulo Costa was fed up with losing weight. So he won’t do it again.
Costa (13-1) is an exciting middleweight. Wait, delete this sentence. You can’t really say that at the moment given Costa’s announcement that he weighed around 25 pounds above the 186-pound average weight limit. (It’s technically 185, but you’ve got a pound of wiggle room in untitled fights.)
The UFC announced a 195-pound drop with Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) in the name of saving Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 196 main event. In the meantime, Costa may want to revisit his pre-fight routine. Remember, this is the same guy who said he fought a hangover from Israel Adesanya (21-1) after drinking “too much wine” the day before. What is happening here on behalf of Diego Sanchez? Also, since when did weight become optional? I guess if you have a card slot big enough you can get away with all kinds of stuff.
Jeff Bottari / Getty Images
Stone cold lead pipe lock of the week
Record to date: 21-6
Livia Renata Souza (14-3) is a -130 favorite against Randa Markos (10-11-1). Souza lost two of three, which might explain why she’s buried on the undercard, but Markos has lost four in a row and five of six. Her relative lack of explosiveness and apparent inability to develop full play (she’s pretty much exclusively a wrestler) puts Markos behind the eight ball unless or until she proves otherwise. Lock down Souza to take care of business as a tight favorite.
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Scott harris writes on MMA and other sports topics for Bleacher Report and CNN.