UFC fighters are known for many things. As the best mixed martial artists in the world, they are celebrated for their world-class skills inside the octagon. Two-time UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a martial arts paragon, much like former UFC champions Georges St-Pierre and Lyoto Machida.
Other fighters are best known for their vitriolic trash talk. Perhaps no mixed martial artist fits that description better than former lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor. The success spawned by the Irishman’s trashy talk led to a whole generation of fighters eager to copy ‘The Notorious’ and his antics in an effort to replicate his monetary success.
However, among these fighters are those who make headlines for expressing controversial political views, whether because of their support for a polarizing politician or their beliefs surrounding politically charged conspiracy theories. This list takes a look at 5 of those UFC fighters.
After defeating Jéssica Andrade in a rematch of their encounter at UFC 237, Rose Namajunas sought to reclaim the UFC strawweight champion from Zhang Weili, the first ever UFC champion in China. However, in the lead up to their clash at UFC 261, ‘Thug Rose’ broached the subject of communism and cast Zhang Weili, a fighter who never talked about political affairs, as the face of ideology. controversial.
During an interview with Lithuanian media, Namajunas exclaimed an oft-repeated saying during the Cold War era, stating that it is better to be “dead than red” before describing Zhang Weili as red. Additionally, “Thug Rose” claimed to represent freedom, Jesus, and the American Dream. Namajunas was widely criticized for her remarks, but she remained defiant, claiming to defend beliefs rooted in her Lithuanian ancestry. She would go on to defeat Weili in back-to-back fights.
Former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington is the most politically charged fighter in the UFC. At one point, “Chaos” was on the verge of being cut from the UFC due to his uninteresting fighting style and lack of personality to garner fan interest. The former All-American made the decision to exaggerate his true personality to cartoonish heights. However, Covington didn’t stop there.
Covington used his political support for controversial former US President Donald Trump to create a character based on his political beliefs. Covington donned a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat while claiming to be Trump’s favorite fighter. He visited Trump at the White House after winning the interim title and also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it was made up of longtime criminals before calling Tyron Woodley a Marxist and a communist for the having argued before defeating the former champion in 2020.
Like Colby Covington, much of what Sean Strickland says is rooted in the cartoonish persona he’s adopted to spark fan interest in his fights. Thus, it is difficult to discern what is made of fiction when assessing Strickland’s actual political beliefs, as is the case with Covington. Nonetheless, Strickland recorded comments on a range of political topics.
In the past, he has identified himself as a gun owner before verbally attacking stricter gun laws in other countries. He further claimed that while these countries, especially Germany and England, suffer from less mass shootings, they lack real men in his opinion. Strickland punctuated his rant by referring to the two countries with a transphobic slur.
Additionally, the middleweight contender has drawn the ire of UFC fans after claiming he has no allegiance to the American flag and would gladly be a Russian mercenary tasked with killing Americans if he was sufficiently paid.
Unlike the Sean Stricklands and Colby Covingtons of the world, Paulo Costa doesn’t play a character every time he gets into political discussions. The Brazilian murderer is known to be a supporter of right-wing politician and current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Costa has publicly stated that a woman’s right to an abortion should be reflected by allowing people to choose whether to be vaccinated.
Moreover, the Brazilian gave his support to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He described Putin as a strong leader before describing US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron as weak. The Brazilian also shares the widely held belief of political conservatives that he shouldn’t wear a face mask during the ongoing COVID pandemic, among a host of other controversial opinions.
Bryce Mitchell is a bizarre presence in the UFC. Inside the octagon, he is an undefeated grappler whose combination of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu makes him a force to be reckoned with. Outside the cage, Mitchell is as controversial with his politics as anyone. Specifically, “Thug Nasty” believes in several outlandish conspiracy theories regarding guns.
Bryce Mitchell’s believes the mass shootings in the United States are part of a government plot to introduce a change in legislation to prevent the sale of assault rifles to ordinary citizens. He further asserted that he would never relinquish ownership of his firearms due to his belief that the government would otherwise starve him and his fellow Americans.