Top 10 Worst Mistakes In MMA

MMA is one of those sports where a fight can be decided based on a split second decision, that one moment where an opening presents itself and the fighters just go for it. Sometimes, however, you get the opposite: a guy thinking he has a great idea and ends up sleeping face down on the canvas or tapping out in unison with the entire world facepalming. Today we celebrate and count down these bad decisions on MMAUK’s Top 10 Worst Mistakes in MMA!

Honorable Mention

Karma’s a bitch (Legacy Promotions)

Cheap shots are for pussies. This is something we can all agree on; to hit someone before the fight has even begun or when they don’t expect to have to block is extremely cowardly. This makes it all the more sweet when it doesn’t pay off.

JR Fuller had his sights set on a cheap takedown when he faced off against Jonathan Harris at Legacy Promotions. When the round started he extended his arm to touch gloves and when Harris obliged he dropped down for a double leg. Harris was on the ball though.

What did we learn? Winners never cheat and cheaters never win!


Kazuhiro Nakamura treats Wanderlei Silva to a striptease (Pride FC Critical Countdown 2005)

While it seems almost absurd today Kazuhiro Nakamura was once a serious rising star in the Light Heavyweight division, showcasing great judo and the potential to be one of the best in the division. As such it seemed only fitting that he’d join many other rising stars in Pride FC’s legendary 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix (no seriously, they thought Light Heavyweights were Middleweights. That’s Japan for you), a tournament that also featured Little Nog and Shogun Rua having one of the most epic fights ever, Alistair Overeem choking out two legends of the sport and Sakuraba getting more fucked up than he’s ever gotten in his entire career. Yeah it was an eventful tournament.

So after besting Kevin Randleman in the first round Nakamura was seeded to face off against Wanderlei Silva. While Silva had already started his decline here he was still the favourite to take the entire tournament and most people weren’t giving Nakamura a chance at all, something Nakamura seemed to take to heart and decided to prove his worth in the ring. Clad in a gi top and shorts he eventually managed to get Silva down and control him from the top position, showing that he just might have a shot at winning the fight.

Then he decided to take his gi off.

After throwing it aside Silva hit him with a huge shot that put him on his ass, leading to a TKO win for Silva. What did we learn? Keep your hands up and your clothes on!


Matt Wiman tells Spencer Fisher he’s OK (UFC 60: Hughes vs Gracie)

This was Wiman’s first fight in the UFC, before he was in The Ultimate Fighter and apparently before he’d gotten cage savvy. Wiman was coming in on very short notice so nobody expected much as he was going up against the already fairly accomplished Spencer Fisher, who was known as a tough brawler even then. He surprised everyone by taking Fisher down and almost choking him out with a tight guillotine at one point but ended up getting reversed, cut open and dominated by Fisher from the top.

In the second round Fisher was content to keep the fight standing and with good reason. Wiman got dragged into trading and got hit with a big right hand that seemed to stun him. After creating distance he shook his head at Fisher and waved the strike of with a flourish, only to eat a monsterous flying knee that put him out cold.

From coming in on two weeks notice and almost choking his opponent out to essentially waving goodbye to the fight. What did we learn? Don’t get cocky when your opponent can quantum leap into your face!


Olaf Alfonso decides not to train (Pride FC Bushido 11)

Don’t know who he is? Olaf Alfonso is a Mexican mixed martial artist, brown belt in jiu jitsu and master of getting KTFO. At Pride Bushido 11 he was scheduled to compete against Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, a Japanese superstar at the time with ridiculous knock out power and great shoot wrestling skills.
So how does Alfonso prepare for this fight?

The answer is not at all!

“I have a large background in martial arts; I wrestled up in Oregon, I’ve done judo for various years, I’ve boxed with a lot of pro boxers in Mexico and I’ve done a lot of muay thai but I actually left the actual training, the normal training methods, behind years ago and I only now focus on my meditation, breathing and my visualization. I don’t actually do sparring and I haven’t touched weights in eight years now.”

So how did that work out?

What did we learn? While you’re resting someone else is training to beat your ass!


Pawel Nastula calls out Big Nog for his MMA debut (Pride FC Critical Countdown 2005)

Let’s get this out of the way first: Pawel Nastula is amazing! His judo record is legendary, amassing a winning streak of 312 matches over the period of four years during which he also took home the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s unheard of in judo and it makes you a bad, bad man in my book. However, as has been proven many times before, being great at one style doesn’t guarantee you a great career in MMA, which is why it came as such a shock when Nastula, for his first MMA fight ever, decided to call out Brazilian jiu jitsu ace and legendary heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.

To the people who didn’t discover Noguiera until his UFC career it might be difficult to understand just what a name he was at the time. Before Fedor there was Noguiera and the man had destroyed pretty much everyone who crossed paths with him using his amazing jiu jitsu and seemingly invulnerable chin. The man had crisp boxing, great takedowns and one of the most dangerous guards in the sport.

But still, Nastula was a judu legend and if he put the hours into his boxing and cross training he should at least make for an interesting challenge for Noguiera, right?


Turns out being one-dimensional isn’t going to save you when the other guy works to expand his game. That he’s championship material doesn’t help either.
What did we learn? Don’t wake sleeping dragons!


Bas Rutten takes some terrible advice (Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 2)

Back in the day you could roughly divide MMA into two camps: the western form, which had it’s roots in Vale Tudo matches in Brazil and the eastern form, which had it’s roots in Japanese pro-wrestling. Pancrase was an early MMA organization founded by two Japanese shoot wrestlers who wanted gentlemanlike MMA with very esoteric rules. What we got was a series of events with dubious results at times and also some damn good fights! This is where fighters like Bas Rutten, Ken and Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger and Maurice Smith made their bones and it’s on two of those guys we’re going to focus now.

Bas Rutten came into Pancrase as a powerful striker with a very intimidating style. Many fighters were scared to fight him because of his street fighter attitude and his liver shot is arguably the first signature move in MMA. What he lacked though was a comprehensive ground game. He had the ol’ Dutch guillotine of course but since this was before the jiu jitsu revolution that the UFC brought to the world the only MMA grapplers to be found were the Japanese shoot wrestlers. Enter Ken Shamrock, king of Pancrase and considered a master of submissions, especially leg locks.
Rutten had already fought Ken once before and lost by rear naked choke, so at this point he’d taken his grappling very seriously and wanted to make sure that he didn’t get caught again.

The rest, well, I think Bas himself should tell this story.

What did we learn? Make sure your trainers know what they’re talking about!


Left-Hand Traffic sinks Michael Bisping (UFC 100)

I’m actually serious. I can’t think of any other reason for why Bisping kept moving to the left in this fight.

Dan Henderson is an Olympic wrestler with a right hand carved by Hephaestus himself and a chin so hard he could crack diamonds on it. This was a fight that Bisping would need to use all his technical striking and cunning to win and the gameplan I imagine would be quite simple: stay on the outside, stick and move, don’t get taken down and don’t get hit by the right hand. Fair enough, right?

Then Bisping started circling left. For those of you who don’t know this would be bad as he’s then walking right into the power of Henderson who can already knock most people senseless if they’re moving away from him! During the break his corner could be heard yelling at him, telling him to stop circling to the left as this would spell certain doom. Well not in those exact words, obviously.
Bisping has an English driver’s license though and old habits are hard to break.

OUCH! Not only is that one of the nastiest knockouts I’ve seen but it also knocked Bisping out of title contention at the time. He’s working his way back up though and this certainly isn’t the last we’ve seen of Manchester’s favourite son.
What did we learn? Seriously England, get with the program; Right-hand is where it’s at!


Shane Carwin blows his wad (UFC 116: Lesnar vs Carwin)

Shane Carwin was riding a lot of hype coming into this fight and a lot of people, including yours truly, thought that he would win this match-up. For the first four minutes we were right.

Carwin rocked Lesnar early with a big shot and had him on his back, shoving fists in Lesnar’s face in what can only be likened to someone force-feeding an anorexic with leather clad hams. Ok, maybe not only that, just roll with it.
When Lesnar survived however Carwin was visibly drained and by the time the round ended he looked beyond gassed. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw a fighter look that out of it!
In later interviews Carwin claims that it was due to referee Josh Rosenthal’s threatening to stop the fight that lead to an adrenalin dump which caused him to gas out, an excuse I’m willing to buy.
So how is this a mistake worthy of a top spot? Well, when you’re that close to winning a championship fight and you let yourself go to the point where most of your shots don’t even land anymore you’ve definiely messed up big time in my book, especially when you end up submitting in the next round as a result of this!

What did we learn? Keep your head cool even when the stakes are high!


Draw: Paul Daley punches The Human Troll Doll (UFC 113: Machida vs Shogun 2)/Babalu teaches David Heath “respect” (UFC 74: Respect)

I honestly couldn’t choose between these and they both rank high on this list for pretty much the same reason: they both led to the respective fighters getting cut from the UFC during promising runs.

Renato “Babalu” Sobral was a Light Heavyweight contender in the UFC on and off, using his slick jiu jitsu very well yet coming up short against Chuck Liddell every time they met up. Having dropped two fights in the octagon he had to put it all on the line against David Heath or risk getting cut from the organization. Sobral dominated the fight, cutting Heath badly in the second round and securing a very tight anaconda choke. Problem was he ignored Heath’s tapping out and held the choke until Heath went unconcious, despite referee Steve Mazzagatti trying to pull him off the entire time.
When asked why he held on to the choke Sobral replied “He has to learn respect. He deserved that shit.”
This led to him being fined 25000$ as well as being cut from the UFC. Sobral now fights for Strikeforce where he held their Light Heavyweight title until getting knocked absolutely silly by Gegard Mousasi.

Conversly Paul Daley was riding high after devastating wins over Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett. He came into his fight against everyone’s favourite bad guy Josh Koscheck with a coaching spot on The Ultimate Fighter and an eventual title shot against Welterweight champ and arguable pound for pound king Georges St Pierre, and certainly had the tools to beat Koscheck who’s chin had failed him in the past.
The fight was ultimately a let down, with Koscheck laying and praying through the entire fight using his superior wrestling.
During the last seconds of the fight Koscheck decided to taunt the already frustrated Daley to add insult to injury and when the clock ran out all hell broke loose.

Daley was subsequently cut from the UFC and is now under contract with Strikeforce.

What did we learn? Anger leads to the dark side!


Andrei Arlovski’s knee of faith (Affliction 2: Day of Reckoning)
Andrei Arlovski was going through some tough times. Having been cut by the UFC despite being a very strong Heavyweight at one point he got a chance at redemption through the upstart Affliction promotion. What was this chance he was offered? A shot at the greatest Heavyweight of all time.
Arlovski was known for his incredible hand speed, powerful strikes and solid ground game but despite this there was always the invulnerable aura of Fedor, the man who seemingly could not be beat. Freddie Roach, the legendary boxing coach who trained Arlovski, said that Fedor lacked technique and that this would be his downfall against Arlovski. Many scoffed at this.

Then the first round started. Arlovski’s hand speed and technical striking proved too much for Emelianenko who was having trouble connecting with his wild haymakers. For a good three and a half minutes Arlovski was controlling the fight, making Emelianenko look bad in the ring and definitely on his way to winning a round against the legendary heavyweight. Then he decided to throw a flying knee.

Fedor Emelianenko is a man with amazing reflexes and who’s main boon in a fight is his amazing timing. This is what Arlovski underestimated when he was struck by a bolt of pure stupid and decided to jump for that knee. Andrei Arlovski’s flying knee will forever be one of the great facepalm moments in MMA history.
What did we learn? Think before you act, man!


Fedor leaves an arm in (Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum)

Like I mentioned before Fedor Emelianenko will go down in history as the greatest Heavyweight to ever compete in this sport. He battled his way through at least two generations of fighters staying at the top of the rankings the entire time and brutally destroying anyone who came in his way. While some fights were more competitive than others (including some hilarious mis- and squashmatches at times) he was undeniably one of the most intimidating and powerful figures of the sport, a martial artist who was dangerous from any position.

Which is why it was all the more shocking when he lost for the first time in 10 years because of a rookie mistake.

I could go on and on about how Fedor getting submitted by Werdum is shockingly silly but thankfully Ryron and Rener Gracie has an awesome series on Youtube which deals with exactly these scenarios, so I’ll let them explain.

This is a rookie mistake that anyone can make but that it comes from the greatest Heavyweight of all time, fighting a huge underdog and leading to him not only losing but submitting for the first time in ten years makes this the worst mistake in MMA ever.

What did we learn? Work your basics constantly!
So, do you agree, disagree, know some mistakes that we might have missed? Please leave a comment!




  1. Fedor’s loss may not have contained the worst decision in MMA history, but it sure did have the most important bad decision.

    Nice article BTW.

    • Thanks very much dude…Out of curiousity. How did you find the article?

    • A rookie mistake at number one might seem a bit harsh but let’s not forget that this is a rookie mistake comitted against someone everyone knows to be one of the best grapplers in the world, who’s already been close to submitting him just seconds before due to the very same mistake.

      So while it might not have been as ridiculously brainless as Arlovski’s leap of faith it had far greater implications, possibly shattering Fedor’s bargaining power and his legacy in the eyes of what few casual fans may have seen him.

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