The 10 Most Rock & Roll Mixed Martial Artists
Fri, 10 Sep 2010 16:47:45
There are a handful of different ways to interpret a term like “Most Rock & Roll MMA Fighter“. One can judge literal musical ventures away from the cage, while one could just as easily factor in personal appearance, as well as public persona and in-cage performances. In creating this list I’m going to try and focus on all of the aforementioned attributes, and cover a pretty damn wide spectrum in an extremely narrow focal environment; still, I remain confident and, believe in the validity of this list to the fullest.
#10. Robin Black: Being a part of an actual rock band, and dipping your face in barrels of make-up certainly lends to your rock & roll credibility. Robin Black fits that bill, as unorthodox as it may sound. The Canadian representative has rocked the sound stage since the 90’s, while turning professional mixed martial artist in 2008. To date Black has pieced together three victories against four defeats and remains active in both the fight and the music scenes. Due to limited experience and exposure to fight fans, Black maintains a fairly low profile as of late, though you may well catch him commentating as well as participating in the country‘s fastest growing sport.
#09. Anderson Silva: Odd pick right? Not when you take a gander at the public persona and brash habits of the current UFC middleweight champion. A (for the most part) blemish free face, confident strut, pension for pink and diamond earrings big enough to sink a ship are all testament to the (perceived) mind-state of Silva; it seems the man’s been carrying around the belief he’s invincible for quite some time now. Regardless of what Silva does or doesn’t genuinely believe, the media and fans have turned Silva into a modern day hero known to slip into public while donning his Villain cap. With a career record of 27 wins and only four defeats, Silva’s recognition isn’t wavering any time soon. Neither for that matter is the rock & rollesque mystique the man drags with him everywhere he ventures stateside.
#08. Dan Hardy: This rugged Englishman absolutely screams rock & roll. A bad boy image, trademark mohawk and tendency to engage in all out striking warfare are all recognizable R&R qualities. Hell, this man’s nick name is even “The Outlaw”; that’s so rock & roll it’s cliché. What isn’t so cliché is Hardy’s abrasive prefight nature, and tenacity inside the cage (where he’s amassed an impressive professional record of 23-7-0-1). Hardy represents a new breed (Nick Diaz may have officially founded it) of hard nosed fighters that back up every ounce of trash they talk.
#07. Clay Guida: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida embodies the physical appearance of a true rock & roller. Eagles, skulls, Indians and more undulate over fast twitch fibers, a colorful mural of expression, endlessly displayed via the flesh. Long curly hair hangs beyond the shoulders of Guida, who enters (and exits) the cage with enough pep in his step to leave a methamphetamine addict (I’m not suggesting meth and rock & roll go hand in hand, he’s just that active) in awe. Between the look, the constant aggression, profound mental fortitude (Guida has faced some of the lightweight divisions best, prevailing on more than one occasion and racking up 27 victories against 11 defeats) and the seemingly endless cardiovascular abilities of Clay Guida, he fills the rock & roll mold without leaving so much as an inch of breathing room. Be it cage or stage, Guida’s a guy who is going to make the show interesting, every time.
#06. Heath Herring: Though out of action for the last two years, Heath “The Texas Crazy Horse” Herring isn’t about to be forgotten by fans, and he sure isn’t going to be excluded from this list for that matter. While his nickname and (obvious) birthplace may lead you to believe Heath Herring to be more country than rock & roll, you’d be dead wrong. The minute this man enters a room, you can feel it in the atmosphere. Whether the jacket be an overcoat, leather or a fine Armani, the celebrity aura of Herring is undeniable, and akin to rock & roll in a number of ways. Herrings willingness to put everything on the line inside the cage (Herring has piled up 28 wins, 14 losses and a single No Contest since his MMA debut in 1997) is reminiscent of a rocker in his prime striving for perfection. Toss in a growing résumé in the cinematic department and an endless array of outlandish hairdo’s that change more frequently than a 15 year old girls outfit and you’re left in the presence of undeniable rock & roll.
#05. Tito Ortiz: Ortiz, who’s professional record stands at 15-7-1, hasn’t put forth a winning performance in four years. It’s an undeniably bitter pill to swallow if you happen to be a fan, but it hasn’t begun to change the fact that this sport is where it is today in part due to Tito Ortiz. His early career dominance, brash behavior and often offensive in-cage antics helped garner attention from many a media outlet, and thrust the UFC closer to mainstream recognition (circa 2001). The trademark bleach blonde hair, a somewhat tumultuous relationship with former pornographic actress Jenna Jameson and multiple reality stints (he popped up in a season of Celebrity Apprentice as well as The Ultimate Fighter, twice) have kept “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in the spotlight despite career troubles.
#04. Urijah Faber: Faber’s gaudy 23-4 professional record has earned him a legion of fans. His public persona however has earned him a truly significant cult (if you will) following. A shaggy surfer ’do, pronounced cleft chin, and unwavering love of his home state California have propelled Faber from mere mixed martial artist to genuine sports celebrity. With a hand in too many angles of the media world to count, “The California Kid’s” popularity continues to grow despite falling from the top of the 145 pound division. Faber’s still growing legacy will again be tested this November when he steps inside the cage to compete at 135 pounds for the first time against perennial contender Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 52.
#03. Chris Leben: Once known as a single dimensioned brawler, Chris “The Crippler” Leben has refined his fighting technique while gradually building quite the rock & roll image for himself. This tattoo clad, hair dyed wild man has snatched the attention of fans worldwide, exemplifying the core idea and imagery of rock & roll. Ironically enough, Leben has proven to be a true contender in the 185 pound division when not (Leben has been known to get a little out of control away from competition) partaking in some of the bad habits often associated with the rock & roll lifestyle. A solid 24-6 record are proof that when Leben keeps the image out of camp he’s a dangerous opponent for anyone under 200 pounds.
#02. Charles “Mask” Lewis: The late Charles Lewis isn’t known for his accomplishments inside the cage, rather the incredible feats he managed outside of it. Best known as “Mask”, the face painted founder of the immensely popular Tapout clothing brand did more than launch a successful clothing line, he poured his heart, his time and his full dedication into the sport. For a decade plus Lewis traveled the globe selling merchandise, supporting various promotions and sponsoring countless fighters. Aside from T-shirts and an unbridled love of the sport, Lewis carried with him a mystique and believable rock & roll image that few will ever manage to match. Sadly, Lewis was killed last year in a high speed car accident when his vehicle was forced off the road by a drunk driver.
#01. Chuck Liddell: Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell’s days as the toughest 205 pounder in the world are now a distant memory. Recently the punishment Liddell’s body has absorbed over the span of 12 years has been overtly evident; “The Iceman” has managed just one victory (against five defeats) since 2007. Prior to that Liddell was one of the most feared strikers in the business, and a constant considerate for best pound-for-pound competitor in the business. Destructive victories over former champions Randy Couture, Kevin Randleman, Alistair Overeem (the current Strikeforce heavyweight champion) and Tito Ortiz won fight fans over and produced very impressive Pay-Per-View sales. A trademark mohawk, cranial tattoo and abnormally smooth (yet always confident) demeanor won the rest of the world over. Now recognized as the most popular fighter in the sports history, there are virtually zero fighters (save for perhaps WWE convert Brock Lesnar) who rival the notoriety and celebrity status of Liddell. Rock & roll to the bone is Liddell, for all the reasons already listed. An unbreakable heart (that’s lead to a professional record of 21-8) only adds to the Californians nearly invincible aura.
I’ll openly admit to the challenge this article proposed. MMA is the fastest growing sport in America, there are countless competitors who bring forth that rock & roll vibe. Isolating the 10 key players was really quite difficult, though while tough, it’s exactly what I was assigned, and exactly what I‘ve done. If you think you’ve got a better list, we’d love to check it out - follow artistdirect.com on facebook, or hit me up personally there if you’d like, I’m a true MMA fanatic, and I’m more than interested in hearing your thoughts.