The MMA Name Game
Need a little help pronouncing some of those tongue-twisting names on the next fight card? We’ve got ya covered.
Take one look at the roster of any MMA organization, and it is easy to see that MMA is a global sport, featuring fighters from all over the world. Whereas the language of fighting can be easily understood by all fans, sometimes it can take just a bit more effort to pronounce the names of the fighters who are doing the figurative talking.
Below you’ll find a quick guide to help you correctly pronounce some of the more confusing names that you’re bound to see in mainstream mixed martial arts. I can’t swear by them, but it’s a good start.
• Gracie family—Royce, Rickson, Royler, Rorion, etc: (Hoyce, Hickson, Hoyler, Horion). Names beginning in “R” take on an “H” sound in Portuguese. Nothing makes you look like more of a noob than talking about the good old days when “Rrrrrroyce Gracie” was king.
• Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: (No-gyear-ah). As if their last names weren’t hard enough to pronounce in the first place, mom and pop Nogueira made things extra difficult by giving their twin sons nearly identical first and middle names. Just remember that Antonio Rodrigo is a UFC heavyweight, while Antonio Rogerio is a UFC light heavyweight.
• Fedor Emelianenko: (Fyia-door Em-ee-lee-uhnen- ko). Whereas Fedor’s last name is easy to sound out, the English pronunciation of his first name is heavily debated, as it is essentially the Russian equivalent to the name “Theodore.” The good news is that with his aura and record, nearly any MMA fan will understand who you are talking about whether you say, “Fay-door,” “Fee-door,” “Fuh-door,” or anything of the like.
• Raphael Assuncao: (Hoff-eye-el Ass-oon-sow)
• Mark Bocek: (Mark Bo-check)
• Donald Cerrone: (Donald Sir-own-ee)
• Mike Ciesnolevicz: (Mike Siz-no-lev-its)
• Urijah Faber: (Yur-eye-uh Fay-burr)
• Wilson Gouveia: (Wil-sun Go-vay-uh)
• Joachim Hansen: (Yo-ah-keehm Hansen)
• Chris Horodecki: (Chris Hor-o-des-ski)
• Enson Inoue: (En-sun In-oh-way)
• Joe and Dan Lauzon: (Low-zawn) According to the older of the brothers, Joe, the first syllable is a hard “o,” while the second syllable is pronounced “aww”, as in the word “lawn.”
• Demian Maia: (Day-me-an My-uh)
• Vladimir Matyushenko: (Vlah-dee-mir Mat-you-shen-ko)
• Gegard Mousasi: (Ghey-guard Moo-sah-see)
• Bart Palaszewski: (Bart Pal-a-shess-kee)
• Wanderlei Silva: (Van-der-lay Silva)
• Chael Sonnen: (Chale So-nen)
• Krzysztof Soszynski: (Krist-off Soz-in-ski)
• George Sotiropoulos: (George Saht-ear-op-oh-lus)
• Gleison Tibau: (Glay-sun Tee-bow)
• Cain Velasquez: (Kah-een Vel-ass-kez). Although the name looks straightforward enough, Cain decided to Americanize his first name to be read as “Kane” after hearing its pronunciation slaughtered during his UFC debut.
• Igor Vovchanchyn: (Ee-gore Vov-chanch-in)
• Fabricio Werdum: (Fa-bree-see-oh Ver-doom)
• Travis Wiuff: (Travis View)
• Gilbert Yvel: (Gilbert Eye-vell)