The Least Intimidating Fighters In MMA

The inspiration for this article came during a pre-UFC 74 cocktail reception that was hosted by FIGHT! in Las Vegas. I’ve been a fan of Marc Laimon since his instructional segments that used to air during UFC pay-per-view telecasts, and I did a double take when I saw him enter the room. Laimon’s reputation is certainly a deterrent to tangling with the guy, but his appearance? Not so much.

Strangely, I found him less imposing in person than on television. Even more strange was that I caught myself thinking, “Wow, I think I could actually take this guy.” Then a voice of reason chimed in and said, “Dude, he’d get you on the ground and break your leg worse than Lawrence Taylor did to Joe Theismann during Monday Night Football.”

Right then and there, it dawned on me that the people who truly put the fear of God in me are the ones I would hesitate to mess with based on appearance. It doesn’t take a fi ght fan to know better than to mess with Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, or Andrei Arlovski. If you bumped into them in public, common sense would tell you not to pick a fi ght.

It’s the guy who doesn’t look like he can fi ght, but secretly possesses technical skills, who’s the biggest threat in today’s society. When you think about it, a guy who looks tough isn’t that much of a threat to you. If you were at a concert and some guy you didn’t know that looked like Kimbo Slice bumped into you, forcing you to spill your $12 beer, how far would you go in retaliation? Would you allow the situation to escalate beyond a few unkind words? If you’re not a pro fi ghter and you answered yes to that question, I hope you have good health insurance. But the average human being would not press the issue no matter how disgruntled they were.

Let’s use the same scenario again, but with a Royce Gracie look-alike as the instigator. Just pretend for a second you had no idea who won three of the fi rst UFC tournaments. Now pretend he not only refused to buy you a new beer but also decided to pat your girlfriend on the ass.

Would you run to the nearest bouncer and fi le an incident report, or would you throw a punch? If your answer is the latter, I’m right there with you. But I’d also be right there with you in the emergency room as they tried to reattach your arm to your torso.

With some free time on my hands, I decided to furnish a list of some of the least physically intimidating fi ghters in MMA that could kick our asses.

JOE LAUZON

UFC president Dana White dubbed him the “computer nerd that can kick your ass.” That’s as apt of a description of Lauzon as you can get. Lauzon’s fi ght against Jens Pulver at UFC 54 was the fi rst time I saw him. I won’t lie, one look at Lauzon and I was convinced Pulver was going to destroy him. Lauzon looked like a deer in headlights.

If only we knew then what we know now, we probably could have fetched a ton by taking advantage of the fat underdog odds on Lauzon that were available at the time. Based on his appearance during the fi fth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Lauzon came across as a young guy who is reserved and keeps to himself. Of the footage shown, you’d never have guessed someone as quiet as he is would be as aggressive and tenacious as he is during a fi ght.

KENNY FLORIAN

I recently read a blog that referred to Kenny Florian as a serious looking version of Ben Stiller. That’s pretty dead on. When you see Florian up close, you can tell by the scars on his face and his slight case of caulifl ower ear that he’s been in his fair share of wars.

However, from afar, Florian does not look like a stereotypical fi ghter. He’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, so chances are he wouldn’t start trouble with you. But if he did, and you made the mistake of judging a book by its cover, there are a number of ways in which he could make you immediately regret your decision to confront him.

URIJAH FABER

Faber looks like an athlete, but has the appearance of someone you’re more likely to see compete at the X-Games than inside a cage. Faber looks small on television, but he looks even smaller in person.

I was afforded the opportunity to interview Faber and watch him train one November afternoon during a press stop in Philadelphia. The guy is so laid back and non-threatening in person that it’s easy to forget he’s one of the greatest pound-forpound fi ghters alive. But you see him train, and it’s as if someone has fl ipped a switch.

Faber’s relaxed expressions are replaced by an intense look of determination that makes you take notice. He begins to shadow box with a sense of urgency not shown by the average fi ghter. But nothing about Faber is average. Known for his wrestling, I watched Faber as he continued to throw combinations with such velocity that it almost appeared he was fi ghting a ghost.

Faber is too nice a guy to start trouble, but I pity any unsuspecting patron at a bar or a club that would ever have the audacity to get froggy with him, because “The California Kid” would likely put him on his back and proceed to clown said patron.

MARK HOMINICK

His nickname is “The Machine,” and even though he might look like the IT guy at your offi ce who fi xes your computer, that’s not how the nickname was derived.

The guy fi ghts with machine-like precision, and is probably best known for his upset submission victory over Yves Edwards at UFC 58. At the time, Edwards was considered one of the best fi ghters in the world at 155 pounds. Having never before seen Hominick, it was shocking to see Edwards mowed down by a guy who looked like a cancer survivor?

In spite of his gaunt appearance, the London, Ontario native has utilized his razor sharp kickboxing skills and decent submissions en route to a successful fi ve-year MMA career that includes fi ghts in the UFC and the WEC along with a stint as the TKO featherweight champion.

CARLOS CONDIT

Prior to his arrival in the WEC, my only exposure to Condit was through grainy YouTube footage where his facial mannerisms could not be viewed with clarity. I thought perhaps his nickname of “Serial Killer” was bestowed upon him because he shared the same last name as former California congressman Gary Condit (Google search: Chandra Levy).

Condit is one of the most underrated fi ghters in the sport. When you look at him, “killer” is one word that does not come to mind. But as he enters the cage, he looks like a man possessed, and is overtaken by a crazed look in his eye that eliminates any questions about how he got his nickname. However, sans that maniacal scowl, Condit looks like a typical college student who’d only throw a punch if he was at a kegger surrounded by frat buddies.

Obviously, we know that’s not the case, as the WEC welterweight champ has shown no fear going toe-to-toe over the years with the likes of Jake Shields, Carlo Prater, Charuto Verrisimo, Brock Larson, John Alessio, and Frank Trigg.

CLAY GUIDA

Seriously, is there anything more nonthreatening than a guy who looks like Jesus? Let’s say you didn’t have any fear of eternal damnation for taking a swing at a man who looks like a religious icon. You’d be in store for a world of hurt.

Even an atheist would be best served avoiding any sort of confl ict with Guida, who is a strong technical wrestler with one of the biggest motors in the sport. His high-energy approach has allowed him to record victories over Bart Palaszewski, Josh Thomson, and Marcus Aurelio over the span of a four-year pro MMA career that began in July of 2003. We’d also be remiss if we left out the fact that Guida more than held his own against Gilbert Melendez during a Strikeforce show in June of 2006.

CHRIS HORODECKI

The story is that Horodecki’s trainers lied about the 20-yearold’s age when he fi rst started competing professionally at 17. And while he looks young on TV, he looks even younger in person.

After running into him in the restroom at the Continental Airlines Arena during the IFL’s team semifi nals in August, I started to wonder whether people were still lying about his age, because he didn’t look a day older than 16.

I’m just thankful I know who he is and what he’s capable of. How do you explain to your friends that you got tooled by a guy who looks like he’s barely old enough to hold a driver’s license? I can only imagine how the conversation would go. “No, he only looks like he’s 16. He’s really much older than that. He’s actually 20!”

The good thing is that you won’t have to worry about getting into a bar fi ght with Horodecki for the time being, since he’s not legally allowed to drink in the US.

FEDOR EMILIANENKO

Some people are going to have a hard time with this one because if you’ve seen Fedor fi ght once, it’s hard to think of him as anything other than a badass. But pretend you’re at a bar with a buddy who is so ignorant about MMA that he actually thinks groin strikes are still legal.

Now, what if by some chance Fedor came strolling into the bar and you point to him and say to your friend “Look, that’s the most dangerous man in the planet!” Chances are that your statement might be met with a look of skepticism. Fedor by no means looks like a chump, but his demeanor is not one that suggests that he’s one of the most punishing fi ghters in the history of the sport.

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