UFC is sport, yes, but let's face it: It's also entertainment. When the UFC creates water cooler buzz, it's usually because someone has captivated the country. When a fighter goes mainstream, it's usually because that fighter has entertained the audience, as much as he or she has smashed an opponent.
Some fighters, like Conor McGregor, embrace the attention. They crave it. They want it. They know it equals $$$. Others like Robbie Lawler want to fight, collect a paycheck and go home. They're not big on the schtick or using their mouths to talk people into the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The UFC's greatest personalities stand out, whether they win or lose. They transcend the sport and we want to watch them just to hear what they have to say.
So instead of ranking the sport's best fighters, let's do a ranking of the sport's top entertaining personalities.
11. Miesha Tate
All credit due for winning a UFC title by putting Holly Holm to sleep and taking the UFC bantamweight championship. But what people will also remember is Miesha Tate's career is how she twice tapped to Ronda Rousey and got burned when she tried to shake Rousey's hand after losing their most recent fight.
Tate and Rousey go together like Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. A great rivalry for our times. But because Rousey has been given a reputation of a bully, Tate has emerged as one of the most likable fighters in MMA. Tate has come across classy in defeat, and, believe it or not, like the sensible one of the two.
Tate has appeared on talk shows, in magazines and is a one of the UFC's most heavily promoted stars. Some day she might get one more chance to defeat Rousey inside the Octagon, but for now she'll have to settle for slaying her on the mic.
10. Daniel Cormier
Any grown man who throws a shoe at another man, and it's not on the set of La Cage Aux Folles is certainly a special one. Cormier, has really emerged as a top personality thanks to his feud with Jon Jones.
Jones gets under Cormier's skin as so far brings the worst out of him. Cormier gets a little goofy around Jones, but it makes him stand out and builds fights. The otherwise articulate MMA sensation goes off the rails a bit, throwing shoes, getting in fights at press conferences and arguing with the fans, but nonetheless Cormier is entertaining.
Now if the Olympic wrestler can take Jones down at UFC 200, that would be something.
9. Jon Jones
Jon Jones is on one hand the greatest mixed martial artist in the world, and on the other a total juvenile delinquent. But despite his flaws, he's funny, charismatic and likable. And if his MMA career doesn't work out, he's got a robust career ahead of him, working as a comedy act with Daniel Cormier.
Jones is the straight man and Cormier, is the fall guy. In the video below Jones makes a fool out of Cormier and Cormier doesn't even realize that he's walking right into it. Whether Jones is spitting on or flipping off other fighters, he hasn't even tapped into his potential as a personality and mainstream star.
8. Josh Barnett
"The Warmaster" is one of the UFC's veterans, and unlike some other top fighters doesn't take himself too seriously. Barnett is there to have fun. At this stage of his career the former UFC heavyweight champion is more interested in building his brand than being a champion.
Barnett, who also has a career as a Japanese pro wrestler, let loose in this promo after defeating Roy Nelson. Gotta love a fighter who reminds you of your fat uncle, can speak Japanese, and can kick butt inside the Octagon.
7. Nick Diaz
There was a time when Nick Diaz would have ranked at the top of this list, but time has past him by and others have caught up with him.
Diaz is one of the sport's original trash talker. He is not refined or polished or articulate. He' never going to graduate from a Toastmasters class. But he knows how to communicate and sell a fight, a trait that will keep him in the business a lot longer than some other guys.
Diaz is no-nonsense. Treat him with respect, he will ignore you. Disrespect him and you will be material for his off-the-cuff interviews.
6. Chael Sonnen
The UFC's original trash talker. He's probably the greatest talker in the history of the UFC. Sonnen had a way of making you laugh when you heard him speak. It didn't matter what he said. He didn't even have to berate his opponent. Sonnen's jokes were crisp and on point.
Like Barnett, Sonnen studied the art of the professional wrestling promo and took it to the UFC Octagon. What did that mean for him? He's a sought-after commentator and analyst. No one remembers when Jon Jones smashed him in a round. They just remember Chael, that funny UFC guy. As they should.
5. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar, arguably, is the MMA's biggest draw. That's why he's at UFC 200, even after not fighting for five years.
Lesnar doesn't talk much, but when he does talk, he's memorable. After crushing Frank Mir at UFC 100, Lesnar said he would celebrate by "getting on top of my wife." That's a guy who knows how to make people remember you. Of course, Lesnar is totally mainstream thanks to his career in the WWE. He's on ESPN, on the cover of video games, and pretty much stops people in their tracks wherever he goes.
It doesn't matter if he wins or loses, Lesnar's an attraction and will always be one.
4. Michael Bisping
That British accent is enough. Throw in his working-class attitude and authenticity on the microphone and you have a born superstar.
Michael Bisping, of course, recently gained a gazillon fans and got revenge when he knocked Luke Rockhold out at UFC 199. Bisping's "destiny" came true, while a cocky kid from Santa Cruz, California is still smarting over his upset loss. Bisping is on top of the world and can call the shots for his next payday. Georges St-Pierre may be the favorite inside the Octagon when they fight, but Bisping will always win the verbal war.
3. Ronda Rousey
Not too long ago everyone was thinking Rousey would retired undefeated an go on to conquer Hollywood. But fate had other plans. Rousey got outboxed by Holly Holm and has disappeared. She's either somewhere binge-watching Game of Thrones, or planning a glorious return where she will knock out Holly Holm and tap out Miesha Tate.
But guess what? It doesn't matter because Rousey is a mainstream star and she's never going to be looking for work. Like Conor McGregor, Rousey talks trash to your face and doesn't care who is pissed off about it. That's the kind of authenticity and genuine speak that we want from our sports celebrities.
And Rousey picks on the right people. Listen to her destroy Kim Kardashian below, saying the model and "actress" should be selling "lingerie and lube" not shoes to her little sister. Where are you, Ronda? We miss you.
2. Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz is like the guy you accidentally bump into in line at the Oakland Raiders game and pray to God that he doesn't decide right there and then to end you.
Nate is fearless AND skilled. He's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, a high-level boxer, and holds a doctorate in verbal skills, destroying anyone that steps in his way. He went toe-to-toe with Conor McGregor leading up to their first fight, and made it all happen by calling him out on live TV.
Diaz, like his brother, only speaks the truth, but he's a little more articulate and strays from the point a lot less. He talks trash and then backs it up, too. These days, everyone wants to be his friend.
1. Conor McGregor
This should come as a surprise to no MMA fan.
McGregor is so good that he has some nitwits convinced that he could actually last a round in a BOXING match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor talks a great game, and most resembles WWE's The Rock in his ability to dress down an opponent and make everyone listening crack up. McGregor builds fights like no one else and that is good fore everyone in the MMA business.
McGregor met his match inside the cage recently when he fought Nate Diaz, but McGregor clearly won the verbal war, essentially accusing Nate of not being very smart, a faux gangster and "skinny fat." Yes, he's a bully. But he's a damn good bully. And a bully who draws money.