If the sport of mixed martial arts has taught us anything over the course of its existence, it’s that looks can be deceiving. Time and time again, physically imposing fighters have been best by smaller, more technically proficient fighters. But that doesn’t mean the intimidation factor doesn’t exist in MMA; it does. Rather than being a purely physical factor, MMA’s most intimidating fighters strike fear into their opponents’ hearts because of their reputation of brutality.

When a fighter consistently inflicts incredible amounts of damage on their opponents, the word spreads fast. While being intimidating doesn’t necessarily have a direct link to success, it sure doesn’t hurt. Intimidation can beat an opponent before the fighters ever step into the cage. These are the most intimidating fighting in MMA today.

#5 – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

Formerly a welterweight, Johnson has now found a home in the light heavyweight division and he is thriving. While he may be coming off of a submission loss against Daniel Cormier for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title, make no mistake, very few fighters want to be in the Octagon with Johnson.

He has his flaws and there are holes in his game, but between his raw athleticism and explosive power Johnson can stop anyone at any time. Just ask Alexander Gustafsson; a top light heavyweight contender who Johnson rag dolled and dominated in front of his home crowd.

#4 – Melvin Manhoef

Between his chiseled physique and his icy stare, Manhoef just looks like a terrifying individual; then he steps into the ring or cage and that intimidation factor goes up 10 fold. A brutally powerful kickboxer with unreal knockout power, Manhoef gives new meaning to the phrase “throws strikes with bad intentions”.

With 27 of his 29 career MMA wins coming by knockout, Manhoef is a destroyer. While he pays the price from time to time with his throw caution to the wind style, his fearless attacks will strike fear into his opponents’ hearts.

#3 – Mark Hunt

Unlike Johnson and Manhoef, Hunt doesn’t have an imposing physical presence; granted he’s a big guy but not scary by any stretch of the imagination. However, when it comes to aura few fighters in the sport are as intimidating as Hunt.

Known for having an iron chin and one punch knockout power, Hunt’s opponents always know that no matter what the circumstance is, if Hunt is on his feet, he can end the fight in the blink of an eye.

#2 – Rousimar Palhares

Physically imposing and downright dangerous in the cage, WSOF welterweight champion Palhares
makes this list because of his history for holding submissions too long. Palhares’ aggressive submission attacks make him dangerous enough, but that fact that his opponents never know if he is going to hold them for far too long, makes him the most intimidating male fighter in MMA today.

The sad thing is that one of these days Palhares is really going to hurt someone and it will end up being a completely avoidable injury. While everyone else on this list is intimidating in their own right, none of them are out to maim other fighters like Palhares.

#1 – Ronda Rousey

A dynamic grappler with a flawless submission game and now a viciously powerful striking game, UFC women’s bantamweight champion is the most intimidating fighter in the sport today; regardless of gender. Even though her opponents will talk a big game heading into the fights, no one has truly challenged her yet.

Rousey doesn’t just win fights, she demoralizes her opponents with her dominance. To put it into perspective, her last three title defenses have lasted a total of 64 seconds. What makes Rousey even more intimidating is her drive and determination to get even better. She is clearly the best female fighter in the sport today and she hasn’t even reached her technical ceiling.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.