The great George Eliot once wrote, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Becoming a fighter is undoubtedly one of the most arduous paths to take in life. There is the burden of providing for one’s family while working a job that requires taking repeated strikes to the head. Behind the bruises of the warriors who risk their lives to fight, are some of the kindest souls to ever grace the planet.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is unanimously regarded as the kindest fighter in the game. In 2019, Ariel Helwani presented Thompson with a belt titled the “Nicest Motherf**ker,” (NMF). From apologizing mid-fight for quality strikes and having gentlemen’s agreements to avoid takedowns, he is a bundle of joy to be around. Even amongst the most intense stare downs, he is smiling and going out of his way to hug his opponents.
Read about 5 fighters who could also be considered some of the Nicest Motherf**kers:
#1. Grant Dawson
Grant Dawson earned his opportunity to call for a massive fight, after smothering the dangerous Damir Ismagulov earlier this year. Instead, he began his post-fight interview by showering his team with gratitude. “I’m not a good fighter, I’m a good soldier,” he proclaimed. “This performance was 10 percent me. It was 90 percent [my team].”
“KGD” then shifted gears by saying to his wife: “You are the love of my life, I love you, b*tch.”
Dawson is one of the most humble fighters in the octagon, but when he grabs a hold of anyone’s back, the fight is likely to be over. If he can withstand Bobby Green’s trash talk at their UFC Vegas 80 main event, he will establish himself as the new generation’s NMF and a genuine title contender.
#2. Brandon Moreno
After winning the interim flyweight title at UFC 277, Brandon Moreno apologized to then-champion Deiveson Figueiredo during their in-cage face-off. “I don’t hate you. I don’t feel nothing against you,” he expressed. “I forgive you, and please forgive me if I did something bad against you brother.”
Moreno had nothing to apologize for, as Figueiredo and his whole team had been hurling insults for the last two years. Instead of generating another intense promo, “The Assassin Baby” proved he is a respectable champion by staying true to himself. Why? Because he wanted to set a proper example for his daughter watching on television.
#3. Sadibou Sy
Sadibou Sy has been a hot topic in this year’s PFL season, because of his two highlight-reel knockout victories. Next month, he will be going for his second straight world championship.
Behind the gloves, he is a soft-spoken man who focuses on being, “the best at getting better.” Despite training with some of the most dangerous fighters in the world, including Khamzat Chimaev, he is always smiling and greeting media personnel.
After a hard-fought semifinal victory in August, he jumped straight back into training camp to aid Sean Strickland in sparring. That decision paid off, as Strickland upset Israel Adesanya to win the UFC middleweight title at UFC 293. Can the PFL’s NMF two-peat when he takes on Magomed Magomedkerimov in November?
#4. Roxanne Modafferi
The nickname “The Happy Warrior,” speaks for itself when it comes to Roxanne Modafferi. Her spirit will never die in mixed martial arts, because of the heart she has shown in and outside the octagon. In her column titled Dear Roxy for Bloody Elbow, she dives into advice she would give to her younger self, stances on controversial topics, and philosophies that she would teach fellow fighters.
Not only is she full of wisdom, but she is also the author of How to be Positive: Mental Training by the Happy Warrior and Memoirs of a Happy Warrior. Since retiring from fighting, the multi-talented wonder has embarked on teaching English and MMA.
#5. Demetrious Johnson
There are very few people in this world who are unapologetically themselves. Known for his enormous smile and vibrant laugh, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson owns a spot in this category. Fans know him for his playful nature, as he was recently spotted doing impersonations of MMA fighters. This includes the few people who have defeated him in his historic career. He owned his knockout loss to former ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes with class and even built a strong friendship with former foe Henry Cejudo. He deserves to be mentioned as a NMF, and in the greatest of all time debates.
Honorable Mentions: Robert Whittaker, Zhang Weili, Arnold Allen, Chan Sung Jung, Max Holloway, Rob Font, Beneil Dariush, and many more…
Who else belongs on the list of NMFs? Let us know in the comments below.