Why Are Fighters Having Bizarre Meltdowns?

A string of high-profile UFC and MMA arrests and incidents have played out in Orange County recently, making international headlines. Will the sport's reputation take some hits as a result?

Orange County holds a special place in the world of mixed martial arts.

It's home to several UFC stars and MMA clothing lines such as TapouT and Affliction in Seal Beach. But it's also where several famed combatants, such as former UFC Fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller, have made headlines for behaving badly.

Police say "Mayhem" Miller lived up to his name when he was on suspicion of breaking into and ransacking a church, setting off a fire extinguisher and falling asleep nude inside the church. Miller has trained at .

And he's not the only ultimate fighter to have run-ins with the law lately. Famed fighter and Huntington Beach resident Tito Ortiz was arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend, adult film star Jenna Jameson. Additionally, there have been drug-related arrests, DUI busts and even a high-speed chase and deadly crash in Newport Beach. 

Although mixed martial arts fighters are famed for their no-holds-barred fearlessness inside the octagon, is the "no rules" style of MMA provoking fighters to behave badly? Do you think there is something about MMA fighting that drives people to act out? 

MMA Meltdowns and Arrests

  • In 2008, Ultimate Fighting Championship combatant Quinton "Rampage" Jackson led police on a wild chase in a Ferrari through Newport Beach, hitting several cars along the way. According to The Orange County Register, he blamed the incident on symptoms of depression, telling the judge in his case, “I could have really hurt someone or hurt myself. I will never let something get me so down I would hurt myself or others."
  • Former UFC Fighter Paul Kelly was arrested this year and charged with dealing drugs, according to MMA Mania.
  • UFC light heavyweight champ Jon “Bones” Jones allegedly drove his Bentley into a pole before being arrested for a DUI, according to Big Lead Sports.
  • UFC fighter Ross Pearson was arrested on suspicion of DUI in May in Vegas, according to TMZ.
  • UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem was charged with battery after he allegedly shoved a woman in a Las Vegas casino this year, according to TWP News.
  • Former UFC fighter Frank Trigg was arrested in Las Vegas in 2011 on suspicion of domestic violence after his wife accused him of beating and strangling her, according to MMA Weekly.
  • MMA fighter Raphael Davis, “The Noodle,” was charged with fraud and accused of moonlighting as a fighter when he was on worker’s compensation as a firefighter in Los Angeles, according to Fox Sports.
Kyle Anderson August 15, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Well said, Mr. Wynkoop. There are people "...behaving badly" from all professions and avocations in Orange County. Whether slanted to express an opinion or to generate buzz for advertisers, this piece does little more than seek validation from those who hold a negative opinion of this sport. I have trained in multiple martial arts in Costa Mesa for over ten years and to read a "hasty generalization" like this (as you accurately termed it) saddens me to think that there may be some who will blame the sport instead of the individuals. My children, along with many others, are benefiting from the confidence they gain through their achievements and the anti-bullying campaign championed by this industry. Crazy behavior is crazy behavior, regardless of affiliation or background, and to correct the author, there are most definitely rules inside the ring AND octagon.
george gregory August 15, 2012 at 04:24 PM
so well shingle our public buildings with their names on ceramic tiles this is what our council has approved for our sports park in san clemente good grief
sickgirl August 18, 2012 at 04:17 AM
I have been around the industry for ten years plus at the professional level. I have had my own experiences with Jason miller. I can honestly say that there are many many fighters that have issues with alcohol. And anger. While many are clean as a whistle I would say just as many party way way too hard. And for those that disagree I say quit being in denial. I have had to "babysit" 2 ufc fighters during there training at the request of promoters. Newcomers seem especially wild at first. There are a few I actually believe have taken too many hits to the head as well-with obvious personality changes after a few years of the stuff.
Peter Schelden August 18, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Here's another one this week: http://patch.com/A-xcTL
Nic November 27, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I buy the notion that there's a correlation between being a professional mixed martial artist and having some personal issues. But it's a correlation, not causation. I think a lot of the sort of folks who are at risk for wild and impulsive behavior are the kind of people who are attracted to the sport to begin with. Basically, these people would be going off whether they were involved in MMA or not. The vast majority of professional fighters around the globe, just like the vast majority of people in general around the globe, DON'T have breakdowns like this. However: I think MMA is a great sport, and one that has really brought a lot of cultures together in mutual appreciation for each other worldwide. But there is a certain element to how MMA is marketed especially in the US that seems to emphasize the juvenile, angry, bro-y, Creed-blaring aesthetics of the sport which aren't so much a factor elsewhere in the world. It is a full-contact combat sport, but it's also one that works best when all involved parties (fighters, coaches, refs, judges, promoters, audiences) treat the thing with the respect--and caution--it deserves.


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