15 Weird UFC Fighter Habits/Tics (And Why They Do It)

In the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts, fighters showcase their unique styles and techniques. But amidst the fierce action, there are some UFC fighters who display peculiar habits and tics that set them apart.

From pulling up shorts to cracking knees, these idiosyncrasies have captivated fans and sparked curiosity. Delve into this article to uncover the intriguing stories behind these strange rituals and explore the motivations that drive these fighters to develop such unique habits.

Get ready to witness the mastery of the 15 weird UFC fighter habits and tics, and discover why they do it.

Key Takeaways

  • Many UFC fighters have unique habits or tics during fights, which can serve various purposes such as nervous tics, feints, or ways to entertain the crowd.
  • Some fighters, like Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua and Tony Ferguson, use their habits as feints or to provoke reactions from their opponents.
  • Certain habits, such as Dustin Poirier's habit of pulling up his shorts or T.J. Dillashaw running his hands through his hair, may be a result of muscle memory or extensive training.
  • Some fighters, like Derrick Lewis and Jiri Prochazka, have habits that are observed in fights of short duration and are often used as ways to entertain the crowd or stay focused and loose.

Pulling Up Shorts

While some UFC fighters have unique habits and tics, one common behavior observed among fighters such as Dustin Poirier, Josh Koscheck, and Kyle Bochniak is the habit of pulling up their shorts during fights. The psychology behind this action can be quite fascinating.

Some fighters, like Poirier, have described it as a nervous tic, a way to release tension and regain focus in the heat of the moment. Others believe that it serves as a reset or feint to deceive their opponents and create openings.

From a strategic standpoint, pulling up shorts can also provide a tactical advantage. By adjusting their shorts, fighters can ensure a better fit and prevent any hindrance in movement, allowing them to maintain their agility and deliver precise strikes.

Spreading Arms Out

What purpose does spreading their arms out serve for fighters like Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua? The significance of spreading arms out in MMA fights goes beyond mere showmanship. Here are three key reasons why fighters employ this tactic:

  • Psychological intimidation: Spreading their arms out in a circular motion after getting hit in exchanges is a way for fighters like Shogun to show their opponents that the strikes didn't hurt. This can have a psychological effect on their opponents, making them doubt the effectiveness of their own strikes and potentially lowering their confidence.
  • Feinting and misdirection: Shogun learned this gesture from his Muay Thai training and uses it as a feint. By spreading his arms out, he can deceive his opponents, making them think he's vulnerable or open for a counterattack. This creates opportunities for Shogun to strike back or create openings in his opponent's defense.
  • Displaying resilience and toughness: Spreading their arms out can also be a way for fighters to showcase their durability and resilience. It sends a message to their opponents and the audience that they can withstand heavy blows and continue fighting with determination.

Throwing Sand

Throwing sand during fights is a peculiar habit observed in some UFC fighters, adding an element of confusion and unpredictability to their unorthodox fighting styles. This unique tactic has a profound psychological impact on their opponents, creating a sense of disorientation and disrupting their focus.

By throwing sand, fighters aim to distract and deceive their adversaries, using feints and distractions to their advantage. The sudden cloud of sand not only obstructs their opponents' vision but also instills doubt and hesitation, allowing the fighter to capitalize on their opponent's momentary vulnerability.

This unorthodox technique showcases the strategic mindset and creativity of these fighters, as they explore unconventional methods to gain an edge in combat sports. By employing such tactics, they demonstrate the importance of mental warfare and the use of psychological strategies in the pursuit of victory.

Taking Off Shorts

During fights, some UFC fighters have the peculiar habit of taking off their shorts. While this may seem bizarre to the average viewer, there are reasons behind this behavior that go beyond simple exhibitionism.

Comfort: One possible reason fighters take off their shorts is to increase their comfort level during the fight. The intense physical demands of mixed martial arts can cause excessive sweating, and removing the shorts can help fighters stay cool and prevent chafing.

Mental Reset: Another psychological aspect of shorts removal is the idea of a mental reset. By taking off their shorts, fighters may be attempting to shake off any negative energy or distractions, allowing them to refocus on the task at hand.

Crowd Engagement: Lastly, some fighters may use the act of taking off their shorts as a way to entertain the crowd. It can be seen as a bold and unexpected move that adds an element of showmanship to the fight, creating a memorable moment for both the fans and the fighters themselves.

See also  What Is a Superman Punch In MMA/Boxing? (Simply Explained)

Understanding the psychology behind shorts removal helps shed light on why fighters engage in this unusual behavior. It's a combination of seeking comfort, finding mental clarity, and adding a touch of spectacle to their performance.

Kicking Own Leg

Robert Whittaker, a UFC fighter known for his unique habits and tics, frequently kicks his own left leg during fights. While this may seem odd to some, there's actually a psychology behind this unconventional habit.

Whittaker uses the sweat on his leg to get better traction on his right foot, allowing him to maintain balance and stability during exchanges. By kicking his own leg, he's essentially priming his body for optimal performance.

Additionally, this habit may serve as a form of self-motivation and focus during the fight. Whittaker's unorthodox approach to fighting showcases the effectiveness of unconventional habits in the UFC. It goes to show that even the smallest actions can have a big impact in the world of mixed martial arts.

Running Hands Through Hair

One UFC fighter has a peculiar habit of running his hands through his hair mid-fight. This seemingly innocuous gesture actually holds deeper significance in combat sports. Here are three insights into the psychological and physiological effects of hair-related habits in MMA:

  • Hair grooming can be a form of self-expression and confidence-building for fighters. It allows them to feel more in control and assertive in the ring.
  • Running hands through the hair can serve as a calming mechanism, helping fighters manage stress and anxiety during intense moments of combat.
  • The muscle memory associated with hair-related habits can also be linked to specific techniques or strategies. For example, in the case of T.J. Dillashaw, putting his hand to his forehead to feint a takedown while running his hands through his hair becomes a nuanced feinting game.

Understanding the significance of hair grooming and the impact it can have on a fighter's mindset and performance adds another layer of insight into the complex world of MMA.

Beating Chest and Holding Wrist

Jiri Prochazka beats on his left pectoral and performs strange hand movements to stay focused and loose in the octagon. This unusual habit is part of his unorthodox feinting game, designed to confuse opponents and keep them off balance. But why do fighters like Prochazka beat their chest and hold their wrist? These habits serve multiple purposes in their fighting style and strategy.

By beating their chest, fighters can stimulate blood flow and increase adrenaline, helping them stay alert and ready for action. It also serves as a psychological tactic, intimidating opponents and asserting dominance. Holding the wrist at waist height allows fighters to maintain a relaxed and loose state, ensuring fluid movement and flexibility in the heat of battle. Additionally, it can serve as a distraction technique, drawing the opponent's attention away from the fighter's true intentions. Overall, these habits contribute to the fighter's mental and physical preparation, enhancing their performance inside the cage.

Habit Purpose Effect
Beating Chest * Stimulate blood flow * Increase alertness
* Psychological intimidation * Assert dominance
Holding Wrist * Maintain relaxed state * Ensure fluid movement
* Distraction technique * Misdirect opponent's attention

Twisting Nipples

GSP, Rashad Evans, and Keith Jardine have a peculiar habit of twisting their nipples during fight introductions. This habit, although bizarre to some, holds origins and effects that go beyond mere randomness.

Here are three key points to help you understand the psychology behind twisting nipples:

  • Origins: Twisting nipples is associated with fighters from Jackson Wink MMA. It's believed to have started as a way to relax and take the mind off the upcoming fight. Rashad Evans, for example, has explained that it helps him ease his nerves and stay focused.
  • Effects: Twisting the nipples can reduce puffiness caused by steroid use. This action may help fighters feel more comfortable and confident in their physical appearance, thus boosting their mental state.
  • Psychological Significance: Twisting nipples can be seen as a self-soothing mechanism. Similar to other fighter habits, it serves as a way to release tension and alleviate anxiety. By engaging in this physical act, fighters may find a sense of control and calmness before stepping into the octagon.

Understanding the origins and effects of twisting nipples can provide insight into the unique rituals and tics that fighters employ to prepare themselves mentally and physically for their bouts.

Cracking Knees

Cracking their knees is another peculiar habit observed in some UFC fighters, which serves various purposes during their fights. One fighter known for this habit is Jorge Masvidal, who often cracks his knees during fight introductions and sometimes even during fights. This unique behavior has gained attention from fans and the media, sparking curiosity about its benefits and potential risks.

To emphasize the importance of knee health in the sport, here is a table showcasing some techniques that fighters can employ to strengthen their knee joints:

See also  What Is UFC International Fight Week and UFC X? (Explained)
Techniques to Strengthen Knee Joints
1. Squats
2. Lunges
3. Step-ups
4. Leg extensions
5. Hamstring curls

Rolling Wrists

Wanderlei Silva, a renowned UFC fighter, showcases his signature wrist roll during fight introductions. This distinctive habit has become synonymous with Silva's fighting style, and it serves multiple purposes. The wrist roll provides several benefits that contribute to Silva's success in the octagon.

Here are three key benefits of Silva's wrist roll:

  • Wrist Warm-up: The rolling motion warms up Silva's wrists, preparing them for powerful strikes and grappling techniques. This warm-up helps to increase blood flow and flexibility in the wrist joints, allowing Silva to generate maximum force in his punches and submissions.
  • Intimidation Tactic: The wrist roll serves as an intimidation tactic against Silva's opponents. By showcasing his fluid and controlled wrist movements, Silva sends a message that he's confident and ready to dominate the fight. This psychological effect can unsettle his opponents and give Silva a mental advantage.
  • Focus and Confidence: The act of performing the wrist roll helps Silva to stay focused and confident before the fight begins. It serves as a ritual that puts him in the right mindset, allowing him to block out distractions and channel his energy into the upcoming bout.

The wrist roll has proven to be a valuable tool for Silva, providing physical and psychological advantages inside the Octagon. As a master of his craft, Silva understands the importance of these habits and tics in enhancing his performance and intimidating his opponents.

Fixing Hair and Fighting With Toothpick

Ben Henderson, another UFC fighter known for his unique habits, is often seen fixing his hair during fights and has gained attention for his ability to train and fight with a toothpick in his mouth. While it may seem odd to focus on hair styling techniques and oral fixation in the midst of a fight, these habits have become part of Henderson's fighting persona.

The act of fixing his hair during fights serves as a way for Henderson to maintain a sense of control and composure in the chaos of the octagon. As for the toothpick, it's believed to help Henderson relax and stay focused during training and fights. It's a testament to his exceptional skill and concentration that he's able to perform at such a high level while engaging in these seemingly unconventional habits.

Belching/Burping Between Rounds

During breaks between rounds, Clay Guida frequently emits loud belches, which has become a trademark of his fighting style. Guida's belching technique is unique and attention-grabbing, leaving both opponents and spectators wondering about its purpose.

Here are three insights into why Guida belches between rounds:

  • Disruption: The loud belches can distract and disrupt the focus of his opponents, potentially throwing them off their game plan.
  • Psychological Warfare: Belching in the octagon can be seen as a psychological tactic, as it may create discomfort or disgust in his opponents, affecting their mental state.
  • Energy Release: Belching can be a way for Guida to release built-up tension and nerves during the intense moments between rounds, allowing him to stay more relaxed and focused on the fight.

Guida's belching habit may be unconventional, but it showcases his unique personality and adds an element of unpredictability to his fighting style.

Touching Nose

Griffin's consistent touch of his nose during fights serves as a reminder to maintain a high defensive guard. This habit, derived from boxing, is a psychological cue for fighters to keep their hands up and protect their face. By touching his nose, Griffin is reinforcing the importance of maintaining a strong defensive position, which is crucial in the fast-paced and unpredictable world of mixed martial arts.

The psychology behind UFC fighters touching their nose lies in the concept of muscle memory and conditioning. Through repetitive training and fights, fighters develop certain habits and rituals that help them stay focused and perform at their best. Touching the nose becomes a physical reminder to stay alert and ready to defend against incoming strikes. It also serves as a visual cue for opponents, indicating that the fighter is in a defensive stance and prepared to counter any attacks. In the high-pressure environment of the octagon, these habits and tics become valuable tools for fighters to stay sharp and maintain their defensive capabilities.

Here is a table summarizing some of the other weird habits and tics exhibited by UFC fighters:

Fighter Habit/Tic
Dustin Poirier Pulling up shorts
Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua Spreading arms out
Tony Ferguson Throwing sand
Derrick Lewis Taking off shorts
Robert Whittaker Kicking own leg
T.J. Dillashaw Running hands through hair
Jiri Prochazka Beating chest and holding wrist
GSP, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine Twisting nipples
Jorge Masvidal Cracking knees
Wanderlei Silva Rolling wrists
Ben Henderson Fixing hair and fighting with toothpick
Clay Guida Belching/burping between rounds
Forrest Griffin Touching nose
Georges St-Pierre Spitting water into the air
Various fighters Wiping hands, slapping body, shaking head, taking out mouthguard
See also  What Is the Dagestani Handcuff Used by Khabib in the UFC?

These habits and tics may seem strange to outsiders, but for UFC fighters, they play a significant role in their mental and physical preparation. Understanding the psychology behind these actions adds another layer of insight into the minds of these highly skilled athletes.

Spitting Water Into the Air

One UFC fighter habit/tic that has gained attention is the spitting of water into the air. This seemingly odd behavior actually holds significance in combat sports. Here are three insights into the significance, origins, and cultural influences behind spitting water in martial arts:

  • Increased Traction: Spitting water onto the canvas and rubbing one's foot in it before a fight is believed to provide better traction. This can be especially beneficial when executing powerful strikes or evading an opponent's attacks.
  • Shock Factor: Spitting water into the air may serve as a shock factor, momentarily distracting or surprising an opponent. It can disrupt their focus and give the spitting fighter a slight advantage.
  • Cultural Influences: The act of spitting water has roots in various martial arts traditions. Some cultures view it as a symbolic gesture to cleanse oneself before entering combat, while others see it as a way to display confidence and assert dominance.

Various Habits/Tics

As they exhibit their unique fighting styles, UFC fighters showcase various habits and tics that add intrigue to their performances. These habits and tics not only reflect the individuality of the fighters, but they also serve a psychological purpose in the octagon.

From pulling up shorts to spreading arms out, these actions can have a significant impact on an opponent's strategies. The psychology behind fighter habits and tics lies in their ability to disrupt an opponent's rhythm and focus. By engaging in these seemingly quirky behaviors, fighters can create distractions, provoke reactions, and even feint their intentions.

Opponents may find themselves thrown off balance or caught off guard, leading to openings for the fighter to capitalize on. Understanding the psychology behind these habits and tics is crucial for fighters to develop effective strategies and adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the fight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do These Weird Habits or Tics Affect the Fighters' Performance in the Octagon?

These weird habits or tics can have both positive and negative effects on the fighters' performance. They may impact focus and concentration, but they can also disrupt opponents' game plans and strategies.

How Do These Habits or Tics Develop in Fighters? Are They Learned or Natural?

Nature vs. nurture: The origins of fighters' habits or tics can be a fascinating study. While some habits may be natural, the role of training and environment in shaping these unusual behaviors should not be underestimated.

Are These Habits or Tics Exclusive to UFC Fighters or Do They Occur in Other Combat Sports as Well?

Other combat sports athletes also exhibit similar habits or tics. These actions can have various impacts on fighters' daily lives, whether it be as a way to relax, intimidate opponents, or maintain focus during high-pressure situations.

Do These Habits or Tics Have Any Psychological or Strategic Significance in the Fights?

These habits or tics can have psychological impact and provide fighters with strategic advantages in fights. They can confuse opponents, serve as feints, intimidate, relax, warm up, or distract.

Have Any Fighters Faced Criticism or Backlash for Their Unusual Habits or Tics?

Some fighters have faced criticism for their unusual habits or tics, with some questioning their impact on the fighter's image and mental health. However, these habits can also be seen as coping mechanisms in the high-pressure world of UFC.


In the wild world of mixed martial arts, fighters have proven time and time again that they aren't just skilled athletes, but also possess some truly peculiar habits. From pulling up shorts to belching between rounds, these tics have become part of the spectacle that's UFC.

While some may dismiss these behaviors as mere quirks, they actually serve a deeper purpose. They're a reminder that in the chaos of the octagon, fighters aren't just warriors, but also individuals with their own unique way of preparing for battle.

So the next time you see a fighter engage in a strange habit, remember that there's always more than meets the eye.

Mike Williams
Follow Me