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War Paint: MMA’s Odd Ink

Posted by Tommy Hackett on January 28th, 2009

Melvin Manhoef's Hit List Tattoo

People get all kinds of tattoos for all kinds of reasons, but the fighting world seems to have a special affinity for the art. Dutch Muay Thai standout Melvin Manhoef sports the above scroll with a listing of all his KO’s in both Muay Thai and MMA competition on his rib cage; I suppose he updates it regularly. Closer to the source, in Thailand it’s not uncommon to see all kinds of traditional talismans protecting practicioners of Muay Thai from hexes and the like. In this video, several castmates of Contender Asia including Yodsenklai Fairtex receive yantras: sacred designs inked by Buddhist monks to offer protection.

But then, there’s the following fighters whose tattoos are in a class all their own. Any big MMA fan has seen what happens when odd ink happens to great fighters, and I am no exception. So, what follows is a listing of my top bizzare tattoos sported proudly by MMA elite:

Belcher salutes Johnny Cash

UFC middleweight Alan Belcher spent a good deal of time in Phuket, Thailand last year at the Tiger Muay Thai camp. But that’s no yantra he’s sporting here. Nope, I actually think it looks like a portrait of Larry Flint, who could perhaps be called upon to defend one against the hex of good taste. Apparently it’s a tribute to Johnny Cash though. I love Cash and hope somewhere he’s smiling at this one.


Here, BULOCKU REZNAH, as he’s known in Japan, appears to be sporting a penis between his collarbones. This is epic. And, no, I wouldn’t tell him it sucks because I love my family and they’d hate to see me dead at a young age. Really Brock, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Paulo Filho

Former WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho has a Mike Tyson portrait on his left arm which he seems to be calling attention to here. Filho is by all accounts a nice guy. Why would he or anyone else feel the desire to get the portrait of a convicted and unrepentant rapist on his arm is beyond me. I actually do like the bulldog logo of the Carlson Gracie Team right above it though. He ought to have the artist who did that do a cover up on the portrait, if you ask me (and yes, I realize that no one did).


Female MMA pioneer Debi Purcell’s “f-bomb above the booty” almost kept her off CBS’s EliteXC broadcast last year but they found a way to cover it. Yep, it says hooray for me and f— you. Well, I guess that’s one way to get the last word. I don’t get it either and I’m not in favor of the profanity, but like the others on this list it makes her happy somehow, and that’s a fight we all have, right?

A tip of the hat goes to MyMuayThai who helped inspire this post with a great series of articles about tattoos, especially here.

9 Responses to “War Paint: MMA’s Odd Ink”

  1. Justin Says:

    No Aleksander Emelianenko?

  2. Dave Walsh Says:

    That isn’t odd as much as it is Russian Prison.

  3. Daniel Blockhead Says:

    was this post just an excuse to post a close up of Purcell’s rear end?

  4. Andrew Says:

    Any tattoo with the word “fuck” in it is pretty ballsy

  5. Thomas Hackett Says:

    Ha! Thanks for reading, all. For the record, Belcher’s tat and the articles inspired this; Purcell’s tat was something I remembered & added at the last minute.

  6. James Taylor Says:

    Tyson is not an “unrepentant rapist” Your ignorant, go learn about that case, and the man before you say ignorant things like that.

  7. jrock Says:

    best ass… ever. so hot

  8. Paulo Filho Emerges From Rehab With Worst Tattoo in MMA History | MMA Fight News - MMA News, MMA Gear, MMA Training Says:

    [...] when Crazyland switches its currency to the billion-dollar hammerhead shark coin? Manhoef’s body-count tattoo is not [...]

  9. FIGHT! Picks: Strikeforce Miami - FIGHT! Says:

    [...] Smith, and to be fair, Smith is one punch from being out of the top 25 himself. Look for Manhoef to scratch another line into his skin after this one. FIGHT! Pick: Manhoef. Herschel Walker (-325) vs. Greg Nagy [...]

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