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Top 18 MMA Pre-Fight Rituals (By Popular Opinion)

How do you mentally prepare for a big MMA fight? Do you have any pre-fight rituals that helps you get in the right mental and physical state to dominate your opponent? Many MMA fighters have specific routines or habits that they follow before stepping into the cage, and these rituals can play a crucial role in their overall performance.

From face slaps to shadowboxing, there are a wide variety of pre-fight rituals used by MMA fighters to get their minds and bodies ready for battle. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top pre-fight rituals in the MMA world and how they can give fighters an edge over their opponents.

1. Conor Mcgregor’s Money Walk

Who did it better, Coner McGregor or Vince McMahon? This infamous pre-fight ritual involves Conor McGregor strutting into the octagon with his hands behind his back, imitating a billionaire businessman. Some see this as a display of arrogance and showmanship, while others believe it’s a way for McGregor to psych himself up and intimidate his opponent.

Regardless of its purpose, this unique pre-fight ritual has become synonymous with McGregor and is often imitated by other fighters. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the Money Walk gets the crowd fired up and adds an extra layer of drama to his fights.

He is also been reported to carry a lucky hat in his bag (his grandfather’s iconic cap) during his fights. Is this the source of his confidence, or just a superstitious habit? Only McGregor truly knows.

2. Jon Jones’ One Hand Cartwheel

Jon Jones is known for his flashy and unpredictable fighting style, and this carries over into his pre-fight ritual as well. Before every fight, Jones does a one-handed cartwheel to get his energy flowing and loosen up his muscles. This acrobatic display not only shows off Jones’ athleticism but also helps him stay calm and focused in the chaos of the octagon.

Along with this pre-fight ritual, Jones also confesses to a week of partying before every fight. This may seem counterproductive, but he believes it helps him release any nerves and tension leading up to the big day.

3. Anderson Silva’s Squat and Cage Grab

The Spider’s pre-fight ritual involves him squatting on the ground and grabbing onto the cage with both hands. This is a moment of intense focus and visualization for Silva, where he envisions his success in the upcoming fight. Silva’s calm and collected demeanor before fights has often been compared to that of a meditation session, as he clears his mind and centers himself before entering the octagon.

4. Israel Adesanya

The New Zealand Native has become known for his iconic and energetic dance routine before each fight. Although it is different every time, it typically involves a mix of traditional Maori haka and modern dance moves. Adesanya claims that this routine helps him get in touch with his warrior spirit and channel his ancestral energy into the fight.

5. Clay Guida’s Face Slap

Known for his in your face style of pressure fighting, Clay Guida’s pre-fight ritual involves repeatedly slapping himself in the face before entering the cage. While this may seem odd to some, it is actually a common practice among fighters as a way to get their adrenaline pumping and release any nerves or tension. Since then, other fighters such as the Ruotolo Brothers have also incorporated this ritual into their pre-fight routines.

6. Bryce Mitchell’s Sage Burning Ritual

During an episode of UFC’s embedded, Bryce Mitchell was seen burning sage and performing a smudging ceremony before his fight. This Native American ritual is described as the ‘Dragon’s Breath’ and they would perform it before they “Spill blood” as Mitchell puts it. The herbs and smoke are believed to cleanse the energy around them as well as bring good luck in the upcoming battle.

7. Tyron Woodley’s ‘T’

Although this one may not be as exciting or flashy as other pre-fight rituals, Tyron Woodley’s ‘T’ has become synonymous with his identity in the octagon. He can often be seen making the shape of a T with his hands before and during a fight, which stands for “The Chosen One” – his nickname. This ritual not only represents his confidence and belief in himself but also serves as a reminder of his journey and the hard work he has put in to become a UFC champion.

8. Rampage Jackson’s Howl

The intimidating roar of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson has become a staple in the MMA world. Before every fight, Rampage lets out a loud howl, mimicking his nickname, and showcasing his primal fighting instincts. It is also believed that this ritual serves as a way to intimidate his opponents before they even step into the cage with him. This defined roar has become iconic and synonymous with Rampage’s aggressive fighting style.

9. Demetrious Johnson’s Power Up Punch

Known as an avid gamer, Demetrious Johnson incorporates his love for video games into his pre-fight routine. As his name is being called by Bruce Buffer, Johnson can be seen mimicking the power up punch from the popular video game series “Street Fighter”. This ritual serves as a way for Johnson to mentally prepare himself and get into a focused mindset before entering the octagon. It also serves as a nod to his love for gaming and adds an element of fun to his pre-fight routine.

10. Junior Dos Santos’ Finger Point

Modern MMA fighters might not be able to use their fingers in the octagon, but that doesn’t stop Junior Dos Santos from using his index finger as a key element in his pre-fight ritual. As his name is being called during his introduction, Dos Santos steps forward to the centre of the cage and points his finger to ground. This ritual serves as a way for Dos Santos to ground himself and focus on the task at hand, while also showcasing his confidence in his abilities. It has become a trademark move for the former UFC Heavyweight Champion.

11. Diego Sanchez’s “YES” Mantra

In the MMA world, Diego Sanchez is known for his intense pre-fight rituals and energy. One of the most iconic ones is his “YES” mantra that he repeats over and over again before every fight. This ritual serves as a way for Sanchez to pump himself up and get in touch with his primal instincts as a fighter. The crowd also loves to join in and chant “YES” alongside him, creating an electric atmosphere. It has become a signature move for Sanchez and is a testament to his passion and dedication to the sport. A true gladiator in every sense of the word.

12. Sean O’Malley’s “Too Sharp, Too Fast, Too Focused”

This charismatic bantamweight fighter has a pre-fight ritual that is as unique as his personality. As he makes his way to the octagon, Sean O’Malley repeats his mantra “Too Sharp, Too Fast, Too Focused” in rhythm with his steps. If you’ve watched any of his fights, you can see how this mantra manifests itself into reality.

O’Malley’s striking is crisp and his movements are lightning fast, all while maintaining a laser-like focus on his opponent. This ritual has become a trademark for “Sugar” Sean and serves as a reminder to himself that he is indeed too sharp, too fast, and too focused for anyone to handle in the cage.

13. Wanderlei Silva’s Handroll Warm Up

If you look across the cage and see The Axe Murderer’s hand roll warm up, you know things are about to get serious. The Brazilian MMA legend is known for his intense hand rolls, which he performs before every fight to warm up his hands and mentally prepare himself for the battle ahead. It’s absolutely terrifying to watch as Silva’s eyes seem to burn with intensity while he performs this ritual.

14. Rashad Evans’ Stalker Prowl

Much like his fighting style, Rashad Evans’ pre-fight ritual is calculated and hunting-like. He can often be seen crawling into the cage on all fours, mimicking a predatory animal and stalking his opponent. This ritual not only psyches out his opponents, but also helps Evans get into the mindset of a fierce warrior ready to dominate.

15. Georges St-Pierre’s Nipple Tweak

This one is a bit odd, but it’s become a well-known pre-fight ritual for former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Before entering the octagon, GSP can often be seen reaching up and giving his nipples a quick tweak. While it may seem strange, this ritual is actually has psychological benefits for GSP, helping him relax and disconnect for a split second before a fight.

“It makes you disconnect for a split second because you are so stressed, it makes you reset a little bit” – George St-Pierre

16. Danny Castillo’s Strip Club Visit

Famous fighters such as Muhammed Ali has publicly stated his disdain for female intimate moments prior to a fight. For Castillo, it’s a way to relax and unwind before entering the cage. He has even stated that he would rather be at a strip club than sitting in his hotel room stressing out.

17. Cub Swanson’s Corner Meditation

This pre fight ritual might not be as flashy or intense as others on this list, but it has a powerful impact on Cub Swanson’s performance in the cage. Before every fight, he takes a few moments to sit in silence and meditate with his coaches in his corner. This helps him clear his mind and focus on the task at hand.

18. Rose Namajunas’ Mantra

Before each fight, former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas recites a mantra to herself: “Confidence, conditioning, composure, content, be a champion” This simple yet powerful affirmation helps her focus her mind and believe in herself, giving her the confidence she needs to step into the cage and face her opponent.

Final Thoughts

Unlike traditional martial arts, MMA empowers individuals to find their own unique pre-fight rituals that work for them. These rituals not only serve as a way to warm up physically, but also mentally prepare for the intense battle about to take place.

Whether it’s hand rolls, stalker prowls, or strip club visits, these pre-fight rituals are an integral part of many MMA fighters’ routines and help set the tone for their performances in the cage. So next time you watch a fight, pay attention to these pre-fight rituals and see how they may give that fighter an edge in the ring.

With so many different personalities and backgrounds represented in MMA, it’s no surprise that there are endless variations of pre-fight rituals. Which ones have you noticed before? Do you have a pre-fight ritual of your own, whether in sports or in daily life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychological effects of these rituals and how they may impact performance, check out this article: The Psychology Behind MMA Fighter’s Pre-Fight Rituals (Secrets Revealed)