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The Nicest MF Title; Who’s The “NMF” Champ?

Recently Max Holloway threw out an epic tweet, calling out Wonderboy after he said “I would gladly compete for the nicest Guy in MMA Title” in regards to his upcoming fight against Vicente Luque at UFC 244.

You're taking everything I worked for @WonderboyMMA . You know who's the reeeal nice guy fight. Me — Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) October 10, 2019

In a sport with a fan base generally more attracted to drama, it’s great to see two high profile UFC fighters jokingly banter back & forth about “who’s the nicest guy in MMA.” I find it refreshing! Perhaps MMA should have a “NMF” title, why not? No need for a belt like the “BMF” situation for UFC 244, but I think it’d be a natural addition to the yearly MMA awards. View it like a coaches award that’s often given out in middle schools & high schools. Adding it to the MMA awards would also allow it to include all major organizations. Subcategories to decide the annual “NMF” title could consist of fighters’ relationships with their family, fans, media, other fighters, and their overall level of sportsmanship. Why not reward people for being genuinely good people?

Here’s my top 10 list of people (five men, five ladies) in MMA ewho I could easily see holding the “NMF” Title if it were to be born into existence.

Max Holloway

A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Apr 14, 2019 at 9:12am PDT

If I’m ranking who’s the most confident fighter also incredibly nice, Max gets the win. Max is so sure and friendly he was seen giving Brian Ortega a striking lesson in their championship fight. Of course, Max beat Brian down so badly his coaches had to throw in the towel (also a testament to Ortega’s toughness), but I can’t recall a nicer beat down in MMA history. Being Hawaiian is probably an unfair genetic advantage when it comes to being nice, almost as unfair as Jon Jones 84 ½” reach in a fight, but I think I can let that slide. Whenever I see a fighter on a winning streak like Max was on, I’m always curious how they will handle a loss if it comes. The way he handled his second loss to Poirier made me more of a fan of his than any victory of his. In me, and millions of others, he’s got a fan forever. Max deserves to be at the top of the list when it comes to contention for the NMF Title. MMA fans are genuinely “Blessed” every time he gets on the mic or steps in the cage. 

Stephen Thompson

A post shared by Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson (@wonderboymma) on Jul 13, 2018 at 7:57pm PDT

Wonderboy reminds me of the young men I often see riding their bikes around my neighborhood with their black pants and white dress shirts on, constantly in search of the next person they can try to convert to The Church of Latter Day Saints. He also looks like a guy who could steal Luke Rockhold’s modeling gig. He’s a man who says things like “dang it,” “gosh darn,” or “jeepers” instead of dropping four-letter words. His sportsmanship is second to none and his composure to remain himself in a world filled with people who are opposite is impeccable. Just don’t mistake his niceness as a weakness! If you’re an opponent of his, definitely don’t make fun of Karate. Does anybody remember how that went for Jake Ellenberger? All bad…

Junior Dos Santos

A post shared by Junior Cigano Dos Santos 🅾️➕ (@juniorcigano) on Oct 15, 2019 at 1:03pm PDT

Of all the UFC Heavyweights, I can’t think of a more likeable guy. Leading up to his fights I get so used to seeing him smiling ear to ear in all his interviews that his intense face and downward point to the canvas seems weird when he meets his opponents in the center of the octagon. Outside of the cage his energy exudes honor and kindness that shines for the entire world, I can only imagine how blessed (and safe!) his wife and children feel to have a man like him in their lives all the time. He’s blessed MMA fans with many entertaining fights and I anticipate his upcoming fight against Alexander Volkov will be one as well.

Damien Maia

Is there a nicer person in MMA who enjoys strangling people than Damien Maia? I think not! I also wouldn’t be surprised to find his picture next to the word “humble” in the Webster dictionary. Maia’s words and actions display that he’s one of the most emotionally balanced men in MMA. He doesn’t get complacent after wins and doesn’t hang his head when he loses, it’s easy to tell he treats it all as a beautiful learning experience. No matter how much money guys like Colby or Cejudo make swimming around in the cringe pool, don’t expect Maia to even get his toes wet. How can that not be admired?

A post shared by EVAN ZAREMBA (@evan.zaremba) on May 15, 2016 at 5:04pm PDT

Rory McDonald

Though Rory’s appearance often reminds us of Christian Bale in American Psycho, he’s actually one of the sweetest and God loving men in MMA. Before marriage and kids, I’m not sure Rory would have made this list. However, since he started his family he’s become one of the nicest people in MMA. After his fight with Jon Fitch he said “It’s hard to sometimes pull the trigger now, I don’t have that killer inside. I dunno, it’s really hard to explain”. He admitted his spirit has changed, that he doesn’t have the same drive to hurt people like he used to. Ironically, it takes a real man to admit something like that in front of millions of fans in a sport like MMA. As a fan of his I do hope that killer is still in there because when that part of Rory comes out in the cage, he’s one of the best in the world.

Michelle Waterson

Is there a bigger sweetheart in MMA than The Karate Hottie? There might be a couple who are equal, but I definitely can’t think of anybody I would put above her. Her daughter is a perfect reflection of her mother as well, such a positive and sweet kid. I admire how she’s able to bring her daughter to all of her fights, to have her so involved and understanding of the crazy life her mommy lives (very similar to Max with his little man). Only one request Michelle; can you make more cute dance videos please? (Props to Holly Holm too) The world needs more of that!

Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Is there a more cute pre-fight stance in the cage than Karolina? Most fighters enter the cage bouncing around, pacing back & forth, doing whatever they can to get motivated to fight. Not Karolina! She just leans back against the fence legs crossed, hands behind her back and delivers a sweet smile. I’ve seen her cry after a big win (Rose Namajuanas) and after a big loss (Jessica Andrade). Every time I see her cry I have to choke back tears so I don’t look like a dork in front of my friends. Ease up on the heartstrings Karolina! But please don’t change. The UFC knew what they were doing when they nicknamed you the Polish Princess, because that’s truly what you are.

A post shared by Karolina Kowalkiewicz Official (@karolinakowalkiewicz) on Oct 6, 2019 at 10:39am PDT

Tatiana Suarez

If you met this young lady on the street not knowing what she did for a living, you’d be hard pressed to guess she’s an expert in the art of “SMESH”. Her personality is vibrant, she’s always smiling and her laugh is infectious. Because of this she’s my favorite person to listen to when being interviewed. My favorite Food Truck Diaries is still the one with Tatiana, so for a change I can say “thank you Brandon Schaub”. One of my favorite interviews with her was with, when she was asked if it was a compliment or not to be called the female Khabib. More than anything, I admire how she’s dealt with adversity in the past (esp her battle with cancer) and kept that beautiful smile and laugh through it all. I may be coaching a wrestling team this winter and if I do, I can promise you Tatiana will be one of the main people I use as an example for kids when it comes to a positive attitude and ruthless work ethic. 

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

Another Hawaiian on the list, big surprise! Bellator couldn’t have been smarter creating 125 sooner than the UFC because they were able to sign the most intelligent and cutest fighter/commentator combination in MMA. Her happy/witty personality is one of my favorites in MMA commentating today and it’s evident the people who work alongside her feel the same. Watching her defend her title in Hawaii was amazing, the love she has for her hometown is quite special. Hopefully her influence in Bellator spreads to the UFC and Max Holloway gets a chance to fight in his home state too! 

A post shared by Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (@ilimanator) on Sep 1, 2019 at 12:32pm PDT

Angela Lee

Whenever I listen to Angela speak I have to remind myself that she’s only 23, she’s so wise beyond her years. I’m sure she can greatly thank her parents for that, being they are both martial artists who got their daughter involved in martial arts at a very young age. The ONE Atomweight champion is well cultured, it shows both in her fighting ability and ability to speak to people. And guess what, she was born in Canada & moved to Hawaii at age 7! Her parents were obviously determined to breed niceness into her, alongside martial arts. She often switches from speaking serious and educated to cracking a smile and giggling, dimples on full display, capturing the hearts of anybody watching. Even though she’s accomplished so much so early in life, including being the youngest MMA world champion ever, it’s obvious there’s much more to come. She’s so well grounded and sweet that I see her embracing every moment, enjoying it all, and when it’s over appreciating the memories while moving onto new challenges. 

A post shared by Angela Lee Pucci (@angelaleemma) on Oct 13, 2019 at 5:53pm PDT

Honorable mentions: Yancy Medeiros, Dustin Poirier, Stipe Miocic, Robert Whittaker, Frankie Edgar, Ariane Lipski, Rose Namajunas, Carla Esparza, Roxanne Modafferi, Sara McMann.

Thank you to all the fighters on this list for being such positive role models for kids and a great inspiration for all MMA fans. Same with all the other fighters who could easily be on this list (it was really hard to choose!). Sure drama can be entertaining, but we should all remind ourselves to spend time appreciating people who represent MMA in such a positive way. Celebrate and thank them more frequently, they deserve it!

Jason Marlowe, UnknownMMA

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