By its nature and image MMA can sometimes attract a certain type of person. It takes a special kind of person to get into a locked cage with another man. Of course the vast majority of MMA fighters act like the professional athletes that they are but there are definitely a few bad apples.
In this article though we are going to look at and highlight the worst criminals the MMA world has thrown up. Now I’m not talking about petty assaults or a DUI. I’m talking about really dastardly crimes that people went to jail for.
This will be updated when it needs to be, and trust me it will need to be. If you can think of any that need to be added you can contact me.
Twitter – @Geo_youngson
Email – Lifefirstname.lastname@example.org
The following is in no particular order.
Date of Birth : 12 November 1977
Criminal Conviction : Bank Robbery
Sentence : 25 years in prison
Of all of the people in these lists, Lee Murray stands apart both for the potential and hype he had as a fighter and for the scale of his crime. He grew up hard in South London and was a legend around those parts long before MMA entered his life. There are tonnes of Lee Murray Street fight stories out there and I won’t go into them here. Lee was a gangster and the police knew he was up to something but they could rarely pin anything on him. In 1999 he started training at London Shootfighters and had his first pro fight later that year. He amassed a record of 8 wins and two losses and one draw. The losses were by submission to Joe Doerkson and by decision to Anderson Silva right when Silva was entering his prime. He knocked out Tito Ortiz in a street fight when Ortiz was the UFC light heavyweight champion. His only UFC fight was a submission win over Jorge Rivera, people were talking about the Ortiz incident and he had a lot of hype. The future looked bright.
Unfortunately later that year Lee was involved in a road rage incident where he assaulted another motorist this basically fucked up his visa to go to the USA which basically put the brakes on his MMA career. In September 2005 he was involved in a street brawl outside a London nightclub where he was stabbed in the heart. They say he died three times that night and it was really touch and go whether he would pull through. Lee of course did recover and was back training within a couple of months. People who knew him say there was something different though, he had changed.
In Feb 2006 Colin Dixon was pulled over by what he believed were police officer. He was grabbed and taken to an isolated farm where his wife and 8 years old son, also taken, were waiting. He was told if he cooperated then no one would get hurt. If the didn’t though…….Colin was the manager of the Securitas cash depot in Kent and that was where they were heading. They quickly took control of the employees and drove away with £53 million. The biggest cash robbery in British history. Lee was arrested in Morocco in June 2006 and although there is no extradition, he was put on trail and locked up in a Moroccan prison, originally for ten years then increased to 25. He is still there and his legend has only got bigger.
Date of Birth : May 1965
Criminal Conviction : extortion and assault
Sentence : 3 years in prison
Vrij was one of those tough Dutch guys who used to show in Japan. He started with Pro Wrestling then went on to more legitimate fights in RINGS Fighting Network. Won some lost some but like most of these guys he had a weakness with his submission game. Between 1995 and 2003 he racked up a 7-7 record.
Truth is though MMA or NHB wasn’t his main focus. Dick Vrij was a pretty well known criminal in Holland, a gangster with dirty fingers in a lot of pies. He got himself in trouble at the end of 2014 when he punched the biggest gangster in Holland, Willem Holleender, and broke his jaw. Holleender brushed it off, Vrij panicked and got himself put in jail for protection and during that time his friend and partner and fellow MMA fighter Hans Nijman was shot dead. The murder is unsolved but put two and two together. In March 2015 Vrij was jailed for three years for various extortionism and assaults. Thing with this guy is, there is probably a lot more we don’t know than we do.
Date of birth : 7th October 1981
Criminal Conviction : Domestic Abuse
Sentence : 10 years in prison
You may know Kyacey from season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter or you might not know him at all. He’s been around though and has fought in King of the Cage, Bodog, Tachi Palace and more and ended up with an extremely average record of 23 wins and 25 losses.
In January 2014 he was convicted on a number of domestic assault charges relating to a June 2013 incident that left the mother of his child with broken ribs, fractured vertebrae, a punctured lung and a lacerated pancreas. This wasn’t the first time obviously and he was charged in 2011 with a similar incident. Poor scumbag probably figured that it was the only way he could pick up a win nowadays.
Date of birth : 29th June 1981
Criminal Conviction : Several counts of sexual assault
Sentence : One to four years in prison
Mike Whitehead is not exactly a household name even though the heavyweight has fought all over the place including StrikeForce, Affliction and the IFL and against opposition such as Tim Sylvia, Mark Kerr and Kevin Randleman. You may also know him from season 2 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ TV show.
In April 2010 a woman filed a report with the Las Vegas Metro Police. Whitehead was convicted of sexually assaulting two women, one while she slept. He pleaded no Contest and was sentenced to one to four years in prison.
Date of birth :???
Criminal Conviction : Murder
Sentence : Life in prison without parole
Rafiel Torre or Ralph Bartlet, was one of those guys that the MMA and BJJ scene seems to attract. You get a fair few liars and fake black belts ect but Torre took it to a different level. Fake name, fake Brazilian father, fake black belt, fake forrest kumite Championships and he even arranged fake fights for himself, on television. Remember this is the douch bag who got his friend to drop him off at a forrest to take part in a secret no rules tournament. Torre was only carrying a big trophy shaped bag! He swore his friend to secrecy and told him to come back for him in three days. The friend came back three days later and Torre walked out of the trees holding a trophy that he ‘won’ but no bag of course.
Things got a bit more serious for the serial fraud, unfortunately. He had started an affair with a married woman and they decided that the husband had to die (life insurance policy). First of all Ralph asked Gerald Strebendt(see below) if he would do it for $10K. Gerald refused and a few days later Torre told him that he had done the job himself, in self defence. In reality, Torre lured the man to his gym and killed him with a rear naked choke. Almost a year later Strebendt went to the police and told them what he knew because it looked like Torre would get away with it. In 2005 Rafiel Torre was sentenced to life for murder.
Date of birth : 1st March 1979
Criminal conviction : Negligent Homicide
Sentence : 58 months prison
Two separate crimes for Gerald, potentially double scumbag, especially the second one.
Long time hardcore fans will know who Gerald Strebendt is, newer fans not so much. He’s most famous for being the first person to pull of a ‘twister’ in an MMA fight and he was also Eddie Bravo’s first student. He fought all over the US and the UK in Cage Warriors, Cage Rage and King of The Cage among others. He only fought for the UFC once, in 2003 when he lost to Josh Thompson in the first round.
In January 2014 Strebendt was involved in a car accident, he called 911 when the other driver was allegedly becoming aggressive. When the man wouldn’t back of Gerald reached into his truck and pulled out a rifle. In the 911 call you can hear him telling the 52 year old man to stay back and it ended with Gerald shooting the unarmed man dead. He was arrested at the scene then let go. In March 2014 he was arrested after a Grand Jury recommended a murder charge. The murder charge was eventually dropped and in May 2015 Gerald Strebendt pled guilty to a charge of negligent homicide and was sentenced to 58 months in prison.
So far so bad but in April 2018 he was arrested for abusing an underage female student at his gym. A mere 8 months after his release from prison. Innocent until proven guilty of course and I’ll update this after it’s resolved.
Date of birth : 12th September 1984
Criminal conviction : Heroin Trafficking
Sentence : 13 years in prison
Paul Kelly I guess was in the second wave of Brits to arrive in the UFC along with Paul Taylor and Dan Hardy, after Ian Freeman and Mark Weir ect and a couple of years after Bisping. He came up in the English scene and racked up a 7-0 record before he got his call up from the UFC. His UFC record is an unspectacular 5-4 but he always brought it win or lose.
He was released from the UFC at the end of 2011 after almost four years and following a loss to Donald Cerrone. Prosecutors would say he had got used to the UFC money and this was his motivation for what came next.
Police investigating gang violence in Liverpool came across an associate of Kelly’s and the surveillance operation following that eventually led to a courier with $100,000 worth of import quality heroin in his car. Police identified Paul Kelly and his associate as the ringleaders and at his trail Kelly was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Date of birth : 26th August 1974
Criminal conviction : One count of unlawful penetration, one count 1st degree sexual abuse
Sentence : 42 months prison
Hermes Franca had it all going for him. He was very popular and was successful in pretty much every promotion he fought for. I think at one time he was considered arguably the best lightweight in the world. He held titles in the WEC, AFC and Hook n Shoot. He had a shot at the UFC belt but fell short against Sean Sherk(then tested positive for steroids).
In May 2011 he travelled back from Brazil to hand himself in to the Clackamas Country Sheriffs in response to a warrant that had been issued for him. He faced multiple charges of sexual battery in connection to a girl under 14 years old who was a student at his BJJ School. In the end though he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful penetration and one count of 1st degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 42 months in state prison with four and a half year probation after his release. He was added to the sex offenders register. Upon his release from prison in 2014 he was deported back to Brazil, where he still competes.
Date of birth : Nov 22nd 1970
Criminal conviction : Felony Vandalism, Kidnapping, Torture, Voluntary Manslaughter
Sentence : life in prison
Joe Son first turned up in the MMA world at UFC 3 in September 1994 as Kimo Leopoldo’s trainer/cheerleader. He was definitely a colourful character, quoting the bible and antagonising the Gracie family and celebrating the demise of Royce. I guess at some point he decided that try this No Holds Barred shit didn’t look that difficult and he wanted to play, which he did at UFC 4 in Dember 1994.
Turns out as well as being an awful person, he was a terrible fighter. Overall he had four fights and four losses with a range of comedy situations. His UFC 4 fight with Keith Hackney was famous for the infamous, legal, ball shots. Son had Hackney in like a front face lock on the ground and Keith unloads punch after punch at Son’s wide open groin and I’m sure every man was wincing. After the face lock was released Son quickly submitted to Hackney basically squeezing his neck. Joe had three more fights, in 2002, and they all ended with him quitting. In his fight with BJJ stylist Joe Moreira a small cut opened up on Son and as soon as he saw the blood he refused to fight anymore. The official result is listed as ‘submission – terror’.
The thing he may be most famous for is acting though. He had a couple of roles in b movies over the years but his biggest role was as the villain Random Task in the Austin Powers franchise.
The fall of Joe Son began in 2008 and it went downhill fast. It began with a felony vandalism charge then a parole violation the same year. As part of a plea deal he was required to give a DNA sample which was matched to the 1990 gang rape of a teenager. He was face a lot of charges including rape and forced sodomy but unfortunately most of them got dropped because of the statute of limitations. Son eventually got convicted in 2011 for kidnapping and torture and was sentenced to 17 years. It doesn’t end there though because a few months into his sentence Joe Son murdered his cell mate, a child molester named Michael Graham. For this he picked up a voluntary manslaughter charge and another 27 years. Joe Son is unlikely to be out again.
Date of birth : 1959
Criminal conviction : Aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, dangerous driving
Sentence : 5 years
You know they have a saying in Canada, If you’re coming on…….. COME ON!!
And Harold Howard sure did that. He was definitely one of those memorable characters from the early MMA scene. A big 250lb Canadian with his hitman shades, blonde mullet and wife beater. He was fun, throwing clumsy rolling thunders and stuff, but not really all that good as a fighter. He ended up I think with a official record of 1 win and 3 losses but you know what I always thought his fight with Royce Gracie should have been a win for him by forfeit. Gracie got in the cage then they threw in the towel, victory Howard?? Anyway at UFC 3 in 1994 he beat Roland Payne before being beaten by Steve Jennum in the final. He showed up again at UFC 7 in 95 then UVF 3 in 96 but he didn’t fare very well and then stepped back into the quiet life in Canada.
Until the end of 2009 that is, when things sort of spiralled out of control. Apparently Howard had a long term painkiller addiction and it seems to have started to affect his mind. Around October he became more paranoid and was accusing his of having an affair and claiming people were trying to kill him. It got bad enough that he separated from his wife and was living with his sister.
One night in December 2009 everything went to shit and for some reason Harold Howard attacked his sister and her son with a Hammer. The son managed to fight him off and he left and headed to his wife’s house and aggressively tried to enter. He drove off when his own son knocked on the window. As a finale he deliberately drove his truck into the entrance of a local casino. When the smoke cleared on it all Howard pleaded guilty to several charges and was sentenced to five years in prison.