What is the personality type of MMA fighters? The most common type is an ISTP 4wing3.
I’ve had more exposure to MMA and MMA fighters than most people. I watched K-1 back as a teenager, and jumped onboard with the UFC as soon as I found out. I watch every UFC event and read the MMA news every day.
I watch every countdown and analysis after the fights. It is the only sport I follow. I’ve competed in Judo and Submission Wrestling. I’ve also written articles for several Swedish MMA websites and magazines. I’m a hardcore fan.
I also happen to know a lot about personality types. Which puts me in a unique position to talk about this issue. I don’t think people understand how big of an effect ones personality type has on your fighting ability.
A high fighting ability requires a certain relationship to reality. You have to be assertive and move forward with your plan, even though things never turn out as expected. Being overly rigid or close minded will hurt you long term.
On the other hand, if you are too open minded, you will accept a bad position too easily, and take damage and lose the fight. You want to be confident, but as soon as you get arrogant you get knocked out (I’ve seen this so many times).
Myers-Briggs Types in MMA
The most common Myers-Briggs types in professional MMA are:
- ISTP (About 80% of all professional MMA fighters)
- ISFP (About 8% of all professional MMA fighters)
- INTP (About 8% of all professional MMA fighters)
Extroverts in Fighting
The only Extrovert I’ve ever come across is Forest Griffin, who is an ENTP. ENTPs are known to be “smooth”, and funny in a low key and social kind of way. They use whatever emotions/characters/situations that happen to be present.
I felt like some kid trying to wrestle his dad.— Forest Griffin on the Anderson Silva fight.
Extroverts are more spontaneus than Introverts. I think this shows in the interview below.
Here’s the background on how Forest Grriffin came into the UFC via the reality show.
Judgers in Fighting
Chael Sonnen has a Youtube channel that is doing very well with 734 000 subscribers. Here is his legendary story about Khabib.
Judgers are rare in fighting. Chael Sonnen and Frank Mir are both INTJ 8wing7s. I cannot think of another Judger. For some reason, the ISTJ isn’t drawn to fighting, or it cannot do it (at a pro level).
Frank Mir was my favourite commentator, but they removed him from the commentary position for saying he was going to kill his opponent inside the cage (when he was hyping the fight). I always felt a little bit bad about that.
The cerebral INTP is quite common in pro MMA, so it would be strange if there weren’t a couple INTJs there as well. I mean, since they are so similar. How do you tell the difference between the INTP and the INTJ?
Simply put, the INTJ is an impatient, assertive, street smart scientist. They have strong executive functions, they are good at application and execution. They won’t “geek out” on numbers and theory the way INTPs do. The INTJ is basically an “assertive nerd”, if that makes sense?
Marry a naval gazing hardcore scientist with the stereotypical “effective asshole” — and you have the INTJ.
Steve Jobs is an INTJ, and Bill Gates is an INTP. Steve Jobs is more fun to be around, while Bill Gates is a better friend. Steve Jobs always overpowered Gates whenever they met, according to everyone.
Whenever an INTJ looks at a chaotic situation, they want to extract some core truth from it. INTJs get off on CLARITY, and INTPs get off on INTRICATE DETAILS.
- The INTJ hates confusion, while the INTP hates being wrong.
- The INTJ would rather be wrong than confused.
- The INTP would rather be confused than wrong.
- In life, the INTJ peaks at 30, while the INTP peaks at 50.
I found these funny “INTP vs INTJ” memes.
Feelers in Fighting
The only Feeler I’ve seen in professional MMA is the ISFP, and there are a few of them. The INFP does not do well as a fighter, and I understand why (being one, myself). The ISFP is, however, decently common. Sitting at around 8% in my estimation.
Want to know some ISFP fighters?
- José Aldo: ISFP 4wing3
- Junior Dos Santos: ISFP 9wing1
- Phil Davis: ISFP 7wing8
- Ronda Rousey: ISFP 4wing3
- Mark Kerr: ISFP 9wing1
How do I know they are Feelers? First, I wouldn’t know from a single interview. But after watching many of them, patterns emerge. The ISFP has a certain emotional presence, and emotional awareness — that the more stoic & robotic ISTP — lacks.
I can recommend this documentary about him, The Smashing Machine. Mark actually did heroin before each fight so that he could convince himself to hurt his opponent. He became a heroine junkie as a result. A shame!
The ISFP is more sensitive than the ISTP, but it is not at all neurotic. The ISFP is a level headed, grounded, easy going humanist — most of the time. The ISFP is pretty hard to tell apart from the ISTP — if I’m going to be honest.
The ISFP is more sensitive and has more empathy. This empathy is actually an obstacle towards being a fighter. Empathy is a big disadvantage in a professional MMA fight.
Sure, the opponent might go easy on you if he likes you, but if you don’t go 100% and he does, then you are going to lose if you are at the same level.
Plus, if he has a history of breaking rules and bones, you will fear him but he doesn’t have to fear you. This is Rousimar Palhares, he is famous for ripping legs apart AFTER the opponent taps in pro MMA fights.
ISFPs strongly dislikes conflict and disharmony. Although a sanctioned MMA fight is “conflict”, it is not experienced that way by the ISFP.
Here are some ISFP memes.
Enneagram Types in MMA
The most common Enneagram types in professional MMA are:
- 4wing3 (Roughly 40% of all professional MMA fighters)
- 9wing1 (Roughly 20% of all professional MMA fighters)
- 9wing8 (Roughly 20% of all professional MMA fighters)
- 8wing7 (Roughly 10% of all professional MMA fighters)
- 8wing9 (Roughly 5% of all professional MMA fighters)
The other 5% are spread out across the other Enneagram types. Here are some examples.
“Smile’n” Sam Alvey is a ISTP 7wing6. His response to stress is to smile. The 7wing6 is considered the most likable Enneagram type. It is positive, funny and forgiving.
Evan Tanner was an 4wing5, which is why he was so complicated, dark, and troubled.
Phil Davis is an ISFP 7wing8. In interiews, you can see the excitement in his eyes, that often come from the type 7. I still remember when he beat the Swedish phenom Alexander Gustavsson (ISTP 9wing1) with an anaconda choke.
George St. Pierre
The greatest exception of them all is George St. Pierre. He’s an INTP 3wing4. He’s probably the only Enneagram 3wing4 that I’ve come across, at least to my knowledge.
Enneagram Type 8
Type 8s are fairly common in professional MMA. Let’s have a short introduction to the Type 8, so that things start to make sense.
The Type 8 is “The Warrior” archetype. They are built for war, both mentally and physically. In times of stress, they start to obsess about loyalty, power, control, and revenge. They have deep trust issues, and prefer to have few friends.
Because of how The Enneagram is structured, the Type 8 can either have a 7-wing or a 9-wing. A “wing” simply means your secondary type. It is always located right by your main type on the Enneagram chart. See?
Let’s start with the 8wing9, which is a mix between then Type 8 and the Type 9. The 8wing9 is primarily a type 8, but will also identify with Type 9 traits. Here we go!
THE CHALLANGER: The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational.
Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating.
Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.— The Enneagram Institute
That was the Type 8. Let’s move on to the Type 9.
THE PEACEMAKER: The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring Agreeable, and Complacent.
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace.
They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.— The Enneagram Institute
Let’s go through a couple 8wing9s, so that you can compare this lofty theory to actual reality.
Rampage Jackson: ISTP 8wing9
Rampage Jackson is an ISTP 8wing9. Check out the Youtube compilation below where Rampage bullies Ariel Helwani a little bit (and operates like a low functioning Type 8).
He’s not giving Ariel PTSD or anything, but he is stressing him out.
Brock Lesnar: ISTP 8wing9
Brock Lesnar is another ISTP 8wing9. Type 8s have a uniquely large reptile brain. At low psychological health, it is obsessed with thoughts of power, control, and (especially) revenge.
8s have a type of phobia for being physically dominated, humiliated, and supressed. I liked this clip when Brock admits “he doesn’t like people”.
It was always known in the community that Brock hated getting hit. He would train so that he never really got his ass kicked.
8’s are anger driven, that is the dominant emotion that is driving them. That is why 8’s are always angry. But Brock is pretty relaxed, as opposed to tense, and that comes from the Type 9.
Also, a high functioning Type 8 will generally be ASSERTIVE, not angry or aggressive.
Nate Diaz: ISTP 8wing9
Nate Diaz is an ISTP 8wing9. That is why he is ALWAYS angry. I also think he has a social phobia, because he gets so much anxiety around people.
Nate and Nick Diaz were unique in the early days of the UFC in that they hated getting filmed. The film crew would show up many days before it started just to get to know them, to get their permission to film.
I cannot think of any other Enneagram 8wing9s right now in MMA. Let’s move on to the 8wing7. Here are some images describing both wings.
The 8wing7 is a mix between the Type 8 and the Type 7. Remember the Type 8 characteristics? Now, instead of the calm & reasonable 9, we throw in the fast & energetic 7 (as a wing).
THE ENTHUSIAST: The Busy, Variety-Seeking Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Acquisitive, and Scattered.
Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined.
They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.— The Enneagram Institute
Conor McGregor: ISTP 8wing7
The 8wing7 can be intense. They are so confident and can develop a “bombastic” or obnoxious personality. Conor McGregor is an ISTP 8wing7. They have, what is called, “an internal reference frame” of what is good and bad.
8wing7s are the most verbal out of any Enneagram type. They are good at fighting with their body, and fighting with their words.
Mat Serra & Michael Bisping: ISTP 8wing7s
But it is aweesome when they turn out like Mat Serra (ISTP 8wing7), or Michael Bisping (ISTP 8wing7). Don’t even get me started on Bas Rutten!
Bas Rutten: ISTP 8wing7
Check the video above, where Bas Rutten teaches street fighting, for an example of an awesome ISTP 8wing7 in action. Bas Rutten played a funny immigrant in the movie Here Comes The Boom, which I loved.
This page would be too long if I did the same thing for Type 9s, as I did for Type 8s, although the Type 9 is semi-covered through the 8wing9 (who has the 9 as a secondary wing).
Just remember that 9wing1s and 9wing8s represent about 20% of the professional MMA population each. So the Type 9 stands for about 40% (20 + 20) in total.
Since the ISTP 4wing3 is the most common personality type build in pro MMA, I will describe it below.
Interested in Type 8s?
The ISTP 4wing3
What is the ISTP 4wing3? And why is it so damn good at fighting? I will try to answer!
“ISTP” stands for:
- Introversion: Energy directed inwards. Loses energy when with people, gains energy when alone. Wants to do one thing at the time, as oppose to many things at once.
- Sensing: Navigates reality using the five senses. Grounded. Down to earth.
- Thinking: Logical and rational orientation. Tougher, and handles confrontation and disharmony much better than Feelers. Has better memory and long term thinking than Feelers.
- Perception: Drawn to uncertainty, or the uknown. Gets a thrill out of it. Wants to push the boundaries, experience something new, discover a new place. Adaptable, and rolls with the punches. Does not require law and order to be happy, like Judgers.
The “4wing3” means you are an Enneagram Type 4 primary with a secondary 3-wing. Here is an image of the Type 4 and its potential wings.
The ISTP is magnetically drawn to any job that is:
And pro MMA is completely practical, very dangerous, and very challenging. ISTPs that have a mundane and boring office job, will often resort to extreme sports or hardcore drugs to get their kick off.
The ISTP might seem shy, but it is not. It is reserved.
The ISTP is the most giften athlete out of any Myers-Briggs type. It might sound strange, but almost all high level athletes are ISTPs. It isn’t only about ability, it is also about interest (that filters out who becomes a high level athlete).
Although the ISTP is intellectually curious, it is also bored by reading a long dry book. A lot of ISTPs don’t read books, I’ve found. They are more inclined to watch a documentary that gives much more visual stimulation.
I found a very good description of the ISTP here: ISTP Introduction. The beginning is quoted below:
ISTPs are quiet, observant doers who enjoy using their hands. They prefer to solve problems off the cuff; thinking about the best possible way that utilises the least amount of effort. They are flexible and adaptable people who are comfortable with change, in fact, they enjoy it.
They do not like traditional policies and procedures that they feel stifle them and often try to get around the rules to achieve higher efficiency. They prefer roles that require them to apply their analytical and logical thinking to solve a variety of practical problems. They tend to shy away from dealing with people’s emotions or personal problems, which they feel are unnecessary and tiring to deal with.
ISTPs are keenly observant people who are experts in the use of their five physical senses. They will make observations like small differences in taste, colour or texture which others may miss, but they won’t say them unless asked.
They prefer to learn by doing and are often highly dexterous. It is hard for them to grasp theory or ideas without immediate application, and this is why they don’t perform as well in the classroom.
ISTPs are excited by new experiences and like to immerse themselves fully in them. They do not like long-term commitments, which they see as a restriction on their freedom.Personality Central — ISTP Introduction
- I — Physical combat is the realm of the Introvert. The silent assassin is an archetype for a reason. Almost all violent offenders are Introverts.
- S — When you move around in a cage, you are relying on Sensing (as in using your senses). It is not an abstract, idea-based situation. The useful information is mostly visual. You can’t “hear” an overhand right coming your way, but you sure can see it.
- T — Feelers are generally too empathic to enjoy fighting. They are also more sensitive, and doesn’t need extreme stimulation, like a cagefight, to get their kick. Thinkers also have a more even temperament, which is very useful in a MMA fight.
- P — A cagefight is unpredictable by nature, something that’s exciting to a Perceiver, but gives anxiety to a Judger. A lot of anxiety, to be frank.
Interested in other ISTPs?
- Khabib Nurmagomedov is an ISTP 9wing8
- Conor McGregor is an ISTP 8wing7
- Michael Jordan is an ISTP 9wing8
- Dwayne Johnson is an ISTP 7wing8
The 4wing3 is a mix between the Enneagram Type 4 and the Type 3. In order to understand what this means, let’s look the Type 4, and then the Type 3.
THE INDIVIDUALIST: The Sensitive, Introspective Type:
Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living.
They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
- Basic Desire: To find themselves and create their own significance (to create an identity)
Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a “rescuer.”
THE ACHIEVER: The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type:
Adaptable, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement.
They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Of being worthless
- Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile
Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.
The 4wing3 has the creativity and sensitivity of the type 4, with the level headed task execution of the type 3. They are creative and idealistic, yet strangely level headed and pragmatic. They are both emotional, and logical, which can appear like a big contradiction!
The 4 wants to be unique, while the 3 simply wants success. The 4 is all about integrity, while the 3 mostly cares about image. The host, the actual 4wing3 person — has to balance these things.
The 4wing3 usually isn’t a mean fighter, they tend to be artists, playing physical chess with the universe, painting a marvelous picture of ripped muscles and hardened bone.
Want a specific example? Stephen Wonderboy Thompson (ISTP 4wing3). His Youtube channel is sitting at 267 000 subscribers at the moment. He is actually a pretty typical ISTP 4wing3, in terms of behavior (not in terms of fighting success). I actually watched his bone conditioning video below, like a year ago.
The 4wing3 is the best Enneagram type to master technique. And good echnique wins fights. If a fighter is throwing a lot of “crazy” high risk techniques, they are almost always a 4wing3 (these are attempts to be unique, it is written into their identity).
Healthy 4wing3’s can almost appear like they don’t have a personality type. They appear so well balanced, and well rounded. Reasonably emotional, yet logical.
Artistic, yet driven and successful. Ambitious, but not a workaholic. They appreciate nice things, but are not materialistic either. The 4wing3 is a well rounded personality type.
I have wished I was a 4wing3 many times in my life, actually. They are happier and more successful than the darker, gloomier, somewhat unstable 4wing5. A lot of 4wing5s are bipolar, or exhibit have bipolar tendencies.
List of past and current ISTP 4wing3 UFC Champions:
- Kevin Randleman
- Fabrício Werdum
- Daniel Cormier
- Rashad Evans
- Anderson Silva
- Robert Whittaker
- Israel Adesanya
- B.J. Penn
- Carlos Condit
- Tyron Woodley
- Frankie Edgar
- Benson Henderson
- Anthony Pettis
- Tony Ferguson
- Max Holloway
- T.J. Dillashaw
- Cody Garbrandt
- Demetrious Johnson
I’m only doing fighters that at one point was UFC champions, including interim title, because the list would be too long otherwise. I can’t type some fighters that fought a long time ago, because I don’t know who they are. These days, it’s very easy to get exposure to fighters.
But all these guys are ISTPs 4wing3s. ISTP 4wing3 are generally “technicians” rather than “angry” fighters. They can be brutes, but more often fall into the category of “artists”. They are rarely overly mean or dirty fighters. They have empathy, a moral compass, and a desire to not “sellout” (which in MMA, is using dirty techniques).
4wing3’s have a higher level of emotional activity that you notice in interiews. They also have a higher energy level and speak faster than the 9wing1, the 9wing8, and the 8wing9 (who are all “slow”, or “calm”).
Enneagram Type 9s
If you want examples of typical 9wing1s, then:
- Fedor Emelianenko: ISTP 9wing1
- Gunnar Nelson: ISTP 9wing1
- Alexander Gustavsson: ISTP 9wing1
- Rory MacDonald: ISTP 9wing1
- Robbie Lawler: ISTP 9wing1
The 9wing1 and the 9wing8 is one of the best Enneagram types for fighting. The 9wing1 is highly interesting, because they strongly dislike conflict, while being realitively okay with physical conflict as long as it is voluntary.
When 9wing1s turn to crime, they tend to be the “nice” criminals that do the least amount of harm while still accomplishing the mission.
The 9wing8 is a little more ruthless. The 9wing8 generally operates like a calm and rational Type 9, but when their mental health drops (like described above with Khabib) they resort to Type 8 tactics.
The 9wing8 has a deep rooted fear of showing weakness or getting physically dominated, that the 9wing1 doesn’t have (at the same high level).
The Type 9 advantage in fighting is a huge amount of common sense & and that they stay calm under pressure, even superhuman amounts of pressure. They are the most energy efficient type in the whole Enneagram. The 9wing1 is the most stoic out of all 18 Enneagram subtypes.
Interested in Type 9s?