Top 20 Craziest Sports Brawls
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Craziest Sports Brawls.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most chaotic, violent, and/or surprising fights in professional sports.
Did we forget to mention your favorite sports brawl? Let us know in the comments below.
#20: Guardians vs. White Sox
What could’ve been an ordinary play at second base became an internet meme. Cleveland Guardian José Ramírez went in for a slide, but Chicago White Sox infielder Tim Anderson wasn’t ready to play nice. Their verbal exchange turned sour as Anderson put up hands for a boxing match. The umpire failed to break it up, leaving both sides to turn physical. With both benches coming in to help, Ramírez connected with his opponent’s jaw and dropped him. Coaches and managers later got involved in separate incidents that kept the fight going for several minutes. All in all, ejections and suspensions were handed out to members of both organizations.
#19: Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota
For this face-off at Madison Square Garden, two heavyweights entered the ring to do battle. Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota kept the fight interesting until the latter threw an illegal punch. With Bowe writhing on the ground, Golota was charged by his opponent’s entourage. The ring was soon stormed by all kinds of wannabe fighters as a riot ensued. Despite attempts to break it off, dozens of spectators ended up inside the ropes. The violent clash led to several arrests and numerous injuries. Following this brutal exhibition, the bruisers held a rematch that same year despite the aftermath of this botched event.
#18: Angels vs. Mariners
With a growing feud between teams, this confrontation stemmed from a few questionable pitches in previous at-bats. Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz kept the bad blood boiling by hitting batter Jesse Winker. Instead of going for Wantz, the angry Mariner decided to yell at the Angels dugout. This led to a full-scale battle between the two teams. It seemed like every active player was on the field trying to get in on the action, including members of the bullpen. When all was said and done, eight people were ejected for their part in the vicious brawl.
#17: James vs. Stewart
While it all seemed like a misunderstanding, this fight between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart started with some rough contact. The Los Angeles Laker boxed out his opponent and hit him in the face. The Detroit Piston started to chirp back at James, leading to some pushing and shoving between teams. Stewart appeared to have a serious cut from the blood dripping off of him. After being restrained, he decided to charge the star Laker again and pushed aside anyone in his way. It all seemed to ramp up from an apparent accident to a full-on rumble. Stewart was suspended two games while James only had to drop one from his schedule.
#16: Giants vs. Nationals
As an MLB pitcher, you never know what’ll happen after you hit a batter. It’s sometimes best to assume that the likes of Bryce Harper will retaliate if they’re in the wrong mood. This happens for Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland in this clip, but the fight got even worse when Harper utilized an unlikely weapon. The Nationals’ batter decided to whip his helmet at the pitcher in a fit of anger. Thankfully for Strickland, the head gear didn’t connect with him. This didn’t stop the brawl, however, as both teams came to the rescue. It all happened in a flash, with both players quickly disappearing inside of a much larger altercation.
#15: Machado vs. Ventura
To start off this particular brawl, pitcher Yordano Ventura hit Manny Machado with a ball. The batter followed this up by charging the mound. While the two players exchanged blows, they each had an entire lineup to back them up. The Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles took the field to defend their respective teammates. Not long after the tussle, Ventura and Machado were physically separated in order to prevent round two. You can tell that both of them are seething with such anger that they could’ve gone on for much longer. The Orioles batter later doubled down on his decision, saying “I don’t regret anything.”
#14: Garrett vs. Rudolph
Even though this NFL game was winding down, there was still enough time for the most unforgettable fight of the 2019 season. Cleveland Browns defender Myles Garrett tackled Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in a confrontation that became ugly. Both players appeared to be fighting, grappling in a close-quarters battle for each other’s helmet. Garrett responded by taking Rudolph’s head gear and swinging it at him. Other Steelers came to the quarterback’s defense, pushing the Browns defensive end to the ground and attacking him. The event resulted in fines for multiple players and a serious suspension for Garrett.
#13: Australia vs. Philippines
During a qualifying match for the FIBA World Cup, the Australian player Chris Goulding was knocked to the ground by an opponent from the Philippines. The foul inspired his teammate Daniel Kickert to do the same to the man responsible. After each of these shoves transpired, the two squads came to serious blows. The brawl spilled off the court as Aussie and Filipino jerseys went every which way. Someone from the Filipino side even tossed a chair at an opposing player, turning this scrap into a dangerous battle. Members from both sides were suspended for the ensuing destruction.
#12: Cardinals vs. Reds
Following Brandon Phillips’ harsh comments about the St. Louis Cardinals, this fight was almost bound to happen. The second baseman stepped up to the plate and got an earful from catcher Yadier Molina. While Phillips and Molina started it, the worst of it was yet to come. Things got ugly from there as the Cardinals and Reds decided to clear their benches. At one point, both teams were up against the back netting in a scene out of a wrestling match. Players hit the ground in a mob scene that featured all kinds of punches and kicks. Catcher Jason LaRue received the worst injury of the bunch, sustaining a concussion that would put his career to bed.
#11: Avalanche vs. Red Wings
Inspired by an earlier incident where Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper, the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings were already testy at the start of this match-up. What followed was a night of fighting that came to be known as the “Brawl in Hockeytown.” A series of dust-ups started with Brent Severyn and Jamie Pushor, eventually leading to all sorts of brawls with other players that included Darren McCarty going for Lemieux. McCarty did a number on the Avalanche star as even the goalies fought for their teammates. There’s really too many fights to count, but trust us, it wasn’t pretty.
#10: Woody Hayes vs. Clemson
In the last game of his collegiate career, Ohio State coach Woody Hayes led his team into the Gator Bowl against the Clemson Tigers. The close contest took a violent turn in the fourth quarter. After intercepting a pass from quarterback Art Schlichter, Clemson player Charlie Bauman wound up out of bounds on the Buckeye sideline. Hayes then attacked Bauman with an unprecedented punch. This unsurprisingly incited both teams to fight each other, leading to significant penalties for the Buckeyes. On the following day, the coach was fired for his actions. The infamous event marked the end of an era for OSU football.
#9: Clint Bowyer vs. Jeff Gordon
If you think that NASCAR drivers don’t usually fight, this memorable bout from 2012 will change your mind. Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon were fostering a rivalry as they made the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Gordon appeared to hit Bowyer, creating a pileup on the race track. The latter driver took it personally as they both headed into their respective pits. With each crew heated up, things got ugly between the rival teams. This all culminated with Bowyer racing towards his opponent in the hopes of starting something. While neither man fought each other face to face, Gordon was ultimately fined $100,000 for instigating the crash.
#8: Clemson vs. South Carolina
As rivals from the same state, both the University of South Carolina and Clemson University have a history of dramatic confrontations. This particular game took things to the next level as the two teams got physical after the whistle blew. With Tiger players went for the Gamecocks quarterback, initiating a brutal beatdown at midfield. Both sidelines took off towards each other with little chance of keeping athletes away from each other. Helmets even came off as police were no match for evasive maneuvers and padded opponents. Each side suffered through suspensions and unwanted press, making the rivalry even more noteworthy.
#7: Cantona vs. Crystal Palace
During this English football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, forward Eric Cantona lost his cool in a major way. The star player received a red card for kicking Richard Shaw. A normal sports fight might’ve happened between opponents, but this matchup really got going once the United footballer leaves the field. The Frenchman wasn’t done kicking either as he decided to unleash his anger on a verbally-abusive fan. In what was described as a “kung-fu kick,” Cantona was taken away before he could do much damage. He received a short prison sentence that was later changed to 120 hours of community service.
#6: Rangers vs. White Sox
Pitcher Nolan Ryan might’ve been nearing the end of his career, but he could still fight like he was a rookie. Chicago White Sox batter Robin Ventura charged the mound after Ryan hit him in the back. Despite being the older player, the latter man did most of the punching during the altercation. Both the Rangers and the White Sox engaged in a melee with athletes strewn around the infield. Even after the initial confrontation cooled off, both teams started up again not long after. The legendary starter walked away largely unscathed and without an ejection.
#5: Bruins vs. Rangers
At the end of a close game, the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers started a fight in Madison Square Garden. Al Secord and Ulf Nilsson started the larger brawl that later included some fan interaction. Attendee John Kaptain managed to hit Stan Jonathan, provoking action from the latter’s teammates. Bruins players such as enforcer Terry O’Reilly launched into the stands and even used one fan’s shoe against them. O’Reilly and others received suspensions and fines for their participation in the incident. All these years later, it remains one of most infamous nights in NHL history.
#4: Red Sox vs. Yankees
This particular rivalry is full of historic fights, but this one might top them all. Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez threw a ball over the head of New York batter Karim García. Tensions prevailed until Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez stepped up to the plate against Roger Clemens. With a ball that seemed too close for his comfort, Ramirez charged the mound and incited both benches to take the field. During the confrontation, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer headed right for Martinez. The latter athlete then took Zimmer to the ground in a controversial move. While the lineups have since changed, this incident from the 2003 ALCS hasn’t been forgotten.
#3: Hurricanes vs. Golden Panthers
Florida International University went up against University of Miami in this 2006 game. While verbal abuse was hurled back and forth, FIU became more angry after a touchdown celebration from Hurricanes player James Bryant. A fight broke out during the next play as Miami went for an extra point. Punches, kicks, and wrestling moves followed as the opponents went at it. The whole thing became so intense that the police had to break them up. You’d expect this kind of thing from a historic rivalry, but it’s especially surprising coming from a seemingly ordinary match-up.
#2: Braves vs. Padres
During this tense game between Atlanta and San Diego, both teams threw balls at each other in a violent match-up. One brawl occurred in the 8th inning after Padres pitcher Craig Lefferts hit Braves man Pascual Perez. Perez’s teammates made a break for Lefferts in what became a brutal battle. Once the dust settled, the squads were clearly still angry with each other. An inning later, Braves pitcher Donnie Moore sent a pitch into the back of batter Graig Nettles. Both benches empty as the opponents create a massive pile-up in the infield. This time the fans eventually get involved in one of the more rebellious moments in MLB history.
#1: Pacers vs. Pistons
Among the craziest fights in sports history, this brawl started after the Indiana Pacer once known as Ron Artest fouled Detroit Piston Ben Wallace. What happened next took NBA disputes to a whole new level. Wallace went after Artest, leading to an extended period that included some unwanted fan interactions. One fan ended up throwing their drink at the Pacers’ small forward which inspired the player to enter the stands. The resulting melee was complete chaos, with Artest going after the wrong person. Athletes and fans started duking it out in the subsequent confusion. Fines, criminal charges, and significant suspensions were dished out as a result. The event has gone on to become known as the “Malice at the Palace.”