5 MMA champions who struggled in the UFC

5 MMA champions who struggled in the UFC

5 MMA champions

UFC 257 will see the UFC’s newest acquisition in action, as former Bellator Lightweight champion Michael Chandler debuts in the Octagon towards Dan Hooker.

Michael Chandler is the newest MMA champion to make his long-awaited UFC debut, but loads of big-name champions earlier than him have did not make an impact within the UFC.

The world’s biggest MMA promotion, the UFC isn’t the easiest place to reach. While some champions like Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold have done brilliantly in the Octagon, UFC history is littered with champions from other promotions who’ve largely struggled.

On that note, here are 5 MMA champions who struggled to make an impact in the UFC.

#1 Ben Askren – Bellator and ONE FC champion, 1-2 record in the UFC

Ben Askren, one of the vital credentialed wrestlers to ever set foot on the earth of MMA, took greater than a decade to make his way into the UFC. A two-time NCAA Division One National champion, Askren made his way into Bellator in 2010 and wasted no time in winning their Welterweight title after simply 4 fights.

‘Funky Ben’ went on to successfully defend his title in 4 events, but when his Bellator contract expired in 2013, it seemed to prefer it was time for him to move to the UFC. However, a dispute with UFC President Dana White drove him to the Singapore-based ONE FC as an alternative, and inside two fights he gained their Welterweight crown too.

After efficiently defending that title on 4 events, Askren retired. However in a shocking transfer in late 2018, the UFC and ONE got here to an agreement to commerce him to the previous promotion, and ‘Funky Ben’ was again.

Nonetheless, despite his gaudy 18-0 record, his UFC profession didn’t go all too effectively. His debut combat against Robbie Lawler noticed him virtually knocked out earlier than he recovered to secure a controversial submission.

And the less stated about his subsequent two fights, the better. He was brutally knocked out by Jorge Masvidal in simply 5 seconds – the UFC’s fastest-ever knockout – and was then submitted by Demian Maia.

‘Funky Ben’ ended up retiring for good after that fight, ending his profession with a document of 19-2. His lack of UFC success, sadly, stays a black mark on his ledger.

#2 Mirko Cro Cop – PRIDE Grand Prix champion, 4-6 record in the UFC

Maybe no fighter came to the UFC with fairly a lot of fanfare-like Mirko Cro Cop. One of the world’s most feared Heavyweights, Cro Cop had gained PRIDE’s Openweight Grand Prix in 2006, beating fighters like Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett.

When he signed with the UFC in 2007, it was anticipated that he’d left-high-kick his approach all the best way to the UFC Heavyweight title with little to no issues. Nonetheless, in hindsight, purple flags ought to been raised on his UFC debut.

Certain, Cro Cop beat the unheralded Eddie Sanchez, but he struggled to get a rhythm going all through the combat and didn’t appear to be the killer who terrified opponents in PRIDE. In his second UFC outing, his mystique was killed for good by Gabriel Gonzaga – who used Cro Cop’s personal trademark head kick to knock him mindless within the opening spherical.

The Croatian then misplaced his third UFC combat, this time in a listless effort against Cheick Kongo, and rapidly headed again to Japan. At the time, he was seen as the largest flop in UFC’s history.

Nonetheless, Cro Cop wasn’t fairly accomplished with the UFC. He returned in 2009 and picked up three extra wins, throughout lower-level opponents, however suffered 4 KO losses by the hands of Junior Dos Santos, Frank Mir, Brendan Schaub, and Roy Nelson.

Even in his wins, Cro Cop by no means got here near recreating his PRIDE success within the Octagon, which dissatisfied his fans vastly.

#3 Takanori Gomi – PRIDE champion, 4-9 record in the UFC

It’s hard to consider the UFC profession of Takanori Gomi, as soon as considered the world’s best Lightweight, as something however a painful disappointment. ‘The Fireball Child’ spent a total of seven years with the promotion, placing collectively a 4-9 record within the course of, with the nadir being a five-fight slide from 2014 to 2017.

It actually shouldn’t have been like that. Highly rated from his early profession with Shooto, Gomi made his PRIDE debut in 2004 and instantly reduce a swathe by means of their Lightweight division.

The likes of Jens Pulver, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Hayato Sakurai all fell to ‘The Fireball Child’, who ended 2005 ranked as the top Lightweight on the planet. Gomi was defeated by Marcus Aurelio in 2006 however continued to win the majority of his fights after PRIDE closed shop.

By the point he signed with the UFC in 2010, he boasted a gaudy record of 31-5 and was anticipated to rapidly turn out to be a UFC title contender. Nonetheless, his UFC debut may hardly have gone a lot worse.

Gomi got here in not trying near his best bodily shape and was simply beaten by long-time UFC veteran Kenny Florian. Whereas he looked again to his best in a win over Tyson Griffin, losses to Nate Diaz and Clay Guida rapidly bounced him from UFC title contention.

Certain, it’s honest to say that Gomi’s late-career slide was probably due to a culmination of injury, nevertheless it’s laborious to not be dissatisfied with anybody who has a UFC record of 4-9, particularly one who was alleged to be a UFC title contender.

#4 Wanderlei Silva – PRIDE champion, 5-7 record in the UFC

The reign of terror of Wanderlei Silva, one of PRIDE’s most legendary fighters, within the Japanese promotion’s Middleweight (205lbs) class lasted for six years, where Silva defeated quite a few greats like Quinton Jackson and Kazushi Sakuraba.

‘The Axe Murderer’ had begun somewhat of a downturn in his profession when he made his approach again to the UFC in 2007, however loads of hype still surrounded him. In spite of everything, Silva was renowned for bringing an unparalleled amount of aggression with him into all of his fights.

Early into his second UFC stint, when he had some early fights with the promotion within the late ’90s, it looked like Silva would reside up to his fame.

A loopy struggle with Chuck Liddell noticed him start issues with a loss, but the combat was so good that it didn’t actually matter. And when he smashed Keith Jardine in his second outing, it appeared just like the UFC would see the very best of ‘The Axe Assassin’.

Nonetheless, that was by no means the case. Again-to-back losses to ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Wealthy Franklin adopted, and a transfer to 185lbs didn’t actually rejuvenate him both, as he was stopped violently by Chris Leben in his second combat within the Middleweight division.

Silva did choose up some respectable wins during this era however by no means really appeared like the person who terrorized PRIDE. He finally left the UFC in 2014 following a refusal to bear a drug test.

The reality is that Silva was probably previous his prime by the point he re-entered the UFC in 2007, and it appears doubtless that his PED issues had been an try and recapture his previous magic. Had ‘The Axe Murderer’ joined the UFC in 2003, things could’ve been different, but his UFC tenure should be seen as a disappointment.

#5 Will Brooks – Bellator champion, 1-3 record in the UFC


Largely thanks to a somewhat low-key persona, former Bellator Lightweight champion Will Brooks didn’t precisely bring that much hype with him to the UFC.

However, ‘Ill Will’ was still supposed to develop right into a UFC Light-weight title contender. To see him finish his UFC career after only a year with a record of 1-3 was hugely disappointing.

Brooks made his name in Bellator, the place he put collectively a 5-1 record before edging out Michael Chandler to win their Lightweight title in 2014. He defeated Chandler once more in a rematch after which defended his title two extra times before joining the UFC in 2016 when his contract expired.

‘Ill Will’ gained on his UFC debut, but it was hardly the most impressive showing – a good decision over aging veteran Ross Pearson. Most followers put the efficiency down to Octagon shock and anticipated Brooks – an outstanding wrestler and grappler with an honest putting sport – to do higher subsequent time round.

That didn’t occur though, as he was taken out by Alex Oliveira, Charles Oliveira, and Nik Lentz, all with shocking ease, given Brooks’ lauded fame. In the end, the former Bellator champion washed out of the UFC after simply 16 months.

Brooks’ struggles ought to be a warning signal to Michael Chandler more than anyone else, and never just because Brooks beat him twice in Bellator.

He brought big fame from Bellator but simply found the stronger competition within the UFC just a little too laborious to deal with. Solely time will inform whether Chandler succeeds or follows Brooks’ disappointing path within the UFC.


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