MMA has been around for sometime now and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. At one point there were so many MMA organizations out there, that not all the best fighters where fighting under one roof. You had some of the top fighters fighting for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
Some fought over seas for the organization of Pride (Pride Fighting Championships), some fought for Strikeforce, while others fought for the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting). Now a days, we can all agree that the UFC is on the higher echelon of all the other MMA groups out there.
The UFC and Zuffa took out all of their competition, and was able to at one time get all the best talent from all the other MMA organizations. The problem was, some of the fighters where out of their prime by the time they got to the UFC, and others couldn’t rise to the occasion. Let’s breakdown and take a look at the best MMA fighters to never win a UFC championship.
10. Mirko “Crocop” Filipović
When MMA fans heard that the K-1 killer was coming to the UFC, they couldn’t wait. Only one fighter was known to have his limbs (legs) nicknamed due to how incredible his striking was; right leg hospital, left leg cemetery.
Crocop was brought over to the UFC to be the next big thing and they were grooming him to be the champ as well. After his first round TKO of fellow striker Eddie Sanchez, the UFC thought the Croation sensation was one win away from his title shot. They wanted to make sure he could hang with top grapplers, so they put him against the top grappler at the time in Gabriel Gonzaga.
What happened in that fight not only derailed the Crocop hype train, but shocked the world. Every fan thought that if Crocop could keep it on the feet that we would see a head kick knockout, and we were all kind of right. Gonzaga caught Crocop with a nasty head kick of his own and Crocop’ed-Crocop with a gruesome knock out.
Crocop landed so bad that he also almost broke his leg. Luckily for him Herb Dean rushed in to loosen it up so it didn’t snap. Crocop was never the same, and the UFC had to give Gonzaga the title shot (which he lost against Couture). Crocop would go to DREAM and win some fights, and return to the UFC, but would never get close to a title shot again.
Notable UFC wins: Eddie Sanchez, Mostapha Al-turk, Anthony Perosh, Pat Barry.
Notable UFC Losses: Gabriel Gonzaga, Cheick Kongo, Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir, Brendan Schaub, Roy Nelson
9. Kenny Florian
Kenny Florian comes to finish fights. When Florian was in his prime, he was a dangerous fighter with some of the scariest elbows in the game. He is the only fighter in UFC history to compete in four different weight classes.
He has received 3 different title opportunities, and has came up short on them all. At UFC 64 he battled back and forth in a bloody war with Sean Sherk for the vacant lightweight title where he lost a unanimous decision. After going on a 6 fight winning streak, Florian then got another chance at the title, this time against arguably one of the best lightweights ever in B.J. Penn.
Florian would go on record before the fight to say that Penn was like a Kung Fu master that was done, “It’s time to kill the master,” Florian said in an interview before the fight. Florian would get ran over by Penn and get choked out in the 4th round. He bounced back and forth with wins and losses, but was never able to get back to the lightweight title.
He did end up getting one more shot at UFC gold when he dropped down to featherweight and fought José Aldo, but again, he was unsuccessful. Florian has since retired and is an awesome analyst, but you can’t win UFC gold with your voice. If that was the case, Sonnen would already be a champ.
Notable UFC wins: Alex Karalexis, Kit Cope, Sam Stout, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, Takanori Gomi, Diego Nunes
Notable UFC losses: Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Gray Maynard, José Aldo
8. Wanderlei Silva
This in one of those cases of “too late to the party.” Silva dominated Pride for many years and by the time he got back to the UFC, it was just too late for the “Ax Murderer.” Silva had a chance at a young age to capture UFC gold when he faced Tito Ortiz for the vacant light heavyweight championship, but he lost a five round unanimous decision.
He would go on to win fights four years straight before losing to Mark Hunt in Pride. By the time Silva would return to the UFC, he was no longer in his Prime. He would come back to the UFC coming off two straight Pride losses to Dan Henderson and Crocop. He would lose a fight to Chuck Liddell (Fight of the year 2007), beat Keith Jardine and then get knocked out by “Rampage” Jackson.
That would result in him never even getting a title eliminator fight. Silva will always go down as one of the best fighters in MMA and is still fighting for the UFC. Just don’t expect him to receive a title shot anytime soon or ever in my opinion.
Notable UFC wins: Keith Jardine, Michael Bisping, Cung Lee, Brian Stann
Notable UFC losses: Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Rich Franklin twice-both catch weight fights, Chris Leben
7. Michael Bisping
Bisping always shows up for a fight, unless it’s a title eliminator. Bisping is the only fighter to win so many fights and never receive a title shot. It seems like when it’s title eliminator time, his mouth always ruins it for him.
It got him knocked out against Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort. His other title eliminator was against Chael Sonnen where he lost a questionable decision. Bisping is a good fighter whether you like him or not, but when it’s time to preform on the big stage for something on the line, the Englishman seems to always choke. I don’t see Bisping ever winning a title, but hopefully he will get a shot soon, as I feel he deserves at least one.
Notable UFC wins: Elvis Sinosic, Matt Hamill, Jason Day, Chris Leben, Denis Kang, Dan Miller, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Rivera, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Brian Stann, Alan Belcher
Notable UFC losses: Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen
6. Chael Sonnen
No fighter has been given more fights because of his mouth than Chael Sonnen. Too bad you can’t win UFC titles for talking, because if that was the case, he would be the champ in all the weight classes. Sonnen is a grinder and has 6 UFC wins with only one finish.
We all know Sonnen had one really good shot at seeing UFC gold at one time, but was choked out (triangle) with less than 2 minutes left on the clock against Anderson Silva after dominating for, four and a half rounds. He was given his rematch against Silva in the most anticipated rematch in UFC history and was derailed once again.
He is the only fighter to receive a title shot in another weight-class after coming off a title loss. Fans thought this was unfair, and all of them got to witness Jon Jones “Sonnen”-Sonnen. “The American Gangster” will always be able to sell fights, but is no longer main event material in my opinion, despite being in the headliner at the Fox Sports1: 1 event in August. I don’t see him re-entering the title picture ever again, his time has passed.
Notable UFC wins: Trevor Prangley, Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, Brian Stann, Michael Bisping
Notable UFC losses: Jeremy Horn, Renato Sobral, Demian Maia, Anderson Silva-twice, Jon Jones
5. Jon Fitch
Jon Fitch is known for being a dominate wrestler and has beaten some of the top UFC names inside the welterweight division. Maybe if he wasn’t so expensive, he wouldn’t have had to work so hard for his lone title shot. Fitch won 8 straight fights before getting his UFC welterweight title shot against GSP.
GSP out wrestled the wrestler to reclaim his championship. Fitch would then win 5 straight fights and not receive another title shit in that time. He went to a draw with B.J. Penn in a title eliminator. He was then put up against top prospect Johny Hendricks, who knocked out Fitch 12 seconds into the fight.
Fitch would win his next fight, and then get ran over and out wrestled by Demain Maia. The UFC then released him due to pricing. Fitch is too expensive for being a lay and pray fighter who has been inconsistent as of late.
He has signed with the WSOF(World Series of Fighting) where he is expected to be their first 170 lb. champ. He will fight Josh Burkman (has beaten Burkman in the UFC before) this Friday in the main event of WSOF 3. I do see Fitch returning to UFC in the future, but don’t see him ever wearing UFC gold.
Notable UFC wins: Brock Larson, Thiago Alves-twice, Luigi Fioravanti, Diego Sanchez, Akihiro Gono, Paulo Thiago, Mike Pierce, Ben Saunders, Erick Silva
Notable UFC losses: GSP, Johny Hendricks, Demian Maia
4. Urijah Faber
This is another one of those case’s of “too late to the party.” The majoritry of fans that knew what the WEC was back in the day, knew it only because of one guy, “The California Kid” Urijah Faber. At one time, Faber was considered to be the best featherweight fighter in all MMA.
Faber was the face of the organization for some time. He defended his title 5 times before losing it to Mike Brown (the first time Brown beat Faber). By the time Faber got to the UFC, he had already dropped down to bantamweight.
He has fought for the title and the interim title, losing both fights. I think we all agree if the UFC had a featherweight division back when Faber was running the yard, that he would of been a UFC champion and top dog. Faber is back on a two fight winning streak and is expected to face Yuri Alcantara on August 17, 2013 at UFC on Fox Sports1: 1. I think Faber has one good run left in him. I just personally think that the division is too stacked to ever see Faber wearing a UFC strap.
Notable UFC wins: Eddie Wineland, Brian Bowles, Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen
Notable UFC losses: Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao
3. Nick Diaz
Whether you love him or hate him, I think we all can agree that Nick Diaz is one guy that should have been a UFC champ a long time ago. “The Stockton Badboy” has had a lustrous career and he holds wins over some of the biggest names in the sport. He at one point ran the Strikeforce welterweight division.
Between his attitude and his management, they never knew when was the right time to get him back to the UFC. By the time they did, it was too late. I still think he beat Condit, but even if he would have got his title shot early, doesn’t necessarily mean he would have won it. Diaz is one of the best all time pound for pound fighters in all of MMA, but without a UFC title on his resume, he will always be “2nd best.”
Notable UFC wins: Jeremy Jackson, Robbie Lawler, Drew Fickett, Josh Neer, Gleison Tibau, B.J. Penn
Notable UFC losses: Diego Sanchez, Joe Riggs, Sean Sherk, Carlos Condit, GSP
2. Fedor Emelianenko
This is the only fighter on the list that never fought for the UFC, but he can’t say they never tried to get him. Dana White reportedly offered Emelianenko a contract to fight Brock Lesnar for the UFC’s heavyweight title in his debut. The contract was worth just under 2 million US dollars per fight, with incentives to make more based on pay per view revenues for fights he would headline.
The negotiations fell apart after Emelianenko’s management team demanded a co-promotion between the UFC and another organization. I still consider Fedor the most selfish MMA fighter ever.
He didn’t want to give fans what they wanted, he wanted more money instead. It’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship, not the Ultimate Fedor Championship. He knew how much he was worth to the UFC, and gave up a guaranteed title shot for greed.
I don’t know how people can still consider him one of the G.O.A.T.’s (greatest of all time) when he never fought the best in the world that the UFC had to offer or won a UFC championship. He will always just be the guy who could have had it all, but gave it up in my opinion.
Notable UFC win: None
Notable UFC losses: None
1. Dan Henderson
“Hendo” has to be number one on this list due to the fact he is the only fighter to have two title shots in a row after returning to the UFC. Henderson was known as one of the most dangerous fighters under the Pride banner, and when he made his UFC debut as the current Pride welterweight and middleweight champion(s), we weren’t sure how the UFC would handle him.
They respected everything he has done for the sport of mixed martial arts and gave him a title shot in his UFC return. He was first defeated by “Rampage” Jackson to combine the UFC light heavyweight and Pride middleweight titles. After his loss, he then dropped down to middleweight where he then lost to Anderson Silva to combine the UFC middleweight and Pride welterweight titles.
He had two straight chances to win UFC gold and came up short. “Hendo” has since returned to the UFC where he almost had a title shot against Jon Jones, but had to pull out due to injury. Henderson is 42 years old and is still fighting. Coming off a loss to Lyoto Machida, he looks to rebound this weekend when he takes on Rashad Evans.
Henderson is a future Hall-of-Famer whether he ever wins a UFC championship or not. I just think he is past his prime. I hope he knows when the right time to hang it up is, because I don’t ever see him getting that missing piece if the puzzle he considers UFC gold.
Notable UFC wins: Carlos Newton, Rousimar Palhares, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Notable UFC losses: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida
Notable mentions (interim titles don’t count):
Gray Maynard, Fabrício Werdum, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Kendall Grove, Gilbert Melendez, Shane Carwin, Alistair Overeem, Joe Stevenson, Diego Sanchez, Yves Edwards, Demian Maia, Melvin Guillard, Frank Trigg, Thiago Alves, Jim Miller, Chris Lytle, Joseph Benavidez, Ian McCall, Josh Koscheck, Pedro Rizzo, Ricardo Arona, Carlos Condit, and Rickson Gracie.
Hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have a different list? I would love to hear it. Contact me: