~ Brock Lesnar (5-3) ~
Lesnar fought twice in the UFC, earned a shot against current champ Randy Couture at UFC 91 in 2008. Winning the belt, he defended it twice, lost two fights, and just like that, Lesnar’s career had come to an end.
Having only competed once before joining the UFC, his climb to the top was more than impressive, it was telling of what Lesnar would’ve been capable of accomplishing in MMA, if he had chosen it as a career path out of college, as opposed to professional wrestling, and a failed attempt at professional football.
In the end, what really cut his career short was a disease called diverticulosis. A disease that almost killed him apparently, and wound up taking him out of action between his final two fights.
When he came back from injury to defend his belt against Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 in 2010, he didn’t look like the explosive juggernaut he had been. Even more telling of the effect of his condition was after he had multiple feet of his intestines removed, and only took a few knees from Alistair Overeem to collapse in to the cage.
The story of his legacy will include his meteoric rise to prominence in the sport, his achievement of almost single handedly carrying the sport in to the main stream media, and his rapid descent, all within the span of a few years.
~ Fedor Emelianenko (34-4)~
Considered the greatest heavyweight of all time for his dominant regin of the heavyweight division for about a decade in organizations including PrideFC, it’s kind of ridiculous to have Fedor listed anywhere near a list such as this. But if you consider his legacy, he was given options that would’ve allowed him to project his legend even further in to the history books near the end of his career.
He could have dropped weight and stopped fighting the monsters of the sport, he could have chosen to change his training regimen or camp all together, and most importantly, he could have accepted Dana White’s offer to join the UFC, and fight Brock Lesnar for an immediate title shot at the UFC heavyweight championship of the world.
He chose none of these things, and when he dropped three quick losses in Strikeforce to fighters who eventually made their way over to the UFC (Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and Dan Henderson), he was unceremoniously removed from everyone’s hearts and minds, and pound for pound rankings as well.
~ Brandon Vera (12-6) ~
Vera might have caused the belief of his potential greatness single-handedly, and therefore may not be considered as strong a candidate for this list as others. He did set the bar a little high for himself when he called out Chuck Liddell and claimed he would one day hold the light heavyweight belt simultaneously with the heavyweight one.
Undefeated and boasting a record a record with mostly finishes, the peak of Brandon Vera’s career was right after he beat Frank Mir by TKO at UFC 65 in 2006.
Since then he’s still fighting some of the best in the world at heavyweight and then light heavyweight, yet unfortunately hasn’t been able to string more than a win or two together lately, going 4-6-1 since then.
He’s still in the UFC though, which is an impressive feat alone for any fighter in the sport, and he’s set to face Ben Rothwell back at his original weight class, among the heavyweights at UFC 164. Yet without a UFC belt for all his troubles, he’s definitely warranted a spot on this list.
~ Cris Cyborg Santos (11-1) ~
Cyborg is considered by most as the number one P4P female fighter in the world at the moment. Her climb to the top found her on the biggest stage in WMMA at the time, back in 2009, when she TKO’d WMMA superstar, Gina Carano.
Since then she was stripped of her Strikeforce featherweight belt and suspended for one year due to failing a drug test for steroids. But regardless of these setbacks in her career, the next career decision she recently made could possibly be worse than anything that came out of the failed drug test to begin with.
Offered an immediate title shot in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division against Ronda Rousey, Cyborg has been claiming she cannot make the 135lb limit, and therefore has accepted a contract with InvictaFC instead.
If her legacy and claim to the P4P throne will ever be realized, she needs to make a run at a UFC title, unfortunately, the only one that exists is in a weight class she refuses to fight in. Yet unlike all the other fighters on this list, she could still change her destiny, accept an offer from the UFC, and stomp currently undefeated champ Ronda Rousey.
~ Tim Kennedy (15-4) ~
One day Tim was an up and coming fighter in the MMA world at the turn of the 21st century, and the next he was sitting in army fatigues in Iraq, watching former training partners and friends create their legend in the UFC.
Sure he was a green beret and ranger. Those are very elite level titles that anyone would be honored to hold, but unfortunately, they don’t pay the bills or establish a fighter in the sport of mixed martial arts.
He’s now fighting in the UFC after a subpar run in Strikeforce, but let’s face it, he could have been rubbing shoulders with some of the best fighters a decade ago. That kind of legend would’ve gone a long way towards establishing him as one of the all time greats.
Imagine if he had fought Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, or Tito Ortiz. He was arguably just as talented as anyone of those fighters, and therefore a threat for anyone back then.
Anthony Johnson – Struggled to make weight multiple times and was kicked out of the UFC.
Todd Duffee – Showed extreme amounts of talent and physicality but was kicked out of the UFC for an apparent attitude problem, plus has struggled to remain consistent in competition.
BJ Penn – Is known for generally lacking cardio in the fights he’s lost.
Eddie Alvarez – Is wrapped up in legal battles with Bellator Fighting Championships over him signing a UFC contract, vicariously not being eligible to fight during the prime years of his career.
Roger Huerta – Went on an impressive 5-0 run in the UFC and decided to retire for an attempted career in acting. When he returned, he wasn’t the same tenacious fighter that always found a way to win fights.