The Ten Biggest Busts in UFC History
By Mike Fagan, October 17th, 2013
With Hector Lombard fight for his job on the prelims, let’s look at the ten biggest busts in UFC history.
10. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto – Kid would have appeared higher on this list, but he starting busting before his UFC run. At the end of 2007, his record stood at 17-1, the lone loss a cut 30 seconds into his fifth pro fight. A knee injury kept him out of action in 2008. He returned in May of 2009, facing Joe Warren in Dream’s featherweight tournament. Warren was 1-0, a year away from winning Bellator’s featherweight title and two years away from MMA’s version of a T-ball stand. Kid dropped a split decision, then followed that up with another decision loss to Masanori Kanehara. Still, even a diminished Yamamoto should be better than 0-3 in the UFC when two of those losses include the likes of Darren “Darren” Uyenoyama and Vaughan “Vow-ghan?” Lee.
9. Yoshihiro Akiyama – Akiyama entered the UFC 13-1, having lost his second pro fight against lumberjacking heavyweight kickboxer Jereome LeBanner. (Akiyama also lost a 2007 fight against Kazuo Misaki, which was overturned when officials ruled a Misaki soccer kick illegal.) He’s gone 1-4 since, and he’s fortunate to have earned a split decision over Alan Belcher at UFC 100. Akiyama remains on an active UFC fighter despite the UFC cutting Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami on the basis of a “crowded roster.” We can only assume Akiyama has compromising photos of himself he’s promising to send to Dana White.
8. Kimbo Slice – Kimbo Slice (along with James Thompson) held the record for most-watched MMA fight in America until Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos rolled into Fox. Even after the Seth Petruzelli fiasco, Slice drove the Ultimate Fighter 10 into record territory. No one expected anything from Kimbo Slice, fighter, but surely the UFC could have protected Kimbo Slice, Rantings Monster. Instead, he split his two official fights in the UFC and hit the dusty trail in searching for cans inside boxing rings.
7. Hatsu Hioki – From the day Hioki signed, the UFC angled him toward a title shot against Jose Aldo. He survived a scare against George Roop and defeated Bart Palaszewski in Japan before the UFC offered him said title shot. He turned it down to fight Ricardo Lamas instead. He lost the Lamas fight, then dropped fights to Clay Guida and Darren Elkins thanks to the “American judges love great guard play!” gameplan.
6. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou – A guy knocks out a big name quick and it’s impressive, but you reserve judgement. He knocks out a second big name, and you start buying into the hype. That’s how Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou debuted in the UFC as a favorite over Lyoto Machida. Machida subsequently Machida’d him, and after splitting his next two fights, the UFC cut Sokoudjou loose. He’s 10-8 since, losing to people like Houston Alexander, Ikuhisa Minowa (KO – punch), and something called Evgeny Erokhin. Of course, anyone who watched Sokoudjou’s fight against Glover Teixeira, the one less than five months prior to the Nogueira fight, saw all this coming.
5. Jason “Mayhem” Miller – We already knew Jason Miller brought to the cage when he made his UFC debut against Michael Bisping in 2011: a high-third-tier/low-second-tier middleweight with an…upbeat personality and a reality TV hosting gig. So, we were a little surprised when he went 0-2 in the UFC and retired/received a pink slip. The things went off the rails. He started ranting and raving about Dana White. He complained that the UFC failed to cover surgery for a knee injury. Police found him naked in a church. He showed up to the MMA Hour in Here Comes The Boom character and freaked out Ariel Helwani. Now he’s in and out of jail following domestic violence episodes with his girlfriend.
4. Hector Lombard – Lombard won 31 times before signing with the UFC. Lombard beat zero opponent’s of any significant quality before signing with the UFC. So, the UFC, perhaps in an attempt to stick it to Bellator, perhaps desperate to find an opponent – any opponent – for Anderson Silva, dump a load of money on him, then watch him lose an uninspired decision to Tim Boetsch. A split of his next two fights brought him down to welterweight, where he’s apparently having issues with the weight cut in preparation for Nate Marquardt on Saturday. And he’s fighting on the prelims. This escapade cost Eddie Alvarez a bunch of time and money.
3. Alistair Overeem – Lombard may overtake him on Saturday, but for now Overeem stands in the top three. Overeem derailed another case of the UFC angling their big free agent signing for a title shot when he tested positive for steroids in a random prefight screening. Then Antonio Silva and Travis Browne re-exposed Overeem’s signature styling of starting strong and fading, fading, fading to sleep. He’s now scheduled to fight Frank Mir in a “Who fades first?” match.
2. Denis Kang – Who? Exactly. Kang held a 23-fight unbeaten streak between 2003 and 2006. Before signing with the UFC, he went 3-3, with those losses coming to legit fighters Gegard Mousasi, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Kazuo Misaki. His UFC run was unremarkable, 1-2 with losses to Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping. What puts him so high up on the list is that his run was so unremarkable, and his fall in MMA so swift, that most people forgot it was even a thing.
1. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – The UFC signed Cro Cop coming off his 2006 Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix win with the intention of matching him up with then-champ Randy Couture. He took out Eddie Sanchez less impressively than you’d hope before running into Gabriel Gonzaga right shin. A second-straight loss to Cheick Kongo followed, and then Cro Cop was back in Japan. He returned to the UFC in 2009, going 3-4 before washing out once more. Over his UFC tenure, Cro Cop managed a record of 4-6 with wins over Sanchez, Mostapha Al Turk, Anthony Perosh, and Pat Barry. Glurg.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at FightFansRadio.com, also available as a podcast via iTunes.