10 MMA Fighters Who Should Have Taken Their Careers More Seriously
Despite working their entire lives to achieve a dream that has denied countless others, fighters oftentimes forget that being a professional athlete is a blessing in itself.
It doesn't matter whether they've fought in the UFC, Pride, Strikeforce, WEC, Dream or Bellator. There are very few human beings on this planet blessed with the ability to do the things that these guys can do.
In every gym strewn across the world, there are dreams waiting to be achieved or denied. There is also natural talent that will make it to the big show but will never reach its full potential.
Ralph Marston, author and publisher of The Daily Motivator, once said, "There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them."
In any sport, talent can only take a person so far. They need the drive, hunger and motivation to succeed.
MMA is known for its grueling training regimen and dieting, which sometimes takes a toll on even the most disciplined of athletes. Still, these are things a fighter has to endure if he or she ever hopes to reach their full potential.
Here are 10 fighters who should have taken their careers more seriously.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou came out of nowhere in 2007 with two monumental upset wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona.
With his world-class Judo and explosive striking, people began to anoint him as MMA's next major star.
Unfortunately, the hype train was derailed in the same year after Sokoudjou was submitted by Lyoto Machida.
Now, "The African Assassin" has basically faded into obscurity. He's rarely in great shape and about as consistent as a checker board.
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson is another natural athlete plagued by a questionable work ethic and issues making weight.
He was recently cut from the UFC after weighing in 12 pounds over the mandatory limit in his UFC 142 bout against Vitor Belfort.
It's a fighter's job to make weight. Johnson knew about the Belfort bout months in advance.
Yet he still misses the mark by double digits. This was even more shocking considering that Johnson's weight issues have generally been at 170 pounds.
With an extra 15-pound allowance, he still couldn't make weight for his middleweight debut.
Josh Barnett deserves to be an all-time great and a future UFC Hall of Famer, but his career will forever be marred by multiple failed drug tests for anabolic steroids.
The former heavyweight champion's UFC career was ruined by steroids and a bad run-in with Dana White.
After a successful stint in Pride, Barnett received an opportunity to climb back into the mainstream spotlight and challenge No. 1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in the Affliction promotion.
Shockingly, Barnett tested positive for steroids again, which forced the promotion to call off the main event and scrap the card all together.
Outside of Brock Lesnar, there has never been an athletic freak quite like Kevin Randleman.
A two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion out of Ohio State University, Randleman showcased flashes of greatness, but he never developed the consistency reminiscent of an all-time great.
In November 1999, he won the UFC heavyweight title and even defended it once before being ousted by Randy Couture.
Randleman never developed into a well-rounded fighter. He was basically a muscled-up heavyweight with a hard right hand and an explosive double-leg takedown.
After a short stint as UFC champion, Randleman found some success in Pride with wins over Murilo "Ninja" Rua and Renato "Babalu" Sobral, but that was short-lived as well.
Since defeating Rua, Randleman's fight record stands at a rather embarrassing 3-11.
What would've happened if Randleman really dedicated himself to rounding off his skills and improving his cardio?
Unfortunately, the MMA world will never know.
Karo Parisyan, who is considered one of the greatest Judo practitioners in MMA history, hit a brick wall in his career and never recovered.
After losing to Thiago Alves in April 2008, Parisyan seemingly broke mentally. He tested positive for banned painkillers and started having panic attacks.
As a result, fans saw a dramatic decline in Parisyan's performance. He has been cut from the UFC twice in the past four years.
In his last six fights, Parisyan is 1-4-1.
David Terrell's issue may have been taking his career too seriously.
In an in-depth look at the rise and fall of the former UFC prospect, Sherdog.com did an exclusive interview with Terrell, which was rightfully dubbed "The Man Who Might Have Been King."
"I was nearly suicidal after losing to [Evan] Tanner. It affected me that deeply. But I look at that time in general, [and] I wasn't happy. From the outside looking in, some people may have thought I had everything. I wasn't happy when I was fighting; it just got old, that lifestyle of going out and always training."
When a career ends, it's hard not to reminisce about the things you could've done different.
As a fighter, Terrell never forgave himself for being human. Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Randy Couture have all suffered defeat in their careers.
True character comes from dealing with adversity.
Paulo Filho has to be one of the more disappointing stories in MMA.
Before joining the WEC middleweight division, Filho was ranked alongside UFC champion Anderson Silva as arguably the best 185-pound fighter in the world.
Unfortunately, that talk died almost as quickly as it began.
Filho's win streak was snapped by Chael Sonnen in a championship bout that he didn't even make weight for.
When the UFC absorbed the WEC middleweight division, the promotion passed up on signing Filho, and the rest is history.
Filho continued to struggle making weight and getting in shape for fights, eventually leading to his retirement in October 2011.
BJ Penn could be the greatest natural talent in MMA history.
Along with UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture, he is the only fighter in the UFC to ever hold a title in two separate weight classes.
When all is said and done, Penn will walk away from the sport as an all-time great, but it's easy to ponder what else he could've achieved.
Throughout his career, Penn has always been surrounded with a cloud of suspicion regarding his motivation.
On one hand, there's the dominant version of Penn, who made Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez look like a cakewalk; on the other, you have the guy who gassed after a few minutes of action with Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz and Jon Fitch.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was already a star during his Pride tenure in Japan, but it wasn't until he came to the UFC that he really peaked as a fighter.
After defeating Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, Jackson became the first man in MMA history to unify the UFC and Pride titles.
Jackson has always been a fighter with enormous charisma and personality. In the States, this helped him achieve his lifelong dream of starring in Hollywood's "A-Team" movie as B.A. Baracus.
As a fighter, there isn't a problem with broadening your horizons and looking for other endeavors. The problems come into play when other endeavors distract you from maximizing your potential.
Since shooting the movie, Jackson is 2-3 in the UFC, and the consistency of his conditioning and overall motivation have come into question.
The path of success has been laid out vividly for Nick Diaz, yet he always prefers to take a detour.
Since being signed back to the UFC, Diaz has missed multiple mandatory press conferences and has tested positive for marijuana metabolites.
Some have turned Diaz's positive test into a debate about whether or not marijuana enhances a fighter's skills, but ultimately, this debate is irrelevant.
As a professional athlete and UFC fighter, Diaz has an obligation to show up to press conferences and pass drug tests.
In the real world, you get fired when you fail drug tests or don't show up to work.
If not for the failed testing, Diaz would be gearing up for an immediate rematch against UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.