10 MMA Fighters Whose Stock Has Taken the Biggest Hit in 2012
On reflection, 2012 has been a turbulent year for mixed martial arts. It’s been a year during which the sport has been rocked by drugs scandals, plagued with injuries and seen major events disintegrate at the last moment.
Of course, it isn’t all bad news. Promotions, such as the UFC, have continued to grow stronger; consolidating new TV deals, opening up new markets in Brazil and Japan and televising more events in one year as well as breaking all records for a single event with UFC 148.
And as the fortunes of the sport have waxed and waned over the last 10 months, so too has that of the fighters.
Many of the biggest names in MMA now find themselves on the periphery, caught up in all the drama of drug scandals, injury and poor performances. Here’s a list of the 10 worst hit.
10. Jake Shields
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Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields has had a tough time of it in the UFC. Once a highly-rated fighter, he is now battling obscurity as he moves from one lackluster performance to another.
The high-point in his career came with his domination of Dan Henderson in 2010 in defense of his Strikeforce title. It was a performance that caught the attention of the UFC, which parachuted him into the promotion as a top-contender to face indefatigable welterweight champ George St. Pierre.
After losing to St. Pierre and then getting TKO’d by Jake Ellenberger within a minute of the first round, Shields had it all to play for in 2012.
The fact that he won his next two fights may make it seem unfair that he’s included in this list of fighters struggling in 2012. But in truth, he’s impressed in neither performance, and memories of him as a potential champ have now long since faded.
His lackluster win against Yoshihiro Akiyama in Feb. convinced him to move back up to middleweight. However, his next fight against Ed Herman in Aug. was equally unimpressive, as he huffed and puffed his way to another languid decision win.
Neither fight has done him any favors.
9. Jason Miller
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Jason “Mayhem” Miller signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in April 2011 following Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce.
Despite going the distance and losing against Jake Shields, by the time he joined the UFC, he was on a two-fight winning streak topped with a submission win over fading star Kazushi Sakuraba.
But Mayhem was hanging by a thread from day one. UFC president Dana White made it no secret that he was only brought into the organization because he was banned from Showtime due to a post-fight altercation inside the cage and therefore couldn’t fight for Strikeforce anymore.
After his first loss to Michael Bisping, White was ready to cut him, decidedly unimpressed with both his MMA persona and his performance inside the cage.
However, in May this year, on the UFC 146 undercard, he was given one more shot and embarrassed himself against journeyman middleweight C B Dolloway. And that was the end of his career.
Since then Mayhem’s been on a downward spiral. Engaging in a Twitter war with his former boss, in what can only be seen as the actions of a man on the verge of a breakdown, and being involved in a bizarre incident in a church.
8. Clay Guida
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Clay Guida has been a fan favorite for many years. Never the most technically skilled, he was, nevertheless, a brawler with a ferocious spirit who always brought the fight to his opponent.
And with that style of fighting, as messy as his overgrown hair, by the latter part of 2011, he’d amassed four straight wins culminating in massive decision victory over WEC star Anthony Pettis.
However, his run came to a crashing end as he was beaten by Ben Henderson in a lightweight title eliminator last November.
In 2012 he suffered a second straight loss at the hands of Gray Maynard leaving him an obscure figure in the division. What’s worse than the loss was his decision to abandon all the aggression that had taken him so far in MMA and adopt a “stick and move” style of fighting that ended up alienating all his fans.
With boos still ringing in his ear from his last fight, Guida announced the decision to leave the lightweight division forever and move down to featherweight.
7. Chael Sonnen
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It’s hard to place Chael Sonnen in this list. Yes he just lost the biggest fight of his career and decided to call time as a middleweight. However, in the process, he has become one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in MMA.
That should leave any discussion of his “stock” as a fighter as purely academic.
Despite all the controversy over his title fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 148, he was, nevertheless beaten badly. After that defeat, and as Dana White is fond of saying, it’s “back of the line” for Sonnen, in what has suddenly become a fiercely stacked division.
That prompted a dramatic reassessment of his career from Sonnen who has since announced a move up to light heavyweight with a fight against Forrest Griffin in the works.
It may be a long way from a title shot, but MMA is a strange game and anything can happen. Only last month Sonnen almost talked his way into an unlikely fight against Jon Jones, and, even though his stock may have taken a dive following his loss to Silva, he has a mouth that could help him bounce back quicker than any other fighter in the entire sport.
6. Mark Munoz
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For years the “Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz has languished as a bit player in the UFC, more useful as a wrestling coach and sparring partner to other fighters than as a contender himself.
However, since losing to Yushin Okami in 2010, Munoz put together a four-fight winning streak that culminated with a two-round TKO over Chris Leben. This was set to be his year and Munoz was almost guaranteed a title shot against former training partner Anderson Silva if he could get passed Chris Weidman.
That turned out to be a big if. What many thought would be a mere formality turned into a devastating loss, as Weidman brutally knocked him out with a slicing elbow in the second round. And that is the last we’ve heard of Munoz as a title contender.
5. Quinton Jackson
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The most surprising thing about Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s year in 2012 is the fact that he’s still with the UFC.
However, the UFC is determined to make him see out his contract and have one more fight.
The former light heavyweight champion has had a mixed bag over the last four years, but despite losing to Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and then Jon Jones last year, he remained one of the UFC’s biggest names.
But, in many ways, the fighter has been on a self-sabotaging mission. Despite begging Dana White to be put on the UFC card in Japan, Jackson turned up on the night overweight, out of shape, and was soundly beaten by his opponent Ryan Bader.
Since then, he’s made it no secret of his desire to be released from his UFC contract. He even went so far as making an infamous “rape” video that he said was an attempt to get fired from the organization.
Jackson was due to face Glover Teixeira in what was meant to be his swan-song for the UFC at UFC 153, but injury has since forced him out. It’s unclear now who his last opponent will be or whether he’ll fight again at all.
4. Nick Diaz
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One of the most enigmatic figures in MMA and lauded by many as the only man with the potential to unseat George St. Pierre as MMA champion, Nick Diaz has had a horrible 2012.
To try and even sum up the dramatic twists and turns that have left him an obscure figure in MMA as we move into 2013 would be like trying to sum up a novel.
Skirting over all the intricacies of a torrid eight-nine months, the main lowlights for Nick are the fact that his 11-fight winning streak came to a crushing end when he lost a controversial decision to Carlos Condit in February, and his subsequent positive test for marijuana “metabolites” has left him suspended for a year.
In that time, the world of MMA has almost left him behind.
He lost his lucrative title shot against GSP that would have made him a superstar. Even if GSP gets past Condit, the Canadian champ is eyeing a fight against Anderson Silva next, so it could be a long time before another welterweight gets a shot at him.
And even then, fighters like Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks want their piece and will stand in the way of Nick when he makes his return.
That’s a far cry from the heady height Nick had reached after beating BJ Penn into retirement in Oct. last year.
3. Muhammed Lawal
Source: cage potato
Fighters shamed by drug scandals (and no, marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug) comprise the entire top three in this list, and bringing up the rear is “King” Muhammed Lawal.
In January King Mo was stripped of his Strikeforce light heavyweight title after he tested positive for the steroid Drostanolone.
That failed drug test followed an emphatic second-round win against Lorenz Larkin that marked the ninth in Lawal’s 10-fight career. An impressive record and anyone observing MMA would have thought, back in January, that the NCAA Division II national champion could be a worthy opponent for Jon Jones in the UFC somewhere down the line.
But those dreams are all but shattered now. King Mo was promptly released from his Strikeforce contract following the failed drug test and spent the next four months looking for another promotion.
That promotion has come in the way of Bellator Fighting Championships, which signed the fighter in May. Curiously, King Mo has also managed to secure a pro-wrestling contract with TNA, which, combined, is probably more lucrative than the deal he had with Strikeforce.
Nevertheless, he will be fighting in a lesser promotion and dreams of the UFC have fallen in the mud.
2. Alistair Overeem
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Another Strikeforce-to-UFC fighter who’s had a horrible 2012 is Dutch fighter Alistair Overeem.
After his victory over Brock Lesnar in December, he was set to face Junior Dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title in one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the year.
But, in May, barely a week before UFC 146, Overeem failed a surprise drug test that he knew was coming.
The result was a six-month suspension leaving him second guessing his future in MMA.
His boss, Dana White, didn’t mince his words when he expressed his disappointment and Overeem’s drug test.
What’s more, for many fans, it seemed to confirm what they had always suspected. Overeem’s move from light heavyweight to heavyweight, adding an eye-watering amount of muscle, had already earned him the nickname, Alistair “Overoid”. The failed drug test completely tarnished his legacy and sabotaged his efforts to make a name for himself in the US.
He has since gone on a career-salvaging mission. Building bridges with White and almost trash-talking his way back into a fight with Dos Santos.
However, “the Reem” is still suspended until the end of the year and will have to prove himself against another opponent before being given a title shot.
1. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos
Source: MMA Frenzy
Of the fighters on this list who’ve fallen so far from grace because of a failed drug test, you could make a case for any one of them to be No. 1 in the list.
After all, suspicions of Alistair Overeem being dirty were as widespread as they were against Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. Both their legacies have been irrevocably tarnished, but in the case of Santos, she had much more to lose.
By then end of Dec. 2011, Cyborg was the reigning queen of women’s MMA. Aside from a now long-forgotten loss in her first fight, the Brazilian had gone undefeated in 11 fights, winning all but one by stoppage.
She was the most intimidating figure in women’s MMA and Strikeforce featherweight champion—a belt she defended three times. But, after her last defense, against Hiroko Yamanaka, she tested positive for Stanozolol and her world came crashing down.
She was quickly stripped of her title and suspended for a year.
What’s made it worse for Santos is that she’s had a rising upstart, Ronda Rousey, spend most of 2012 besmirching her name.
Rousey has had a meteoric rise in the world of MMA, and in March captured the bantamweight title from Miesha Tate.
Santos has largely been silent in response.
If sources are to be believed Rousey vs. Santos is likely to happen on the Brazilian’s return.
It could be the biggest fight in the history of women’s MMA, and if Santos wins, would prove that even a disgraced fighter is only one match away from consolidating a legacy.