When Tito Ortiz exited the Octagon on July 7, 2012, he did so for the 27th—and final—time of his career.
Ortiz's 27 Octagon appearances signify the greatest number ever put in by a UFC employee, eclipsing the marks of legendary champions like Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.
But, records are, as they say, made to be broken, and the odds of Ortiz's appearance record standing the test of time are not particularly great. Indeed, there are a handful of still-active fighters rapidly closing the gap, threatening to supplant "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" as the most recurring figure in UFC history.
Here, we'll take a look at some candidates that may eventually meet or surpass Ortiz's mark.
From elder-statesmen coasting on fumes toward the record, to fresh faced youngster riding the strength of a healthy head-start, the following list details the 10 guys who have the best chance to take on Tito.
UFC Appearances: 16
Diaz has put in at least three UFC appearances per year since 2008, though he'll only get to two in 2012.
Still, Diaz has been one of the UFC's more active guys over the past few years. That he got started at a pretty young age only aids his quest to overcome Ortiz's record for most UFC fights.
Diaz is set to take on Ben Henderson for the UFC lightweight title this December, a match that will close the gap between he and Ortiz to 10 appearances. That's still a fairly tall order, but if he stays healthy, Diaz is likely to better Ortiz's mark within the next four or five years.
UFC Appearances: 18 (19 According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission)
After putting in an appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, Guillard has made 18 return trips to the Octagon.
At just 29 years of age, he'll have a legitimate chance to at least match Ortiz, though he needs to get back on the winning track, or he risks being cut by the UFC before he gets there.
Guillard has seen his fair share of ups and downs as a tenured UFC fighter, but is currently mired in a losing stint, having dropped three of his last four contests. But if he is able right the ship, "The Young Assassin" is a shoo-in to eclipse Ortiz's number.
Currently nine back of the record, Guillard should get there in about three years based on the pace he is on right now. He has fought three times each of the past three years, so he could very well do it by the end of 2015.
UFC Appearances: 25
The semi-retired Hughes has made 25 UFC appearances, which puts him just two back of Ortiz's mark.
That isn't a long way to go, and Hughes may indeed one day return to the Octagon. But even if he does, the question then becomes whether or not he could fit an encore bout into his agenda.
The prerequisite for two fights is, of course, a victory in the first. And given that Hughes' last two matches have been first round defeats, a comeback win is far from assured.
But still, stranger things have happened, and envisioning Hughes tying it up with Ortiz is not too far-fetched.
That he fights three more times to go beyond Ortiz's mark is far less realistic.
UFC Appearances: 12
It's taken Jones less than four years to compile 12 UFC fights. If he keeps the pace he is on right now for the rest of his career, he'll surpass Ortiz's high appearance mark by the time he's 31.
Even as a champion Jones has maintained a healthy rate of activity, defending the Light Heavyweight Title four times between September 2011 and September 2012.
So long as "Bones" remains in good fighting shape, he's likely to see his appearance number eclipse Ortiz's.
UFC Appearances: 21
Koscheck has been one of the UFC's more active members since he joined the promotion, but has recently seen his pace slow.
Injuries have been at play, and have kept him away from the Octagon for extended periods. He has been able to make just four appearances in the last two years, a significant decrease from the seven he made over the previous two.
As it stands right now, Koscheck is six fights back of Ortiz. If he can stay healthy over the next couple years he has a very decent chance of tying or exceeding the current mark.
If Koscheck can put in three fights per year in 2013 and 2014, he'll be right there alongside the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.
If he keeps going beyond that, he'll be in a class all his own.
UFC Appearances: 5
He may not have banked all that many appearances to date, but he has the long term potential to fight at least 27 times in the UFC.
There is little doubt that MacDonald is talented enough to hold a job in the UFC for the next 10-plus years, and he could close in on the record at age 34 by averaging just two bouts a year between now and and October, 2023.
Of course, injuries could potentially thwart MacDonald's chances of supplanting Ortiz as the most recurring figure in UFC history. But because the Canadian began putting in time as a teenager, he'll be able to absorb an occasional extended layoff and still surpass the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.
UFC Appearances: 4
It will take plenty of time for McDonald to make as many appearances as Ortiz did, but time is a luxury the 21-year-old most certainly has. He's playing with a pretty big head-start, and though he won't even threaten the record for a long time, chances are pretty good he'll rewrite it by the time he hangs up his gloves.
The only potential obstacle to McDonald making 27-plus UFC appearances is his health. If he misses big chunks of time throughout his career, he may come up short. If he can stay relatively healthy, he'll make it, no problem.
So long as McDonald can make two or three appearances per year moving forward, he'll be a top the list by the time he enters his early thirties.
UFC Appearances: 20
Mir has a chance, albeit an outside one, of taking down Ortiz's number. At 33 years old he is still a high level competitor that has motivation to stay active, and the ability to earn himself meaningful fights.
The former champion had just one fight in 2012, and was actually tapped to fight under the Strikeforce banner until an injury forced him to withdraw, so he'll have to pick up the pace next year. And he'll have to keep his work inside the Octagon, too.
If Mir does amp up his activity in 2013, he'll be on pace to challenge Ortiz for the top spot on the UFC all-time appearances list by early 2015.
UFC Appearances: 8
Oliveira sure hasn't wasted any time putting some UFC experience under his belt. On the contrary, the young Brazilian has been going after Ortiz's record with some serious enthusiasm, having already made eight appearances during his brief career.
Given that he'll have, at minimum, 10 years to eclipse the current record, all Oliveira has to do for the next decade is fight at a two-times-per-year clip.
He definitely has the talent to stick with the promotion, even if he hasn't quite lived up to expectations so far. The only obstacle that can seriously threaten Oliveira's pursuit of the record is injury; if he can stay healthy he should have no trouble setting a new high mark.
UFC Appearances: 18
St-Pierre would need nine more UFC appearances to match Ortiz's record, but there are few mixed martial artists as meticulous as the Canadian when it comes to taking care of their body.
Granted, "Rush" is coming off a knee injury that had him sidelined for a year-and-a-half, but he is still just 31, and could continue his career for at least another five years. If he recovers well for the injury, he'll almost certainly make it.
GSP's appearance total will take a jump to 19 when he contests interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit this November in a title unification match.
From there, just eight to go.