While the UFC's champions are pretty consistently excellent, some have encountered rough patches in the UFC.
The UFC's champions are undeniably the best fighters in the world in each of their respective divisions.
They rack up absurd winning streaks and tend to consistently beat all comers. That said, not every bout has been perfect. There have, after all, been boos, hisses, jeers, bad judgments, poor refereeing and even losses.
So when fighters are writing their autobiographies, what chapter are they going to skip? What fights are not going to show up in highlight reels when the UFC's marketing department is pulling together commercials? What scraps would have made Dana White pull his hair out if he had any?
Find out here on the list of Every Current Champ's Worst UFC Fight!
This is possibly the precise point where Dana White decided that a 125-pound division was necessary.
Dominick Cruz is a relatively large bantamweight, standing at 5'8” and walking around at 155 pounds. At the time, however, there were many bantamweights that stood between 5'3” and 5'6” and barely cut any weight to hit 135 pounds. Demetrious Johnson was part of this crew.
Riding a four-fight winning streak, Johnson earned himself a shot at Cruz's bantamweight belt. Johnson made the most of the opportunity, using his lightning-like quickness to out-speed and out-land Cruz throughout the fight.
While he managed to land more hits than Cruz at striking range, the reigning champ had a size advantage that allowed him to bully Johnson around the cage at will. The end result was a unanimous decision scored as 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46. This, by the way, was the exact same strategy Cruz used to beat Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall in the WEC.
Luckily for Johnson, this is probably the last time he will ever face a substantially larger opponent, as he has taken the flyweight division by storm.
With only two fights in the UFC for Dominick Cruz, both convincing wins, it is hard to label either his “worst” fight. That said, his victory over Urijah Faber was slightly less thorough than his victory over Demetrious Johnson.
According to FightMetric, Cruz out-landed Faber every round and landed more takedowns throughout the fight, but the judges scored it 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47. This is compared to 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 against Johnson.
Again, it is kind of silly to label Cruz vs. Faber II his “worst” fight, but such is the nature of this kind of nitpickiness. Either way, it is the closest he has been to being challenged in the UFC, even if he didn't actually get challenged.
Once again, it is very hard to find faults with somebody who has run through all their competition so far.
Renan Barao is 4-0 in the UFC, and has basically had no trouble on his path to gold. The only hint of any sort of difficulty is how one of the three judges presiding over his UFC 130 win over Cole Escovedo said he lost a single round. Again, this is an entirely trivial thing to point out, but it says so much about how dominant he has been in the UFC so far.
But hey, now we can start talking about fighters that have actually had rough patches in the UFC!
Think back to about this time last year. Jose Aldo actually had people questioning if he was the real deal, and some even dropped him out of the top five in pound-for-pound lists. This came because of two fights, against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian, that went to decision.
His fight against Hominick saw him demolish the Canadian veteran for four rounds before fading down the stretch, and then getting badly outgrappled by his maimed opponent. His fight against the wily Kenny Florian, though, brought him to the brink.
Say what you will about KenFlo, but he is a smart, efficient fighter. He used his well-honed savvy to go blow-for-blow with Aldo, and actually landed more total strikes in four of five rounds. What was more telling, though, was Aldo again fizzling as the fight wore on. This time, against someone ten years his elder.
While Aldo turned that perception around a bit when he kneed Chad Mendes' skull clean out of his head, there are still questions that remain unanswered about Aldo's gas tank, ability to adjust and whether or not he can end fights in the championship rounds. Sure, Aldo ended up getting the nod against Florian. But this was easily his worst fight since joining Zuffa and rightly had many doubting whether or not he was among the best in MMA.
Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar's second fight was unnecessary, unexciting and frustrating for fans.
After losing the WEC lightweight belt to Anthony Pettis, Ben Henderson joined the UFC with a mission to get the belt back (or, well, win the UFC belt). He lined up his shot perfectly by beating Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida in convincing fashion over a seven-month period.
When the time came for him to fight Frankie Edgar for the championship, he battered him badly, bullied him around the cage and took a unanimous decision victory in front of an excited Japanese crowd. Dana White, an unrepentantly biased Frankie Edgar fan, booked an immediate rematch.
This was a bad idea on its own. The fight itself, though, was even worse.
While their first fight was an absolute brawl, the rematch was substantially more measured to the point where either fighter seemed almost tentative. In the end, neither fighter really did enough to truly establish themselves as the winner, but the majority of fans felt Edgar won the fight three rounds to two. Which three rounds? Well, that remains debatable to this day.
The judges, however, gave the nod to Ben Henderson, causing a bit of a stir as many fans cried robbery (which really was not the case). Whether or not you agree with the decision, there is no debate that the rematch with Edgar was Henderson's weakest UFC fight.
GSP was not always the utterly dominant champion he is now. There was a time when GSP was, in fact, but a humble prospect trying make a name for himself in the MMA world. Flash back eight years to October 22, 2004.
St-Pierre was a 23-year-old out of Montreal with a chiseled physique on the fast-track to the top after beating up-and-comer Jay Hieron and Judo whiz Karo Parisyan. In a combination of recognizing his incredible potential and just general shallowness in the 170-pound division, GSP was matched against superstar Matt Hughes.
Hughes proceeded to bully GSP around the cage with superior wrestling, and landed takedown after takedown. In the waning seconds of the first round, Hughes skipped out of guard position, slid over GSP and slapped on one of the fastest armbars ever seen in the UFC.
While the loss to Matt Serra is regarded as the biggest upset in UFC history, this is basically the one time Georges St-Pierre truly got dominated in the UFC. He later claimed nerves and would fight Matt Hughes two more times at UFC 65 and UFC 79, coming out the victor on both occasions.
Still, looking back, it is truly odd seeing GSP being dominated the way he was here.
While the WEC is best known for being the birthplace of the UFC's bantamweight and featherweight divisions, it was actually also the original home of Carlos Condit, who, with Chael Sonnen, Mark Munoz and Brian Stann, was one of the lucky few to get absorbed into the UFC. As the WEC's dominant welterweight champion, he was put in position to quickly make an impact by squaring off with former middleweight contender Martin Kampmann.
Condit was given the rare distinction of actually headlining the card in his debut. This, however, would be the only kind gesture he received in the UFC for a long while.
Condit easily won the first round, but the second and third rounds were as close as they could be, with the statistics showing the fighters separated by just a single hit or two. FightMetric actually scored the bout a draw. Two of the judges, though, gave both of the close rounds to Kampmann, resulting in a split-decision loss that would set Condit back for years.
Because of this super-close decision, he went from the title picture to fighting promotional newcomers. If it wasn't for Nick Diaz's complete refusal to do his job, he may not even have had the interim belt he has today.
Depending on how you would define “worst fight," this may not be the best choice. After all, Anderson Silva came terribly close to losing to Chael Sonnen back at UFC 117. However, in terms of both damaging his career and just plain boring fans, his worst fight was easily his infamous encounter with Demian Maia in Abu Dhabi.
The actual scope and importance of UFC 112 is fairly unknown by the average fan. Flash Entertainment, a company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, bought 10 percent of Zuffa, the UFC's parent company. To commemorate the deal, the UFC put together a blockbuster card that featured two championship bouts, a fight between golden age veterans Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie, and a slew of hot prospects.
They took all these fighters, flew them to the Middle East, set up an entire stadium just for the occasion and got great fight after great fight. Then Silva and Maia showed up.
In the first two rounds, Silva seemed like he was going to embarrass Demian Maia the way he did Forrest Griffin. He danced. He landed leg kick after leg kick. He rocked his opponent repeatedly and taunted the out-of-his-league Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist. From there, Silva opted to let Maia come to him. Maia was not big on this idea.
While the blame, for the most part, lies with the fight's loser for his absolute refusal to engage with Silva, commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg complained about Silva's supposed unwillingness to simply end the fight. This combined with Dana White's anti-Silva tirades caused a public relations nightmare for Ed Soares and his management team.
Time has healed this wound, but it is important to remember that there was a time when Anderson Silva was the least liked champion in the UFC.
Fedor Emelianenko, until he had the back-to-back-to-back losses in Strikeforce, was sitting on a much-hyped 31-1 (1) record. That one loss, which would follow him around forever, came from Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who was awarded the win after unintentionally delivering an illegal elbow to Emelianenko's brow that opened a cut. This prompted the doctor to call it a fight, and the referee to call it a win for Kohsaka.
Jon Jones is in the exact same spot, with 17 wins and a single less-than-legitimate loss. That came from a signature Steve Mazzagatti moment at The Ultimate Fighter 10's finale, where Jones fought Matt Hamill.
Matt Hamill, at the time, was a popular light heavyweight because of his success on season three of The Ultimate Fighter. Jones was a young hotshot coming off three exciting wins, primed to hit the big time in his first main card appearance.
Jones, as he would many times in the future, dominated his opponent. He took Hamill down and unleashed a savage wave of ground-and-pound that saw the referee pull him off his badly beaten opponent. The bout was waved to a halt, seemingly with Jones being the victor by TKO.
Then it was announced Jones was actually being stuck with a DQ loss for vertical elbow strikes to Hamill's face. The rule itself is silly, but what made it worse was how Hamill stated he was unable to continue after talking with the doctor due to a shoulder injury, not his freshly tenderized face. This remains Jones' only loss, and it will follow him around forever.
Back to square one (or squares two through four): A seemingly unstoppable fighter with some poor writer who has to pick out a single “worst” fight.
Junior dos Santos has had no trouble in the UFC so far, with nine victories, zero losses and six knockouts. One of those three non-knockout victories was a decision over Shane Carwin that set him up for a title fight against Cain Velasquez.
The UFC 131 headline was originally supposed to be the TUF13 Coaches' Fight, pitting dos Santos against hyper-popular former WWE star Brock Lesnar. However, a second case of diverticulitis forced him out of the fight. Carwin, whose last fight was a loss to Lesnar, filled in and seemed totally content doing his impression of dos Santos' punching bag.
Dos Santos hit Carwin in the face again and again and again. Carwin took it like a champ (but not the kind that actually wins fights), but wore down as the fight went on. Things got progressively slower and more tedious until dos Santos mercifully stuck Carwin with a double-leg takedown. He would hold him there until the horn sounded.
It was a great night for dos Santos, but still his least exciting fight in the UFC.