Chael Sonnen, Shane Carwin and Fighters Who Fell Just Short of UFC Titles
History tends to only remember the people who came in first.
This is rather unfortunate for a handful of fighters who fell just short of the UFC title. There are a few different ways for this to happen:
1. They achieved a draw in their championship fight instead of a win.
2. They were dominating the champion but lost when the champion mounted an unlikely comeback.
3. They worked their way to multiple title shots but lost on every try.
This slideshow explores these scenarios.
Scenario 1: Drawing in the Title Fight
To be the best, you've got to beat the best.
Matching the best doesn't seem to be enough.
At UFC 125, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought to a draw. Edgar was the defending champion and retained his belt, while Maynard went home empty-handed. This is surely the most heart-wrenching way to fall just short of the title.
The only other UFC title fight to go to a draw also occurred in the lightweight division. At UFC 41, BJ Penn and Caol Uno fought to a draw for the vacant lightweight championship. Neither man went home with the belt that day, though Penn would later win it at UFC 80.
Scenario 2: Champion Gets Dominated but Manages Unlikely Comeback Win
At UFC 117, Chael Sonnen completely dominated Anderson Silva with his wrestling.
The champion was on his back for the majority of the fight and got hit more times than in all his previous UFC fights combined. Sonnen also managed to out-strike Silva and knocked the champion down twice with his boxing.
All for naught—with two minutes remaining in the fight, Silva forced Sonnen to tap via triangle choke.
At UFC 116, Shane Carwin nearly finished Brock Lesnar in Round 1.
He rocked Lesnar with an uppercut and then followed up with strikes on the ground.
Unfortunately, he gassed himself out in the process. Lesnar recovered between rounds and won via arm-triangle choke in Round 2.
Carwin would later get technical and describe what he had experienced as "lactic acidosis" through his Twitter account (not surprising given that he is a mechanical engineer). Apparently the condition was serious enough to warrant brief hospitalization.
Scenario 3: When the Third Time Is Not the Charm
Kenny Florian has fought for the title three times: twice at lightweight and once at featherweight.
He lost every time.
In 2006, he faced Sean Sherk for the vacant UFC lightweight championship and spent the majority of the fight on his back.
In 2009, he challenged BJ Penn for the lightweight belt but was submitted in Round 4.
In 2011, he dropped down to featherweight to challenge champion Jose Aldo and lost a five-round unanimous decision.
Pedro Rizzo is the only other person in UFC history to fight for a title three times and lose on all three tries.
At UFC 26 in 2000, he lost a decision to Kevin Randleman for the UFC heavyweight strap.
In 2001, he lost to Randy Couture twice in consecutive fights.