10 MMA Fighters That Crumple in Big Fights

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIMay 6, 2013

10 MMA Fighters That Crumple in Big Fights

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    In mixed martial arts, there are many contenders simply waiting for their golden opportunity to arise. Some fighters are able to rise to the occasion and make the most of their situation. Others run into physical or mental roadblocks that prevent them from showing up in top condition.

    This list will review the past failures of UFC fighters who have been given the chance to grab the brass ring, but ultimately came up short.

    Here is a look at 10 MMA fighters who are known to crumple in big fights.

Melvin Guillard

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    With 11 victories inside the Octagon, Melvin Guillard has a UFC tenure that most pros would envy.

    However, the powerful striker can't seem to get things together when it really counts.

    Time and time again, Guillard has been given the opportunity to elevate his status by taking on a notable opponent, and in each instance, "The Young Assassin" has fallen short.

    Most notably, Guillard was on the cusp of a title bout in late 2011 after winning five consecutive bouts. In a matchup against Joe Lauzon, there was a near certainty that a win would translate into a crack at gold. However, Lauzon quickly made Melvin look like an amateur and submitted him via rear-naked choke in only 47 seconds. 

Donald Cerrone

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    Donald Cerrone certainly kicked off his UFC career with an impressive run of victories, but Cowboy hasn't fared so well in big fights.

    Not only is the WEC standout 0-3 in title bouts, but he also lost decisively when given pivotal matchups against Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis.

    Now sitting 2-2 in his most recent bouts, Cerrone hopes to rebound when he takes on former EliteXC champion K.J. Noons at UFC 160.

Charles Oliveira

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    Believe it or not, there was a time when Charles Oliveira was one of the hottest prospects in the UFC. 

    After opening his career with an impressive 14-0 mark, Oliveira has only been able to record wins in two of his last six matchups.

    It's not only that Oliveira loses when facing high-level opponents, but he does so in one-sided fashion. Losses to Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone and Cub Swanson came in at a combined time of 7:40.

    If there was ever a time for Oliveira to get past his inability to win in big-fight situations, it is now. The Brazilian meets former champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 162.

Rousimar Palhares

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    Despite having seven wins inside the Octagon, middleweight Rousimar Palhares has never been able to defeat a ranked opponent when given the opportunity.

    Losses for the Brazilian lunatic include matchups with Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Alan Belcher and, most recently, a first-round knockout loss at the hands of Hector Lombard.

    Currently, Palhares is suspended following a failed drug test. After two quick losses, the Brazilian has some climbing to do if he wants to be relevant once more. 

Brandon Vera

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    Poor Brandon Vera.

    With an 8-0 record and quick stoppage wins over the likes of Frank Mir and Assuerio Silva, "The Truth" was pegged by many as a can't-miss prospect and future title holder.

    Since that time, Vera has been given constant opportunities but has fallen on his face repeatedly, holding an 0-6 record in matchups with notables like Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Shogun Rua, Jon Jones, Randy Couture and Keith Jardine.

    Sure, Vera has some wins in that period, but when you are beating guys like Mike Patt, Reese Andy and Eliot Marshall, it's pretty easy to forget.

Mike Swick

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    As one of the most successful stars to come from The Ultimate Fighter, Mike Swick is a popular star known for his rapid-fire attack and 70-percent finishing rate inside the Octagon.

    However, when put in the pressure cooker, "Quick" wilts quickly.

    The first example of this came in 2007, back when Swick was a budding star in the middleweight division. After scoring five consecutive wins, including a victory over former title contender David Loiseau, the Team AKA fighter was booked in a high-profile matchup with Yushin Okami.

    Okami was able to shut Swick down and win a unanimous decision.

    After dropping to welterweight, Swick climbed the divisional ladder quickly with four impressive victories. Boasting a 9-1 in the UFC, it looked as if the TUF star was ready for a title eliminator.

    The second chance for Mike came at UFC 105 in a matchup with Dan Hardy. In a major upset, Hardy rocked Swick in the early part of the fight, and he never fully recovered en route to another decision loss. 

Nate Marquardt

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    Nobody in the world can fault Nate Marquardt for succumbing to champion Anderson Silva during his failed 2007 title bid. However, "The Great" could never seem to put it together when it truly mattered later in his UFC career.

    Desperate for another crack at the UFC middleweight championship, Marquardt scored impressive wins over Demian Maia, Martin Kampmann and others, but he came up short in a pair of title eliminators.

    The first failure came at UFC 109 in a matchup with then-unheralded Chael Sonnen. Nate couldn't keep the fight standing and Sonnen grinded away to a decision victory.

    Nine months later, Marquardt was fortunate enough to be in a shallow division and squared off with Yushin Okami for the right to a future title shot. Nate looked flat in the performance and dropped another decision to his Japanese foe.

Uriah Hall

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    While most of the fighters in this list have a history of floundering in the face of a major opportunity, Uriah Hall's shortcoming at the Ultimate Fighter 17 finale against finalist Kelvin Gastelum was so massive that it earned inclusion.

    The destructive beast from TUF was widely expected to walk through Gastelum to capture the tournament championship and then make an immediate impact on the middleweight title picture.

    However, Hall cracked under the pressure and couldn't perform anywhere near the tremendous expectations that were thrust upon him. Ultimately, he lost a split decision against a man who has less than three years of professional experience.

Michael Bisping

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    Michael Bisping has only lost five times in his 29-fight career. That's an impressive winning percentage of 83 percent. However, when looking exclusively at Bisping's performances against world champions and title contenders, "The Count" has an appalling record of 0-5.

    At three points in his UFC career, Bisping has been promised a title shot if he can get past his next opponent. In fights against Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort, the Brit came up short. In the latter two matchups, he was left unconscious on the canvas in the second round.

    Other career losses include fights with Rashad Evans and Wanderlei Silva.

Kenny Florian

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    Although Kenny Florian is retired from active competition, the quadri-divisional fighter makes our countdown due to his absolute inability to turn in a clutch performance when the stakes are at their highest.

    It all began with Florian's failed bid to win the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter back in 2005. In less than three minutes, Sanchez was able to secure dominant position and finish "KenFlo" via TKO.

    Florian would spend the rest of his career dropping weight classes and fighting for titles that were just outside of his grasp.

    Sean Sherk would dominate Florian in a UFC 64 clash for the lightweight championship, and B.J. Penn would do the same nearly three years later.

    Kenny nearly got his hands on a third bid at the lightweight title, but he failed to bring his A-game to a UFC 118 title eliminator against Gray Maynard, who was able to break the will of the future commentator. 

    KenFlo did end up competing for gold one more time before calling it a career. However, it came in the featherweight division against champion Jose Aldo, who outworked Florian and forever put a kibosh on his hopes of being a champion.