15 Active Fighters with the Longest Current UFC Tenure

Sean SmithAnalyst IJune 24, 2013

15 Active Fighters with the Longest Current UFC Tenure

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    B.J. Penn wants to keep fighting. UFC president Dana White would like to see the former welterweight and lightweight champion hang up his gloves.

    While Penn remains on the UFC's active roster of fighters, he hasn't fought in well over six months and does not have a bout scheduled. The legendary Hawaiian mixed martial artist would like to return to 155 pounds for one last title run, but many onlookers believe Penn has nothing left to prove and has taken enough damage over the years.

    Competing at UFC 31 in May 2001, Penn began his MMA career more than a decade ago, which makes him one of the longest tenured UFC fighters still looking to compete inside the Octagon today.

    As Penn's long UFC career winds down, let's see where he stands among the active fighters with the longest running and uninterrupted stint in the world's top MMA promotion.

15. Matt Wiman

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    UFC Tenure: 2,585 days

    Matt Wiman's UFC career began in regrettable fashion more than seven years ago, but he has slowly climbed the ladder to become a fringe contender in the lightweight division today.

    In his Octagon debut, Wiman was knocked out by a Spencer Fisher flying knee whilst wagging his finger in the air to tell his opponent he hadn't been hurt by a prior combination. It was no doubt an embarrassing moment for the then 22-year-old prospect, but he's done a good job of erasing that memory with plenty of successful performances over the following years.

    Seven years and 28 days following his first UFC bout, Wiman has earned four Fight of the Night bonuses and a Submission of the Night bonus. He's beaten the likes of Thiago Tavares, Mac Danzig, Paul Sass and Michihiro Omigawa. While he was recently knocked out by T.J. Grant, Wiman is still only a big win or two away from breaking into the top-10 lightweight rankings. 

13T. Spencer Fisher

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    UFC Tenure: 2,669 days

    Had it not been for him taking a bout outside the Octagon in February 2006, Spencer Fisher would have found himself much closer to the top of this list.

    After beating Thiago Alves and Aaron Riley in his first two UFC bouts, though, Fisher picked up a win at Battle at the Boardwalk before returning to the Octagon for good at UFC 58 in March 2006. 

    While Fisher never reached elite status, he became recognized as one of the more entertaining fighters in the lightweight division, earning Fight of the Night honors three times in addition to a Submission of the Night bonus. Despite contemplating retirement after a fifth loss in his past six fights, Fisher is expected to meet Yves Edwards at UFC on Fox 8 in July.

13T. B.J. Penn

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    UFC Tenure: 2,669 days

    Had B.J. Penn not left the UFC to compete under the K-1 banner for a brief period, he would have topped this list, having first competed in the Octagon at UFC 31 in May 2001.

    When Penn returned to the UFC for good, he lost his first two bouts against Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes before turning things around in the lightweight division. It was that run of five straight victories against elite lightweights which Penn is likely to be most remembered for when he retires.

    Penn's career has spanned more than seven years and three months, during which time he joined Randy Couture as the only two-division champions in UFC history. He also owned the 155-pound title for a longer period of time than any UFC lightweight champion.

12. Sean Sherk

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    UFC Tenure: 2,774 days

    Yes, Sean Sherk is still an "active" UFC fighter, though in the loosest sense of the word.

    While Sherk has not fought since September 2010, he's still on the UFC roster and expressed interest in returning to the Octagon as recently as May, when he angled for a rematch with B.J. Penn.

    Sherk made his UFC debut at UFC 30 in February 2001, but he didn't start exclusively competing inside the Octagon until November 2005. While Sherk has only fought eight times in the seven years and seven months since then, he did capture the lightweight championship and earned wins over Nick Diaz, Kenny Florian and more.

11. Rashad Evans

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    UFC Tenure: 2,788 days

    Rashad Evans is the only member of TUF 2 to have constantly maintained his UFC roster spot since the show's taping.

    Evans won the season's heavyweight tournament by beating Brad Imes in November 2005. After earning a guaranteed contract, Evans immediately dropped down to light heavyweight and went on an undefeated run to earn the 205-pound championship.

    Coming off of a win over Dan Henderson, the 33-year-old Evans remains a contender in the light heavyweight class more than seven years into his tenure with the world's top MMA promotion.

10. Alessio Sakara

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    UFC Tenure: 2,817 days

    Alessio Sakara was welcomed to the UFC in October 2005 with a Ron Faircloth kick to the groin. Unable to continue fighting, Sakara's first UFC bout ended in a no contest.

    Since then, Sakara has had an up-and-down UFC career. With a UFC record of 6-7, Sakara has never been considered a top contender, but his knockout power has made him a fan-friendly member of the middleweight division.

    With three straight losses, Sakara is in danger of finally being removed from the biggest MMA promotion going, but it looks like he'll have at least one more chance to prove himself before being axed.

8T. Brandon Vera

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    UFC Tenure: 2,821 days

    For a moment, it appeared Brandon Vera's long UFC tenure was coming to an end following a poor showing against Thiago Silva in January 2011. Instead, Silva failed his drug test and the fight was overturned to a no contest, which caused the UFC to go back on its decision to cut Vera from its roster.

    Upon his return, Vera defeated Eliot Marshall to ensure himself at least a few more appearances inside the Octagon.

    Now, Vera is set to return to the division where his UFC career began back in October 2005. At UFC 164, Vera will meet Ben Rothwell and try to pick up his first heavyweight win since beating Frank Mir many years ago.

8T. Thiago Alves

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    UFC Tenure: 2,821 days

    Like Brandon Vera, Thiago Alves made his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 2 in October 2005. 

    Alves and Spencer Fisher actually debuted against one another. However, unlike Fisher, Alves would never compete outside the Octagon again after his first appearance with the world's top MMA promotion.

    Despite losing to Fisher way back when, Alves went on to reach greater heights. Still only 29 years old, Alves has fought for a UFC championship and picked up 11 wins inside the Octagon.

7. Georges St-Pierre

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    UFC Tenure: 2,991 days

    Georges St-Pierre made his UFC debut in January 2004, but he took a fight with Canadian promotion TKO before returning to the Octagon to stay in April 2005.

    Losing only twice in his UFC career, St-Pierre has been one of the most talented welterweights in the world throughout his time with the promotion. Still the owner of the 170-pound championship, St-Pierre should also still have a few more years of fighting left in him.

    With eight straight title defenses in one of the deeper divisions in MMA, St-Pierre is already considered one of the best fighters in history. Should he someday meet middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a superfight, he could have an opportunity to separate himself as the greatest of all-time.

2T. Mike Swick

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    UFC Tenure: 2,998 days

    With the retirement of Forrest Griffin, Mike Swick is one of four TUF 1 participants remaining on the UFC roster.

    Swick began his UFC career with an outstanding nine wins in his first 10 fights. However, after losses to Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago, Swick sat on the shelf for more than two years with a stomach disease.

    After fighting twice in 2012, Swick finally looks healthy and is prepared to return to the middleweight division at 34 years old. 

2T. Chris Leben

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    UFC Tenure: 2,998 days

    Chris Leben also began his UFC career through TUF 1, and he has competed inside the Octagon 20 times over the past eight years and two months.

    While Leben hasn't been able to fight for a belt since joining the UFC roster, his exciting style has made him one of the more popular fighters in the world over the past decade. At the same time, Leben's brawling approach has worn on him and could soon force the 32-year-old into retirement.

    With three Knockout of the Night awards and two Fight of the Night bonuses, Leben will leave behind him a solid legacy when he does decide to call it quits.

2T. Josh Koscheck

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    UFC Tenure: 2,998 days

    Josh Koscheck has been even more active than Chris Leben since appearing on TUF 1 many moons ago.

    With 22 UFC bouts under his belt, Koscheck is one of the most experienced UFC fighters in the promotion's history. Despite all the wear-and-tear, Koscheck still finds himself competing against high-level opposition.

    At UFC 163, Koscheck will battle the surging Demian Maia. In doing so, he'll be trying to avoid a third straight loss, which could put his UFC career in jeopardy for the first time.

2T. Diego Sanchez

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    UFC Tenure: 2,998 days

    Diego Sanchez is still representing TUF 1 well as a fringe contender in the stacked lightweight division.

    The middleweight winner of the first season of the UFC's reality series recently returned to 155 pounds after an unsuccessful run at welterweight. In beating Takanori Gomi, Sanchez showed he still has the ability to make noise in the lightweight class, and he'll have a chance to do so when he meets Gilbert Melendez in the fall.

    Sanchez has not won a UFC belt in his long run with the organization, but he's earned 13 wins and fought for a title against B.J. Penn.

2T. Rich Franklin

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    UFC Tenure: 2,998 days

    Rich Franklin made his way to the Octagon for the first time in April 2003, but he didn't become a permanent fixture with the organization until his meeting with Ken Shamrock at the TUF 1 finale.

    Prior to Anderson Silva's arrival on the UFC scene, Franklin went undefeated inside the Octagon and became one of the better middleweight fighters in MMA history. Of course, Silva quickly surpassed Franklin in that area by demolishing him twice. However, Franklin has still had a great career that is now nearing an end.

    Alternating wins and losses over his past eight fights and coming off of a brutal knockout loss to Cung Le, Franklin is nearing retirement. While he's looking to fight at least once more, the 38-year-old Franklin may not have much more than that left in him. 

1. Frank Mir

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    UFC Tenure: 4,252 days

    Frank Mir has spent nearly 11 years and eight months on the UFC roster, but he's still ranked among the top heavyweights in the organization.

    In his long UFC tenure, Mir has won a UFC championship and an interim title. Though he never defended a belt, Mir's success over the long haul has made him one of the best heavyweights MMA has ever seen, especially on the ground.

    At UFC 164, Mir will welcome Josh Barnett back to the Octagon. With a win in that fight, the 34-year-old Mir could be right back in the hunt for another title shot.