10 Longest-Tenured UFC Veterans Right Now
In a sport that can wear the body down in a hurry, not many MMA fighters have the durability to last more than a decade at the highest level.
The remaining The Ultimate Fighter 1 participants are six months away from reaching that milestone, but they are dropping quickly. Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian and Chris Leben have all been removed from the UFC roster over recent years, leaving Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick as the only three TUF 1 competitors remaining.
Where do Sanchez, Koscheck and Swick rank among the longest-tenured UFC fighters going? Based on time competing under the UFC banner without appearing in another organization, here are the top 10 contracted UFC fighters who have been with the promotion the longest.
10. Matt Wiman
UFC Tenure: Eight years, four months, 12 days
Matt Wiman has never really been considered a serious title contender in the 155-pound class, but he's quietly had a nice career in the UFC lightweight division.
Having made his debut against Spencer Fisher in May 2006, Wiman narrowly edged out Michael Bisping, Ed Herman and Anderson Silva for the No. 10 position on this list. Those notable UFC veterans all made their Octagon debuts in June 2006.
With a respectable 9-5 UFC record, Wiman has never lost more than two fights in a row. That has helped the Colorado native avoid the chopping block and pick up wins over Mac Danzig, Thiago Tavares, Cole Miller and other recognizable names.
In November, Wiman will return from a 22-month hiatus to meet Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Even with a loss, Wiman's UFC career should continue, as he's still only 31 years old and will not have lost consecutive fights heading into the matchup.
9. Spencer Fisher
UFC Tenure: Eight years, seven months, five days
There is a good chance Fisher won't step into the Octagon again, but he's currently under UFC contract and is not officially retired.
After losing to Sam Stout in a June 2012 rubber match, Fisher appeared to be done with MMA. The entertaining brawler went as far as hinting at his retirement in a Fuel TV interview with Ariel Helwani:
Yeah, I think this was it. Sam brings the best out of me, it was a good way to end the trilogy, and if I did come back, it would be at 145 pounds. I'm too small for 155 pounds. If the right fight came along, I would come back.
Fisher did end up finding that right fight, though. He was booked to meet Yves Edwards 13 months later, but an injury forced him out of that matchup, and Fisher really hasn't been heard from since then.
One would have to assume Fisher will clear things up eventually. Right now, though, he's lying low and contemplating his future in MMA.
8. Rashad Evans
UFC Tenure: Eight years, 11 months, four days
Had Josh Burkman not signed with the UFC recently, Rashad Evans would be the only TUF 2 participant remaining on the UFC roster.
Despite being extremely undersized, Evans was able to win the heavyweight tournament on that season of the UFC reality show. He went on to become a light heavyweight champion and has become one of the more accomplished fighters in UFC history.
With wins over Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson in his past two appearances, Evans doesn't appear ready to hang up his gloves any time soon either. Right now, he is recovering from injury, but he figures to return as one of the top contenders in the 205-pound division.
7. Thiago Alves
UFC Tenure: Nine years, six days
Although he's still only 31 years old, Thiago Alves recently hit his ninth anniversary since debuting inside the Octagon during October 2005.
Since then, Alves has beaten Matt Hughes, Koscheck and many others. Pitbull also earned a title shot in July 2009, but he came up short when he was unable to shut down Georges St-Pierre's takedowns.
Despite his age, Alves does appear to be wearing down. The Brazilian has been battling injuries over the past two years, only competing once since March 2012.
6. Georges St-Pierre
UFC Tenure: Nine years, five months, 23 days
St-Pierre is taking a break from fighting right now, but the widely accepted expectation is that the former welterweight champion will return to the Octagon eventually.
After a loss in his first meeting with Matt Hughes, St-Pierre took a rebound fight with Canadian promotion TKO. Following a win in that bout, St-Pierre returned to UFC competition in April 2005 and hasn't fought under another banner since then.
With nine consecutive title defenses and 19 total victories inside the Octagon, St-Pierre became one of the best fighters in MMA history. At 33 years old, he's also still young enough to come back and reclaim his spot atop the 170-pound division.
2. 4 Tied
UFC Tenure: Nine years, six months
As previously mentioned, it has been nine years and six months since the TUF 1 cast officially broke into the UFC at the season finale in April 2005.
Sanchez, Koscheck and Swick are the only competitors still remaining on the UFC roster from that inaugural season. Of the three, Sanchez appears to have the most left in the tank. Koscheck has lost three in a row, and he hasn't competed since November 2013. Losing three of his past four bouts, Swick has been out even longer, appearing last in December 2012.
One other veteran made his return to the Octagon at the TUF 1 finale, and that was Rich Franklin. After taking a bout outside the UFC, Franklin returned in April 2005 to beat Ken Shamrock, and he hasn't competed with another organization since then.
Inactive since November 2012, Franklin might not fight again. However, he has not retired and has opened the door to a return on multiple occasions.
1. Frank Mir
UFC Tenure: 12 years, 11 months, seven days
Essentially a UFC lifer, Frank Mir is the longest-tenured UFC fighter by a wide margin.
After going 2-0 with other promotions, Mir signed a contract to make his UFC debut in November 2001. The future heavyweight champion earned Submission of the Night honors in his debut and hasn't considered fighting outside the Octagon since then.
With four straight losses, Mir's career does appear to be nearing an end. Despite the long skid, Mir has not been cut and will likely get one more opportunity to prove he can still compete in the UFC heavyweight division.