Five Fighters That Got a Title Shot After a Loss
When Fedor Emelianenko lost to Fabricio Werdum last month, most assumed that meant the potential title fight between Fedor and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem was off.
Well, now it appears Fedor might get that shot anyway.
Certainly, there will be a downpour of negative criticism from the fans if the fight is made, but it would not be the first time a loser got an immediate title shot.
This has happened numerous times, especially for legendary figures like Emelianenko.
Here are five examples of fighters coming off a loss and still getting a chance for gold.
5. Brett Rogers
Last November, Brett Rogers challenged then No. 1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. After a dramatic and competitive fight, Rogers was knocked out in the second round.
Nonetheless, six months later he was slated to face Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
It was the matchup that Strikeforce wanted, but for a while they could not decide if it would be for the title or not.
Eventually, they decided to make it for the belt and faced a good deal of criticism for giving a fighter coming off a loss a title shot.
Either way, it didn't make a difference as Rogers offered no offense and was stopped by TKO in the first round.
Alistair kept his belt and now may face another fighter coming off a loss for his title.
4. Tank Abbott
In the main event of UFC 13, Tank Abbott met the burgeoning new heavyweight Vitor Belfort and was easily stopped in the first round. It was Tank's second loss in a row, losing to Don Frye by first round submission before that.
But at UFC 15, Dan Severn was unable to fight in the main event against champion Maurice Smith, and old reliable Tank was there to save the day.
These days that kind of attitude offers you lifetime immunity from the UFC pink slip machine, as Chris Leben proved.
Tank started out well in the bout, landing some good punches and getting top position on Smith. But, as always with Tank, the gas ran out midway through the first round and he was forced to submit.
It was the only defense of Maurice's reign.
3. Justin Eilers
In 2005, at UFC 51, Justin Eilers met fellow slugger Paul Buentello in a match of possible contenders. Three minutes into the first frame, Buentello dazed Eilers with a right hook that ended the fight.
Four months later, Eilers somehow found himself the one fighting for the title against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 53.
Eilers went on to suffer extreme damage in this fight, breaking both hands, his jaw, and tearing his ACL. The fight was stopped just 30 seconds from the end of the first round.
Arlovski knocked out Buentello in his next fight.
2. B.J. Penn
When B.J. Penn left the UFC in 2004, he was stripped of his welterweight title and it was given to the winner of a match between Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre, which Matt won by first round submission.
In 2006, Penn returned to the UFC as a top contender for the belt he never legitimately lost. His first bout was a title eliminator against the aforementioned St. Pierre.
In a close fight in which Penn did the majority of the damage, St. Pierre won a split decision and was to be awarded with his much deserved title shot.
However, when St. Pierre would not be ready by the time Hughes planned to defend his title, Penn got the call to try to take back what was his.
After clearly winning the first two rounds of the five-round fight, Penn seemed to have nothing left to start the third. Hughes took him down and easily pounded him out to retain his title.
It was Penn's second loss in a row and prompted him to move down to lightweight, where he became champion.
1. Randy Couture
Most MMA observers know that Randy Couture is the king of getting undeserved title shots.
Well, I suppose undeserved is debatable, since he is a legend and has proven his worth numerous times over the years.
Still, a fighter is not supposed to be rewarded for losing, but Randy never let that train of thought get in the way.
At UFC 36, Couture lost his heavyweight title to Josh Barnett via TKO. However, Barnett tested positive for steroids after the bout and was stripped of the title.
Due to the circumstances, Randy was given a shot at Ricco Rodriguez for the now vacant heavyweight title. Ricco stopped Randy in the fifth round of their fight, and Randy had now lost two in a row.
Nevertheless, Randy was offered a shot at a newly created interim title at light heavyweight against Chuck Liddell. Randy took that opportunity and won the title, eventually winning the legitimate title as well.
A few years later, after he had lost his title, been knocked out by Liddell twice, and subsequently retired for a year, Couture was offered a shot at the heavyweight title against Tim Sylvia.
Though coming off a knockout loss and a year out of the cage, Randy dominated Sylvia and won the heavyweight title yet again.
In the eyes of most, the fact that Randy did nothing to earn that shot never came close to tainting the accomplishment.