16 Minutes: Another 7 Examples of Squandered Potential
Last week I published an article about the greatest examples of squandered potential in the short history of the UFC. From reading the comments posted, I realized that I had missed a few guys who many of you felt also deserved to be on this list.
So I decided to go and make a sequel to my previous list and add a few more guys who didn't get the unfortunate credit that they are due. Please remember, though, that this list is not as much about the potential that a fighter had with the skills that they possessed, but rather the potential that was put upon them by the media and/or the UFC fans after a single or couple of moments of infamy.
For those who missed the first list, here is the link for you.
7. Carlos Newton
MMA Record: 15-14
UFC Record: 3-4
Carlos Newton is most well-known for two events during his tenure in the UFC. The first is when he beat the original welterweight champion, Pat Miletich, for the belt. What was more amazing about the win was how he beat Miletich with a move many thought at the time couldn't be used effectively to get a tapout: a schoolyard headlock. But there was Newton, holding onto Miletich's head like he stole something from him, getting the win.
Now here is where it begins to fall apart for the champ.
The second event was his most famous event as Carlos was defending his title for the first time against Miletich protege Matt Hughes. Newton did his best against the wrestling specialist, even locking in a triangle choke on Hughes. Not to be stopped, the Farm Boy fighter picked up Newton with the choke still being applied and pressed him up against the cage. In survival mode now, Newton grabbed onto the top of the cage to prevent any kind of offense from Hughes.
Yet "Big" John McCarthy forced him to let go of the cage and then came one of the most sickening slams in MMA history as Hughes came crashing down onto the canvas, bringing Newton with him. Hughes' hand was raised and he became the new champ even though he would admit in interviews that he was nearly out cold at the end of the match due to the choke. Newton had a rematch for the title but would lose to Hughes again this time via TKO.
After leaving the UFC, Newton would bounce around from promotion to promotion, never keeping a steady streak of wins, but rather a win between sets of losses. Now his biggest problem isn't trying to stay on the winning side of a .500 record, but to just make weight, as he has come in heavy for his last two fights. He had the chance to prove his potential after beating a great champ in Miletich, but he could never rise to the occasion and floundered in the MMA world.
6. Pete Williams
MMA Record: 12-6
UFC Record: 5-5
What you see in the picture above is one of the most recognized head kick knockouts in the UFC, mainly for how perfect the situation was for it to occur, it had happened to the newly-former heavyweight champ Mark Coleman, and the guy giving the kick was the debuting Pete Williams.
The knockout itself was a mix of perfect events as Coleman seemed to believe that Williams was going for a head kick. So when he ducked and was met with what was originally a body kick...well they're right that a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Williams was immediately launched into the UFC heavyweight spotlight. Yet he would go on to lose his next fight via decision but would win the two after that, giving him a shot at the vacant title taking on Kevin Randleman. He would lose that fight by decision and then leave the UFC for his next two fights.
He would return in a year after getting a couple more wins under his belt. Unfortunately, Williams would lose his next three fights, the first two by TKO, then the most embarrassing loss of his career when he submitted in under a minute by then upstart Frank Mir. This would be his last match as Williams, the one time Top 10-ranked heavyweight, would limp out of MMA on a three-fight losing streak.
MMA Record: 10-8
UFC Record: 1-2
Thanks to littleMMAsweetie for the recommendation.
Now the picture above is "The African Assassin" Sokoudjou apparently taking it to future light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida in his UFC debut. Sokoudjou was coming into the fight highly-touted as he was coming to the octagon with two KOs over both Lil Nog and Ricardo Arona, the Nogueira fight being the more impressive as he knocked him out in under 30 seconds.
And Sokoudjou had to be tough. I mean why else would you come to the cage wearing a Predator mask? Well things took a quick turn for the worst as Machida turned the match in his favor and submitted Sokoudjou in the second round via Arm Triangle. After that loss, Sokoudjou would win his next fight due to his opponent getting injured and then lose to Luis Cane via TKO, ending his tenure in the UFC.
He would then bounce from promotion to promotion having notable fights with Babalu, Gegard Mousasi and Houston Alexander. In all of these fights, he would be finished by either submission or TKO. He would pick up wins against Bob Sapp and Jan Nortje...yeah real contenders. Sokoudjou could never capitalize after those two KO wins and was shown to never really be able to handle top level competition. If only he was as tough as a real Predator.
4. Karo Parisyan
MMA Record: 19-6 1 NC
UFC Record: 9-4 1 NC
Thanks to Justin Richard for the recommendation.
Karo "The Heat" Parisyan is one of the truly saddest examples of wasted potential in MMA. He had a great record overall and a really good record in the UFC. He's had many high profile fights with the likes of Nate Diaz, Diego Sanchez (where one of his teeth got knocked out) and even Georges St. Pierre in Rush's debut UFC fight.
Yet where Karo squandered his potential was with his attitude and outside activities. Whenever he lost, there was an excuse for it. He still claims that Diego Sanchez didn't knock out his tooth during their fight. He would disrespect Nick Diaz after their fight by wiping the sweat from his nose and splashing it onto Diaz as he lay on the ground. Then the coup de gras was after his fight with Dong Hyun Kim when he tested positive for banned painkillers. His win over Kim became a NC and he was suspended for nine months.
Karo was then set to face Dustin Hazelett on his return to the Octagon, yet at the last minute he pulled out of the fight giving Dana White a "laundry list of excuses." Karo would try to join Strikeforce, but the deal would eventually fall through. After fighting in Impact F-1, he was surprisingly asked back to the UFC to fight Dennis Hallman at UFC 123. He would go on to lose the fight by TKO in under two minutes, causing Dana White to again say Karo was basically done in the UFC.
From being a title contender to being cut twice from the UFC, Karo has nobody to blame for his downfall but himself, though he would never tell you that. With his list of wins he should be in constant talk of fighting for a title, but in the end he finds himself to be a fighter without a cage to fight in.
3. Joe Stevenson
MMA Record: 31-12
UFC Record: 8-6
Now if I said the Pete Williams picture was worth a 1,000 words, the picture above is worth at least 2,000. I don't know if there is a picture anywhere that shows as much pain, anguish, sadness and anger in one shot than this one after Joe Stevenson lost in devastating fashion to BJ Penn. Joe "Daddy" actually has a great MMA record and a pretty decent UFC record; winning The Ultimate Fighter doesn't hurt either. Yet with the potential of being a great upstart fighter for the UFC that comes with winning TUF, Stevenson hasn't been able to do much against top level opponents.
He would beat middle-level guys like Kurt Pellegrino and Spencer Fisher, even some upper tier guys like Nate Diaz and Melvin Guillard. But when faced agianst tougher opponents like Kenny Florian, Sanchez and Penn, Stevenson has faltered.
He is currently 2-4, losing his last two fights to George Sotiropoulus and a shocking KO loss to fellow TUF winner Mac Danzig. Stevenson needs to figure out a way to win against top level opponents if he ever wants to regain the luster that he has lost over the years.
2. Frank Mir
MMA Record: 14-5
UFC Record: 12-5
Now I know I am going to get hell for this one but just hear me out. When Frank Mir had his second match in the UFC against Williams, he had the making of a MMA icon with his great submission skills and a really good ground game. He would lose his next match via TKO but then recover by winning his next four matches, finishing all except one DQ victory where Wes Sims stomped on his head against the cage. The last of those four fights was against Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title, which Mir won by an armbar that broke Sylvia's arm in one of the most sickening breaks in MMA history.
Then tragedy struck as Mir was involved in a motorcycle accident that broke his leg and tore all of the ligaments in his knee. After 14 months of inactivity, Mir was stripped of the title and Andrei Arlovski was promoted to undisputed heavyweight champion.
Mir would return to the Octagon after almost two years off and would never be the same fighter. He would lose his first match back by TKO in the first round, win the next via decision and then get TKO'd by Brandon Vera in the first round of their fight.
Now basically a gatekeeper for the heavyweight division, Mir would go on to beat Antoni Hardonk by submission. Mir was then selected to introduce Brock Lesnar to the UFC in a highly anticipated match. Lesnar would use his size to overpower Mir, yet both were stood up after an illegal hit to the back of the head of Mir and Lesnar was deducted a point. Lesnar took Mir down again with ease and went back to using ground and pound. Lesnar would make a rookie mistake though and leave himself open to a submission by Mir, giving Mir the win.
Mir would then go on to coach the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter against Minotauro Nogueira with the winner of their fight getting a shot for the title. Mir would have only one of his fighters make it to the finale but he would end up losing to Ryan Bader. Mir would then defeat Minotauro in a historic fashion as he would be the first man to finish Nogueira.
Mir would then go on to have a rematch with Lesnar after months of trash talking from both sides. Again, Lesnar would use his size to his advantage and take Mir down and hammer him with punches. Mir would then lose in the second round via TKO. He would then beat Cheick Kongo via submission and lose by KO to Shane Carwin. His most recent victory was against Mirko Cro Cop in a very underwhelming and uneventful fight where Mir won by KO in the last round.
The main reason Mir is on this list is because of how he could never live up to his potential after his accident. He was being touted as the savior of the heavyweight division, but the only people he seems to get wins over are smaller heavyweights or older fighters past their prime like Minotauro and Cro Cop. The only person who really believes the Mir hype anymore is Mir himself, as he will let anyone know whether they ask or not. He may have a chance to move closer to another title shot if he can figure out a way to beat Roy Nelson.
1. Frank Shamrock
MMA Record: 23-10
UFC Record: 5-0
Thanks to Shaun M for this recommendation.
Let me start out by saying that Frank Shamrock is a true legend of the sport from when he was in his prime and is deserving of the accolades he has received. Shamrock would make a name for himself in Pancrase where he would become the Interim King of Pancrase and have a trilogy of fights with Bas Rutten.
He would go to a couple other promotions before coming to the UFC. In his debut for the UFC he would beat Kevin Jackson to become the first UFC middleweight champion (later renamed to light heavyweight championship). He would then defend the title four times, finishing his opponent in each one. The last of those defenses was against long-time Lion's Den rival Tito Ortiz. Ortiz would also prove to be the last legitimate fighter that Shamrock would beat in his career.
Then, in one of the most unbelievable career moves ever, Shamrock announced that he was retiring and relinquishing the title, citing lack of competition. Now this is where he lost all potential of being up there with other GOATs. Fedor Emelianenko hasn't stopped taking fights no matter the level of competition he is facing, same for Anderson Silva, GSP and Alistair Overeem. And with the UFC continuing to grow, especially at the weight class he was in, Shamrock was sure to have competition in coming months. Yet the ego of him saying there is no competition that can match him is absurd.
The retirement was short-lived, as he would return to another promotion a year later to beat tomato can Elvis Sinosic...you know, real competition. He would then fight Cesar Gracie after winning and vacating the WEC light heavyweight title. The Gracie fight was mired with controversy as it was Gracie's debut fight and he was 40 at the time of the fight. Even though many felt that he was an elite BJJ user, Shamrock knocked him out in 21 seconds.
Shamrock would then lose to Renzo Gracie by DQ after illegal knees to the head and hits to the back of the head. Again Shamrock would bounce back by beating "top competition" in Phil Baroni but would lose the last two fights of his career to Cung Le and then Nick Diaz.
There's a saying in fighting that goes "no matter how fast, strong, skilled or just plain good you are, there will always be someone out there who can beat you." Many fighters learn this throughout their career no matter if it's Fedor or GSP. If Shamrock wanted to leave MMA before becoming incapable of keeping himself on a winning streak then fine. But using lack of competition as an excuse is egotistical and lame on his part. Then for him to come back a year later to take on lesser opponents in between losses tarnishes his record of work and potential of greatness.