Brock Lesnar and 11 Fighters Who Have Had the Roughest Year in 2011
It's been a pretty rough year for MMA. The PPV numbers are down. Fighters are constantly getting injured. Many are losing UFC contracts and are forced to fight elsewhere.
Nonstop dropouts in bouts have kept the biggest fights from happening, while fan-friendly matchups are being removed left and right from UFC PPV cards.
Not everything rough is inside the cage. There have numerous events occurring outside the cage that have made headlines as well.
These 11 fighters have had the roughest year, and we're only halfway through it.
Notable Mention: Rashad Evans
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Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans is set to fight Tito Ortiz at UFC 133, but it's not what he has been waiting over a year for in getting his second chance at a UFC title.
Evans hasn't fought since May 2010 and while the win over Quinton Jackson secured him a shot at the UFC champion, injuries forced the champion to push the bout back into 2011.
When the bout was finally agreed to for UFC 128, Evans got injured and was forced to pull out, leaving nobody but his teammate Jon Jones to take the fight.
Jones won the fight easily but backed out of his first title defense with Evans because of an injury to his right hand.
Evans settled on fighting Phil Davis, but Davis also pulled out of his fight, leaving him with another new opponent in Ortiz.
No. 11: Gina Carano
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Strikeforce fighter Gina Carano hasn't fought since being destroyed by Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos in 2009, and her long-awaited return was finally set to go down at a Strikeforce show in June.
It would be the first women's MMA bout held by Zuffa and possibly the first step in marketing women's MMA to a wider MMA audience.
Unfortunately, Carano was not permitted to fight after supposedly failing her pre-fight medicals, and the fight was scrapped a week before the event.
The reasons for her being pulled from the card are still unknown.
It also still remains unknown as to when she will return, and it probably won't be in 2011.
No. 10: Rick Story
Rick Story may have had the best victory of his career in 2011, but he may have had the worst loss as well.
Everybody gives him credit for stepping in on short notice to face Nate Marquardt after a very tough battle versus top welterweight fighter Thiago Alves, but it ended up not being worth it.
A day before the weigh-ins, Marquardt was not medically cleared to fight, and Story was given a new opponent in Charlie Brenneman.
Not only did Story not have to fight on short notice, he also didn't plan on fighting an unranked fighter who was a standout wrestler. For three rounds, he was taken down and smothered by the fighter from Pennsylvania, and he lost a unanimous decision.
No. 9: Rich Franklin
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Former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich "Ace" Franklin was hoping to rebound from his defeat to Forrest Griffin earlier this year when he signed to take on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 133.
Nogueira pulled out of the bout on late notice due to an injury and left Franklin with no suitable opponents he would be interested in fighting, forcing him off the card as well.
UFC President Dana White explained the reasoning behind him not wanting to fight a replacement, saying he only wanted to fight big-name fighters.
At this stage in his career, it's easy to understand why, but it's also not worth it to take extended time off when there isn't that much to spare at 36.
Unless Franklin fights before the year ends, it could be the first year he fights without getting a win.
No. 8: Jon Fitch
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Jon Fitch is having a very frustrating year. He can't seem to get any fights, and the recent signing of Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn leaves him without a contender and a No. 1 contender's fight.
His lone fight in 2011 ended in a draw versus BJ Penn. Fans welcomed a rematch between the two, and under the new five-round main event rule, who wouldn't mind seeing it early next year if Penn makes it past Condit?
Currently on a four-fight win streak along with the draw, many fans agree he deserves a shot at the title or at least a top contender.
Fitch will either sit out the rest of 2011 or fight a non-contender.
No. 7: Alistair Overeem
Alistair Overeem had success in avenging his defeat to Fabricio Werdum earlier this year to advance to the Strikeforce semifinals to take on Antonio Silva.
When the September date was announced for the semifinals, Overeem claimed a toe injury would keep him from fighting. Instead of pushing the event back, they dropped him from the tournament entirely and replaced him with Daniel Cormier.
If people were saying the tournament didn't matter much without Fedor Emelianenko, now what does it mean?
Overeem loses the chance to showcase his skills to the American audience and rebound from a lackluster performance against Werdum.
He will probably sit out the rest of 2011.
No. 6: Fedor Emelianenko
It wasn't too long ago that "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko was contemplating retiring from a sport he dominated for over a decade.
Not many expected him to receive back-to-back defeats, but that's just what happened. After losing to Fabricio Werdum in 2010, Emelianenko joined the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament to take on Antonio Silva in the opening stage in early 2011.
After two rounds of being dominated, bloodied and bruised, Emelianenko did not come out for the third bell.
As he prepares for his fight with Dan Henderson, which goes down this weekend, fans know it could be the last fight of his career if he comes up short for the third time.
No. 5: Ryan Bader
Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan "Darth" Bader went into 2011 with an undefeated 12-0 record, including a five-fight win streak in the UFC, before dropping two back-to-back defeats.
He may have had the toughest year in terms of losing fights.
First, he would be submitted by an uncrowned champion in Jon Jones at UFC 126. When Jones won the championship from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua a month later, many said the loss wasn't that bad.
That was until Bader decided to take on former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 132. Ortiz, who hadn't won a fight since 2006, knocked him down and submitted him quickly in the first round.
No. 4: Nate Marquardt
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The story with Nate Marquardt doesn't need much explaining. He basically was caught on the tail-end of his hormone replacement therapy before his welterweight debut versus Rick Story. Marquardt and his doctor thought the levels would be back to normal by the time the fight came around but they were not.
Marquardt was quickly cut from the UFC roster, and Dana White said he would never fight in the UFC again.
While Marquardt is still considered a top middleweight, it will be hard for him to find more than one or two big challenges that can be met with that of the quality in the leading promotion.
He signed with U.K. fight promotion BAMMA.
No. 3: Thiago Silva
After getting the biggest win of his career versus Brandon Vera, Thiago Silva was ready to take the next step in his career. He signed to face Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 130.
After questions came up from his post-fight drug test at UFC 125, a second test was done. It was deemed his urine sample was not consistent with that of human urine. The win over Vera was turned into a No Contest, and Silva was suspended for a year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
He released a statement admitting to the altered sample:
"I used a urine adulterant when giving a sample following my fight with Brandon Vera. I did so in an attempt to alter the results of the test and knowingly broke the rules of the Nevada (State) Athletic Commission. This was a terrible decision on my part for which I will be punished. I am prepared to accept this punishment, learn from it and move on. I apologize to the commission, the UFC, Brandon Vera and the MMA fans."
Silva was also forced to give up 20 percent of his win bonus to Vera as well as $20,000 of his win bonus.
No. 2: Brett Rogers
Going into 2011, Brett Rogers had one thing going for him in fighting and losing to nobody but the best fighters in the world.
Back-to-back losses to Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko were more than enough to secure him a spot in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament.
After a long delay, he finally met Josh Barnett in a quarterfinal matchup in June. He was dominated throughout the fight and submitted in the second round.
Less than two weeks later, Rogers was charged with third-degree assault on his wife. He was also charged with a gross misdemeanor for child endangerment.
Immediately following the charges, Rogers was released from his Strikeforce contract.
Since then, he has been allowed to see his family, while a court date has been set for August 29.
No. 1: Brock Lesnar
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar hasn't fought since losing his title to Cain Velasquez last year.
A second battle with diverticulitis has kept him on the sidelines, and it came after a much-anticipated taping of the most recent Ultimate Fighter show. Along with Junior dos Santos, the two coached their teams prior to their fight, which was set to go down at UFC 131.
Before the fight could take place, Lesnar withdrew due to the intestinal disease and had surgery in late May. Dana White reported that Lesnar had a 12-inch piece of colon removed and repaired during surgery. The life-threatening disease does not go away, so it's still tough to say whether or not Lesnar will be back anytime soon.
While this may not be as bad for someone who is younger, Lesnar's time in MMA has already been cut short because of him getting involved in the sport at the age of 30.
Things aren't looking too good for the former champion, and it's safe to say he doesn't have a good chance of becoming a UFC Heavyweight Champion again.