Alistair Overeem and the Biggest Busts in UFC History
Free agents coming with a lot of hype behind them are a part of sports. So, too, are free agents not living up to the expectations that fans and media pin on them.
MMA is no different, and there are no shortage of fighters that have flopped mightily when joining the UFC.
The latest person to fit that bill is former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem. For the second fight in a row, the hulking kickboxer has found himself knocked out at the hands of a supposedly technically inferior fighter. The questions naturally follow.
Is Overeem past his prime? Was he actually that good? Is he getting cut? Is he a bust?
This situation isn't new, mind you. We've seen it a few times before and more often than not, those questions end up having a "yes" answer.
So who else shares this storyline? Who else has failed to live up to the high standards thrust upon them? Find out right here!
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto
"Kid" Yamamoto is an almost mythical being. Or, at least, the one in Japan is.
The Japanese featherweight racked up wins over many of the top pre-WEC featherweights, including guys like Genki Sudo, Jeff Curran and Caol Uno. He even beat names that linger to this day, such as Rani Yahya and Bibiano Fernandes.
In the UFC, though, he hasn't had even the slightest hint of success. He is 0-3 to this point in his Zuffa career against less-than-formidable competition.
His first fight in the UFC came against current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. While that isn't anything to be ashamed of, the other two losses are largely inexcusable, dropping a decision to now-flyweight Darren Uyenoyama on his UFC debut then tapping to Vaughan Lee in his next UFC fight.
Your guess is as good as mine in terms of how this could have come to pass. Regardless, Yamamoto has at least one last shot in the Octagon: He next faces off with Ivan Menjivar at UFC 165.
Mirko 'Cro Cop'
We all remember how wild the transition was after Zuffa absorbed Pride. Few of the oddities that came from that shift were more shocking than the floundering of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.
The man widely regarded as one of the top heavyweights in the history of MMA first outclassed no-namer Eddie Sanchez, but then suffered a shocking loss to Gabriel Gonzaga. He followed that with a much-forgotten (but no less relevant) decision loss to Cheick Kongo.
From there, Cro Cop went back to Japan, but returned a year later. He initially found some success, but would end his UFC career with back-to-back-to-back knockout losses, leaving him with a subpar 4-6 record when all was said and done. It seemed Cro Cop was going to end his career with a sad whimper.
He then surprisingly came out of retirement and returned to kickboxing. While he has racked up an impressive six-fight winning streak since leaving the UFC (including earning a K-1 World Grand Prix title), the majority of western MMA fans are going to remember him for his struggles with Zuffa.
Ken Shamrock's role in the UFC's infancy is the stuff of legend. His second run with the company is not.
From 1993 through 1996, Shamrock was the scariest man in pro sports. He fought with an inhuman strength and ferocity that would net him a 24-5-2 record, the label "Baddest Man on the Planet" and, unfortunately, a contract offer from the WWF.
From there, Shamrock focused his efforts on fake fighting, and wouldn't return to return to the UFC until 2002. At UFC 40, he faced Tito Ortiz in what was one of the biggest fights in MMA history. The fight was a massive commercial success, but it was obvious to most that Shamrock was a shell of his former self after years of fighting.
The skid he went on from there was difficult to watch. He defeated Kimo Leopoldo in his next fight, but followed that up with four straight first-round losses via knockout (three in the UFC, one in Pride). From that point on, Shamrock's career was defined by ugly contract issues, steroid scandals and injuries.
To quote our own Jonathan Snowden:
Ken Shamrock should be settling into a life of comfortable retirement. He should be introduced to the crowd during every UFC event to raucous applause. He should be making media appearances as the sport's elder statesman. Instead, Ken Shamrock is 46 years old, broke, and has burned his bridges with both the UFC and Showtime/CBS.
Nobody of even average intelligence expected much out of Kimbo Slice's MMA career. When the UFC saw how much money EliteXC made off him, they couldn't help but scoop him up when the opportunity presented itself.
However, what Slice showed of himself during his time on The Ultimate Fighter and in the days that followed was nothing short of embarrassing.
Top-level athletes across all sports, like Tom Brady, Roger Federer, Mark Messier and Michael Jordan, always have or had the mindset of pushing as hard as possible to get the win. Each of them would be embarrassed by the sheer amount of "quit" Slice showed in his UFC career.
In his three fights under Zuffa, the Bahamian puncher gave up every time the fight went to the ground. Against a formidable Brazilian jiu jitsu player like Roy Nelson, that is one thing. But when he can't be bothered to even resist Matt Mitrione, who has no real grappling background, on the ground, it is nothing short of pathetic.
He has since taken his talents to the ring, but tends to struggle even in questionable fights. He is a disgrace to whatever sport he ends up in.
Yoshihiro Akiyama is another fighter who came from Japan after racking up wins over legitimate names and then completely flopped in America.
In fairness, "Sexyama" has fought some of the most enduring names in the middleweight division. His UFC debut came against Alan Belcher at UFC 100, where he took a razor-thin split decision. From there, he lost to Chris Leben. That started a chain of events that is hard to explain, where each loss seemed to bring him closer and closer to a title shot.
After Leben, he faced Michael Bisping. After Bisping, Vitor Belfort. After Belfort, Jake Shields.
Each of those fights were losses, leaving him with an unflattering 1-4 UFC record. He was slated to face former welterweight title contender Thiago Alves at UFC 149, but withdrew with a wrecked knee that has kept him from fighting since.
In spite of all that, Akiyama has proven himself to be an exceptionally exciting fighter. Still, there is no good way to spin a 1-4 record. He will almost certainly be released with another loss.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
Some of the fighters on this list were built up to fall. Some of them, though, tantalized fans with huge wins before working their way into the UFC.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou is one of those fighters. Within two months, Sokoudjou went from unknown regional fighter to top-10 light heavyweight. He did so by scoring back-to-back first-round knockouts over the in-their-prime versions of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in Pride.
With that in mind, it's not especially surprising that fans, pundits and promotional brass at the UFC were all beside themselves with excitement over landing the next big thing to a contract. They were so excited, in fact, that they put his debut on the main card of one of their most stacked events ever, UFC 79 (which was headlined by the Matt Hughes-Georges St-Pierre rubber match, and co-headlined by MMA's one true "superfight" to date, Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell).
What they didn't anticipate was that this new hotshot, Lyoto Machida, from the largely forgotten WFA promotion, would out-land him consistently before submitting him in the second round.
He would go on to beat Kazuhiro Nakamura, but a loss to Luiz Cane was enough to earn him a ticket back to Japan.
Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Jason "Mayhem" Miller's second run in the UFC is by far one of the ugliest showings by an established fighter brought in from another Zuffa promotion.
It's worth pointing out that Miller had 36 professional fights before he joined the UFC in 2011. He had wins over guys like Denis Kang, Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy, Hiromitsu Miura and Kazushi Sakuraba. He was a guy who had truly been there and done it.
Even so, the pressure of his UFC re-debut got to him in a profound way. Against Michael Bisping, following an oddly productive season of TUF, he gassed mightily, leading to an ugly, sloppy fight that culminated with a third-round TKO loss.
From there, Miller was matched against C.B. Dolloway. He put on a much stronger showing against the TUF alumnus, but clearly injured or re-injured his knee during the fight. In spite of repeatedly rocking him standing, Miller was simply unable to pursue, and Dolloway would use this to his advantage by laying, praying and staying.
Miller, perhaps unfairly, would get cut from the UFC after that fight and has been on a well-publicized downward spiral ever since.