It is Difficult to Walk Away From Doing Something You Love… But Sometimes, For Your Own Good, You Have to do Exactly That… Here Are Ten UFC Fighters Who Are on a Steady Decline…
Being a professional MMA fighter is one of the toughest athletic careers out there. First of all, you have to become competent in a whole bunch of disciplines like striking and grappling to become competitive. That’s fine when you’re young but the trouble is that as you get older you start to slow down.
At the weekend UFC 237 went down in Rio De Janeiro. This card left a bitter taste in the mouths of many fans watching because so many former greats ended the night ingloriously. It’s sad because these fighters become parodies of their former selves and people forget how great they once truly were.
Here’s a list of ten fighters on a steady decline in the UFC. Even your heroes get old.
10 Jose Aldo
Arguably the greatest featherweight fighter of all time, ‘Junior’ was unbeaten for a sensational 18 fights, stretching across a period of ten years. His leg kicks were some of the best in the game and until he walked into Conor McGregor’s left hand, he was on top of the world. His place on this list might seem harsh, but there’s no doubting his steady decline in the last couple of years.
He’s fallen twice to Max Holloway who looks like he has his number. Then he battled back against adversity to take out Jeremy Stephens and put a clinic on Renato Moicano. However, he’s just lost to a third opponent in Alexander Volkanovski, the type of fighter he’d never have been beaten by in his prime. Aldo might be only a year older than Conor McGregor, but he’s got so many miles on the clock and they’re starting to catch up with him.
9. Cat Zingano
When you think of trailblazers for women’s MMA, Cat Zingano’s name deserves to be up there alongside the likes of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Gina Carano. Before running into Rousey she went 9-0, including a unanimous decision victory over current champ-champ Amanda Nunes.
That win over ‘The Lioness’ came with a cost though. She took a lot of brain trauma and has only won one of her five fights since 2014. Averaging one fight a year is also one way to make your fans forget about you. She also lost her most recent fight against Megan Anderson after a freak toe poke to the eye. She looks destined to fade into obscurity.
8. Thiago Alves
With 23 wins and 14 losses under his belt, its clear that Thiago Alves has been around the block a few times. The Brazilian is a proper old school fighter. The problem is that he is losing more than he’s winning these days. It’s pretty much a case of one step forward, two steps back for the 35-year-old.
He does it out of a love for the sport. ‘Pitbull’ has been a coach at American Top Team for a few years now, so there is a stable career then. However, as Laureano Staropoli showed him at the weekend, the game has evolved. It’s tough for an older fighter to catch a break.
7. Jim Miller
He might not get the same love as the likes of ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, but Jim Miller is a legend in his own right. Sure he hasn’t and won’t win a lightweight title, but he’s been knocking around the division for an incredible eleven years. He also has the record for most bouts in UFC history (32) – one of the few records that Donald Cerrone hasn’t managed to snatch yet.
However, Miller is way past his best. Only 2 wins in his last 7 prove that he is a fading force. Indeed, if it wasn’t for a recent win over Jason Gonzalez, the UFC may have decided to put the veteran out to pasture. There’s no shame in his decline though, it’s just a natural part of ageing.
6. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
‘Lil Nog’ is another Brazilian great who has seen himself fall into an innocuous decline in recent years. He just lost to Ryan Spann for crying out loud. No offence but who is Ryan Spann? Sure he’s never been as good as his twin brother who is a former UFC and Pride heavyweight champion, but his recent record has been patchy to say the least.
At the age of 42, he seems content to collect paychecks for as long as the UFC will let him. The trouble is the CTE damage that guys like this will face in their later lives.
5. Gray Maynard
‘The Bully’ is one-half of one of the sport’s great rivalries. His second clash with Frankie Edgar is considered one of the best fights in the history of the promotion. However, that’s a long time ago and Maynard has taken a lot of damage since, without getting any closer to the belt.
He’s only one two of his last ten fights and at the age of 39, it can’t be long before he hangs up his gloves. Either that or he’ll end up getting cut by the UFC. It’s a bit depressing really.
4. Andrei Arlovski
Another former savage who is in a sad decline. Belarus’s finest MMA export has not been himself for so long that he can’t even really be called a gatekeeper anymore. It’s thirteen years now since he lost the UFC heavyweight championship to Tim Sylvia in his first run with the promotion.
Those lofty days are long behind him as he’s only won 2 of his last 11. His latest was a disappointing split decision against Augusto Sakai. The problem for Arlovski is that he’s not even losing in an entertaining way. Although he may be a legend, his future with the UFC may not be a long one.
3. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua
A true legend of the sport, ‘Shogun’ is one of the very few fighters to hold titles in both PRIDE and the UFC. He was a light-heavyweight champion in the former, and a middleweight champion in the latter, before meeting a certain Jon Jones. Even though he won his last fight against Tyson Pedro, it’s fair to say he hasn’t looked great since 2013.
He was badly wobbled by Pedro before he was able to submit the Ozzie. Before that he lost his previous three fights, including an absolute melting by Anthony Smith. That is becoming more and more the story of his later career. At the age of 37, with that exact same number of professional fights, it’s no wonder he’s started to slow down.
2. Anderson Silva
Father time has definitely caught up with this Brazilian legend. Silva is the greatest middleweight fighter in the history of the UFC without question, but he’s definitely a shadow of his former self. A look at his recent record shows that he’s only won one of his last eight fights, and even that was lucky.
After failed drug tests he managed to get the fans back on side. He earned goodwill in his manner of defeat to Israel Adesanya, but the way his leg just collapsed against Jared Cannonier after a savage kick to the knee leaves a bitter taste. At 44-years-old this warrior has nothing left to prove. UFC 237 may have been his last hurrah…
1. BJ Penn
The Hawaiian legend almost seems to be mocked by his own nickname. ‘The Prodigy’ hasn’t won since 2010 and has gone on a seven-fight losing streak. After dropping a decision against Clay Guida last weekend, Penn broke the inglorious record of longest losing streak by an active fighter.
Some fans are even questioning why he’s getting cleared to fight. Nobody knows why the UFC is still booking him. If it wasn’t for his legendary status as the second ‘champ-champ’ in the promotion’s history, he’d probably be long gone. Surely if he fights again it should be on Bellator’s upcoming Hawaii card? After that no more, please.