It was painful to watch former UFC light heavyweight champion and TUF winner Rashad Evans get knocked out in his fight against Glover Teixeira on Saturday night. I couldn’t help but think the game has passed Evans by, more so due to father time and injuries than anything else. However, it’s clear he’s not the same fighter he was just a few years ago.
That got me to thinking, there have been a number of fighters that were fighting at an elite level and for whatever reason just fell off like Big Mac toppings on a sloppy sandwich.
I could have made a top 10 list and included a ton of them(which probably would have included Evans), but instead I wanted to do a top 5 list of fighters that were elite but went downhill incredibly fast. Here we go is order from 5 to 1.
- Dan Henderson– Henderson is arguably a top 10 fighter of all time, but his overall record wouldn’t suggest it at 31-14. He has some of the biggest wins in UFC history in multiple weight classes and is fighting well past his prime. However, Henderson had a career record of 25-8 after losing to Jake Shields in 2010. Henderson would then rattle off four consecutive wins to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight title while also becoming the first fighter to knockout heavyweight legend Fedor Emlianenko. He won one of the greatest and most action packed fights of all time against Shogun Rua in his next bout which proved to be his last in regard to fighting at a high level. Henderson went on to go 2-6 in his career after the Rua bout, with one of those wins being a second win over Rua where he landed a huge H-bomb after getting worked the better part of the fight.
- Tito Ortiz-The former UFC light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer had a record of 15-4 after back-to-back wins over Ken Shamrock and a green Forrest Griffin in 2006. Those three wins earned him another shot against Chuck Liddell who had defeated him earlier in their careers via TKO. The same would hold true in the rematch and Ortiz was never able to fight at an elite level again. After the second loss to Liddell, Ortiz had a record of 3-7-1. Ortiz would have been higher on this list, but beating Ken Shamrock twice and a green Griffin wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.
- Paulo Filho-Filho was ranked as the No. 2 middleweight in the world at one point when he was the WEC middleweight champion. He was 16-0 before losing to Chael Sonnen in his final WEC bout in 2008. Filho managed to win his next four fights fighting primarily in Brazil, albeit against non-elite competition. However, Filho began his precipitous fall in 2011, going 1-4-2 from 2011 to 2014.
- Miguel Torres– In 2009, Miguel Torres has a career record of 37-1 and was being praised as one of the top pound for pound fighters in all of MMA. He was the WEC bantamweight champion and had finished a number of fighters via TKO and/or submission. However, he would lose his title to Brian Bowles at WEC 42 in 2009 via KO and lost the fight after that against Joseph Benavidez via submission in 2010. Torres was never able to capture his elite form again, going 6-6 from 2010-2015 and losing his last two fights via KO and submission fighting on the regional circuit.
- Chuck Liddell-Liddell was the most feared striker in MMA at one time, known for an iron chin and ridiculous ability to stop takedowns against grapplers and wrestlers. Liddell was 13-3 after losing to Rampage Jackson at PRIDE Final Conflict 2003, but then proceeded to win the UFC light heavyweight championship while winning seven consecutive fights. The next fighter to give him an L? You guessed it, Rampage Jackson in 2007. However, that KO loss was the beginning of the end for Liddell as he went 1-4 in his next five fights losing four of them via brutal KO fashion.
Father time and the wear and tear of training coupled with actual fight time can take its toll on fighters seemingly overnight. How would your list look?