Sometimes they are called the next big thing, or a younger version of a great fighter, but ultimately time tells the story of each fighter who steps in to the Octagon. I take a look at 9 fighters who we all thought were going to smash everyone forever only to find out later we were completely off the mark.

erick silva_ufn40

Erick Silva

This kid was called the next Vitor Belfort and then faded in to mediocrity . His initial hype is what helps him crawl in to this list. Heralded as the next great welterweight he is 3-3 in his last 6 and despite going in to the 3rd round with Matt Brown he very well may be one or two fights from being cut if he loses by KO or boring decision.

trigg israel

Frank Trigg

So this guy has made a lot of careers seem legitimate. Beaten by Matt Hughes, GSP, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, Matt Serra, and Josh Koscheck – he has led some casual fans to thinking he was an elite win for those guys. The fact is that he is a lot like Frank Mir in that he is just good enough to last a little while in the cage with top tier guys. He was another fighter who benefited from the rising popularity of the UFC and the belief that if you fought on a UFC card you were the best of the best.

Photo by Jack Bratcher for
Photo by Jack Bratcher for

Jason Miller

I was always a Miller fan and I think that if he had not fought GSP in his UFC debut he wouldn’t be in jail right now. Getting pounded on by the UFC’s greatest welterweight of all time for 3 rounds doesn’t mean you suck and he probably should not have been cut in hindsight. That being said, not being able to get your crap together does mean you suck. Miller never really achieved the greatness we all thought he was capable of. Lots of us were looking forward to watching him beat up Michael Bisping after they coached opposite each other on TUF. Alas, Miller got embarrassed and then kicked out of the UFC after losing a blah decision to CB Dollaway.


Phil Baroni

This guy was a machine gun firing nuclear bombs. His fists were lethal and he could put anyone to sleep at anytime. The real turning point for Baroni’s career was after his fight with Evan tanner was stopped prematurely by most accounts. His return bout with Tanner was a far cry from the Baroni of old and he never really recovered. He looked sluggish, less powerful and almost broken for lack of a better term. It was the absolute biggest negative transformation of a fighter I have ever seen. From greatness to mediocrity in a flash.

Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz

Who didn’t see this guy on the list?It’s always hilarious to me when you go back and watch the videos of Tito fighting you will hear Joe Rogan say this, “He’s beaten guys like Yuki Kondo…and Yuki…Kondo..”. Tito was never great and in fact I would go as far as to say he was never really good. He was the best at a time when everyone else sucked. When he finally started fighting real competition he was demolished. Ortiz never, ever got to the level of Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture in the light heavyweight division. The proof was in the pudding when Tito could not finish a young, inexperienced and much lighter Patrick Cote who took the fight on 4 days notice.

ken shamrock -7-8-11

Ken Shamrock

“The World’s most dangerous man” was actually the “world’s least credible threat”. Another guy who benefited from the infancy of the UFC and his experience with grappling. Once real competition showed up in the UFC Shamrock was only able to defeat an aging Kimo Leopoldo and that was it. An older Shamrock ended up fighting a grossly obese Ross Clifton in a small promotion and when he was victorious thought he just won the world championship. Ken was never really relevant and his fight with Rich Franklin to this day remains one of the biggest controversies in the world of MMA. Ken threw a kick and fell down looking stunned, and in the process many thought he threw the fight. Shamrock was B+ from day one.

cro cop

Cro Cop

THE most ever rated fighter of all time. He was a monster in a boxing ring setting with the ability to use the roped off mechanics to corner his opponents and blast them in to oblivion with a head kick. His public relations reputation helped solidify his status to hardcore fans as the cream of the crop of strikers in the heavyweight division. The thing is – he wasn’t. He came to the UFC and unable to exploit the ring rope restrictions – got crushed over and over again to a dismal 4-6 record. Cro Cop never lived up to the hype outside of the freak show that was Pride FC.


Andrei Arlovski

Never has there ever been a heavyweight with devastating punching power with as fragile a chin as former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski. Andrei is a tremendous striker with the heart of a lion, but his chin is literally made of hand blown glass. Andrei took the UFC heavyweight division by storm because the UFC heavyweight division consisted of guys like Justin Eilers, Paul Buentello, and freaking Cabbage Correira. It was slim pickings to say the least. He was the flavor of the month when he beat hated stand and bland fighter Tim Sylvia, and after two consecutive losses ending the trilogy with Tim he was back on the list of could have beens. His career since losing those fights has been runs of good and bad luck. Andrei is back in the UFC, but he is at the end of his career.

Brock Lesnar - TUF 13

Brock Lesnar

This is the epitome of natural ability and size making up for lack of skill. Sure he won the UFC heavyweight title, but let’s be honest and call him what he is – lucky. He beat a smaller, over the hill Randy couture, ┬áB fighter Heath Herring, B fighter Frank Mir in a rematch, and then got crushed by Shane Carwin until Carwin gassed out and Lesnar won by weak submission. Lesnar got dismantled by Cain Velasquez and obliterated by Overeem in his last UFC bout. Lesnar was a monster whose time was short from the first time he stepped in to the Octagon. He retired at 4-3.

8 thoughts on “9 Fighters you initially thought were elite, but were wrong”
  1. Horrible list. I never thought the first 4 were even close to elite. Cro-cop was elite. Andrei was elite at the time.

  2. I agree the list is horrible and not a lot of thought was put into it. Some of those guys had 5+surgeries and 30 fights before ever entering the ufc. Do you know what kind of wear and tear that has on a person? Obviously not since you’re some writer who studied the “arts”. Lol dumbass needs some common sense.

  3. This author has ignored so many other factors, especially with the guys on this list whom have had long careers.
    Also, The evolution of the sport is being ignored. The author calls it “real competition”.

    Half of his reasons for these guys being on the list can be applied to Liddell, Hughes and so many others.
    His views on the UFC are juvenile at best.

  4. Terrible list. Having a pride openweight gp champion, ufc heavyweight champion and ufc lightheavyweight champion on this list is a joke. The author obviously doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. Mirko Filipovic was past his prime when he went to the ufc and was struggling to adjust his style to suit his diminished speed and explosiveness.

  5. Tito may not be among the very best fighters of all time. But he has was a great fighter with a serious resume. He beat: Wanderlei, Belfort, Griffin, and Bader. He also had a draw against Rashad. Those are leg opponents!!

  6. Pretty good list.
    I cant really argue against any of there inclusions here,
    and I pretty much agree with your summeries for them.

  7. “He beat: Wanderlei, Belfort, Griffin, and Bader.”

    He outwrestled wanderlei before wanderlei became anybody in Pride.
    He outwrestled belfort in the middle of that infamously weak phase of his career when he couldn’t beat anybody but 3rd stringers and was getting tooled by the less then impressive 205 overeem.
    That was a controversial win and he got his face busted up.

    Griffen and bader.

    Tito was a decent wrestler.
    But he ruled over ufc in the dark ages against no serious competition and never had a great win.
    He was B, B+.

  8. “Having a pride openweight gp champion…”

    Lol at an open weight champion.
    Barnett was the open weight champion of pancrase,
    he beat Yuki Kondo.
    (barnett should also be on this list somewhere near the top.)

    Pride had some really good fighters, but their brackets, matchmaking and various shenanigans ended up with the belts and titles not really meaning all that much IMO.

    Vanderlei would have lost against a well rounded wrestler, so he never fought one. Except jackson after jackson fought chuck and vanderlei warmed up against yoshida. And then he almost got whipped in the rematch by a dehydrated and mentally confused jackson, before that convenient stand up.

    Etc, etc, etc…

    Cro-cop had the left head kick that was it.
    He would have lost to Werdum or Kharatonov, so they never matched them.

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