Be careful up and comers because your legacies can go *poof*.
In MMA legends can live on long after a fighter rules over their weight classes. Whether it’s because of one amazing fight, several incredible wars, or simply being around since MMA became popular they are memorable and often beloved by most fans for one or more of those reasons.
Sometimes a legend can stay around too long, fight at the wrong weight classes, fail a drug test, or just plain make a fool of themselves and it tarnishes their reputations. Today we take a look at five of the best examples of MMA fighters who were victims of self sabotage.
The criteria for this list is such that fighters like Junie Browning, War Machine, Jon Jones, and Jason Miller will not be included. Poor choices surrounding their MMA career and not their personal life drive this list.
You can’t have a self sabotage article without BJ in it or you instantly lose credibility.
If there ever was a fighter who embodied what this article is about it is him. To prove he would fight anyone BJ once fought a 225 pound Lyoto Machida to a decision which is impressive in itself despite coming out on the losing side. He also fought Rodrigo Gracie and won at middleweight before returning the UFC at welterweight making it three different weight classes for him in two years. He’s a lightweight…
He would eventually move back to lightweight and have a run with the title there until he lost it to Frankie Edgar and failed to regain it in an immediate rematch. From there it would go down hill and fast for the Hawaiian. He has gone 1-7-1 in his last nine and unless Dana White refuses to allow him back in The Octagon he may never truly call it quits. Fans used to throw his name in the hat of GOAT discussions but not anymore.
BJ simply stayed too long and made poor career decisions. His last fight was a loss to Clay Guida which held the opening spot on UFC 237’s preliminary card. He used to main event to the roar of the crowds. Think about that.
We love you BJ but we want you as an ambassador and not to suffer any more damage to your brain and body.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to fans of MMA.
Palhares was once respected and had some fans believing he would be around in the UFC for a long time due to his slick submission skills and strength. Not so much.
He refused to release a submission on three different occasions which can cause serious injury especially if a fighter has already tapped. This is an unforgivable action in the MMA community so maybe it was karma that came back around to get him. He has been knocked out in 4 of his last 6 and we are guessing no one in the community is complaining.
Palhares now competes in Russia primarily since no American based company in their right mind would want that sort of trouble on their roster. It’s a shame because he really was a solid competitor in the cage.
WANDERLEI SILVA / CHUCK LIDDELL
We had to include these two together because of the obvious parallels and I’m too lazy to just reword one for the other. Sorry but it’s the truth.
After dominating their weight class of 205 pounds they imploded after getting dethroned.
Silva was the Japanese based PRIDE organization’s version of the UFC’s light heavyweight champion making him the immediate arch rival to UFC champ Liddell by default. A match between the two was teased with the now infamous phrase. “I want to f*** Chuck” uttered in their Octagon face off.
They would eventually face off in the UFC with Chuck taking the decision win in one of the best fights of he decade despite it being in their respective career declines.
Wanderlei fought some bouts at heavyweight and some believe it was the true beginning of Wand’s fall. Silva got brutally knocked out by one of Cro Cop’s head kicks in the Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix and lost the middleweight title in his next bout to Dan Henderson. He was never the same. He is 8-11 in his latest run.
Liddell suffered a knockout loss in a rematch with Rampage Jackson in which he lost his UFC light heavyweight title. His next bout was with journeyman Keith Jardine known for having a famously soft chin. Most expected him to make quick work of Jardine but instead he lost via decision even getting knocked on his backside once in the process. Chuck suffered one of the scariest knockout losses in UFC history when Rashad Evans flatlined him. He would end his UFC career losing four bouts via nasty KO’s.
Do we have to mention the third Tito fight in Golden Boy MMA? Liddell was knocked out and outclassed by someone he easily defeated twice. Stay retired Chuck. Please.
Tito Ortiz was the man who kept the UFC afloat for a time. When Zuffa bought the promotion they struggled to find a reason for fans to buy their PPV’s. Luckily a young, brash, and charismatic champion emerged from Huntington Beach, CA.
Ortiz talked a lot of trash and he backed it up for the most part. His bout with Ken Shamrock garnered 150,000 pay per view buys when that was considered an enormous number. To put that in perspective UFC 39 had just 45,000 buys on a card that featured Randy Couture, BJ Penn, Tim Sylvia, Phil Baroni, and Matt Lindland. Tito was a draw when they needed him most.
Where it all went wrong was when Ortiz refused to fight Chuck Liddell because he claimed they made an agreement not to and they were good friends. Chuck refused to back down from the fact that he had no idea what the heck Ortiz was referring to. Tito then lost his belt to interim light heavyweight champion Randy Couture who had just defeated Liddell in the bout Ortiz refused to take. In that fight with Couture, Tito literally received a spanking. It was a lopsided fight and if he wanted his belt back Ortiz would have to face Chuck first.
At UFC 47 he was knocked out by Liddell after legitimately getting poked in the eye. Still, the damage was done and he was left looking foolish for all of the pro wrestling style talking he did beforehand. Ortiz would defeat a much smaller Patrick Cote at UFC 50 by decision after laying on top of him and not landing much of anything. He would defeat Vitor Belfort via a razor thin split decision and celebrate like he reclaimed his championship. The fans were not impressed and Chuck along with Shamrock confronted him for some more trash talk during the post fight interview.
Here’s where his career starts to be damaged beyond repair.
His next three fights were wins but they were over a very green Forrest Griffin and an aging Ken Shamrock twice. The Griffin win was decided by one single takedown secured in the third round shocking a lot of long time fans. Was Forrest that good or was Ortiz losing his mojo?
After defeating Shamrock and closing their trilogy he would lose to Liddell again before going 1-6-1 with that one win being a very lucky guillotine submission of Ryan Bader. After losing to Forrest Griffin a second time he left the UFC and joined Bellator and then Golden Boy MMA closing his career with a 4-1 record including that knockout of Liddell we mentioned previously.
It wasn’t his career per say that sabotaged him. His mouth ran constantly saying some of the dumbest phrases imaginable and rarely backing them up. You can’t do that in MMA unless you are Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, or Daniel Cormier. Tito became a running joke on MMA forums and his legacy had been tarnished.
I’m not going to lie to you I am still a big Ortiz fan but even I can’t deny his fall from grace.
Who did we miss?