In most sports, the word “bust” is used quite often, as it usually given to an athlete who had all of this built hype and potential, only to fail, and be a shell of what was once expected of them. Now, just because someone is a bust, doesn’t mean they’re bad athletes, or even bad at the sport, as even the lowest of players or fighters in the big time are levels above you, me, or the average person. So while this list compiles 10 of the worst busts the world of MMA has seen, doesn’t mean these fighters are bad. Most have a terrific record, and some are even terrific fighters, they just didn’t live up to the hype a company built them up to be.
#10: Aaron Pico – Bellator
We kick the list off with Aaron Pico. Pico, who was the hottest prospect to come out of Bellator in a long time, lost his first fight in just 24 seconds, as he got dropped and submitted by journeyman MMA fighter Zach Freeman. Pico then turned it around, and went on a 4 fight winning streak, knocking all4 competitors out in the first round. However, in his last fight, he fought a man in Henry Corrales who’s only losses came against the best of the best in Bellator’s Featherweight division, and while dominating the fight, got sloppy, and got KO’d. Pico isn’t ranked higher, as he is only 22, and can easily turn it around, but with a quick push to the top, and “learning experiences” by getting knocked out cold, poor use by Bellator could end this kids career before it begins, and could see him jump up the list.
#9: Wanderlei Silva – UFC
Wanderlei Silva is the first person on the list who actually has had a great career, but his UFC career was a mega bust. Silva made an appearance in UFC wanting to “f**k fight Chuck” and a fight was to be made between the 2, but the fight was canceled when the deal between PRIDE and the UFC fell apart. He was on an 8 fight winning streak, not losing in his past 18 fights, before losing a split-decision to Mark Hunt (this is why weight classes exist). Silva would win 2 more fights before losing to Ricardo Arona. He would when 2 more fights and the fight with Chuck almost happened. Almost 2 years after the callout, PRIDE was purchased by the UFC, and what was once a dream fight, saw a Silva who had been KO’d in his last 2 fights. Silva would drop the fight to Chuck and have a 4-5 record in the UFC. Silva sees himself on this list because he went from being the best light heavyweight in the world to having a losing record in the UFC.
#8: Fedor Emelianenko – Bellator
Fedor would find himself on this list, but expectations weren’t too high for his Bellator run. That being said, his Bellator run also went a lot worse than anyone expected. Fedor, who many consider the G.O.A.T of MMA, once had a period where he did not lose for 27 fights, lasting almost 8 years, with his only loss being from a cut he received from an illegal strike that wasn’t called. Fedor then saw himself lose to the then recently released from the UFC, Fabricio Werdum. After this fight, he was KO’d back to back by Bigfoot Silva and Dan Henderson. Fedor rebounded on a 5 fight winning streak, but against low-level talent. He soon signed with Bellator and would make his debut versus Matt Mitrione. Fedor was KO’d in just over a minute. Fedor would then go on to face a washed-up Frank Mir, and a MUCH smaller fighter in Chael Sonnen, both of which he won. In his last fight, he was KO’d by a jab in just 35 seconds to Ryan Bader.
#7: Sokoudjou- UFC
Soukoudjou is the first person on the list who not only was a bust in the UFC, but early expectations and hype have his career as a bust as well. Sokoudjou had a career record of 2-1 before stepping into a fight with Lil’ Nog, who at this point had never been finished. Sokoudjou would go on to KO Nog in just 23 seconds. He followed this up by KOing Ricardo Arona and was immediately picked up by the UFC after. Sokoudjou was built as a killer, and the next big thing, and in his first fight saw himself across the cage from the then-undefeated Lyoto Machida and was destroyed, tapping out in Round 2. He would end his UFC tenure after losing to Luiz Crane, ending with a 1-2 record. Sokoudjou would then bounce around organizations, but after a promising 4-1 start, and the look of a killer, he now holds a 19-18 record.
#6: Thomas Almeida- UFC
Thomas Almeida, compared to everyone else on this list, made the most sense for the hype surrounding him. Almeida had a 16-0 record, finishing every fight. He was then signed with the UFC, starting 3-0 with a highlight reel KO of Brad Pickett, and one of the best finishes in UFC history on Anthony Birchak. After his impressive win against Birchak, he was given his first main event against fellow prospect Cody Garbrandt, with this being a true contenders fight. Almeida was hurt instantly, and whooped for almost 3 minutes, before being KO’d. Almeida would recover by winning his next fight but currently rides a 2 fight losing streak, being KO’d in his last fight by Rob Font. He finds himself lower on the list because of his youth and potential to turn it around but finds himself as high as he is because of the hype of the next great Bantamweight, that now see’s him hold a 4-3 record in the promotion.
#5: Uriah Hall- UFC
Uriah Hall is different from most everyone on this list, in that he was hyped through the UFC. Hall entered the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter, holding a 7-2 record. Hall went through the tournament hitting the spinning back kick everyone’s seen and followed it up with an 8 second KO. He would get to the finals, hyped as the next Anderson Silva, only to lose a split-decision to Tournament winner Kelvin Gastelum. Nowadays, the then hyped next big thing currently holds a 7-7 record in the promotion.
#4: Erick Silva- UFC
As far as hot prospects, there was never a hotter one than Erick Silva. Before entering the UFC, Silva was declared to be the next great fighter, with some comparing him to Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and GSP. He held a 12-1 record before being signed, and kicked off his UFC career with a KO victory in just 40 seconds, adding to the hype. He was disqualified in his next fight but rebounded with another first-round victory. The hype train was derailed soon, and after a win-loss-win-loss patch, Silva was cut with a 7-8 record in the organization.
#3: Hector Lombard- UFC
So when you think of Hector Lombard now, you may not think of a terrific fighter, but coming into his debut, almost no one ever saw as much hype. Lombard tore through Bellator eventually winning the belt and finished the majority of his fights. Lombard held a 32-2-1 (1) record riding a 20 fight winning streak before signing for the UFC. Lombard’s UFC career didn’t kick off well, as he lost his first fight. He would go 3-1 in his next 4, turning it around, before he was popped for steroids, and has never since recovered. Who was once going to be the killer who tore through the middleweight division, and the one guy who could beat Anderson Silva, but he now holds a 3-8 (1) record in the UFC and looks like he will never recover.
#2: Roger Huerta- UFC, ONE, Bellator
Roger Huerta was at one point the hottest thing in MMA history. Huerta made history as the first MMA fighter to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in May of 2007, being put as “Rising UFC Star” Roger Huerta. He was expected to be the next great fighter and the face of the UFC and actually started well. Huerta entered the UFC 14-1-1 (1) and started on a 6 fight winning streak. He started living up to being the next face of the UFC but then saw himself against Kenny Florian who he lost too. Huerta then wanted to be let go but had to fulfill his last fight, in which he lost to Gray Maynard. After his contract was up, he was brought in to Bellator, and the future, became just that, a once future, as his career collapsed. After leaving the UFC, Huerta started strong winning his first fight but then would lose 3 of his next 4 by KO. Since his UFC departure, Huerta since has gone 4-8, and who was originally the next face of UFC, turned into a low mid-card Bellator fighter.
#1: Mirko Cro Cop- UFC
Could it have been anyone else? Cro Cop isn’t like many others in that his career didn’t collapse, and he wasn’t a hot prospect. Cro Cop was instead a fighter who held a record 21-4-2 only losing to the best. UFC would bring Cro Cop in and present him as the best Heavyweight in the world, as an unstoppable force, and someone who would steal the UFC gold with ease. So UFC did there best in pushing Cro Cop to the top ASAP, starting him off with Eddie Sanchez, who he destroyed. Next, he saw himself against Gabriel Gonzaga. Gonzaga, although only losing once, and riding a 5 fight win streak, was seen as a sacrificial mule in the sense that his record was viable to contend for a belt, but his skill was not. Cro Cop would then go on to be at the end of one of the biggest KO’s in UFC history, ironically by way of a left head kick, the same kick he made famous.
After this shock, Cro Cop would lose his next fight to Cheick Kongo and would be cut. He would rebound winning 3 of his next 4, with the exception being a DQ on his opponent’s fault, and he would return to the UFC. This time, Cro Cop saw himself go 2-4, being KO’d all 4 times. Cro Cop would again leave, and excluding a 1 off fight against Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC, in which he would win, he never returned. So Mirko Cro Cop tops this list not because his career was a bust, or that he was a failed prospect, no, he tops the list because of the hype that surrounded him. A guy who was supposed to skyrocket to the UFC title, and lead the division for years to come, would be KO’d in his second fight. After 3 stints over time with the UFC, he would go 5-6, not the record the UFC once expected from there new megastar signing.
NEXT: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY FROM BELLATOR 215/216 AND UFC PHOENIX
When you hear “MMA Bust” who comes to mind? Comment down below, or let me know on Twitter @CoachCMmma.
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