Becoming a UFC champion is the ultimate goal of every fighter who signs with the promotion. However, climbing up the ranks to eventually fight for the title takes a lot of blood, sweat, courage, and effort. Some fighters are special, like Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov. They get to the top and stay there for as long as they desire. But not everybody gets to enter the elite club. In fact, some fighters fail to get their hands on the championship gold, despite being as talented and hard-working as anyone else. Here are five extremely talented UFC fighters to never win a title.
Dan Henderson has won everything but a UFC title in his professional career. The former NCAA Division 1 All-American won titles in Strikeforce and PRIDE but failed to capture a UFC title despite 3 attempts.
His first title fight in the UFC was against the then light heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, which Henderson lost via unanimous decision. ‘Hendo’ then moved down to middleweight to challenge the then-champion Anderson Silva at UFC 82, but was stopped via submission. His most recent title fight came against Michael Bisping at UFC 204, and despite coming very close to winning the fight with a huge overhand right, the heavy-handed fighter lost via unanimous decision.
It would have been a career-defining moment for him had he won a UFC title. Henderson certainly was among the legendary UFC fighters to never win a title.
In any other era of mixed martial arts, Alexander Gustafsson would be the UFC light heavyweight champion. But unfortunately, he competed in a time when Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier were at the peak of their powers.
His first title fight came at UFC 165, where he fought Jon Jones in one of the greatest fights in the promotion’s history. Although Jones managed to win the fight via unanimous decision, many believe Gustafsson did enough on the night to get his hand raised.
The Swede came closer to winning the 205lbs belt when he fought Daniel Cormier at UFC 192, where he lost via split-decision. His most recent title fight came against Jon Jones in a rematch at UFC 232, but it wasn’t even close, as ‘Bones’ was able to dominate him, and eventually score a submission win in the third round. Gustafsson is surely among the highly-rated UFC fighters to never win a title.
Joseph Benavidez is one of the greatest flyweight fighters ever to never win a UFC title.
His first two title fights came against Demetrious Johnson, at UFC 152 and UFC on FOX 9, but he lost on both occasions, via split-decision and first-round knockout respectively. Benavidez then tried his luck twice more against Deiveson Figueiredo last year but was finished early both times. He’s 0-4 in UFC title fights, and it appears that his best days are now in the rearview mirror.
Even though he’s 43-years-old, Yoel Romero is one of the scariest men on the planet. He’s a truly gifted specimen in terms of physical attributes. However, he has also failed to win a UFC title on three different occasions.
Interestingly, he won his interim middleweight title fight with Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, knocking his opponent out in the third round. But he wasn’t eligible to win the title because he missed weight.
Other than that, Romero has fought Robert Whittaker twice, for the interim and undisputed middleweight titles, but lost via unanimous and a controversial split decision respectively. His most recent title fight, which was also his final one with the UFC, came against Israel Adesanya. Romero lost again via unanimous decision in what many believe was one of the most boring fights in UFC history.
Romero is set to fight Anthony Johnson at Bellator 257 in April.
Urijah Faber is another legend of the sport to never win a UFC title, despite four attempts.
He first fought Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title at UFC 132, but he couldn’t keep up with The Dominator’s pace and technicality and lost via unanimous decision. He then fought Renan Barao at UFC 149 for the interim bantamweight championship but came up short on the judges’ scorecards again.
Faber rematched Barao for the undisputed title at UFC 169, but the Brazilian knocked him out on this occasion. His last UFC title fight came at UFC 199, where he lost via unanimous decision to Dominick Cruz again.
These are the five top UFC fighters to never win a title despite multiple attempts. Which among these gentlemen do you think deserved to win it the most?
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