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5 UFC Fighters Who Never Became A Champion

10 months ago By Sports Desk

In the world of mixed martial arts, winning a UFC title is the ultimate goal for fighters. It represents reaching the pinnacle of their career and establishing themselves as the best in the world. However, not every fighter who enters the octagon gets to experience the glory of becoming a champion. In this article, we’ll delve into the stories of five talented UFC fighters who, despite their remarkable skills and determination, never managed to capture that elusive championship belt.

1. Dan Henderson: The Dual Threat

Dan Henderson is a name synonymous with knockout power and championship success. He achieved greatness in various MMA organizations, including PRIDE, but when it came to the UFC, he faced a different kind of challenge. Henderson had three opportunities to claim UFC gold, competing in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions.

His first shot at UFC gold came in September 2007, when he faced Rampage Jackson for the light heavyweight title. Despite his incredible wrestling and striking abilities, Henderson fell short, losing via unanimous decision. Six months later, he moved down to the middleweight division to challenge Anderson Silva, only to succumb to a second-round submission loss.

Henderson’s final chance at UFC glory came in October 2016, when he fought Michael Bisping for the middleweight title. Despite a valiant effort, he once again ended up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision. Henderson’s legacy as a legendary fighter is secure, but the UFC championship belt remained just out of his grasp.

2. Chael Sonnen, The American Gangster

Chael Sonnen was not only known for his fighting skills but also for his unparalleled trash-talking abilities. During his time in the UFC, he earned three title shots in just four years, a testament to his competitiveness and charisma. His first title opportunity came in August 2008, when he challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight strap.

In what would be his closest chance at claiming UFC gold, Sonnen gave Silva a run for his money but was controversially submitted in the final round. Despite the setback, he rebounded with two wins and secured a rematch with Silva, only to suffer a second-round TKO defeat.

Seeking a change, Sonnen moved up to the light heavyweight division to challenge Jon Jones. However, the dominance of “Bones” proved too much for him, and he was finished in the first round. Despite his witty banter and competitive spirit, Chael Sonnen’s quest for a UFC title remained unfulfilled.

3. Alexander Gustafsson, The Swedish Mauler

Alexander Gustafsson’s journey to UFC stardom was marked by his incredible striking skills and determination. After an initial 1-1 record in the UFC, he embarked on a six-fight winning streak that positioned him as the next contender for Jon Jones’ light heavyweight throne.

In what became one of the most memorable title fights, Gustafsson pushed Jon Jones to the limit but ultimately lost via unanimous decision. Despite the defeat, Gustafsson’s stock was on the rise. However, his second title opportunity came against Daniel Cormier, resulting in a razor-thin split decision loss that was even harder to swallow.

Gustafsson secured a third title shot but faced Jon Jones once again, this time falling to a third-round stoppage. The “Mauler” had come agonizingly close to UFC gold on multiple occasions, but it remained just out of reach.

4. Joseph Benavidez: The Flyweight Contender

Joseph Benavidez’s career in the UFC’s flyweight division was defined by his rivalry with Demetrious Johnson and Deivison Figueiredo. Had it not been for these two formidable opponents, Benavidez might have held the championship belt himself. His first title opportunity came against Demetrious Johnson in September 2012, resulting in a narrow split decision loss.

One year later, Johnson finished him in the first round of their title rematch. Benavidez’s last title run saw him face Deivison Figueiredo twice in five months, in March and July 2020. The Brazilian handed him a second-round stoppage and a first-round rear-naked choke defeat, effectively thwarting his championship aspirations.

Despite his undeniable skills, Joseph Benavidez’s quest for the UFC flyweight title was consistently derailed by two of the division’s all-time greats.

5. Yoel Romero, The Cuban Wrecking Ball

When Yoel Romero joined the UFC in 2013, he quickly established himself as a knockout artist with a fearsome reputation. He secured a title shot after eight straight wins but couldn’t solve Robert Whittaker’s puzzle, resulting in a titleless journey after UFC 213 in July 2017.

Romero received another opportunity at UFC 221 for the interim middleweight belt after Robert Whittaker’s injury. While he delivered an impressive knockout win over Luke Rockhold, Romero missed weight and couldn’t claim the belt.

His third title shot came against Israel Adesanya in March 2020, but he fell short once again. Despite his explosive style and incredible athleticism, Yoel Romero’s UFC career concluded without the coveted championship gold.

The world of MMA is brutal and unforgiving, and even the most talented fighters can fall short of their championship dreams. Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson, Joseph Benavidez, and Yoel Romero are prime examples of fighters who, despite their remarkable careers and numerous title opportunities, never had the privilege of holding a UFC championship belt. Their stories serve as a reminder that, in the octagon, greatness doesn’t always guarantee gold.

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