Fighters who won major titles but not in the UFC

Fighters who won major titles but not in the UFC

Will Brooks (22-5-1) Champion: Bellator: At one point in time, Will was one of the most promising fighters at 155. He was 17-1 going into his UFC debut, had just beat Michael Chandler twice and defended his Bellator belt twice, he would eventually sign with the UFC where he signed a 6 fight deal and won his debut via unanimous decision where he defeated Ross Pearson. From there Will would lose 3 straight to Charles and Alex Oliveira and Nik Lentz before being released from his contract, he is 4-1-1 since his departure. 

Uriah Faber (35-11) Champion: KOTC & WEC: A future HOF and pioneer of MMA, the California Kid was once the most dominant champion of his weight class, a career that has seen many peaks and valleys, Uriah always showed up and gave the fans their money’s worth. As a fighter, Uriah had major battles with Jose Aldo, Mike Brown and Dominick Cruz to name a few. Unfortunately for Faber, he would come close (4 times) to finally winning a UFC title, but would fall short to the same men twice (Cruz, Barao) and would eventually retire (twice) without holding the strap. 

Mirko Cro-Cop (38-11) Champion: Pride GP, K1, Rizin: Right kick hospital, left kick cemetery. This is the term used to describe one of the scariest fighters to grace all of combat sports. A fighter who competed in boxing, kickboxing and MMA, Mirko has been successful and won a belt in just about every promotion except for 1. During his time in the UFC, Mirko never come close to establishing the dominance he had everywhere else and never contended for the title once, he would finish his time in the organization with a record of 4-6 and would have a career resurgence before retiring in 2019. 

Mike Brown (26-9) Champion: WEC: Most fans know Mike as one of the best coaches and cornermen in MMA during his time with ATT. But for the hardcore fans, we remember Mike as the man who whooped Uriah Faber twice in the WEC. A dominant fighter that imposed his will through size, strength and top-level grappling Mike secured wins over fighters like Faber, Mark Hominick, Leonard Garcia and Jeff Curran. Brown lost his WEC title to a young and up and coming fighter named Jose Aldo, ever hear of him, lol? Brown even fought in the UFC back in 2004 before going to the WEC and then the UFC before eventually retiring in 2013 and is now coaching some of the best fighters on earth.  

Gegard Mousasi (49-7) Champion: DREAM, Cage Warriors, Strikeforce, Bellator: Being a champion is hard, but being dominant every year for nearly 20 plus years is almost inconceivable for some. Gegard has been one of the most excellent and technical strikers of his generation even coming close to chasing Olympic boxing aspirations. During his UFC tenure, he would go 9-3 picking up wins over Ilir Ltifi, Dan Henderson, Vitor, Uriah Hall and Chris Weidman. Gegard left the UFC in an unprecedented move while being on a 5 fight win streak, he would sign with rival promotion Bellator where he is currently the 185 champ (won it twice) and has a record of 7-1 (lost to Rafael Lovato Jr) post UFC. 

Nick Diaz (26-10) Champion: WEC, Strikeforce: The eldest Diaz brother is a legend for a reason. His legacy is secured as one of the most memorable of all time. Yet one accolade Nick never captured is UFC gold. While he did come close twice when fighting for the interim belt vs Condit and eventually fought for the title vs GSP, Nick fell short both times. For fans that may not know Nick fought for the UFC early on in his career from 2003-to 2006, before setting off and capturing belts in the WEC (pre-UFC) and Strikeforce where he defended his belt 3 times. 

Takanori Gomi (36-15) Champion: Shootoo, Pride: One of the greatest lightweights to come out of Japan, Takanori Gomi was once considered to be one of the most feared strikers in the 155-pound division. If I could compare Takanori to another fighter it would be to boxing great Roberto Duran. Both fighters were known for their heavy hands that could punish opponents or knock them out at will, but their cardio was always an issue. This problem would follow the Pride legend during his time with the UFC as he would go 4-9, many fighters used his reckless swing for the style of the fence as a way to tire out the former Shooto and Pride champ. Gomi retired in 2018 after knocking out Melvin Guillard. 

Alistair Overeem: K1, Strikeforce, DREAM: The reem started his career as a lanky middleweight that was a solid kickboxer with flashy submissions, he would gradually bulk up to light heavy before becoming a massive heavyweight that looked like he could compete in the Mr Olympia contest. Alistair was able to transition from MMA to kickboxing with ease and would secure titles in both worlds, when he signed with the UFC he was on an 11 fight win streak and looked like Thanos getting ready to take over the universe. He fought 20 times in the UFC going 12-8, he fought for the belt only once but was KO’d by Stipe Miocic in the 1st. As of now he claims to have retired from MMA and is focused on making his return to kickboxing.

Rory Macdonald: Champion: KOTC, Bellator: A former disciple of Firas Zahabi and the Tri-Star gym, Rory was once dubbed to be the next successor to GSP and the welterweight division. While Rory never reached the levels of success that GSP had, he still was easily one of the most dominant fighters during his tenure with the UFC. He racked up wins over BJ Penn, Nate Diaz, Woodley and Damien Maia. In 2017 Rory departed from the UFC with a record of 9-4 after not winning the belt (fought for the title once) and two consecutive losses (Lawler, Wonderboy) and moved to Bellator where he secured his title vs Douglas Lima, The red baron has gone 4-4-1 since leaving the UFC. 

Jon Fitch: Champion WSOF, PFL: Fitch was a long time contender at the 170 division, he will undoubtedly go down as one of the most dominant UFC fighters ever holding a record of 14-3-1 with the company. Jon was known for his relentless pressure and could take opponents down at will while holding them there, in many ways Jon was like Colby Covington, he would’ve been the champion if not for one man (Usman) and in his case it was GSP. In his post UFC career, Jon won titles in the WSOF and PFL beating names like Jake Shields, Paul Daley and Yushin Okami, his post UFC record is 7-3-1. 

Jake Shields (33-11): Champion: Strikeforce, SHOOTO, Elite Xc: One of the best BJJ fighters of his era, Jake shields became a champ for 3 diferent organizations, a career that started in 1999 lasted until 2018. Jake scored 12 submissions along the way and has all the major accolades, the only thing missing was the UFC belt which he lost a decision to GSP in 2011 in his only UFC title shot.

Ben Askren (19-2): Champion: One Fc, Bellator: Ben was one of the most dominant 170-pound wrestlers when he first began, he controlled and dominated everyone from Douglas Lima, Lyman Good and Shinya Aoki while going 19-0 as a pro. He came to the UFC and had a shaky yet successful debut winning against Robbie Lawler, before getting KO’d and submitted by Masvidal and Maia and eventually retiring. He never fought for the title but did have success outside the UFC.

Gilbert Melendez (22-8): Champion: Strikeforce, WEC: One of the key members of the scrap pack. Gilbert was consistently top 5 best lightweight on earth for a solid decade and put on some of the best fights ever vs Josh Thompson, Diego Sanchez and Jeremy Stephens. He came close to winning the 155-pound title against Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis but would fall short twice. 

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