Calling an athlete, especially a fan favorite, “overrated” is usually a risky move, so I expect some death threats in the comments section, in addition to your own suggestions for this list. I want to make it clear, as early as possible, that we have great respect for each of these fighters, but that they are overrated and have been given undue credit throughout their careers. Since the advent of the UFC, they have hyped up their fighters in order to build excitement for events. This is basically rule number one for a sporting event: promise something life-changing and amazing to the fans, and they will drool and throw money.
Dana White and his analysts can’t go on camera and say “this fight looks alright, but these two guys are both scared because a loss may put them out of the running for the belt, and neither wants that. So this might be a slow paced fight and don’t expect too many awesome punching exchanges and expect most of the fight to take place on the floor in half guard.” This would lead to low ticket sales and no PPV revenue, so they hype up fighters and hire Joe Rogan to scream into the camera as if he has a gun to his head during every event. Inevitably, if every fighter is praised as “possibly the next big thing and every fight is hyped up, there will be disappointments and chronically overrated fighters. In addition to being overrated due to the actions of the promotion, many fighters are overrated due to their own self-important attitudes. Finally, some fighters just garner a lot of attention from fans and that leads to their being overrated. So, for our purposes, there are a couple of ways that fighters can be overrated: through the ravings of the promotion and through fans.
Again, this should not be read as "ten fighters we simply don't like and who are bad people." These are simply ten mixed martial artists who have been given more credit for their skills than they deserve.
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10 Josh Koshcheck
This one will require some major justification right off the bat. There was a time when Josh Koscheck was among the best Welterweights in the UFC, but that was years ago. Anyone who thinks he still belongs in the promotion is mistaken. He continues to run his mouth as if he's even a contender, and that's why now, in 2014, he is overrated. His mouth continues to run these days as if he is still relevant in the sport, but his inability to win big fights and come back from his Championship loss to GSP is why he starts off this list. People still think he can make a run at the title again, but he is visibly a shell of his former self.
Even when he was supposedly around the top of the division, he still didn't look all that sharp, and while he won some good fights, his lack of a title win doesn't live up to his own ego-infused hype or the desperate howling of his fans.
9 Randy Couture
I won't be offended by anyone who insults my existence or calls for my lynching for this one. The Natural is widely hailed as one of the all-time greats, but there are a few reasons that he is one of the most overrated in the history of the league. His record itself is not that of somebody who can be called one of the best of all time. A career mixed martial arts record of 19-11 isn't amazing, nor were most of the fighters against whom he won. A fifteen year career is impressive, and while much of his career took place in his late 30's and 40's, Couture routinely got picked apart by other elite fighters such as Chuck Liddell (who beat him twice) and in his later years, The Natural was unable to compete once the UFC began to grow in both roster size and popularity. Bring on the death threats.
8 Alistair Overeem
There are a couple of reasons for which Alistair Overeem is overrated. Look at how he has been treated by the promotion. They love him and have tried to call him one of the greatest strikers of all time, but ultimately, he has been unable to achieve much real success in the UFC. He beat Brock Lesnar, after which the Viking wannabe retired, so he has that going for him. His other win was against Frank Mir, who is so far off his game these days it's almost sad.
With regard to his two losses, it is not surprising that he lost. Against Travis Browne, fans saw that he actually isn't that smart of a fighter. How many front kicks does a guy need to get hit with before he tries to avoid them? Along with that, look at Overeem's conditioning, even in fights that he has been winning, he looks like Homer Simpson fighting Drederick Tatum, despite not being hit even once.
7 Dan Hardy
After his first four fights ended in victories, the UFC gave Dan Hardy a shot at the title, which was ultimately unsuccessful against Georges St. Pierre. During those four first fights, many within the UFC community started to praise Hardy as possibly the next big thing, but his early success in the promotion was never put into context. Yes, he won four fights, but it's hard to make the claim that beating Akihiro Gono, Rory Markham and Marcus Davis should get a fighter placed in a title eliminator. The league pumped him up too much too early and made him out to be something he wasn't. After Hardy's loss to GSP, he went 2-3 before retiring in 2012.
6 Jake Shields
His years in the UFC brought him far more credit than is deserved. The definition of one-dimensional, Shields relied on his wrestling to the point where it is difficult to actually gauge his stand-up. Unfortunately for Shields, who is a proven athlete, and has some solid wins in the UFC, the fact that he is incapable of trading shots with good strikers takes away from how much anyone can really say he lived up to his hype.
Georges St. Pierre has been criticized for dragging out his fights and relying too much on grappling, but Rush was able to control the octagon and ground game all the way to a title and the second longest defense streak in the promotion's history.
5 Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz is a talented fighter, but unfortunately he has rarely been able to beat an elite opponent in the UFC. A notable exception was his fight against B.J. Penn upon his return to the promotion. While he has had a good career overall, nearly all of his greatest success has been achieved outside of the UFC. Sure, he beat Robbie Lawler about ten years ago, but most of his other UFC wins have come against opponents who he should have beaten. Whenever he has gone up against elite opponents (most recently, GSP and Carlos Condit) he has usually been beaten handily.
4 Frank Mir
There is one way in which Mir is not overrated and that is his submission game. He is possibly the greatest wrestler and submission artist in the history of the Heavyweight division, but the rest of his game is why he is overrated. Placing Mir in the octagon with a striker with any submission defense renders him useless. If his opponent can defend takedowns and can wrestle at all, Frank Mir is unlikely to make it out of the second round, let alone win the fight. His stand up used to be passable at best, but in the past few years, Mir's overall game has gone downhill severely. Without a win since December 2011, it is curious that he is still in the UFC's top ten Heavyweights.
3 Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz was a gifted entertainer, but ultimately his success in the UFC must be put in the right context. His first few years in the promotion were the early years, when the league was small. Between 1997 and 2002, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy was 10-2, but once the league started to grow, it began to be apparent that his skills were not nearly as impressive as many had originally thought. Between 2003 and his retirement from the UFC in 2012, he went 6-9-1. The length of his career is impressive but his inability to compete once the promotion grew is a serious problem when evaluating him as a fighter.
2 Brock Lesnar
It's hard not to admire Brock Lesnar as an athlete. He was on the Minnessota Vikings' practice squad, achieved success in the WWE, was an NCAA wrestling champion and the UFC Heavyweight champion. His overall resume is impressive, but as a mixed martial artist, he is one of the most overrated of all time.
The promotion and fans amped him up and unfortunately, his 5-3 record has tricked some people into thinking he was a talented fighter. Yes, he won the Heavyweight championship, but look at the circumstances of that event. He was 2-1 when he was given his title shot against Randy Couture. The Natural was 45 years old at that point, so there's not a lot of bragging rights to be had there. I can go into the nursing home and start drop-kicking people off their walkers as well. His next win against Frank Mir (also on this list, if you recall) basically showed one thing, that Mir's stand up game was quite poor. Once fighters figured out how to beat Lesna, he got picked apart by Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. After that, his career in MMA was over almost as quickly as it began. Finally, throwing the athlete's version of a hissy fit and walking out of an interview when asked about steroids hurts credibility.
1 Kimbo Slice
This choice is pretty obvious, and Kimbo Slice’s brief mixed martial arts career proved quite a few people wrong, mostly the internet. He was found online, beating other young street scrappers to a pulp in a backyard. He was fast, hit hard and generally put on a good show, so fans went insane and eventually he was given a chance in the UFC. Unfortunately, we all learned that Kimbo Slice is a one-trick pony. That one trick was of course, brutalizing people in back yards. Unfortunately, this skill did not translate into success in the UFC.
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