The UFC is in a bit of a bind at the moment, as they've lost PPV Kingpin Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and pound for pound best Jon Jones. They also have more events booked than ever and it's difficult to sell them without three major stars. The company is relying heavily on the likes of Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, and umm...that's about it, to carry the ball right now.
However, there has been a resurgence of fighters that have garnered a lot of interest lately and have helped the UFC fill these events with credible names rather than resorting to sub-par fighters to fill the spots. Let's face it, as fans, we love to see the old dog that was all but written off, come back and steal the show. It's the natural progression of things, as a sport evolves, the athletes simply get better and the old guard gets pushed aside. But in the UFC over the last few years, there have been a number of fighters that have defied father time (and logic).
How cool was it to see Ken Shamrock do his thing at Bellator a few months back?...NAH, totally kidding, that was a train wreck.
In all seriousness, some of the fighters that will make this list were average fighters for the bulk of their careers and have gone on to win world titles. Rafael Dos Anjos for example, in 2010-11, had lost two out of three fights. The losses didn't exactly come at the hands of studs either as he got bested by Clay Guida and Gleison Tibau. Everyone did a collective people's eyebrow when he was given a title shot against Anthony Pettis. Guess what? Dos Anjos is now the Lightweight Champion. There's some other fighters that have risen from the ashes, let's take a gander, shall we?
15 Thiago Alves
14 John Howard
13 Anthony Johnson
12 Raphael Assuncao
11 Miesha Tate
10 Mark Hunt
9 Tito Ortiz
8 Ryan Bader
Speaking of one of Mr. Ortiz's victims, Bader was supposed to quietly fade off into oblivion as Mike Tyson would say. However, he did win two in a row after the Ortiz loss but they were far from impressive as he knocked out Jason Brilz (right, who?) and defeated an essentially crippled Rampage Jackson in Japan. Poor Rampage was so banged up that he was even struggling walking to the octagon. Bader then got his lights turned out by Lyoto Machida and got similar treatment against Glover Teixeira.
7 Matt Brown
6 Frank Mir
Frank Mir will surely go down as one of the UFC's best Heavyweights of all-time. Sure, he's been on the wrong side of a few highlight reel knockouts but he's also a fighter that's faced top competition throughout his entire career. His pedigree does not lie, as he's taken out names such as Tim Sylvia (back when he was good), Antonio Nogueira, Brock Lesnar and Mirko Cro Cop.
But recently, Frank Mir suffered the first four-fight losing streak of his career. Like all his fights, they were against top tier competition but he looked like a shell of his former self. He was sluggish, his footwork was off, and his top notch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was no longer a factor. Then,
5 Andrei Arlovski
Guess what? It really doesn't matter who the fans think won the fight, or even who Dana White thinks won for that matter. The UFC abides by the judge's decision, regardless of how horrendous it may be. Andrei Arlovski was giving the nod over Frank Mir and is now knocking on the door for a title shot.
But let's take a look at Arlovski's past five years. This guy seemed like he was a loss away from "Tank Abbott" levels of sadness. After dropping four in a row from 2009-2011, Arlovski seriously considered retirement. He walked into Greg Jackson's gym and point blank asked him: "can you make me a champion again?" Jackson matter-of-factly responded with "yes." Arlovski has won 11 of his last 12 and is riding a four-fight win streak in the UFC. At 36 years old, "The Pitbull" has reinvented himself and looks better than ever. Yours truly would love to see a rematch with the returning Fedor.
4 Quinton Jackson
3 Rafael Dos Anjos
2 Fabricio Werdum
1 Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler should be #1 on everyone's list, as his career resurgence is almost incomprehensible. When the UFC bought Strikeforce, many (myself included) were wondering why the UFC was even bothering with Lawler. Yeah, he's exciting and he likes to stand there and "bang," but he didn't win fights! From 2009-2012, he lost five out of eight. It's not like he was facing the top of the heap either, as he was losing fights to guys like Lorenz Larkin and a washed-up "Babalu" Sobral. Jake Shields also submitted him in two minutes and made it look easy. Lawler went from a mediocre Welterweight/Middleweight to the undisputed world champ in just over two years. What he's accomplished defies father time, the evolution of the sport, and all logic. It's not as if he pulled a "Matt Serra" (with all due respect) and snuck a lucky punch in. Lawler has beaten the best that the division has to offer, including Rory MacDonald who many feel will be the inevitable champ at some point, yet Lawler's beaten him twice. Incredible...keep making us eat crow, Robbie.
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