It takes a special kind of athlete to be able to make it in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as one must be skilled in a variety of techniques to have even the slightest chance of succeeding in the company. Being able to knock opponents out with a single blow is admirable, but that alone will not get job done against the best of the best who are signed by UFC each and every year. Fighters must also be able and willing to take shots to the chin, they must be able to avoid takedowns, and they must possess the necessary endurance to last at least three rounds inside of the Octagon.
It is not difficult to comprehend why current and former athletes would be intrigued by an opportunity to perform at a UFC event. That offer comes, for starters, with a decent payday, one that involves training that is not too draining for those who are already in tip-top shape and under 20 minutes of work during an actual bout. In fact, there are a plethora of cases of athletes who could not make it in the sports world and who then went on to make more money via mixed martial arts. There will likely one day be a former National Football League player who goes on to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
With that said, UFC has also chewed up and spit out athletes who either did not understand all that it meant to pursue a MMA career or who simply could not hack it in the top MMA organization in the world. That list includes men who excelled in amateur and professional wrestling, and also a controversial boxer who played the villain role as well as he could have been asked to do so. Last but certainly not least is a man who made his name via the Internet, an individual who, truth be told, never should have been given a shot to compete in the UFC in the first place.
10. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar is not your typical UFC failure in that he did win the UFC Heavyweight Championship, but the truth of the matter is that his title reign came because he was a big-name performer and not because he was so dominant while with the promotion. The secret would, five fights into his UFC career, come out that Lesnar was not keen on taking blows to the face during fights, and he returned to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2012 after back-to-back UFC defeats. While rumors have swirled about that Lesnar could return to the UFC for one final payday, it has also been reported that he could choose to remain with WWE through the spring of 2016.
9. Marcus Jones
Jones was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1996 National Football League Draft. He played with the Bucs up through the start of the 2002 regular season, and his football career came to an end after that campaign. Jones was invited to compete in the 2009 edition of the The Ultimate Fighter, where he made it to the semifinal round of that tournament. Following back to back defeats, Jones decided that UFC life was just not for him. He retired with six MMA bouts to his name, and Jones has not since fought in a sanctioned match.
8. Wes Shivers
Shivers was a multi-sport athlete when he chose to go all-in on football with the hopes of playing in college and maybe in the pros. The Tennessee Titans took a flier on the offensive lineman, selecting him in the seventh round of the 2000 National Football League Draft. Shivers was not long for the Titans or for the league, however, and he had his first professional MMA fight in 2007. He was given an opportunity to make it in the UFC during the 2009 edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, but Shivers suffered a defeat via decision. He has not since competed at a UFC event.
7. Tony Halme
Fans of professional wrestling may recognize this name. Halme played the failed World Wrestling Federation performer Ludvig Borga, but he did not last a year in the WWF before he and the company parted ways. The former sports entertainer decided to give MMA a shot in 1997, and he met up with Randy Couture at UFC 13. Couture made short work of Halme, choking out his opponent in under a minute. Halme would never again compete in UFC, and he fought a variety of personal demons later on in his life. He was found dead in January of 2010, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
6. Art Jimmerson
Jimmerson had a moderately successful professional boxing career, competing in several weight classes over the years. The UFC was definitely not for him, however, a truth that was proven at the company’s first ever pay-per-view event. Jimmerson, for whatever reasons, thought it wise to wear only a single glove when taking on Royce Gracie at UFC 1. It did not, as you could probably predict, end well for the boxer, who didn’t land a single punch before Gracie went for a submission hold. Jimmerson, likely able to read the writing on the wall, gave up before Gracie could lock on the hold, and the boxer’s UFC career was over before it ever started.
5. Kurt Angle
Angle‘s so-called UFC “career” is one that never actually happened outside of imaginations. The winner of an Olympic gold medal and a professional wrestling champion grew a reputation for being quite the storyteller, and Angle, a known MMA fan, had apparently met with Dana White about participating in the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. What exactly happened or did not happen during discussions between the two could be a matter of opinion at this point, but what is known is that Angle, who has battled a laundry-list of injuries over the past couple of decades, will never fight in UFC.
4. Jason Miller
Give “Mayhem Miller” credit for being quite the entertaining personality who did well to make a television career out of himself via the MTV program Bully Beatdown. He was just never able to prove that he was ready for prime time as it pertained to competing in the UFC. The second of a pair of stints in the UFC unceremoniously came to an end when Dana White announced to the press that the company and Miller had parted ways. “Mayhem” has also been involved in some unfortunate incidents in his personal life, including multiple domestic violence/domestic abuse charges.
3. Manny Yarbrough
Yarbrough was recruited by Morgan State University for football and for wrestling, and it was in wrestling where he excelled. He was, depending on which stories on the subject you would like to believe, billed to be around 600 pounds when he competed at UFC 3 all the way back in September of 1994. His massive size advantage did him zero favors in the early days of UFC, as he was unable to withstand strikes delivered by Keith Hackney. Yarbrough was finished by Hackney via TKO (punches) in the first round of that fight, and Yarbrough never again fought in the promotion.
2. James Toney
The outspoken Toney set out to get paid and show that he was not merely a gimmick when he took on UFC legend Randy Couture in August of 2010. Toney, an accomplished boxer during his career, was in the bout for about 20 seconds before things went terribly wrong. Couture scored an easy takedown before the 30-second mark of the match, and Toney failed to even land a shot before he submitted. UFC diehards did not care that they had watched what was essentially a scam, as Toney was so unlikeable that watching him get humiliated and dominated was well worth the price.
1. Kimbo Slice
Kimbo Slice became an Internet sensation due to his ability to dominate in real-life street fights and for a unique look that included an impressive beard. Following an unspectacular start to his MMA career, UFC gave Slice a chance to win a contract via The Ultimate Fighter television program. Slice lost his debut fight, and he would win only once while with the promotion before UFC decided to end the experiment after the company made as much money as possible off of Slice’s name. His MMA career is not yet finished, however, as Bellator has given Slice one final chance to make it in an international promotion.