Over the last 25 years, we have been lucky enough to see some of the planet’s best mixed martial artists compete under the UFC banner, but to achieve the ultimate dream of becoming a UFC champion is a sweet feeling not every fighter can achieve. Join us as we dive down and look at the five greatest fighters, who despite their best efforts, failed to ever carry the torch for their respective weight classes.
5. Chael Sonnen
Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen definitely deserves his place on this list, despite an impressive 31-15-1 pro record, Sonnen was never able to get his hands on UFC gold. During 2009-2010 Sonnen seemed unstoppable as he defeated Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt, but “The American Gangster” fell short when faced with Anderson Silva. Sonnen fought Silva twice for the middleweight strap and fought Jones once for the light heavyweight, but he failed to capitalize on making him 0-3 on UFC title attempts.
4. Wanderlei Silva
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva is a legend in mixed martial arts and everyone knows exactly who he is. Despite featuring in many wars, the former Pride middleweight champion never got his hands on UFC gold. Silva was feared in Pride and the highest parts of his career featured in Japan, when he signed for the UFC 2007 it was clear the Brazilian’s best years were behind him. But, he still featured in some of the best wars in UFC history which means he occupies a place on this list.
3. Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson belongs on this list. The Swede has been at the top of the rankings in the UFC’s light heavyweight division for years, and will surely get another opportunity to fight for the belt soon. But as for now, “The Mauler” has never been a champion in MMA’s greatest proving ground. Gustafsson has fought for the strap on two occasions, firstly against Jon Jones, but fell short and lost by decision. Many make a strong argument that the European won that fight but the judges gave the decision to Jones. His second attempt was against the current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, Gustafsson once again lost by decision.
2. Uriah Faber
Many would argue that Uriah “The California King” Faber belongs at the top of this list, despite being the champion for KOTC and long-term champion for WEC, Faber was never able to achieve his true dream of becoming a UFC champion. “The California King” fought for the belt on four occasions but fell short everytime and could never get the better of the current champion. Faber retired with a 34-10 record which he can be proud of, but finishing second best will surely haunt Faber for many years to come.
1. Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson takes the top spot, a legend in MMA who laid down the law on so many occasions during his 19-year professional career. Henderson claimed champion status for both Strikeforce and Pride but fell short in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Henderson fought for the biggest prize in MMA on three occasions, but lost in all three attempts to Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson, and on the final fight of his career, he lost to Michael Bisping. Henderson will no doubt be inducted into the UFC Hall of fame and will always be remembered for his famous H-Bomb