Winning a UFC title can cement you as one of the best fighter on planet earth, and bring you to a newer and higher level of fame and wealth than you could have even imagined
Holding UFC gold isn’t like winning a Superbowl, World Series, NBA title, or even a Stanley Cup, it’s much more than that. It isn’t something that is won by throwing a ball or slapping a puck, it’s won by battling another a human in the most sophisticated form of sanctioned hand to hand combat this universe has ever seen. It’s a status symbol that says you are capable of imposing your will against any person in the world (at your weight class)
This list will encompass five fighters who achieved that almost mythical feat only to squander the opportunities that such an elite moniker provides.
Join me as I throw massive amounts of shade at people more than capable of physically ripping out my soul.
5: Vitor Belfort
I know what you’re thinking, Vitor is one of the biggest names in the sport and it’s almost sacrilegious that I would dare mention him on this list, well he’s on here, so deal with it!
The reason The Phenom made this dubious list is because his lone UFC title was won in a way that was unbecoming of a true championship victory. All the way back at UFC 46 Vitor defeated Randy Couture when the stitching on his glove grazed the eyelid of Couture causing one of the most unlikely cuts forcing the doctor to stop the fight, he then dropped the belt back to Couture in an immediate rematch at UFC 49 in an absolute blood bath of a fight.
Considering how much of a name Vitor has in the sport it’s hard to rank him any higher on this list, but the name he created for himself certainly didn’t come from his brief title reign. His title reign is definitely a forgotten and often discredited one.
4: Carlos Newton
Carlos Newton became the first ever Canadian champion in UFC history by choking the veins out of Pat Milletich’s face with the most vicious bulldog choke I have personally ever seen; at UFC 31.
He would then lose his belt in his very next fight against future UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes at UFC 34, in one of the craziest finishes the sport has ever seen.
Newton had the misfortune of having his brief title reign sandwiched in between two of the three longest Welterweight title reigns in UFC history, although a staple in many hardcore fans hearts and minds, his title reign often gets forgotten in the ever growing and increasingly complex history of the UFC.
3: Josh Barnett
The former UFC kingpin and now professional wrestler, Josh Barnett won UFC gold by stopping Randy Couture in the 2nd round of their bout at UFC 36.
There are a few reasons that his title reign is so forgetfully (sometimes even discredited) the first being the one that draws the most ire, his failed drug test following his title win (which was PRE USADA, wasn’t his first nor his last) Secondly, his career didn’t really take off until he left the promotion, compiling a 22-7 record since then, including a return to the promotion in 2013.
Barnett has carved out a legendary MMA career, but being a UFC champion wasn’t the catalyst.
2: Dave Menne
‘The Warrior’ makes his way onto this list, just shy of the top spot.
Menne won the ingaural UFC Middleweight title at UFC 33 (the worst UFC event of all time according to Dana White) via unanimous decision over Gil Castillo. Menne immediately dropped the belt in his next fight to Murillo Bustamante.
Menne never won another UFC fight and had an up and down career after dropping the belt, honestly the only reason I didn’t put him number 1 is since he is the inaugural champion his legacy will always be mentioned (faintly of course, because why else would he be on this shit list)
1: Ricco Rodriguez
Topping our best of the forgotten is the former Heavyweight Champion.
Rodriguez won the strap by defeating Randy Couture (he seems to lose his belts to forgotten champions) via 5th round TKO at UFC 39, and then immediately dropped it to Tim Sylvia via KO at UFC 41 and he never won another fight in the UFC.
Since his UFC career came to end, he has been at best a journeyman of the sport going 39-22.
Rodriguez is often better remembered as the fighter who had a sponsor temporarily tattooed on his back, the sponsor on his back was a direct competitor to the hosting arena for UFC 39.
The championship win itself was overshadowed by something as menial as a sponsor, hence why he tops our list.
His sad title reign was overshadowed and forgotten before it even began, sorry Ricco!
Honorable mentions: Carla Esparza, Jens Pulver, Maurice Smith, and Johnny Hendricks
written by Joshua Sloan