Some of the greatest fighters to ever grace the Octagon have never held a UFC belt. Here are the six greatest UFC fighters who have never won a UFC championship.
Since it’s beginning in 1993, the UFC has had thousands of fighters under its banner. Although greatness in MMA is usually measured by how many titles one has had and how many times they defended said titles, there are truly exceptional UFC fighters whose greatness cannot be measured with that standard. Some of the best fighters to ever fight within the UFC have never won a championship, and while they might not be regarded as highly as some of the great champions in the promotion, here are six of the greatest UFC fighters ever who have never won a UFC championship.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is truly one of the most essential fighters in UFC history. Cerrone holds the UFC records for most fights at 36, most UFC wins at 23, and most finishes at 16. With a 23-13 record within the UFC, Cerrone stands as a fighter with one of the most deceiving records in the organization. Cerrone has faced off against some of the most skilled fighters in the sport, including Conor McGregor, Benson Henderson, and Nate Diaz. Despite losing a championship fight to former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, Cerrone is still without a doubt one of the most dangerous and versatile fighters in the UFC. With a combination of lethal Muay Thai skills, experienced grappling, and an anytime-anywhere attitude, Cerrone has cemented himself as both a UFC legend and one of the greatest fighters to never have won a championship.
Nate Diaz’s vast skill set combined with his rebellious attitude has made him one of the most beloved fighters of the last decade. With wins over names such as Conor McGregor, Donald Cerrone, and Anthony Pettis, Diaz has proven time and time again that he is capable of beating anyone on any given night. Diaz’s single title fight was against former 155 champion Benson Henderson, which he lost via unanimous decision. Despite that loss, Diaz’s performance over Conor McGregor at UFC 196 solidified him as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. Coming in as a +300 underdog, Diaz used overwhelming volume and his trademark grappling skills to secure a rear-naked choke of McGregor at 1:48 of round 2. Diaz’s skill, personality, and popularity have solidified him as one of the most beloved and best fighters in the UFC.
Joseph Benavidez’s impressive 28-6 record has solidified him as one of the greatest flyweight fighters of all time. However, Despite his three flyweight title fights in the UFC, Benavidez has never been a champion in the promotion. His pair of fights against MMA legend Demitrious Johnson both resulted in losses on Benavidez’s record, with the ladder fight resulting in a vicious knockout. However, with victories over current bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, Jussier Formiga, and Eddie Wineland, Benavidez has beaten almost all of the elite talent that has been thrown his way throughout his tenure at the UFC. Benavidez’s exciting brawl-heavy style has made him a fan favorite and a perennial contender.
In terms of the UFC light heavyweight division, Alexander Gustafsson stands as one of the greatest. Gustaffson has faced two of the greatest fighters of all time in Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title a combined three times, and besides a TKO loss in his second fight against Jones, Gustaffson has had two of the greatest title fights of all time. Gustafsson’s first fight against Jon Jones at UFC 165 is widely regarded as a top-three UFC championship fight of all time, while his bout with Cormier was as close as fights come, with Cormier being victorious via split decision. The always-contending Gustafsson has a kickboxing background, making him an extremely exciting and striking-heavy fighter. Though he hasn’t fought since his supposed retirement, Gustafsson will be forever considered one of the best UFC light-heavyweights to ever put on the four-ounce gloves.
You cannot tell the story of the UFC bantamweight division without mentioning Urijah Faber and the team that he founded, Team Alpha Male. Faber’s individual achievements speak for themselves, with wins over elite fighters such as Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao, and Jens Pulver. On top of his ridiculous resume, Faber was the mastermind behind Team Alpha Male, a group of fighters that dominated the bantamweight division with champions such as TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt. Faber’s contributions to the sport of MMA, both as an individual and as a team member, make him one of the greatest uncrowned fighters of all time.
In his prime, there was nothing more powerful than Dan Henderson’s right hand. Finishing the likes of Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, and Renzo Gracie, Henderson was notorious for his power and knack for finishing fights. Henderson failed to capture UFC gold in three attempts, being beaten by the likes of Michael Bisping, Anderson Silva, and Rampage Jackson in championship bouts. Despite not being a champion in the UFC, Henderson’s success in Strikeforce and Pride have definitely made him an MMA legend. Henderson proved that he could still be elite in the twilight of his career, competing for his final opportunity at a title at age 46. Henderson’s versatility, exciting fight style, and wins over fellow MMA legends make him the greatest UFC fighter to never win a UFC championship.
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