Hype Train Derailed — 5 Biggest Busts in UFC History

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Commentary/Opinion, Top 10

alistair-overeem-post-ufc-141“Bust” is such a negative term, and we prefer to remain positive. Eh, who am I kidding? We love to revel in the misery of others. So today we’re going to look at some of the biggest busts in UFC history. Since we could use a ton of different qualifiers for this list, let me explain how I view a bust.

First and foremost, they should have a lot of fanfare and hype behind them. You can’t be a bust if you never had a public perception of something MUCH higher. Next, win-loss records are not the only factor. That’s why you won’t see Wanderlei Silva on this list. When he came back to the UFC, he was thrust into the spotlight—obviously—as a killer. Although his record has been spotty, he still manages to put on incredible fights and maintain an important place in the company.

Declining skills due to age aren’t really what I had in mind either. A guy who showed success within the company and then started deteriorating isn’t really a bust in my opinion. It’s a natural decline in skill. So Chuck Liddell certainly won’t be on this list either.

My list—at least I think so—is a list of fighters who came into the UFC with incredible hype and quickly fell off the charts. Very quickly. Meaning they were exposed. In short, their abilities fell FAR short of what many of us believed. In no particular order.

Brandon Vera. Remember when this guy was supposed to steamroll both the UFC heavyweight AND light heavyweight divisions? Ummm, well that didn’t happen. The media machine tried to convince all of us that beating a few so-so heavyweights; and former champ Frank Mir was a sign that this dude would tear up the division. Since then, he’s been terrible. His “best” accomplishment has been waiting till the 4th round to get knocked out by Shogun Rua. His next fight against Ben Rothwell could be his 5th out of 6 fights where he fails to get his hand raised.

Alistair Overeem. The hype and anticipation was second to none. A guy with such high level striking and experience would surely go right to the top of the UFC. After running through every non-UFC heavyweight imaginable, fans couldn’t wait any longer. Reem would certainly clash with Cain and Junior in a historic series of HW battles for the next few years. Oops! In three UFC fights, he hasn’t even won a single CLEAN fight. He beat former champ Brock Lesnar, but failed a drug test. He then got his head bashed in by an irate Bigfoot and a surging Travis Browne. Watching Reem crumble to the canvas after eating Browne’s foot was a perfect metaphor for his UFC career.

Uriah Hall. This dude was knocking people out cold in the TUF house. Grown men (*cough* Bubba *cough*) were shaking in their boots, refusing to look Hall in the eye for fear of setting him off. Message boards were filled with insane Hall vs. Anderson Silva scenarios. Hell, even Dana White (never the one to overhype something!) was saying this kid was a contender WHILE he was still in the TUF house. Then something funny happened. We found out this guy wasn’t very good; and mentally weak. He smiled and high fived his way to consecutive losses to—here, I’ll say it—average (at best) fighters. Where did those fans go who were saying Hall could beat The Spider? Apparently the same place Hall’s balls went.

Mirko Cro Cop. Cro Cop was Overeem before Overeem. But with even more MMA credentials. The world class striker had battled the best in the world outside the UFC when the best in the world were outside the UFC. Cro Cop’s brand of violence seemed to be at its peak when he entered the UFC. His tune up fights with Eddie Sanchez and Gabriel Gonzaga were just a formality to get him in the cage with the champ. That never happened. Gonzaga head kicked him silly and then Cheick Kongo worked his ballsack over like a blacksmith meticulously hammering the dents out of a horseshoe. His fire was never the same and he never came close to beating even a middle of the road heavyweight again.

Hector Lombard. One of the strange things about hardcore MMA fans is that they all know someone hiding in remote parts of the globe who could easily whip Anderson Silva’s ass…or Cain Velasquez’s…or GSP’s. Well, guess what? They can’t okay? Lombard had an amazing track record destroying everyone he faced. Never mind that the level of competition was very low. “Just wait till he gets to the UFC,” many would say. Well they got their wish. He’s looked like a mid-tier fighter. Bad losses to Boetsch and Okami—and a win over mental patient Rousimar Palhares—have sent him packing to a new weight class. That’s usually a desperation move to keep from getting cut. Definitely a bust.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned here. Most notably, if a guy on some message board named Growler69 or NarantungalagFan4Eva is the first person to tell you about an unknown fighter, you might not want to buy stock just yet. There’s also something to be said for a fighter gaining a strange, disproportionate amount of hype. Ask yourself, why? Is it because he beat 20 cans in a row? Is it because he beat a former champ who wasn’t himself that night? Is it because he was juiced up?

Hype is fun. But it’s also not reality. Today’s flavor of the day is Conor McGregor. Before that it was Steven Thompson. Before that it was Jon Jones. To me it seems Jones is a VERY rare exception that barely even fits the description. He created his own hype by winning. It wasn’t produced on a message board or in a marketing department.

Ok fans, biggest UFC busts ever…who did we miss?

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