Five UFC Fighters who Surprisingly never became champion

Published on 15 March 2024 at 13:00

To get a title fight in the UFC can be seen as a big achievement, but getting multiple championship opportunities leads you to expect that you should win a belt. However, that is not the case as some of these fighters have had numerous opportunities to hold UFC Gold but have still fell short. Here are five fighters in the top MMA promotion that were so close to getting a UFC title but surprisingly never became champion of their weight division.


Joseph benavidez

Benavidez has had the most fights in UFC Flyweight history, the joint most wins in UFC history and has had four title fights with the promotion but has never become champion. 

The San Antonio-born fighter first earned a title shot in September 2012, fighting for the inaugural UFC Flyweight title at UFC 152 against Demetrious Johnson. Despite a close fight, Benavidez lost by a split decision which would be the closest he has ever been to winning an MMA belt.

After a three-fight winning streak, Benavidez earned himself another shot for the 125-pound title as he would once again fight Demetrious Johnson. The fight would not last long as the Texan lost by first-round knockout in just over two minutes.

It would be six years before Benavidez would earn another shot for UFC Gold as the Flyweight division would no longer have a king as Henry Cejudo would relinquish the title after becoming UFC Bantamweight champion and would stay in the 135-pound weight class. Benavidez would fight Deiveson Figueiredo in Virginia but the bout would not go as planned as the Brazilian fighter failed to make weight by 2.5 pounds, meaning Figueiredo would be ineligible to win the title despite Benavidez still being eligible. The UFC veteran failed to succeed as he lost by second-round TKO with another opportunity missed to win a championship.

A rematch would be set five months later as this time both fighters made the 125-pound weight limit. Benavidez's last chance to become Flyweight champion would be dismissed as he would suffer a first-round submission loss at UFC Fight Island 2.


Urijah faber

Faber had 18 fights in the UFC which included four title bouts against two opponents in the Bantamweight division. He did help Team Alpha Male teammates, TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, to become champion but could not do it himself.

The California Kid's first title shot would be against Dominick Cruz at UFC 132. Both men had faced each other before in WEC where Faber would win by first-round submission. Sadly for Urijah, Cruz would get revenge in their rematch, winning by unanimous decision.

Faber would face Renan Barao in his next title clash as the two competitors would fight for the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship at UFC 149. The Isla Vista-born American would not do enough to win the fight, losing by unanimous decision. 

After his second title loss, Faber would go on a four-fight winning streak which would earn him another opportunity to win UFC Gold as he would face Renan Barao for a second time. The Team Alpha Male fighter would fail getting title redemption as he suffered a first-round TKO loss to the champion.

Two years and four months later, Faber would have his last chance to take a UFC belt as he would complete his trilogy with Dominick Cruz at UFC 199. Once again, he would come up short against the Dominator as after five rounds, he would lose via unanimous decision and would not get the same opportunity ever again.


Yoel Romero

Yoel Romero had four title opportunities within eight months which proved to be a slight downfall in his career and despite looking like on of the most dangerous fighters in the Middleweight division, he never got to hold UFC Gold.

The Soldier of God had his first title fight back in July 2017 when he fought for the Interim Middleweight Championship against Robert Whittaker at UFC 213. Despite it being an incredibly entertaining battle, Romero lost by unanimous decision in a very close fight.

The Cuban fighter would once again fight for Interim Middleweight bout when he came face-to-face with Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. Unfortunately for Romero, he weighed 2.7 pounds over the weight limit and so he would be ineligible to win the belt. The Olympic Silver medallist did win the bout by knockout in the third round as he would get his hand raised but would not have a championship strapped around his waist.

Romero fought his third consecutive title bout at UFC 225 as he would face Robert Whittaker in a rematch and would look to fight for the undisputed Middleweight belt for the first time. However, just like his previous fight, the knockout artist missed weight again which would result the bout to be a non-title fight. Robert Whittaker would come out of UFC 225 victorious in the main event, winning by split decision in just as an entertaining fight as their previous meeting.

Despite losing to Paulo Costa by unanimous decision at UFC 241, Romero was earned a title shot against Israel Adesanya at UFC 248. Thankfully, the Cuban did make weight and would get to properly fight for the undisputed title. With a fight not having much action, Romero lost by unanimous decision as this would be his last bout in the UFC before moving to Bellator.


Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson won title glory in Strikeforce and PRIDE but after having three title fights in the UFC, he was never able to become champion in MMA's top promotion.

Hendo first fought for UFC Gold against Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson for the Light Heavyweight title at UFC 75. Henderson would come up short at the O2, losing by unanimous decision .

Six months after his first championship fight, the Californian would get another shot but for the Middleweight belt against Anderson Silva at UFC 82. In a heavily anticipated bout in Ohio, Silva got the better of Henderson as he submitted him with a rear-naked choke in the second round.

After defeating Hector Lombard by knockout in the second round, Hendo would be given a title shot for the UFC Middleweight Championship against Michael Bisping at UFC 204. Henderson previously fought Bisping at UFC 100, knocking him out cold in the second round and making it one of his greatest KO wins of his MMA career. Despite knocking down The Count twice, Henderson did not do enough to win the fight as he lost by unanimous decision.


Alexander Gustafsson

Alexander Gustafsson has been regarded as one of the greats in the Light Heavyweight division as well as being one of the unluckiest with the opponents he had to face for the three UFC title fights he had in his career.

After completing a six-fight winning streak, The Mauler was set to compete in his first title bout against the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, at UFC 165. Gustafsson proved to be Jones' most difficult opponent, possibly of his whole MMA career, as despite the fight coming close, the champion would retain the belt and win by unanimous decision.

The Swede's next title fight would occur at UFC 192 as Daniel Cormier would be the current King of the Light Heavyweight division. In a truly entertaining fight, Gustafsson would come up short as despite knocking down DC, he would lose by split decision as the champion would make his first successful title defence.

Gustafsson would earn two more victories which include an unanimous decision win over Jan Blachowicz and a fifth-round knockout triumph against Glover Teixeira before getting a third shot at the Light Heavyweight belt. Cormier would relinquish the 205-pound title as he would focus on defending the UFC Heavyweight title so Gustafsson would face Jon Jones in a rematch for the vacant championship. Sadly, Gustafsson would lose by third-round TKO as after this loss, he would fail to get back in the win column in his next three fights.


Are you shocked these fighters never won UFC Gold? Which fighter deserved to be champion the most out of these five?


Featured Images: Ryan McKinnell, Ed Mulholland, Rhettkenagy1, showtime_sports, Gracie Magazine.


Written by Charlie Oxtoby


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Twitter: Charlie_Oxtoby1

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