There have been a number of fighters over the years that mixed martial arts has been around that we really thought were going to make it big, but didn’t. Instead, their careers plummeted before ever really taking off, after an incredible start.
These said names showed us that ‘it’ factor in spades, and things couldn’t have looked better for them early on in their careers. However, somewhere along the line, for some reason, their careers didn’t pan out anything like we assumed they would.
Continue reading to see these five names on our Biggest Flukes in UFC History list, and let us know in the comments if you agree with them:
5. Uriah Hall
Many of us believed Uriah Hall was ready to challenge then UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva right off the set of The Ultimate Fighter 17.
The performances Hall had in the house were nothing short of astounding, one of which showed him KO Adam Cella with a thunderous spinning wheel kick, keeping Cella unconscious for a total of eight minutes. One of his other TUF bouts only lasted eight seconds.
That season showed him go 4-0 overall with three knockouts, before he fought Kelvin Gastelum for The Ultimate Fighter trophy at the finale. He’d lose this bout via split decision, before losing his next to John Howard, also via split decision.
Hall would go 5-1 in his next six, only losing a split decision to Rafael Natal, while defeating the likes of Chris Leben (TKO), Thiago Santos (UD), and Gegard Mousasi (TKO).
He’d go 1-4 in his next five however, being finished via (T)KO by Derek Brunson, Gegard Mousasi in their rematch, Paulo Costa, as well as a unanimous decision defeat to Robert Whittaker.
Hall has since gone 3-0 over the likes of Bevon Lewis (KO), Antonio Carlos Junior (SD), and Anderson Silva (TKO).
We finally got to see the Silva fight, and considering the timeline in which it happened, it went well for him.
However, for all the athleticism Hall has, along with his power and wide array of striking skills, every single one of us assumed he’d be in the top of the middleweight division for some time to come. He looked absolutely unbeatable in the first four fights we saw him in.
Going from 7-2, where he was on the show, to 16-9, where he is now, we all expected a very different type of resume out of him.
Sadly, he was never able to live up to that potential due to mental inconsistencies, and at 36 years old, it’s doubtful he ever will.
4. Diego Brandao
This is another name we came to know because of The Ultimate Fighter. Diego Brandao was season 14’s winner after going 3-0 on the show with three KO victories.
Brandao, like Hall, is perhaps the best in-house Ultimate Fighter we’ve ever seen, but he couldn’t quite cut it amongst the best. After submitting (armbar) Dennis Bermudez to win his season, he’d then lose a unanimous decision to Darren Elkins, before winning his next three bouts.
However, following his initial 4-1 streak with the UFC, he then went 2-3 before being cut. This showed him pick up two knockout victories, while being knocked out by Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, and submitted (triangle choke) by Brian Ortega.
From one of the more dangerous talents we’ve ever seen, that has wicked striking and a 2nd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it was surprising to see him go out the way he did. He was 14-7 while on The Ultimate Fighter, but his record did not reflect the fighter he was.
Most of us had assumed he was coming into his own right as he was getting exposure. That wasn’t the case though.
It turns out, if Brandao can’t finish his opponents in the first couple rounds, he’ll most likely lose.
Since being cut by the UFC, Brandao has gone 5-6, defeating some pretty high level talents, but keeping his inconsistency going further. His record now sits at 25-17, and he’s on a three-fight losing skid. At just 33 years old still, many of us predicted he’d be at his best until at least around this time.
3. Josh Grispi
This man may take a little older of a fanbase to remember, but he certainly deserves a mention on this list. Actually, he could quite handily be No. 1 on this list, but we’ve saved that spot for someone who at least had a little success in the UFC.
He could be our first mention not only for the way his career went, but for his nickname, Josh ‘The Fluke’ Grispi.
Grispi was signed to the WEC to compete in the 145 lb division back in 2008 at just 19 years old, making his debut against future title challenger Mark Hominick. He’d win this fight via technical submission (rear naked choke) at 2:55 of round one.
Next he finished off Micah Miller, doing so via TKO in 50 seconds, before submitting (guillotine choke) former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver in just 33 seconds.
Grispi then submitted (guillotine choke) LC Davis, who was 16-2 as a professional and was also undefeated inside the WEC, at 2:33 of round one.
At this point, Grispi was now 14-1 as a professional, and had finished 13 of those victories in round one.
The WEC then merged into the UFC, and the first defense of champion Jose Aldo’s crown was going to Grispi.
However, Aldo was forced out of the bout with an injury, and replacing him was none other than an unproven Dustin Poirier. Grispi was battered for three straight rounds in what would be a pretty big upset to ‘The Diamond’.
Grispi then had a chance to rebound against George Roop, who was 11-7-1 as a professional. He was also heavily favored to win this fight, but was finished off via TKO in round three with a body shot.
This was followed up by two more defeats to Rani Yahya (north-south choke) and Andy Ogle (UD), and his record has sat at 14-5 since that last one, which was in February of 2013. This remained Ogle’s only victory inside the octagon, as he went 1-5 in his run with the UFC.
Grispi had since been imprisoned for some not so good deeds, thus the reason he hasn’t been able to rebound his career, or at least attempt to.
Chances are though, he wouldn’t have. He had it all for a short period of time, he was as dangerous as anyone, and he was very well rounded. Not to mention he’s 5’11”, which was absolutely massive for featherweight at the time.
Josh Grispi was one of the biggest and most highly touted prospects in the entire sport for two years there, but his prime left him as early as just 21 years old.
The not so good deeds he was imprisoned for include abusing his former wife physically himself, as well as training his pit bull named ‘Buddy’ to attack her.
When he was released on $2,000 bail, three days later, he attacked his significant other again once he got out.
His wife was able to escape the house, where she went to the neighbors to call the police. Grispi was additionally caught with 20 marijuana plants and 15 grams, over a half-ounce, of cocaine.
It doesn’t stop there either.
Grispi initially was handed a five-and-a-half year sentence, but it was extended due to him threatening his wife from the inside. What a piece of work this guy turned out to be.
2. Joe Duffy
Most of us came to know Joseph Duffy not because of seeing him fight, but because we knew he was one of the only two men to defeat Conor McGregor for over half-a-decade.
About two years after McGregor made his UFC debut, fellow Irishman Joe Duffy would follow.
Duffy quickly dispatched of Jake Lindsey via TKO with a beautiful head kick, shovel hook combo that dropped and finished the Kansas native. This was followed up by him submitting (triangle choke) a 25-3 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in Ivan Jorge, also in round one, and the haters were forced to close their mouths on Joe Duffy.
Dustin Poirier then beat him up for three rounds, before he returned to submit (rear naked choke) another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in Mitch Clarke, doing so after landing a thunderous head kick that dropped him early in round one.
Duffy then defeated Reza Madadi via unanimous decision nearly a year later in March of 2017, and this is the last time we’d see him win a fight. He’s since gone 0-3 against the likes of James Vick (TKO), Marc Diakiese (UD), and Joel Alvarez (guillotine choke), bringing his record from 16-2 to 16-5.
He’s since retired, and perhaps that’s a good move for him.
After Duffy started out his mixed martial arts career with a perfect 10-0 record, he was then given a shot at the Cage Warriors lightweight championship. He’d get finished in round four of this fight via submission (guillotine choke), and he’d take a three year break from MMA.
However, he didn’t stop competing, as he became a professional boxer in that time.
Duffy went 7-0 boxing as a professional, before deciding to return to mixed martial arts.
It appears his motivation may leave him at times; it looks like it happened then, and it’s happened now. Joe Duffy at his half-best would’ve never lost to James Vick.
1. Justin Lawrence
Anyone that remembers The Ultimate Fighter 15 remembers how highly touted, and how gifted Justin Lawrence was.
For starters, Lawrence was just 21 while he was on the show. His coach, Dominick Cruz, at some point during the show, pulled him aside and told him they needed to do something different and more involved with him, because he was so far ahead of his seven peers.
Lawrence had over 150 amateur kickboxing victories coming into the show, but was just 3-0 as a professional mixed martial artist.
This included him becoming a six-time IKF National Champion, as well as a two-time Pan American kickboxing champion. He’d also won two Diamond Gloves & two Golden Glove awards in boxing.
It doesn’t stop there, there’s more. He had a kempo karate black belt, and he’s also 5-0 in amateur MMA.
Lawrence also started wrestling in third grade, and placed in state tournaments multiple times throughout his school years. This kid had it all. And he KO’d James Krause to get onto the show, which was a huge shock to most.
Krause was 15-4 as a professional, and many of us knew who he was because of his WEC run. Though he went 0-2 in the WEC, we saw that he is a skilled fighter, and most believed he should be in the UFC.
Lawrence ran right through him. His next test was team Urijah Faber castmate Cristiano Marcello, a 4th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rickson & Royler Gracie.
This was a big test because we needed to see him against an elite grappler, and he passed with flying colors, securing the knockout victory at 3:16 of round two.
Next came a bout against season 15 winner Michael Chiesa, who he looked great against early on.
Lawrence nearly finished Chiesa with a body shot in round two, and honestly, Chiesa did turn away when he fell, the fight could’ve been stopped right then and there. However, it wasn’t, and Lawrence was taken down, mounted, and finished via TKO at 1:02 of round three.
His first UFC fight showed him victories via head kick KO over fellow castmate John Cofer, before losing his next two to Max Holloway (TKO) and Daniel Pineda (kimura), bringing his record from 4-0 to 4-2, before being cut.
Lawrence was still only about to turn 23 years old when the UFC cut him, he still had an enormous amount of time.
Following his departure, Lawrence signed with the LFA, winning his first fight for the promotion six months after his most recent defeat. This was followed up by him winning the RFA featherweight championship via five round unanimous decision, before defending it via TKO at 4:55 of round one.
Lawrence then made his Bellator debut, picking up another first round knockout, this one at 4:56 of the round. He would then go 1-2 in his next three, losing to Emmanuel Sanchez (SD) and John Teixeira (UD), and KO’ing Isao Kobayashi.
‘The Fireball Kid’ has since gone 2-1, with the only defeat coming to AJ McKee via unanimous decision in a fight he was injured very early on in. The thing is, he hasn’t fought since then, which was in April of 2018, and his record has sat at 11-5 since.
All of his coaching staff on The Ultimate Fighter predicted him to rule the sport at his peak, or at least his division. It’s too bad, but it happens in this incredibly unforgiving sport we’ve all come to love.
Who do you see as the biggest fluke in MMA history?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.