Wed 24 November 2021 | 17:30

The best fighters to never fight in the UFC

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the UFC has become the most dominant MMA promotion in the last two decades. Although a plethora of the best MMA fighters have entered the Octagon, not all impeccable fighters were honoured to fight in the UFC. Read on to know The best fighters to never fight in the UFC.

Since Pride FC folded in 2007, the UFC has become the world's premier MMA promotion and in spite of the fact that some other organizations tried to hold high-quality events with elite fighters, not a single one of them has ever approached the UFC level.

While it is quite common for great fighters to come from Strikeforce, Bellator or ONE Championship to the UFC or vice versa, the UFC fans have been very fortunate to observe the rise and fall of some of

The Greatest MMA Fighters of All Time

 in the promotion.

Yet it would be irrational to assume that all the notable stand-outs have competed under the banner of the UFC, in as much as they haven't yet showcased their skills in the Octagon and therefore they would go down as the fighters who should be in the UFC.

The monetary stumbling blocks, personality disputes at the negotiating table, through to injury woes and personal issues, and having been inexplicably underrated, are some of the reasons why they have not fought in the UFC.

The best fighters to never fight in the UFC

Here we would feature 10 of the best

fighters who should be in the UFC

. Some of these immense talents are currently competing, whereas others became retired years ago.

Bibiano Fernandes

  • Career record

    : (24-4)

  • Promotion

    : ONE, Dream

When the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu ace entered the MMA, he managed to become a dominant force in the Japan-based Dream promotion in the late 2000s especially by winning the featherweight title in 2009 and two years later the bantamweight titles.

Then he went on to join the ONE Championship in 2012 so as to immediately claim the bantamweight title there. It goes without saying that he successfully defended his title eight times and after losing it in an utter competitive battle, he managed to regain it again.

As one of the best fighters outside UFC 2021, although he was about to make a contract with the UFC in 2012, to fight against Roland Delorme at UFC 149 in Calgary, they did not come to terms on a contract.

Especially when he received a more lucrative offer from ONE Championship instead, thereby Fernandes preferred to remain as their bantamweight champion.

Moreover, he is often seen as the training partner of former UFC flyweight champion and current ONE Championship standout Demetrious Johnson, who is considered to be among the

Best MMA fighters in each weight class ever


With an illustrious MMA career record of 24-4, although it is not conceivable to see the 41-year-old in the UFC, whenever he makes his mind for retirement, he would go down as one of the best bantamweights in MMA history.

Sergei Kharitonov

  • Career record

    : (30-9)

  • Promotion

    : PRIDE, DREAM, Strikeforce, Bellator

The Russian MMA fighter, Sergei Kharitonov, is highly revered to be among the best fighters to never fight in the UFC, just like his fellow countryman Fedor Emelianenko.

Although he is also widely recognized as the fighter who has fought everywhere (PRIDE, DREAM, Strikeforce, and now Bellator) except to the UFC, he has not grabbed any championships in any of the aforementioned promotions.

Yet he did have a rather decent career, since, at the prime heyday of his career, he has toppled down the fighters as the likes of Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, and Fabricio Werdum, just to mention a few.

You don't have to go very far to find out the reason why a UFC run never came about for him. Although with wins over Semmy Schilt and Fabricio Werdum, he was a true shining light in his early PRIDE days, when the promotion was bought out by the UFC in 2007, he was simply on the flop of his PRIDE career, in as much as he had conceded two fights against Alistair Overeem and Aleksander Emelianenko.

Therefore he never signed with the UFC, and even though he neither fought as good as how he had performed in PRIDE circa 2004/05 again, he still managed to rack up some impressive triumphs, just for evidence, he took the revenge of his defeat to Overeem in 2007 and toppled Andrei Arlovski in StrikeForce in 2011.

At the moment, he competes for Bellator and despite going through a disastrous KO loss at the start of his span there, he has managed to grab a series of winning streaks too, making his place binding among the

best fighters outside UFC 2021.

Douglas Lima

  • Career record

    : (32-10)

  • Promotion

    : Bellator, MFC, WEC, AFL

The black belt holder in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the former three-time Bellator Welterweight Champion as well as the former MFC Welterweight Champion, is fairly one of the best fighters to never fight in the UFC.

While he grabbed triumphs over UFC veterans like Paul Daley, Lorenz Larkin and Ben Saunders, as well as champions of other promotions like Koreshkov and Steve Carl, he is now the #3 Welterweight fighter in the world as per the USA Today/MMAjunkie.

Whereas Douglas Lima is the best welterweight outside of the UFC, he has a brother called Dhiego Lima that, unlike Douglas, has joined the UFC in 2017.

Apart from his several defeats recently, his career record 32-10 is rather impressive, while has earned many of his victories in Bellator through knockouts.

As the UFC has basically kept a stranglehold on the Welterweight category, primarily due to the fact that in the early 2000s, its largest competitor – PRIDE – didn’t have fighters at this division, many welterweight fighters were forced to develop themselves outside of the UFC.

Therefore, simply Douglas Lima was not among those fighters who managed to still make their way into the Octagon. 

Paulo Filho

  • Career record

    : 23 wins, 6 losses

  • Promotion

    : Heroes, Deep, Pancrase, PRIDE

While most of the warriors who are enlisted among the best fighters to never fight in the UFC, did not reach the promotion in the cope of bad timing and better offers, this is not the case with Filho, in as much as he just wasted his extreme potentials and talents.

His auspicious start of grabbing triumphs in the promotions like Heroes, Deep and Pancrase promotions, saw him make a contract with PRIDE.

He amazingly remained unbeaten as he grabbed triumphs against the fighters like Ryatuo Sakurai, Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua, Ryo Chonan and Kazuo Misaki so as to reach the final of the PRIDE Middleweight Grand-Prix in 2006, however, a bicep injury, unfortunately, ruled him out of the tournament.

After his span with the Pride, although he was provided with the opportunity of joining the UFC, he announced that he is reluctant to fight against his friend and teammate, and one of

The Highest Paid UFC Fighters of All Time

, called Anderson Silva.

Instead, he joined the WEC and went on to make an impressive feat, by grabbing  WEC’s middleweight title against Joe Doerksen, while he also made his title defence against Chael Sonnen too.

Back then, he had established a flawless career record of 16-0 as many deemed him as one of the

best middleweights outside the UFC.

Yet, his stellar career started to spiral out of control owing to his depression, drug addiction, money issues and later health problems that never let him fully regain his prowess.

Igor Vovchanchyn

  • Career record

    : (56-10-1-1)

  • Promotion

    : IAFC, WVC, Pride, and some others

The Ukrainian MMA fighter who started his profession back in 1995, not only is considered to be a pioneer in the sport but also is held in the highest esteem for a legendary role in the sport, even though he never fought in the octagon.

With an impressive career record of 56-10-1-1, he was widely recognized for his insane power. Likewise, since more than 40 number of his triumphs were through knockouts, he was one of the scariest fighters of his own era.

But if you are curious to know about the most avoided fighters of all time, you can probe into

The most intimidating MMA fighters ever.

This is while he had a small frame standing of the 5-foot-8 with a 68-inch reach, and despite this, he could very remarkably beat much bigger fighters, from light heavyweight up to super heavyweight.

Therefore it is of little surprise to see Ice Cold grab victories in nine open-weight tournaments while he spectacularly holds one of the longest winning streaks in history at 37 straight triumphs.

Having said all of these, he is an indispensable part of

the best fighters to never fight in the UFC

, while nobody could defy to prove otherwise, especially had they known that he was a runner-up at the Pride FC Open-Weight Grand Prix in 2000 and competed 27 times for them, which is the second-most in the history of the promotion.

Be that as it may, since his injuries made his career short in 2005, he never found the opportunity to compete in the octagon, in as much as the UFC purchased Pride FC two years later than his retirement. Yet he was offered to fight in the UFC years later after his retirement, but it did not happen for some problems.

Gina Carano

  • Career record

    : (7-1)

  • Promotion

    : EliteXC, Strikeforce

While fighting in EliteXC and Strikeforce from 2006 to 2009, Carano proved to make a very successful transition from Muay Thai to MMA, to the extent of earning the reputation of ‘face of women's MMA’.

As one of the

best featherweights outside UFC

, "Conviction" is the pioneer of woman's fighting in all sense of the words, in as much as she was a member of the first women's fight in Nevada, and was also a part of the first nationally televised women's MMA fight.

Notwithstanding her little experience, with having some notable wins over Tonya Evinger, Julie Kedzie, and Kaitlin Young, she went on to remain unbeaten in her seven first fights so as to be utterly deserved to be included among the best featherweights outside UFC.

Her only defeat was against Cris Cyborg for the inaugural women's Strikeforce Featherweight Championship in what was the first time that two women headlined a major MMA event.

Even though she conceded the fight by first-round TKO, they put on show an amusing back and forth fight, while following it, Carano hung up his gloves to pursue an acting career.

Yet, while once in 2014 she was about to sign with the UFC to confront Ronda Rousey, the bout never materialized as she still goes down as one of the best featherweights outside UFC.

Rickson Gracie

  • Career record

    : (11-0)

  • Promotion

    : Vale Tudo Japan, Pride

While Rickson Gracie is widely dubbed as the most talented fighter to rise from his world-famous family, the fans were always deprived to see him make his impressive feats inside the octagon, therefore he is considered to be among the best middleweights outside the UFC.

With racking up more than 400 victories in different forms of combat sports, consisting of jiu-jitsu tournaments as well as no-holds-barred challenge fights, he also set an impeccable 11-0 MMA record career, while all of his triumphs were through submissions.

He earned these victories while he was competing in one-night tournaments at Vale Tudo Japan for two years running in 1994-1995. Likewise, a brief span of his career was spent in the early days of PRIDE until he became retired in the year 2000.

As a result, he is still considered to be among the best middleweights outside the UFC, while his half-brother, Royce, is a UFC Hall of Famer, and his son Kron, at the moment fights in the UFC's featherweight category.

Patricio Pitbull

  • Career record

    : (32-5)

  • Promotion

    : Bellator and some others

Being widely revered as the greatest fighter in Bellator history and has been honoured to be among the best featherweights outside UFC for quite a long time.

In his glorious career, he established an impressive record of 32 wins and just only 5 defeats, while he became a two-weight champion for the Bellator, being unbeaten for five years from 2016-2021 until was beaten in a fight against AJ McKee at Bellator 263.

In this span, he had one of the best MMA stretches, that won't be replicated any day soon, while he grabbed triumphs over the giants like Daniel Straus, Daniel Weichel, Emmanuel Sanchez twice, Michael Chandler, Juan Archuleta, and Pedro Caravalho.

As one of the best fighters outside UFC 2021, he is honoured to be the second-ever simultaneous two-weight champion in Bellator MMA history.

To the point that, as of October 19, 2021, he is the #3 in the Bellator men's pound-for-pound rankings and the #1 warrior in the Bellator Featherweight Rankings, while most amazingly of all, he is ranked as the #1 featherweight fighter outside of the UFC by Ranking MMA.

Shinya Aoki

  • Career record

    : 47-9-1

  • Promotion

    : RIZIN, ONE, DREAM, Strikeforce

Being widely recognized as one of the greatest grapplers in the history of the MMA, with a career record of 47-9-1, he is also assumed to be among the best fighters to never fight in the UFC.

While he is currently ranked as the #2 fighter in the ONE lightweight rankings, a long span of his career was spent in Asia-based promotions as the likes of RIZIN and ONE, while he managed to beat some fellow giants of the sport.

Although, he was a truly insane striker, when he began to fight in the American promotions like Strikeforce and Bellator, it seemed that he was unable to translate all of his prowess in these competitions, and probably the same might happen had if he entered the octagon.

Be that as it may, he was a phenomenal grappler at the prime heyday of his career, as he managed to topple even some giants like Joachim Hansen and Eddie Alvarez with his submission game, which heavily relied on his terrific flexibility and creativity.

Moreover, he spectacularly remained unbeaten in a span of three years, earning a total of 12 victories in a row, with his amazing grappling skills.

Likewise, as he grabbed the DREAM Lightweight title in 2009, he took the revenge of his defeat to Joachim Hansen in the process, so as to become arguably the biggest star in Japanese MMA, yet the popularity of the sport began to slowly fade away there.

Fedor Emelianenko

  • Career record

    : (40-6-1)

  • Promotion

    : RINGS, Strikeforce, Bellator, Pride

Perhaps it is more of a sheer disappointment in the history of MMA to see The Last Emperor as one of

the best fighters to never fight in the UFC.

At the prime heyday of his career which took long for a span of a decade between 2000 and 2010, his only defeat was a fluke cut stoppage in a 2000 fight against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.

After that he grabbed the Openweight title in the RINGS promotion in 2001 and 2002, he joined the promotion of PRIDE, which was a household for most of the world’s top Heavyweights.

Be that as it may, he swept the board, beating all of those giants from Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop.

Had it not been for several reasons like his feeling of disrespect from Dana White, receiving more lucrative offers from other promotions, and the UFC's refusal to co-promote with M-1 he had probably signed with the UFC on many occasions.

Yet, he had already dethroned two former UFC champions in Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski in 2009, while he only underwent some defeats in Strikeforce when he became older.

But it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could grab the UFC title at the peak of his career with quite an ease, therefore he is an indispensable member of the fighters who should be in the UFC.


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source: SportMob

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