Sports can be weird at times. However, there’s something about MMA as a whole that leads to substantially more strange moments than other sports. Examples can include Petr Yan losing his bantamweight title to Aljamain Sterling via an illegal knee, and the seemingly endless amount of technical decisions that fans have seen on recent UFC fight nights.
However, those are generally events that only happen once or twice in a fighter’s career, such as disqualification or a technical decision. That being said, some fighters have made their entire careers based on weird things happening, in and out of the cage.
ten Jesse Taylor
In some ways, Jesse Taylor is a bit of a tragic tale. Nevertheless, his UFC tenure was a strange situation. The middleweight appeared on season seven of The Ultimate Fighter and went undefeated on the show. However, he was kicked off the show due to a public intoxication incident. He was then released from the promotion after a one-off loss to CB Dolloway later that year.
He promptly then toured the regional scene over the next decade. In 2017, he made his way on The Ultimate Fighter season 25, once again went undefeated, and this time actually won the tournament. However, he got popped by USADA weeks after the show and was once again released.
nine Kalib Starnes
Kalib Starnes actually had a fair share of hype following his time on The Ultimate Fighter season three. However, he quickly squandered that hype following losses in two of his next three cage appearances, losing to Yushin Okami and Alan Belcher.
His final UFC appearance against Nate Quarry is why he made this entry. During their contest at UFC 83, Starnes quite literally spent most of the time running away from his opponent. Landing only 12 strikes over 15 minutes, he earned the nickname “The Running Man” from fans, and was released from the promotion.
eight Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson is something of an enigma. A simple look at his professional record shows a fighter who’s inconsistent, and likely not good. However, that couldn’t be further from the case. When ‘The Menace’ was on, he was one of the greatest fighters on the planet.
During his time in the UFC, he’s defeated names such as Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Edson Barboza, and Joe Lauzon. However, he’s also lost to several unheralded fighters such as Jonathan Brookins, Reza Madadi, and more.
7 Mikey Burnett
Mikey Burnett was one of the greatest “what-ifs” of the late 90s for the UFC. He was picked to fight Pat Militech for the inaugural UFC welterweight title, and many fans thought he beat the legend. However, instead, he lost via split-decision, and then retired at his peak following one more UFC win.
Seven years later, he got the call to fight in The Ultimate Fighter season four. He accepted, but his time on the show didn’t go well. Burnett reportedly broke his neck in a training session (though it’s rumored that he actually broke it trying to run through a wall) and tried to fight through it for some reason. He quickly lost to Din Thomas in the opening round, and never fought again.
6 Greg Hardy
One of the more new weird careers was that of former NFL player Greg Hardy. He was signed to the UFC with a lot of potential and upside, as he had lots of name-value and athleticism that should’ve helped him in a barren heavyweight division.
Instead, fans got one of the strangest UFC experiments ever. His first ever fight in the promotion was a disqualification loss. Three fights later, his win over Ben Sosoli was overturned due to him using his inhaler between rounds. That’s not even including his strange fights with Alexander Volkov on two weeks’ notice and his slog of a fight with Yorgan De Castro.
5 Brian Bowles
Brian Bowles’s UFC career got off to a great start. The former WEC bantamweight champion scored a win over Demacio Page in their rematch, with a guillotine choke submission at 3:30 of the first round. That is quite literally the same result of their first bout which happened three years previously.
Bowles went on to narrowly miss out on a crack at UFC gold, losing his title eliminator bout with Urijah Faber in 2011. He went on to lose his follow-up fight to George Roop, which wound up being the last fight in the promotion. Despite being one of the top 135 pound fighters on the planet, he was released due to a 2015 arrest relating to meth distribution charges.
4 BJ Penn
BJ Penn is one of the greatest fighters ever, so the weirdness of his career became kind of normalized. While he’s arguably the best lightweight of all time, he also ended his stint in the promotion with a seven-fight losing streak.
While his losing streak at the end can be attributed to age and decline, he also jumped around so much in weight that it was insane. He notably fought as high as a heavyweight, losing to Lyoto Machida in 2005 at the weight class.
3 Frankie Edgar
Frankie Edgar is similar to his rival BJ Penn in that he jumped around in weight a lot. While he entered the promotion as a dominant lightweight champion, he wouldn’t stay at that weight for long.
Following losing his title, he then moved down to featherweight, where he fought for the title twice. Once again, he moved down in weight, moving to bantamweight in 2020. To see a 40-year-old Edgar still being ranked in another weight class today is insane.
2 Ben Askren
Ben Askren’s nickname is probably the best way to summarize his UFC career, “Funky”. He entered the promotion in a weird way, joining the UFC via the first, and only MMA trade. Over the next three fights, he would make UFC history, just not in the way he would want.
His first fight with Robbie Lawler ended via a technical submission victory, despite the fact that his opponent wasn’t out. His follow-up fight with Jorge Masvidal notably handed him his first loss via the fastest knockout in UFC history. To cap off the three-fight run, he lost to Demian Maia in a fight that featured some of the worst striking in promotion history.
one Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson was signed to the UFC with a 3-6 amateur record, and no pro fights. He was mainly brought into the promotion to build hype for Mickey Gall, as he was headed towards a collision with CM Punk. Jackson lost to Gall, and once the former WWE fighter lost to the prospect, he wanted another fight.
Naturally, they paired him with the fellow 0-1 fighter Mike Jackson. Their fight was extremely bizarre and ended with ‘The Truth’ winning via unanimous decision, however, it was overturned due to him testing positive for marijuana. Nearly four years later, he returned to fight Irish prospect Dean Barry, where he won via disqualification after two groin strikes and an eye poke. As of now, Jackson is sitting at a 1-1 (1) record and has been in the UFC for six years.
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