10 great fighters who never got a UFC title shot
Despite some questionable booking at times, a UFC title shot has traditionally been hard to come by for the majority of fighters. Usually, it takes a massive win streak, a lot of trash talk – or both – and even then a stroke of luck to secure one, even in the thinner divisions in the company.
That means that over the years there have been some fantastic fighters in the UFC who never managed to get a title shot, whether that was down to bad luck, bad timing or an ill-timed loss. Here are ten great fighters who never got a title shot in their UFC career.
#1 Gegard Mousasi
A champion in StrikeForce and DREAM – and perhaps in the near future, in Bellator – Gegard Mousasi came close to securing a UFC title shot on a couple of occasions, but never quite managed it despite ending his tenure with the promotion on a five-fight win streak.
Mousasi debuted in the UFC in 2013 after moving over during the integration of the StrikeForce roster, and he initially entered as a 205lber, defeating late replacement Ilir Latifi in his first fight. A severe knee injury then sidelined him for a year, and when he returned it was at 185lbs, where he was faced with Lyoto Machida.
Machida managed to outpoint Mousasi – and was awarded a title shot. Mousasi then bounced back by beating Mark Munoz, only to drop his next fight to ‘Jacare’ Souza. That loss pushed him down the ladder somewhat but wins over Dan Henderson and Costa Philippou quickly moved him back up, before an upset loss to Uriah Hall appeared to knock him out of contention for good.
Mousasi recovered, though, and went on to beat Thales Leites, Thiago Santos, Vitor Belfort and Hall in a rematch, the latter three by TKO. This was enough to put him into what was a huge fight with former champion Chris Weidman, but unfortunately, even after winning, Mousasi seemed miles away from a title shot – largely due to the logjam in the Middleweight division caused by the booking of the Michael Bisping/Georges St. Pierre title fight.
And so Mousasi moved on to Bellator rather than wait. Had he stuck around, the likelihood is that he may have received the interim title shot given to Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero at UFC 213, or at the worst, the title shot given to Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. As it is, he makes it onto this list instead – perhaps a case of impatience cost him dearly.