UFC fans have seen many elite competitors fight the octagon throughout the years. Some make their way to the top of their respective divisions, while others come up short.
Capturing the coveted UFC gold is the ultimate validation of a fighter's legacy. Physical attributes, mastery of skills, and intangible traits are all essential tools that championship-caliber fighters must possess.
But a combination of these qualities doesn't always guarantee championship success in the UFC. In some cases, even championship-level fighters wither away without reaching the proverbial promise land.
Listed below are three UFC championship-level fighters who have had an alarming slump at various points in their careers:
#3 Tony Ferguson
Tony Ferguson has always been one of the most beloved figures in the UFC, thanks to his high-octane offensive arsenal and disregard for caution.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan has referred to 'El Cucuy' as a "brilliant madman." That's because his unorthodox style often leads him to the brink of defeat, but somehow, Ferguson always pulls off miraculous comebacks.
Until recently, that is.
Many believe that Ferguson's mad methods have finally caught up to him. After setting a record-high 12 wins in the UFC lightweight division, Ferguson has dropped three straight against fellow lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush and champion Charles Oliveira (Ferguson fought him before the Brazilian became champion).
The TUF 10 (The Ultimate Fighter) winner is adamant that he has more left in the tank. However, his recent performances indicate that his best days are behind him.
#2 Uriah Hall
Uriah Hall was already a highly vaunted prospect during his days as a TUF contestant. 'Primetime' dominated his opponents in dominating fashion, leading to UFC president Dana White calling him the "most dangerous" fighter in the show's history.
Chael Sonnen, who was Hall's coach, was so impressed with his protege that he proclaimed Hall one of the best middleweights during an episode of the show. Needless to say, 'Primetime' was heavily expected to win the season after he knocked out all but one of his opponents in the TUF house.
But his coronation was premature. Kelvin Gastelum exposed Hall's weakness in the wrestling department. Gastelum dominated Hall on the ground to earn a unanimous decision in a season-winning performance.
Since then, Hall has been a steady presence in the middleweight division. However, he fell out of the championship conversation after losing three straight to future champion Robert Whittaker, Derek Brunson and Gegard Mousasi.
Right now, Hall is enjoying a resurgence after collecting four wins in a row. It remains to be seen if he can ride out his recent success into a title shot.
#1 Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone
The latter phase of Donald Cerrone's career has turned into a bleak cautionary tale for UFC veterans. 'Cowboy' has been floundering of late, losing five out of his last six fights (with one no-contest).
Due to Cerrone's recent woes, it's often forgotten that at one point, 'Cowboy' looked like a fighter capable of becoming UFC champion.
From 2011 to 2016, Cerrone was a winning fighter. He earned the respect and adoration of many UFC fans as he always put on exciting barnburners against fellow elite combatants.
But that changed when 'Cowboy' suffered a three-fight skid following losses to Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler and Darren Till. He found new life when he earned three straight wins over Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta.
That, however, was the last time 'Cowboy' tasted victory in the octagon. Right now, it appears that the UFC is willing to give Cerrone one last chance to make a graceful exit.