5 forgotten MMA fighters you didn't know were still active
Washing out of the UFC doesn't always mark the end of a fighter's career. Here are 5 fighters you probably didn't realise were still active.
Despite the existence of a ton of smaller promotions across the world, the MMA world remains dominated by the UFC. Sure, Bellator provides some competition and often signs up big-name free agents that the UFC allows to escape, but for the most part, unless you’re in the UFC, you’re largely forgotten.
A handful of years ago the UFC routinely cut swathes of fighters from their roster following losses, but today that has slowed down, largely due to the need for a big roster due to so many events. But the cuts of years ago meant that plenty of big-name fighters disappeared from the public eye, particularly if they never found their way into Bellator.
The following five fighters have been gone from the UFC for some years now, but continue to fight on the smaller circuit – and with every year that passes, the likelihood of them ever returning becomes slimmer. Here are 5 forgotten MMA fighters who you didn’t know were still active.
#1: Goran Reljic
A decade ago, the UFC went on a signing spree and brought in a bunch of top prospects at the time, a lot of whom went onto stardom with the promotion – the likes of Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin and Dong Hyun Kim, for instance. One of the hottest was Croatian Goran Reljic. A legitimate Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who also trained his striking with Mirko Cro Cop, Reljic burst onto the scene at UFC 84 and knocked out Wilson Gouveia in what was awarded the Fight of the Night bonus.
A follow-up five months later was quickly scheduled against Middleweight contender Thales Leites in what would’ve been quite a step up in competition, but Reljic injured his back and had to withdraw. He then spent the next two years on the shelf before a trio of disappointing losses to CB Dollaway, Kendall Grove and Krzysztof Soszynski saw him wash out of the promotion, never having lived up to the early hype around him.
You’d probably be shocked to realise then that he’s still active on the smaller circuit today – his last fight took place just three months ago in December. Europe has tended to be his destination of choice – he’s fought all across the continent, from Switzerland and England to Russia – with his most high-profile fights being a loss to current UFC contender Jan Blachowicz and a win over former Bellator champ Attila Vegh.
More curiously, he’s currently the holder of the UBBAD Bare-Knuckle Boxing World Championship at Light-Heavyweight – and he’s scheduled to defend the title against former UFC star Phil Baroni in Liverpool, England this weekend.