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5 MMA legends whose records do not match their reputation

Rickson Gracie's reputation is much more legendary than his 11-0 record would suggest
Rickson Gracie's reputation is much more legendary than his 11-0 record would suggest
Scott Newman

Whenever the greatest fighters of all time, both inside and outside the UFC, are discussed, their MMA records usually stand out, with the likes of Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre earning far more wins than losses.

While most of MMA’s greats have outstanding records, there are a number of legendary fighters whose records simply don’t match their reputation.

Rickson Gracie says it’s ‘hard for people to deny’ his 450-0 record, reveals the one ‘epic fight’ that got away (@guicruzzz) mmafighting.com/2022/5/30/2300… https://t.co/Az4FVUehyT

Often, this is because they stuck around for too long, suffering losses later in their careers, but other times, different reasons are to blame.

With that in mind, here are five MMA legends whose records do not match their reputation.


#5. Randy Couture – 19-11 MMA record

Randy Couture's record does not match up with his legendary reputation
Randy Couture's record does not match up with his legendary reputation

When it comes to legends of the UFC, there are few greater than Randy Couture. While he’s now persona non grata with the promotion, thanks to his willingness to butt heads with UFC president Dana White, ‘The Natural’ has a list of accomplishments that is difficult to top.

Debuting in MMA in 1997 following a successful amateur wrestling career, Couture went on to capture the UFC heavyweight title from Maurice Smith in just his fourth fight. He ended up reclaiming it on two separate occasions later on, with his third title win coming when he was 43 years old.

Add in the fact that Couture was also the first fighter to claim titles in two different weight classes when he won the UFC light heavyweight title in 2003, and it’s hard not to see the native of Washington state as a legend.

Jun24.2006Former two division Champion Randy Couture becomes the 4th fighter in history to be inducted into the UFC Hall of fame. https://t.co/8MKjuZX4QP

However, it’s also safe to say that Couture’s MMA record of 19-11, on the face of it, is nothing special at all when compared to the gaudy ledgers of the likes of Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Many fans, in fact, would try to claim that no fighter with eleven losses to their name should be considered such a legend. In this case, though, they’re simply wrong.

Couture’s losses came from the fact that he basically never fought anything but the toughest competition available. The fact that he fought professionally until he was nearly 50 years old, something usually unheard of in the sport.

‘The Natural’ might not hold the greatest record, then, but his reputation should deservedly remain stellar.

#4. B.J. Penn – 16-14-2 MMA record

BJ Penn stuck around too long and damaged his record in the process
BJ Penn stuck around too long and damaged his record in the process

B.J. Penn is not only a UFC Hall of Famer, he’s widely recognized as a true MMA legend thanks to both his incredible skills inside the octagon and also the fact that he helped to build the sport’s lower weight divisions essentially from the bottom up.

#TheProdigy @BJPenndotcom joins the UFC Hall of Fame in JulyStory: on.ufc.com/1HDfDm5 http://t.co/3yYWrlEHTH

However, while there’s an argument that at his best, ‘The Prodigy’ is still the greatest lightweight to ever compete in the UFC, unfortunately, his record doesn’t stand up to that idea at all. If anything, his 16-14-2 ledger is actually below average.

The Hawaiian, who won both the UFC welterweight and lightweight titles during his time with the promotion, holds wins over fellow greats such as Matt Hughes, Caol Uno, Jens Pulver and Diego Sanchez.

However, his willingness to jump into weight classes that he simply didn’t belong in, such as his excursion to 205 pounds for a fight with Lyoto Machida in 2005, meant that he picked up losses that he probably shouldn’t have.

Add in the fact that he returned from retirement one too many times, ending his UFC career on a horrible seven-fight losing streak, and suddenly, his poor record is understandable.

Had ‘The Prodigy’ simply hung it up after his 2011 loss to Nick Diaz as he’d planned to, his record of 16-8-2 still wouldn’t have looked great, but would’ve been far closer to his reputation than his actual ledger is.


#3. Kazushi Sakuraba – 26-17-1 MMA record

Kazushi Sakuraba shot to fame in Japan, but his willingness to fight larger foes damaged his record
Kazushi Sakuraba shot to fame in Japan, but his willingness to fight larger foes damaged his record

When it comes to Japanese MMA, few fighters were able to reach the legendary status that Kazushi Sakuraba enjoyed in the early 2000’s. Despite coming from a pro-wrestling background, Sakuraba succeeded where the likes of Nobuhiko Takada failed and made a massive mark in the ring, primarily in PRIDE.

After pulling off major wins over the likes of Vitor Belfort and Carlos Newton during his early years, Sakuraba wrote himself into MMA history by submitting Royler Gracie in 1999, becoming the first fighter to officially defeat a member of the Gracie family in several decades.

From there, the Japanese star defeated three more members of the illustrious family – Royce, Renzo and Ryan – earning the nickname ‘The Gracie Hunter’ in the process.

Sakuraba’s victories against he Gracie family legitimized himself as a fighter, and PRIDE FC as an organization.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Sakuraba to become a victim of his own success in many ways. Rather than match him with fighters his own size – Sakuraba could’ve fought at either 170 or 185 pounds in the UFC – PRIDE preferred to put their biggest star up against huge, monstrous opponents.

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go so well for Sakuraba, who suffered devastating losses to the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop and Ricardo Arona.

Worse still, had Sakuraba simply retired when PRIDE closed its doors in 2007, he could’ve ended his career with a respectable 20-9-1 record. Instead, he headed to the new DREAM promotion and ended up fighting for far longer than he should’ve done.

In the end, his career finished with a five-fight slide, leaving him with a ledger that simply doesn’t match his stellar reputation at all.

#2. Ken Shamrock – 28-17-2 MMA record

Ken Shamrock's record does not match up to his legendary status
Ken Shamrock's record does not match up to his legendary status

When the UFC first introduced its Hall of Fame in 2003, two fighters were immediately inducted: Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. However, while Gracie, who won three of the first four UFC tournaments, holds an impressive MMA record of 15-2-3, the same can’t be said for his old rival Shamrock.

Exactly 14yrs ago to this day I was inducted into the #ufc #halloffame by @danawhite#mma #ufchalloffame #wwf https://t.co/5MO1w7xXRr

‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ actually hung up his gloves with a largely disappointing record of 28-17-2, meaning that many fans today are willing to question his position as an MMA legend entirely.

However, the truth is that while Shamrock was perhaps never the greatest fighter on the planet, he was definitely up there with the best, particularly in his prime. In fact, had he not moved to WWE for a period between 1996 and 2001, he could well have reached the top of the UFC.

When Shamrock did move into pro-wrestling, his MMA record stood at an excellent 23-5-2, and had he chosen not to return, then his status as a legend would probably have never been in question.

However, ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ did return, and while his rivalry with Tito Ortiz entered into UFC legend, his comeback meant that he suffered a number of awful losses, dropping fights against low-level opponents like Robert Berry and Mike Bourke as he passed the age of 40.

Essentially, Shamrock simply stuck around for far too long and ended up ruining his record, but for his achievements in his early days, he’s rightly remembered as an MMA pioneer and legend.


#1. Rickson Gracie – MMA record 11-0

Despite claiming to have 450 wins, Rickson Gracie's official record stands at 11-0
Despite claiming to have 450 wins, Rickson Gracie's official record stands at 11-0

While the other fighters on this list ended up with records that were largely spoiled by a number of losses, it’s arguable that Rickson Gracie’s MMA record doesn’t match his reputation simply because it isn’t as extensive as you’d expect.

When official MMA fights are taken into consideration, Gracie’s record stands at 11-0, with six of those wins coming in his tournament victories in the Vale Tudo Japan promotion. Going by this record, it’d be hard to consider him a legend.

However, Gracie himself actually claims to have won a total of 450 fights, which would even put the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomedov into the shade. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to corroborate this claim from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert, particularly as he apparently considers street fights as part of this ledger.

Gracie himself has recently stated that it’s “hard to deny” his fighting record, but has also claimed that he never fought “MMA” per say, as practically all of his fights had no rules, making them Vale Tudo bouts rather than part of the sport as it’s seen today.

Few fans would question Rickson’s status as a legend of the early days of MMA, but it’s safe to say that his 11-0 official record doesn’t really compare to the lofty reputation than a 450-0 record would give him!

Thanks for all of the support. You can now visit my official facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/ricksonofficial
Edited by Harvey Leonard

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