The history of the UFC is littered with fighters who, for one reason or another, were one and done with the promotion. Such fighters are largely a rarity – particularly in the modern era – as most are given at least two or three fights to prove themselves in, and so often, these one-and-done fighters are quite noteworthy.
Here at Sportskeeda, we’ve already discussed 5 of the most memorable one-and-done fighters in UFC history – Rolles Gracie, Roger Gracie, James Toney, Sean Gannon and Jonathan Wiezorek – but here are 5 more that are worth discussing.
Again, like with the initial list, a small caveat: no fighters coming off a season of The Ultimate Fighter will be considered due to the nature of their one-fight deals, nor will fighters who stepped into the Octagon during the pre-Zuffa days of the promotion.
#1 Lee Murray
Hailing from London, England, Lee Murray was signed by the UFC in late 2003 after putting together a record of 7-1 on the regional circuit, but in all honesty, it wasn’t his in-cage reputation that won him his contract. ‘Lightning Lee’ was largely brought in due to a fearsome reputation as a street fighter, and because – as legend would have it – he knocked out then-UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in a brawl in London during a UFC 38 after-party.
Murray was matched with fellow brawler Jorge Rivera in his Octagon debut at UFC 46, but to the surprise of everyone, he actually ended up winning the fight via submission, slapping on a triangle choke/armbar combination after Rivera took him down in the early moments of the fight. Murray claimed ‘El Conquistador’ was afraid of his punching power.
Despite UFC fans clamouring for a “real” fight between Murray and Ortiz, the promotion instead matched ‘Lightning Lee’ with Patrick Cote for his second Octagon outing – but due to his shady past, the Englishman was denied a Visa to enter the US, scuppering the fight. Murray instead fought – and lost to – future UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva for the UK’s Cage Rage promotion.
Despite the loss, UFC fans still wanted to see Murray return, but it wasn’t to be; 2005 saw him stabbed in a nightclub brawl, leaving him with a punctured lung and needing to be resuscitated 4 times. And 2006 got even crazier, as he was involved in the infamous Securitas depot robbery – an incident that saw Murray and his accomplices escape with over £53m in banknotes.
Murray fled to Morocco, where he was eventually arrested and jailed for his part in the robbery. As of the time of writing, he’s currently incarcerated and is working through a 25-year sentence.
#2 Kit Cope
A noted boxer and kickboxer, Kit Cope entered into the conscience of fight fans when he was featured in an episode of MTV’s True Life in 2004, entitled ‘I’m a Muay Thai Fighter’. The show followed ‘The Doctor’ as he trained for a bare-knuckle lethwei fight in Thailand that saw him knock out Burmese fighter Mojo Mawadee.
Evidently, the UFC were sold by the show and signed Cope up for a fight with rising star Kenny Florian at the Ultimate Fighter II Finale card in November 2005. Unfortunately, Cope’s MMA skills lagged far behind his skills in striking, and prior to the fight with ‘Ken-Flo’, his MMA record stood at just 2-2. Sure enough, Florian made no attempt at standing with the kickboxer, took him down immediately and after Cope escaped a nasty armbar attempt in the first round, he quickly succumbed to a second-round rear naked choke.
That was the only time we’d see ‘The Doctor’ in the Octagon. Despite not fighting for well over a year after the Florian loss, Cope was signed by the WEC in 2007 and given a shot at that promotion’s Lightweight title – only to be submitted by champ Rob McCullough. Following the fight, he tested positive for anabolic steroids and was subsequently cut loose.
In the years that have followed, Cope has gone 4-3 in MMA – with all of his losses coming by submission – and hasn’t fought since 2012, the same year that saw him controversially threaten to leak a sex tape of fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano.
#3 Vinicius Queiroz
Ever since the UFC was introduced back in 1993, turning the likes of Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock into superstars, comparisons have been made between the sport of MMA and the pseudo-sport of professional wrestling. However, for all of the similarities between the two, one thing has always been for certain in the UFC: unlike in pro-wrestling, looking like a tough guy doesn’t necessarily make you a tough guy.
Fans of the UFC were reminded of that fact at UFC 120 in October 2010, as hulking Brazilian Vinicius ‘The Spartan’ Queiroz made his UFC debut to take on chubby British grappler Rob Broughton. Visually at least, this fight was a total mismatch; Broughton stood at 6’2” but weighed around 260lbs, with a belly comparable to Roy Nelson’s, while Queiroz – who’d scored a number of violent KOs on the Brazilian circuit – was 6’7” and a ripped 230lbs.
When the fight began though, it was clear who was the better fighter; Queiroz threw a bunch of heavy strikes that didn’t really land cleanly, couldn’t hurt ‘The Bear’, and began to run out of steam early on. Broughton kept plugging away, and in the third round, he was able to drag ‘The Spartan’ to the ground and choke him out.
Post-fight of course, we found out the reason for Queiroz’s impressive physique; the Brazilian tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol – although he claimed that he’d done this unwittingly. At any rate, he was cut from the UFC before making another appearance – and went onto fight in Bellator, where he went 3-2 between 2012 and 2016.
#4 Cindy Dandois
One of the only notable MMA fighters to hail from Belgium, Cindy Dandois was signed by the UFC in 2017 after putting together a really solid record of 8-2 on the regional circuit, picking up wins over notable fighters such as Marloes Coenen, Megan Anderson and Jessamyn Duke in the process. Matched with former Bantamweight title challenger Alexis Davis in her UFC debut, most fans figured they’d be seeing a grappling match between two experts on the ground.
That wasn’t the case though, and instead, we saw Dandois give one of the most inept displays of striking in UFC history, throwing punches like she’d been training in kickboxing for about a week before she stepped into the Octagon. The third round saw her finally secure a couple of takedowns, but she couldn’t come close to finishing Davis – who comfortably outlanded her on the feet – and ‘Battlecat’ came out on the wrong end of a lopsided decision.
The display in the fight made Dandois somewhat of a viral sensation, with UFC fans making sarcastic – somewhat unfair – comments about her striking abilities, and evidently, the promotion decided they’d seen enough, cutting her loose just months after signing her up.
Since then, Dandois has gone 7-2 on the regional circuit – but hasn’t been considered for a UFC return as of the time of writing. She stands as a massive indicator that even in a thin division like Women’s Bantamweight, to survive in the modern UFC you must have solid skills in all areas.
#5 Jeff Joslin
Unlike a couple of fighters on this list, Canada’s Jeff Joslin was definitely good enough for the UFC. In a parallel universe in fact, ‘The Inferno’ probably would’ve become a title contender in the most loaded division in the promotion – Welterweight – but instead, his UFC career ended after a single fight due to horrendous luck with injuries.
A fully rounded and dangerous fighter, Joslin had skills in all areas. He’d grown up as the son of a national karate champion and had a sharp striking game, but he was equally gifted on the mat, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and medalling in the 2002 BJJ Pan-Am games. He’d even largely beaten future UFC title challenger Jon Fitch on the regional circuit, only losing due to a horrendous judging decision.
By late 2006, ‘The Inferno’ was 5-2 in MMA and was signed by the UFC. In a sign of where they saw him in the division, he was matched against rising star Josh Koscheck in the semi-main event of UFC Fight Night 7. Koscheck would use his wrestling game to smother Joslin for a decision in the fight, but the Canadian fought well, and to most observers, it was clear that he had a bright future ahead of him.
Unfortunately, disaster struck; Joslin was forced out of his next two booked fights, against Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC Fight Night 9 and again against Chris Lytle at UFC 73, due to what turned out to be post-concussion syndrome. The issue eventually forced ‘The Inferno’ to retire from MMA – and so a potential contender in the UFC became a fighter who was one-and-done in the promotion.