5 UFC legends who lost a title fight in front of their home crowd

Jose Aldo is one of the unfortunate fighters to have lost a title bout in front of their home crowd
Jose Aldo is one of the unfortunate fighters to have lost a title bout in front of their home crowd

Next month at UFC 301, Alexandre Pantoja will attempt to defend his flyweight title in front of his home crowd in Brazil, and the pressure will be on him to ensure victory.

Over the years, though, a handful of UFC legends lost in major title fights in front of their home crowd. Some of these fighters recovered well, while for others, things were never quite the same again when they stepped into the octagon.

With that in mind, here are five UFC legends who lost a title fight in front of their home crowd.

#5. Deiveson Figueiredo - UFC 283


When Deiveson Figueiredo claimed the flyweight title vacated by Henry Cejudo in mid-2020, most fans expected the Brazilian to go on to have a dominant reign as champion. However, things didn't quite go that way for him.

After pulling off two successful defenses against Alex Perez and Brandon Moreno, 'Deus da Guerra' was upset by Moreno in a rematch, losing his title.

Figueiredo quickly rebounded from that loss, outpointing Moreno in their trilogy bout, but the quality of that fight - and the two before it - spurred the UFC into doing something they'd never done before. They put together a tetralogy bout between the two rivals, this time in Figueiredo's home country of Brazil.

Based on what'd happened in the fight before, it looked likely that 'Deus da Guerra' would finally settle things and put Moreno away for good in front of his adoring fans. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. A bad weight cut left Figueiredo looking drained from the off, and Moreno took full advantage, largely beating him down.

In the end, the bout was stopped at the end of the third round in favor of 'The Assassin Baby' when Figueiredo could not continue due to a swollen eye.

The crowd was largely crestfallen by the defeat of their home country favorite, but thankfully, the defeat appears to have spurred him on since.

Perhaps realizing the negative effect that cutting to 125 pounds was having on his body, Figueiredo has since moved up to 135 pounds and is already on the cusp of contention there.

#4. Rich Franklin - UFC 77


Back in 2006, Rich Franklin was not only the reigning middleweight champion, he was also positioned firmly as one of the UFC's poster boyys.

'Ace' was a well-rounded, exciting fighter, but more importantly, as a former high school math teacher, he was well-spoken, smart and was essentially the opposite of the stereotypical "cage fighter" newer fans expected to see. Unfortunately, after two successful title defenses, Franklin ran into the buzzsaw that was Anderson Silva, and was flatlined in the first round, ending his time as champion.

'Ace' recovered in 2007 with a pair of victories, and with the promotion not fully behind Silva at that stage, they decided to attempt to reset things as such. They booked Franklin in a rematch with 'The Spider' in his home town of Cincinnati, Ohio, clearly hoping that the love of the crowd would spur him on to victory.

Sadly, even one of the all-time loud crowd pops couldn't help 'Ace' to get past his rival. Although he lasted a little longer this time - into the second round - the fight was just as one-sided and ended once again with Franklin being brutally knocked out.

The Cincinnati crowd were clearly disappointed, but couldn't help but be in awe of Silva, too, particularly when the Brazilian was very complimentary of Franklin after the fight.

It would be Franklin's last title fight, as Silva's dominance of the division afterward kept him firmly out of the picture, and he never quite regained the star power he had previously, too.

#3. Alexander Volkanovski - UFC 284


Few, if any, fighters make it through their UFC career without suffering a single loss in the octagon. However, at the start of 2023, it felt like Alexander Volkanovski might be one of those outliers. 'Alexander the Great' came into the year with an unbeaten 12-0 record in the promotion, having suffered his last defeat on the regional circuit back in 2013.

Not only did the Australian hold the featherweight title, but he'd also beaten basically every other great 145-pound fighter, from Jose Aldo and Max Holloway to Brian Ortega and Chad Mendes.

When the UFC offered him the chance to become their latest simultaneous double champion - in front of an Australian crowd in Perth to boot - by facing lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev, it was impossible to turn the opportunity down.

Unfortunately for Volkanovski, even the home-country advantage couldn't lead him to victory over the Dagestani.

It wasn't for the want of trying, though. Spurred on by his fellow Aussies, 'Alexander the Great' took the fight to Makhachev and actually outlanded him in terms of both overall and significant strikes. However, scoring the fight round-by-round, and throwing in the Dagestani's takedowns meant that Makhachev just about edged a decision win, disappointing the crowd.

The loss didn't slow the Aussie down, though. Just five months later, he returned and dismantled Yair Rodriguez to retain his featherweight crown, showing no ill effects from losing in his home country.

#2. Jose Aldo - UFC 212


It's probably fair to say, in hindsight, that Jose Aldo's second reign as featherweight champion never quite felt the same as his initial one. Aldo regained the title vacated by Conor McGregor by defeating Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, but that win didn't really erase the memories of his knockout loss to 'The Notorious'.

With the unbeatable aura that once swirled around him shattered by the Irishman, it was no wonder that several younger talents began to see the Brazilian as little more than a target.

The most dangerous of those talents was Max Holloway. Riding a nine-fight win streak, the Hawaiian crushed Anthony Pettis to claim an interim title just months after Aldo's win over Edgar, cementing himself as the division's top contender.

2017 saw Holloway finally given his shot at Aldo, but it came with a caveat of sorts. The fight would come in front of the Brazilian's home crowd in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite the intimidating atmosphere, though, Holloway was unswayed. He battered Aldo for three rounds, finally stopping him via TKO to take away his title, silencing the crowd in the process. Purely from the perspective of the Brazilian fans, this was one of the most disappointing endings to any event to take place there.

As for Aldo, he never quite bounced back fully, losing four of his next six fights, leaving his aura smashed for good.

#1. Fabricio Werdum - UFC 198


Perhaps no other fighter in UFC history suffered as devastating a loss in front of their home fans as Fabricio Werdum did in 2016. While he did bounce back decently enough, it also wouldn't be a surprise if the loss was still haunting 'Vai Cavalo' to this day.

Werdum was never really pegged as a champion when he returned to the promotion in 2012 following a strong run in StrikeForce. However, a series of big wins set him up for a bout with heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez, and in a huge upset, the Brazilian produced a career-best performance to choke out the champ and claim the gold for himself.

When a planned rematch with Velasquez fell apart, 'Vai Cavalo' then found himself in an enviable spot. He was handed the headline slot in the UFC's first event to take place in a big Brazilian soccer stadium, Curitiba's Arena da Baixada, facing off with top contender Stipe Miocic.

It was the first time that Werdum had ever been pushed as a true poster boy, but unfortunately for him, it would also basically be the last.

Spurred on by the rabid crowd in his favor, 'Vai Cavalo' came out more aggressively than he'd ever done before, looking to chase Miocic down.

The approach was hugely reckless and led directly to his downfall. In looking to swarm the challenger, Werdum neglected to keep his hands up - and walked right into a devastating counterpunch that dropped him face-first.

The Brazilian's home crowd instantly went silent, leaving fans watching at home to witness a bizarre moment as Miocic's wild cries of, "I'm the world champ!" were clearly audible due to the lack of any other sound.

Any hope Werdum had of becoming the promotion's new Brazilian superstar went up in smoke, and he never fought for the title again.

While Miocic later proved his worth by producing a dominant reign, it was also hard not to believe that had Werdum not been greeted by such a raucous home crowd, he might've fought smarter, resulting in a very different outcome.

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Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann
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