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Top 5 undeserving title challengers in UFC history

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 17 Jan 2020, 17:43 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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#2 Justin Eilers – Heavyweight title vs Andrei Arlovski (2005)

Justin Eilers was coming off a KO loss when he challenged Andrei Arlovski for the UFC Heavyweight title
Justin Eilers was coming off a KO loss when he challenged Andrei Arlovski for the UFC Heavyweight title

When Andrei Arlovski won the interim UFC Heavyweight title by submitting Tim Sylvia at UFC 51, the promotion found itself in a quandary when it came to the Belarusian’s next opponent at UFC 53 four months later; official champion Frank Mir was not ready to return from a broken leg for a unification fight, and Paul Buentello – who had debuted at UFC 51 with a knockout of Justin Eilers – was apparently not medically cleared to fight at the event.

The UFC turned to former Heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez – who had beaten Arlovski at UFC 32 in 2001 – but when ‘Ricco Suave’ couldn’t come to financial terms with the promotion, that idea was out of the window too. And so we ended up with a truly undeserving challenger instead – Eilers, who UFC fans had last seen knocked unconscious at the hands of Buentello.

It was hard to understand the UFC’s logic here, particularly when Buentello ended up being medically cleared anyway, only to be placed into an undercard fight on the show against newcomer Kevin Jordan. The UFC apparently wanted to build him up, but their decision left us with one of the weakest title fights of all time.

Unsurprisingly, Arlovski destroyed Eilers in the first round, causing him to break both of his hands by blocking the punches of ‘The Pitbull’ before his ACL gave out, leading to a TKO. Eilers would fight just one more time in the UFC after the fight, while Arlovski and Buentello finally matched later in the year – with Arlovski winning that fight in violent fashion, too.

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Published 17 Jan 2020, 17:43 IST
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