VanZant, Shahbazyan, Till, and Northcutt: UFC fighters who didn't live up to their hype

Alisa Barladyan
16 Sep 2022

On the night of September 10, Khamzat Chimaev destroyed Kevin Holland in the co-main UFC 279 bout. No doubt, the Swedish fighter is currently the main hype of the promotion.
However, few bright fighters managed to repeat his path. This material will tell you about athletes who have not lived up to expectations.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet
Paige VanZant

This nice and pretty girl came to Dana White's promotion with a modest professional record of 3-1. However, Paige flourished in the UFC. She won three consecutive bouts in less than a year and soon became the talk of the town. This hype lasted till her first serious opponent.
On December 15, 2015, Paige and Rose Namajunas headlined the UFC Fight Nights. The Thug ruined VanZant's prospects for a championship. Rose elbowed a lot and made a bloody mess out of Paige's pretty face. Namajunas finished her opponent in the fifth round. VanZant defeated Bec Rawlings via TKO but then lost to Michelle Waterson and Jessica Rose-Clark. The hype was gone.
In 2020, VanZant left the UFC and signed a contract with the Bare Knuckle league. The athlete also earns money by selling her intimate photos and hardly regrets anything.

The charismatic American karateka with a bright appearance got into the UFC at the age of 19, having a professional record of 5-0. Northcutt's hype was so big that he found himself in the UFC 192 card. He bit Francisco Treviño in the first minute, and his hype train accelerated.

Three months later, Sage defeated Cody Pfister, and the UFC media machinery turned the 19-year-old fighter into one of the organization's biggest stars. Northcutt made use of it: he gave many interviews, published images of his powerful body on social media, and earned much more than fighters with only a couple of UFC bouts.

On June 30, 2016, Northcutt lost for the first time in his career. Bryan Barberena stepped up on short notice and defeated the young prospect via arm-triangle choke in the second round. After his first loss, Sage lost all his hype, although later, he won four out of five UFC bouts. On May 17, 2019, Northcutt was soundly defeated by Cosmo Alexandre via KO during One Championship and is still recovering.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet

In 2017, young fighter Edmen Shahbazyan debuted in professional MMA. In a year and a half, the American-Armenian athlete had six wins in a row and performed at Dana White's Contender Series. Edmen dealt with Antonio Jones in 40 seconds and got a contract with the UFC. At that time, Shahbazyan was the youngest fighter on the men's roster.

Edmen had a rough start to his career in the world's top MMA league. He bit Darren Stewart via split decision. But then the 21-year-old fighter had 3 consecutive finishes in the first round and started saying he would become the youngest UFC champion, thus beating Jon Jones's record.

But the reality was harsh. Edmen was thrown under the "tanks." Derek Brunson, Jack Hermansson, and Nassourdine Imavov cooled the defiant athlete's ardor quickly. Now Shahbazyan has a streak of three losses, but he is only 24 and can get back on the winning track.

Khamzat Chimaev's best friend showed promise long before Borz came to the UFC. Michael Bisping lost his belt in the bout against Georges St-Pierre, but the British started to believe in the new messiah — Darren Till.

Darren returned to the Octagon on May 28, 2017, having recovered from his injuries, although many had forgotten about him. In a year, Till had a streak of four wins, having defeated Jessin Ayari, Bojan Veličković, Donald Cerrone, and Stephen Thompson. The Brit didn't ask for a title fight even after his win over Wonderboy, but the UFC worshiped Till and granted him a championship bout.

The hype around Darren was so big that he was a favorite in the bout against current champion Tyron Woodley. The American confounded skeptics: he dropped Till in the second round, bit him in the ground and pound, and then applied a D'Arce choke. Darren lost for the first time in his career and got greatly disappointed. In his four next UFC fights, Till would defeat only Kelvin Gastelum via a dubious split decision, and nobody would talk about him as the next champion from the UK.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet

In August 2018, the Brazilian light heavyweight took part in Dana White's Contender Series. Walker failed to finish Henrique da Silva and won via unanimous decision. The UFC matchmakers liked Johnny's vim, versatility, and stubbornness and gave him a contract with the organization.

On November 17, 2018, the Brazilian debuted in the best MMA league in the world. Walker was unstoppable in the first three bouts: he knocked out Khalil Rountree Jr., Justin Ledet, and Misha Cirkunov in less than two minutes. The Brazilian believed in himself so much that he challenged Jon Jones and said he was coming after him.

The light heavyweight had stagnated, and the fans were happy to have a bright new challenger. On November 2, 2019, Walker went into the battle against Corey Anderson without doubting his win. But the American wasn't so simple. Corey beat Johnny in two minutes, and the Brazilian realized he was far from Jon Jones. After that, Walker won only one out of four bouts, and his face after Jamahal Hill's knockout soon became a meme.

Athletes often come to the UFC from collegiate wrestling, but Gregor Gillespie is something special. The fighter was a four-time All–American and a star of the US student sports.

In 2016, Gillespie came to the UFC as an undefeated fighter with a record of 7-0 and two defenses of the championship belt in Ring of Combat. Gregor continued his winning streak in Dana White's promotion: he had six confident wins after his debut (5 finishes in a row).

Before his fight against Kevin Lee, Gillespie announced that in case of victory, he would challenge the lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The American said he posed a real threat to the Eagle. However, Gregor shouldn't have looked behind Kevin Lee's back.

The outcome of the Gillespie vs. Lee bout was very quick. The fighters got into a serious exchange that ended with a crushing head kick from Kevin that sent Gillespie into a dream world. After that loss, the American fighter recovered for over 18 months and hardly defeated Carlos Diego Ferreira. Now Gregor is not even on the UFC roster.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet

The main hole finder in Khabib's game. Kevin Lee followed Nurmagomedov for so long that now he performs in his organization. Apparently, he decided not to fight evil but to join it.

Kevin broke into the UFC with a streak of three wins and even his loss to Leonardo Santos in the first round didn't make the American any less talkative. Lee had a streak of five wins (four finishes) and constantly challenged Khabib. The fans considered Kevin a real threat to the Eagle.

On October 7, 2017, Kevin Lee faced Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship. Lee's performance was quite decent, and he even beat El Cucuy in the first round (27-13). However, Ferguson evened the fight and finished his opponent with a triangle choke in the third round.

After that loss, Kevin won only two out of six UFC bouts and joined Eagle FC.

The Croatian fighter's famous phrase is "right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery." In the 2000-s, Cro Cop terrorized his opponents in Japan. From 2004 to 2007, Mirko had 14 bouts in Asia and lost only to Fedor Emelianenko and Mark Hunt. In 2006, Filipović had four knockouts in a row, and his fans started saying he should join the UFC.

The Croatian signed a contract with Dana White's organization in 2007. Mirko knocked out Eddie Sanchez in the first round in his debut fight. A real star has come to the UFC and will now blow everyone's heads off. Everyone expected famous killer high kicks.

Mirko Filipović and Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga headlined UFC 70 in Manchester. English fans expected a bright knockout from the Croatian, but the result was the opposite. Gonzaga "CroCopped" Cro Cop at the end of the first round, having destroyed him with a killer high kick. Filipović was soundly defeated, which had a painful effect on the Croatian's career. In September 2007, Mirko lost to Cheick Kongo via unanimous decision, and all the hype disappeared.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet

Before his UFC debut, the American athlete was a Bellator and ONE Championship champion with a record of 19-0 (one more bout was declared NC because of an eye poke). Askren had a pragmatic fighting style and could turn any fight into a showdown. However, he was good at trash talks, was an undefeated fighter, and his coming to the UFC was anticipated. His fans begged Dana White to sign Askren.

The president of the best MMA organization in the world decided to take a risk and exchanged Ben Askren for former champion Demetrious Johnson. Such exchanges are extremely rare in MMA, and we can say it was an exception.

In his very first bout, Ben Askren surprised the audience with a rare bulldog choke against Robbie Lawler. Then Herb Dean stopped the fight, although nobody understood whether Robbie was knocked out. Lawler protested, but the bout's result remained the same.

One of the most shocking MMA events took place at UFC 239 on July 6, 2019. It took Jorge Masvidal only five seconds to knock Askren out with a flying knee. 5 seconds, "super necessary punches", and Knockout of the Year. After that, Ben lost to Demian Maia and then ended his MMA career.

El Niño shined at Strikeforce from 2009 to 2012 (seven wins in a row). Even Jorge Masvidal, who is now a UFC star, can be found among his "scalps." Gilbert defended the lightweight belt six times and joined the UFC in 2012.

The Strikeforce champion came to the UFC with a lot of hype and got a title bout against Benson Henderson but lost via split decision. His bright win over Diego Sanchez led to the title bout against Anthony Pettis. Showtime choked El Niño in the second round. After that, Gilbert had four consecutive losses: to Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Jeremy Stephens, and Arnold Allen. Even a weight category change (from lightweight division to featherweight one) didn't help Melendez, and in 2019, he ended his MMA career with a streak of five losses.

Today we discussed athletes who made themselves known but achieved nothing in the end. Paddy Pimblett, Sean O'Malley, Khamzat Chimaev — perhaps, some will repeat the fate of Johnny Walker or Darren Till.

Bet on UFC with 1xBet
Maycee Barber is a young UFC star who has traveled the United States in search of new fighting techniques
Maycee Barber is a young UFC star who has traveled the United States in search of new fighting techniques
Tom Hardy wins two golds at a jiu-jitsu tournament
Tom Hardy wins two golds at a jiu-jitsu tournament
Khabib, Holloway, Johnson, and O'Malley: Which professional fighter is the toughest gamer?
Khabib, Holloway, Johnson, and O'Malley: Which professional fighter is the toughest gamer?
Follow Telecom Asia Sport!
No Comments Yet! Be the first to share what you think!
This website uses cookies
This provides customers with a personalized experience and increases the efficiency of visiting the site, allowing us to provide the most efficient service. By using the website and accepting the terms of the policy, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the terms of this policy.