Can-crusher (n.): MMA fighter who makes his reputation by destroying the weak and inexperienced, but falls apart when faced with an opponent who’s half-decent. In no particular order, here are the eight fighters who have defined "can-crushing" more than anybody else in the sport, beginning with one who should still be very fresh in your minds…
BRANDON VERA (11-6)
Notable cans crushed in the last three years: Reese Andy, Mike Patt
Biggest win in the last three years: Krzysztof Soszynski
Recent losses: Thiago Silva, Jon Jones, Randy Couture
A cautionary tale about believing your own hype, Brandon Vera’s career has unfolded in two distinct phases: The "sky’s the limit" phase, in which Vera hacked through every opponent in his path, culminating in his beat-down of former champ Frank Mir at UFC 65 — and the "when is this dude getting fired?" phase, marked by contract disputes, unchecked ego, underwhelming performances, and a half-dozen losses. Following the Thiago Silva fight at UFC 125, we expect the Truth to be sent back down to the minors where he can prey on scrubs for a while.
ALEKSANDER EMELIANENKO (17-4)
Notable cans crushed in the last three years: Miodrag Petkovic, Eddy Bengtsson, Ibragim Magomedov, Sang Soo Lee
Biggest win in the last three years: Honestly, he hasn’t beaten anybody worth mentioning.
Recent loss: Peter Graham
Fedor’s younger brother built a fearsome reputation in PRIDE for his ice-cold demeanor and lightning-fast knockouts of equally scary-looking mofos like James Thompson and Ricardo Morais. But ever since he left the Japanese scene in 2006 to compete almost exclusively in Europe, his career has drifted steadily out of relevance. A 2008 deal with Affliction signaled a return to meaningful competition, but it didn’t work out — reportedly because of health issues that he has denied ever since. His painful loss to Peter Graham last month suggested that even his can-crushing days might be coming to an end.