The Repeat Offenders
They were the UFC’s lovable losers — minus the “lovable” part.
Fighter, gym-owner, goatee-artist, two-time TUF assistant coach, and ubiquitous douchebag-sidekick, Tiki Ghosn is a man of many talents. He’s also one of only three fighters to ever go 0-4 in the UFC — Seth Petruzelli and John Alessio (now 0-5) are the others — and the only 0-4 fighter to lose all four fights by stoppage. An early member of Team Punishment who was managed by Dana White before the Zuffa era, Tiki’s UFC debut came in a rear-naked choke loss to future American Kickboxing Academy co-founder “Crazy” Bob Cook at UFC 24, and he followed up that performance the next year at UFC 30 with a submission loss to Sean Sherk due to dislocated shoulder.
After putting together three straight wins outside of the Octagon, Ghosn returned at UFC 40 in November 2002, where he humiliated himself by getting knocked out by Robbie Lawler then insisting that the bout was stopped because of a cut. But Dana White is nothing if not loyal to his friends, and gave Ghosn a fourth attempt after he picked up two more rebound victories outside of the promotion. Tiki’s last stand was a high-profile supporting spot at UFC 47: It’s On! against Chris Lytle, who bulldog-choked him in round two. Tiki was released by the UFC and immediately lost three consecutive fights in the WEC, all by stoppage. After walking away from competition in 2009, Tiki briefly found employment as the guy who put up with Arianny Celeste’s shit.
Based solely on record, you could argue that John “The Natural” Alessio is the single worst fighter in UFC history. No other man has ever stepped into the Octagon five times without winning at least once. What makes Alessio’s UFC record so astounding is that he’s not a bad fighter in any traditional sense. He’s a perfectly serviceable — though unspectacular — journeyman who has simply been out-classed by everyone he’s met in the UFC.
Alessio’s 12-year quest for UFC victory began way back at UFC 26, when he was booked as the challenger for Pat Miletich‘s third welterweight title defense — despite the fact that Alessio was an unseasoned 20-year-old prospect who had never competed in the UFC. Miletich won by second-round armbar, and Alessio spent the next six years in the minor leagues, before he was brought back to the UFC in 2006. Once again, matchmaking was not his friend. Alessio was paired up with savage up-and-comers Diego Sanchez (at UFC 60) and Thiago Alves (at Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3: The Final Chapter), and lost by unanimous decision each time. Alessio was released again, and spent another six years outside of the UFC.
But the UFC didn’t forget about him. When Matt Wiman caught a knee injury three weeks before UFC 145, Alessio — who had dropped to lightweight the previous year — was offered a replacement spot against Mark Bocek. Alessio accepted, and warned the UFC lightweights that he was coming for them. Bocek soundly out-grappled him, winning all three rounds. Fair enough; these things happen when you come in on short notice. Unfortunately, the exact same thing happened in Alessio’s next fight, when he had the benefit of a full training camp. At UFC 148, the Natural met up with former WEC contender Shane Roller, who had lost his last three fights in the UFC. Alessio looked impressive in the first round and had Roller hurt, but Roller roared back in the second and controlled the remainder of the fight with his wrestling, eliciting some audible trash-talk and profanity from the Canadian. The unanimous decision loss made it five defeats in a row for Alessio. News of his latest firing hasn’t broken yet, but it’s a safe bet that the pink slip is in the mail. Keep an eye out for his next return in 2018.
Elvis Sinosic‘s UFC debut defied all logic. Impressed by his gutsy performance in a losing effort to Frank Shamrock at a K-1 World Grand Prix event, the UFC signed the Australian journeyman-in-training (just 3-3-1 at the time) to a fight contract. But they didn’t do Sinosic any favors by matching him up with submission specialist Jeremy Horn, whose beefy record of 45-9-4 already included six fights in the UFC. So it was a minor miracle when Sinosic wound up submitting Horn via triangle-armbar in the first round of their fight at UFC 30.
Unfortunately, it would be the last time that “The King of Rock ‘n’ Rumble” would taste victory inside the Octagon. And Lord knows the UFC gave him enough chances to get that second win. Over the next six years, Sinosic would be beaten up by Tito Ortiz in a light-heavyweight title fight, manhandled by various 205-pound contenders (Evan Tanner, Renato Sobral, Alessio Sakara), and TKO’d by two separate Ultimate Fighter winners (Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping).
Incredibly, the UFC considered bringing Elvis out of a two-year retirement for a rematch with fellow Aussie Chris Haseman at its first Australian show in February 2010, but Sinosic had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury. If the fight took place as scheduled, Elvis might have become the first fighter in history to lose seven UFC fights in a row; as it stands, his six-fight losing streak in the Octagon ties him with Phil Baroni.
Standing at 6’8″ and at least half-insane, Hammer House product Wes Sims was an imposing figure in MMA’s heavyweight scene back in 2001-2002. After compiling a 6-1 record in regional promotions, “The A-Hole Show” was brought on by the UFC for a match against future heavyweight champ Frank Mir. The fight ended with one of the most flagrant and brutal disqualifications in UFC history: Sims slammed his way out of an armbar, then stood up and repeatedly stomped on the downed Mir’s head while holding onto the fence for balance. The two men were booked for an immediate rematch, which Mir dominated, winning by second-round TKO.
Sims made it three UFC losses in a row when he came in to fight Mike Kyle on short notice at UFC 47 and got knocked out; after the fight, Kyle complained that Sims actually bit his chest during the match. The UFC had seen enough, and fired Sims. Eventually, he wound up living in a garbage bag under an interstate in Illinois. Going against their better judgment — especially considering that Sims had kicked a referee the previous year — the UFC brought him back for the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, where Wes played the house oddball alongside fellow heavies like Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub, and Kimbo Slice. His UFC comeback didn’t last long; Sims was choked out by Justin Wren in TUF 10‘s preliminary round, and was punted from the promotion for good after the show ended.
27. Jason Miller (0-3)
First appearance: UFC 52, 4/16/05
Final appearance: UFC 146, 5/26/12
As a showman, Jason “Mayhem” Miller was one of MMA’s pound-for-pound greats. But despite a decorated career outside the Octagon, he was never able to prove that he was “UFC caliber,” a failure that clearly bummed him out royally. Miller’s first defeat in the UFC was completely excusable — a three-round blowout against Georges St. Pierre in what would turn out to be Mayhem’s final fight at welterweight. Miller left the UFC following the loss and moved up to middleweight shortly after, becoming a fan-favorite in leagues like Icon Sport, Dream, and Strikeforce.
The UFC lured him back in 2011, giving Miller a plum gig as a coach on TUF 14 opposite Michael Bisping. Though reality TV was a comfortable fit for the former Bully Beatdown host, his fighting skills had suddenly, shockingly, turned into bullshit. In his TUF 14 Finale fight against Bisping, Mayhem’s striking looked embarrassingly rudimentary, and his cardio was even worse. After his third-round TKO/ass-whuppin’, it looked like he might not get another chance, but the UFC decided to give him a follow-up fight against CB Dollaway at UFC 146.
Despite Miller’s reputation as a ground-specialist, he couldn’t stop Dollaway from holding him down for the majority of their three-rounder. Once again, Mayhem lost in the UFC, and looked less-than-impressive in the process; that “crazy shit backstage” certainly didn’t help his case. The UFC cut Miller after the fight, and he retired — for now, at least — to pursue the new “ultra-hazardous activities” phase of his life.
28. Jorge Santiago (1-4)
First appearance: UFC Fight Night 5, 6/28/06
Final appearance: UFC 136, 10/8/11
Jorge Santiago first entered the UFC as an 11-5 prospect, and after three fights in the Octagon it looked he was going to be just another washout, forgotten as quickly as he arrived. He did manage to win his debut by knocking out Justin Levens — a victory that seemed less impressive in retrospect — but then he got KO’d in back-to-back fights against Chris Leben and Alan Belcher, and was fired from the promotion.
And then something strange happened — Santiago turned into a destroyer. Over the next four years, he went 11-1 outside the Octagon, collected title belts in Strikeforce and Sengoku, won a 2010 Fight of the Year Candidate against Kazuo Misaki, and even submitted current UFC hotshot welterweight contender Siyar Bahadurzada. The UFC invited him back in 2011, and what followed was a was a hype-deflation on the level of Mirko Cro Cop or Jake Shields.
First, Santiago got TKO’d in a wild two-rounder against Brian Stann at UFC 130. His follow-up match against Demian Maia at UFC 136 was far less interesting. Maia racked up points with takedowns and top control, and Santiago spent 15 minutes doing next-to-nothing. When the last horn sounded, former top-ten middleweight Jorge Santiago had lost his fourth consecutive match in the UFC, and was released by the promotion for the second time. He currently competes for Titan Fighting Championship, where, unsurprisingly, he’s been smashing everybody he faces.
29. Dan Lauzon (0-3)
First appearance: UFC 64, 10/14/06
Final appearance: UFC 114, 5/29/10
At 18 years, seven months, and 14 days old, Dan Lauzon became the youngest fighter to ever compete in the UFC, coming in as a short-notice replacement at UFC 64. (Dan’s older brother Joe Lauzon had made his Octagon debut the previous month at UFC 63, scoring a massive upset over former lightweight champ Jens Pulver.) Dan was just 4-0 at the time, and had an opportunity to make his name against dangerous veteran Spencer Fisher, who had 20 pro fights under his belt. Fisher TKO’d him in one round; so much for the storybook ending.
The UFC cut Dan loose, and he lost his next fight as well. But after racking up eight straight victories, the UFC signed Lauzon to a new contract in 2010. Cole Miller submitted him via modified kimura at UFC 108, and Efrain Escudero easily out-pointed him at UFC Fight Night 22, sending Lauzon back to the minor leagues for good. Was Dan simply a victim of tough matchmaking, who deserves credit for trying his best in the shark tank of the UFC? Maybe. But keep in mind that his own brother Joe publicly blasted his laziness before his pink-slip fight against Escudero: “Dan has never put in an honest training camp…You have never seen someone that has no job because they are a ‘full-time fighter’ that trains less…he is never in the gym. If he has a fight, he is in sparingly. If he doesn’t have a fight he is an absolute ghost.”
30. Jason Reinhardt (0-3)
First appearance: UFC 78, 11/17/07
Final appearance: UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle, 8/14/11
In addition to being the only person we know of who gave his own parents crabs, Jason Reinhardt is one of only seven UFC fighters — along with Kenny Florian, Vitor Belfort, Joe Stevenson, James Irvin, Josh Haynes, and Karlos Vemola — who can claim to have lost fights in three different weight classes within the Octagon, not including catchweight bouts and TUF exhibitions. But you have to admire the guy’s tenacity. Reinhardt made his bones in the semi-regulated jungles of the Midwestern regional circuit, fighting much larger opponents for shady promotions, and literally breaking his neck trying to put on good shows for the fans. He beat everybody who was put in front of him, racking up an 18-0 record to start his career — but for some reason he fell short every time he made it to the big show.
Reinhardt made his Octagon debut as a lightweight at UFC 78, and his opponent Joe Lauzon needed just over a minute to end the fight via rear-naked choke. Reinhardt was immediately released by the promotion, and spent most of the next three years battling injuries. He eventually retuned to the UFC as a featherweight, where he was guillotine-choked by Zhang Tiequan, this time in just 48 seconds.
The UFC gave Jason one more chance to prove himself at bantamweight — arguably his natural weight-class — booking him against Edwin Figueroa. Sadly, Reinhardt turned in the worst performance of his career that night, spending the entire first round running around the outside of the cage, talking trash rather than engaging. But he couldn’t run forever; Figueroa tracked down Reinhardt early in the second frame and scored a brutal strikes-from-above TKO. Jason was fired from the UFC immediately after. He’s since floated the idea of a drop to flyweight, but there’s no way it’ll happen in the Octagon.
Along with Dan Hardy, Steve Cantwell is one of only two fighters in UFC history who have lost four consecutive fights in the Octagon without being released, at least temporarily. But while Hardy’s continued employment can be somewhat attributed to his fan-friendly style, colorful personality/hair, and UK poster-boy status, the fact that Cantwell lasted as long as he did is utterly inexplicable; he’s not a fan-favorite, he’s never won a performance bonus, he’s racked up losing records in two different weight classes, and his sole UFC victory was followed by an uncomfortable post-fight speech about how he’d always wanted to break somebody’s arm. Being a former WEC champ might earn a guy some extra leeway, but after Cantwell’s fifth-straight unanimous decision loss — against Riki Fukuda at UFC 144 — the UFC understandably had to pull the plug. Since Dan Hardy managed to beat up Duane Ludwig at UFC 146, Cantwell’s historic losing streak may never be equaled.
There’s a hard and fast rule in the UFC these days — if you’re a relatively unknown prospect who loses your first two fights, you get fired, no questions asked. You might get to come back after winning a few outside of the Octagon, but you definitely have to go away for a while. (Check out the honorable mentions list on page five for about 30 more examples of this phenomenon.) Mostapha al-Turk was one of the rare exceptions to that rule. Entering the UFC with a not-quite-worthy record of 6-3 in English promotions, it was clear from the beginning that the Lebanese heavyweight was going to be used primarily as a stepping stone for other fighters.
First, al-Turk was fed to Cheick Kongo — who already had seven UFC fights under his belt at the time — and got TKO’d within one round. Then, he was set up as the low-risk return opponent for Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 99, and met the exact same fate (aided by an unfortunate eye-poke). Perhaps out of sympathy, the UFC gave al-Turk a third chance against a fighter who was neither experienced nor a striker — TUF 10 product Jon Madsen, who was coming off his first official UFC victory over Justin Wren. Al-Turk and Madsen met in the first preliminary match at UFC 112, where Madsen wrestled his way to a unanimous decision victory, dropping al-Turk’s lifetime MMA record to 6-6. The UFC finally put Mostapha al-Turk out of his misery, and he wisely retired from the sport.
Peter Sobotta was another exception to the UFC’s “0-2, sucks to be you” rule. Hired as a local attraction for the UFC’s first event in Germany, the Polish-German welterweight lost a unanimous decision to Paul Taylor on the UFC 99 preliminary card. Due to a military committment, Sobotta didn’t get his second at-bat until the following year, when he lost another unanimous decision to James Wilks on the UFC 115 prelims. That should have earned Sobotta his pink slip, but when the UFC returned to Germany five months later, Peter was booked again, this time in a main card match against Amir Sadollah. (Man, what a terrible lineup that was.) Proving himself to be one of the most consistent fighters in the sport, Sobotta lost a third-straight unanimous decision, absorbing a record-setting 46 leg kicks in the process. Auf wiedersehen, pal.
34. Gilbert Yvel (0-3)
First appearance: UFC 108, 1/2/10
Final appearance: UFC 121, 10/23/10
When the UFC hired Gilbert Yvel for three appearances in 2010, he was already 13 years into his MMA career, was best known for fouling people, and his most notable victory in the previous five years was a knockout of the equally past-his prime Pedro Rizzo. Yvel’s utter failure in the Octagon didn’t really come as a surprise. You get the sense that he was only signed to pad the records of up-and-comers.
His first opponent in the UFC was rising star Junior Dos Santos; Yvel was expected to get knocked out quickly, and he didn’t disappoint. Gilbert followed up his UFC debut with a decision loss to Ben Rothwell, and was finally booked in a curtain-jerking match against lay-and-pray artist Jon Madsen at UFC 121. But instead of a soothing, 15-minute hug-fest, Madsen decided to go into beast-mode, TKO’ing Yvel in less than two minutes. His purpose served, Yvel left the Octagon. He’s currently on a two-fight win streak in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance promotion, and hasn’t bitten an opponent or attacked a referee since 2004.
35. Cole Escovedo (0-3)
First appearance: UFC 130, 5/28/11
Final appearance: UFC on FOX 1: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, 11/12/11
Much like Jason Miller and Jorge Santiago, Cole Escovedo‘s talents just didn’t quite translate inside the Octagon. The first-ever featherweight champion of the WEC, Escovedo held his belt for three-and-a-half years before losing it to Urijah Faber in 2006, and left the organization after a subsequent loss to Antonio Banuelos. Following a three-year hiatus from the sport, Escovedo started building steam again, most notably scoring a TKO over Michael McDonald in a Palace Fighting Championships bout in 2009, and doing this to Yoshiro Maeda in DREAM the following year.
But when he entered the UFC as a bantamweight in 2011, he couldn’t catch a break. Escovedo’s first opponent was Brazilian wrecking-machine Renan Barao, who defeated him by unanimous decision. Then, he was TKO’d by former WEC title contender Takeya Mizugaki in his next fight, and for his third and final UFC appearance, Escovedo committed his biggest sin of all — getting totally owned by TUF 12 clown Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres, a man who would probably be featured on the next page if not for that win over Escovedo. “The Apache Kid” was released by the UFC in December.