The Barely-Worth-Mentioning Washouts
They came. They lost. Who cared?
Townsend Saunders is part of a very exclusive group of UFC competitors who were also Olympic medalists in wrestling. (See also: Matt Lindland, Kevin Jackson, Mark Schultz). But unlike those other athletes, Townsend’s wrestling chops weren’t enough to earn him a single win in the Octagon.
Saunders took silver at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, competing in freestyle wrestling at 68 kg. Two years later, he made his MMA debut at UFC 16, in the promotion’s first-ever 170-pound tournament. His opponent in the opening round was Pat Miletich, who was already a seasoned veteran of the sport, even though he was also making his UFC debut that night. Though Saunders managed to put the Croatian Sensation on his back for the majority of the fight, his general lack of activity from the top position led to a split-decision loss. (I guess you could call him MMA’s “Godfather of Lay-and-Pray.”)
The next year at UFC 18, Saunders returned for a match against Mikey Burnett, who was also featured in the tournament bracket at UFC 16. This time, Saunders’s wrestling was completely ineffective; Burnett stuffed all his takedown attempts and beat him up standing for 15 minutes, taking the unanimous decision victory. Saunders never competed in MMA again, and is now a mostly-forgotten name in UFC history. Meanwhile, Pat Miletich went on to become a legendary UFC champion, trainer, and commentator, and Mikey Burnett became legendary for different reasons altogether.
Like Saunders, Steve Judson‘s MMA career was also limited to two appearances in the UFC, but even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably seen his Octagon debut against Brad Kohler, which lasted exactly 30 seconds and ended in what might be the UFC’s first-ever falling tree knockout. Over a decade later, it’s still considered one of the nastiest knockouts in the promotion’s history. With his jiu-jitsu background, Judson probably had no business standing-and-wanging with a gorilla like Kohler in the first place. Surely he’d play it smarter the next time, right?
Well, not so much. Judson returned to the cage against Tedd Williams six months later, and went into brawl-mode as soon as the bell rang. Williams ate some heavy shots, but kept his head, and when it was his turn to land on Judson, he made it count. Check out the 3:28 mark of this video to see the flurry that finishes Judson for the second and final time of his UFC career. It may not have been as iconic as his loss to Kohler, but the way that Judson stumbles backwards for a few seconds, clearly out on his feet before collapsing against the fence, has a subtle grace all its own.
Though he would later enjoy a successful career in Pancrase — and actually held the Lightweight King of Pancrase title from May 2011 through April 2012 — Koji Oishi‘s professional MMA career kicked off at UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3, where he lost a majority decision to underrated UFC veteran Laverne Clark. Oishi wouldn’t return to the Octagon for another five years, but when he did…well, it was interesting.
Oishi’s game-plan was based on just standing in front of Nick Diaz, flat-footed and nearly motionless, his hands nowhere near his chin, trying to block punches with his own punches. I have to imagine that Oishi eventually planned to SPRING INTO ACTION!, and that his anti-footwork was designed to bait Diaz into dropping his guard. Instead, Diaz savaged him with punches, earning a TKO in less than a minute-and-a-half. It was easily one of the most bizarre matches in the UFC’s modern era. Oishi went back to fighting like a normal person after that loss, and won a decision against Nick’s brother Nate two months later in Japan.
On the MMA food-chain, there are some fighters who only exist as highlight-reel victims for higher-profile fighters. Sean Salmon is one of those guys. Mention his name to any UFC fan, and they’ll immediately picture Salmon getting head-kicked into the next time zone by Rashad Evans. (There was also this unfortunate moment during the fight.) Sean’s follow-up Octagon appearance — a preliminary card bout against Alan Belcher at UFC 71 — wasn’t quite as memorable, but it still ended in utter failure, as Belcher won by guillotine choke in just 51 seconds. Salmon competed steadily in regional promotions after being released by the UFC, but never really found his groove; his willingness to quit during fights in order to avoid injury certainly didn’t help his prospects. He has lost his last nine fights by first-round stoppage.
By all accounts, Joe Vedepo was an incredibly talented athlete whose unstable behavior consistently got in the way of his success. From 2001 to 2011, the Iowan wrestler was arrested ten times for public intoxication, and deemed a “habitual offender of the state intoxication law.” Basically, he’s the Caucasian Krazy Horse.
Vedepo was signed by the UFC in 2008, but it soon became clear that he wasn’t ready for the big stage. As the honorable mention list on this page further proves, there were dozens of fighters who went 0-2 in their UFC careers, but only a small handful lost both fights by first-round stoppage, and only Joe Vedepo lost both fights by first-round stoppage within the first two minutes. First, there was his gnarly head-kick knockout loss to Alessio Sakara (time of stoppage: 1:27), followed by a guillotine choke loss to Rob Kimmons (time of stoppage: 1:54). Vedepo has gone 5-1 since being released by the UFC, most recently choking out professional record-padder Kenneth Allen. And wherever he is, he’s probably partying his ass off right now.
50 HONORABLE MENTIONS
- Houston Alexander (UFC record: 2-4; come on, he lost to Kimbo for God’s sake)
- Royce Alger (0-2)
- Steve Berger (0-2 with 1 no-contest)
- Luke Caudillo (0-2)
- Alberto Crane (0-2)
- Alexandre Dantas (0-2)
- Marvin Eastman (1-4; all losses by KO/TKO)
- Dan Evensen (0-2; both losses by first-round TKO)
- Brodie Farber (0-2)
- Jesse Forbes (0-3)
- Xavier Foupa-Pokam (0-2)
- Zane Frazier (0-2)
- Leonard Garcia (2-5 officially; should really be 1-6)
- Brian Gassaway (0-1)
- Chase Gormley (0-2; both losses by first-round stoppage)
- Neil Grove (0-1)
- Andre Gusmao (0-2)
- John Halverson (0-2)
- Razak Al-Hassan (0-2)
- Bobby Hoffman (0-2 with 1 no-contest)
- Brad Imes (0-3)
- Kevin Jordan (0-2)
- Scott Junk (0-1)
- David Lee (0-2)
- Justin Levens (0-2; both losses by first-round stoppage)
- Antonio Mendes (0-2; both losses by first-round stoppage)
- Kristof Midoux (0-1)
- Sammy Morgan (0-2; was once destroyed by Josh Burkman in 21 seconds)
- Brad Morris (0-2)
- Harry Moskowitz (0-2)
- Kazuhiro Nakamura (0-2)
- Mario Neto (0-1; sole UFC appearance was a KO loss to Eddie Sanchez)
- Phillipe Nover (0-3)
- Soa Palelei (0-1; sole UFC appearance was a TKO loss to Eddie Sanchez)
- Johnny Rees (0-2)
- Ryan Roberts (0-1)
- Colin Robinson (0-2; first UFC appearance was a TKO loss to Eddie Sanchez. Damn, the Manic Hispanic should have gotten his own page.)
- Fabiano Scherner (0-2)
- Jay Silva (0-2)
- Steve Steinbeiss (0-2)
- Alex Stiebling (0-1; lost a decision to Mark Hughes. Not Matt Hughes, Mark Hughes)
- Denis Stojnic (0-2)
- Tra Telligman (1-4; all losses by stoppage)
- Teila Tuli (0-1)
- Victor Valimaki (0-2)
- Ron Van Clief (0-1)
- Joe Veres (0-2; was actually knocked out by Gray Maynard)
- Cory Walmsley (0-1)
- Keith Wisniewski (0-3)
- Rob Yundt (0-2; both losses by first-round guillotine choke)