5 of the best active fighters to never win a title

Which current mixed martial artists could be UFC champions if not for bad luck, circumstances, or timing?

UFC belt
UFC belt / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
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5. Derrick Lewis

Despite being one of the UFC's most feared heavyweight punchers as well as the organization's all-time knockout leader with fourteen, Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis has never been champion. Lewis challenged for the belt on two occasions and came up short against Daniel Cormier in 2018 for the undisputed title and against Cyril Gane in 2021 for the vacant interim title, respectively.

Since making his UFC debut in 2014, Lewis has consistently been ranked among the top heavyweights and has knocked out fellow contenders like Alexander Volkov and Curtis Blaydes. He even owns a decision win over former undisputed champion, Francis Ngannou. All of this adds up to a 27-12-1 record for Houston's Lewis.

Lewis failed in his last title bid and has been inconsistent since, swapping wins and losses with fighters in the top ten. That being said, Lewis is still a force in the division and sits in the No. 11 spot. Though his grappling deficiencies have been exploited in recent failed efforts with Serghei Spivac and the surging Jailton Almeida, Lewis's one-punch knockout ability makes him a scary test for any would-be opponent.

While it remains to be seen whether advancing age and the evolving scope of the heavyweight division will keep him from being champion, Lewis has been a fan favorite throughout his career and is one of those rare fighters who hasn't needed a dominant championship reign to garner respect and fear from his peers.