5 of the greatest fighters to never fight in the UFC

The UFC is the pinnacle of Mixed Martial Arts but some incredible fighters never fought under the banner.
UFC Octagon
UFC Octagon / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages
3 of 5

3. Megumi Fuji

Megumi Fuji (26-3) started catching submissions and putting women's MMA on the map in 2004, almost a decade before the UFC held its first women's championship match. Fuji carried WMMA's torch in Asia until 2013 and unfortunately retired before ever gaining the opportunity to showcase her skills in the world's premier MMA promotion.

Fuji was a top-notch grappler, holding black belts in judo and BJJ. Her 19 submission victories across numerous promotions asserted her as a legend in her time. She briefly fought in Bellator and even submitted future UFC champion Carla Esparza while competing under that banner.

Fuji's first martial art was judo, starting at 3-years-old. Grappling expertise seemingly became her lifelong obsession from there, as she went on to compete in combat sambo and eventually study catch wrestling under Josh Barnett. The then-30-year-old made her MMA debut in 2004 at a time when women had few opportunities within the sport.

She soon garnered a reputation for taking out the top talent of her era while often beating bigger opponents at catchweight because there weren't many organized divisions in WMMA back then. Nevertheless, Fuji impacted and influenced many female competitors afterward, providing the blueprint for what a successful grappler could accomplish in the sport. She paved the way for WMMA to become what it is today.

It's a shame the UFC only formed women's divisions after Fuji's retirement. She never had many opportunities to compete in North America except for a Bellator run that arguably came when past her prime. Fuji remains a fixture in MMA's history and one of the greatest fighters to slip the UFC's grasp.