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
4 of 5

2. Igor Vovchanchyn

Igor Vovchanchyn (56-10) pulverized people in MMA's earliest days. "Cagefighting" was still a dirty word in pop culture's lexicon when Vovchanchyn did his best work. His career spanned from 1995-2005. He competed when many MMA events consisted of bare-knuckle open-weight one-night tournaments with few rules. Vovchanchyn thrived in this era, brawling his way to 48 finishes and 41 knockouts.

Vovchanchyn used his kickboxing base to establish furious flurries inside close range of his usually much larger opponents. He only stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, so swinging his way into the pocket was essential, and few did it better than Vovchanchyn in his day. Many of his early fights resemble street brawls, but he adapted his style well to MMA and competed successfully in PRIDE FC.

His highlight reel is packed with stellar knockouts. Brutal finishes of feared fighters like Gary Goodridge, Valentijn Overeem, and Sakuraba, coupled with victories over the likes of Mark Kerr, speak to Vovchanchyn's ability when competing with some of the best of his time.

Vovchanchyn was downright mean when he fought, utilizing soccer kicks, knees, and pin-point striking to decimate those who stood in his way. Vovchanchyn would likely have thrived in the UFC's early days given the fact competition so closely resembled the tournament format and ruleset he was accustomed to.

Unfortunately, Vovchanchyn stopped fighting on the heels of a two-fight losing streak in 2005, still a bit before the UFC eventually absorbed PRIDE FC's talent pool and could have added him. Perhaps it's best things happened this way, as Vovchanchyn was already well-established as an MMA pioneer with little left to prove.