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.
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1. Fedor Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko (40-7) is the greatest fighter to never compete in the UFC. His resume, accomplishments, and influence give him an unparalleled status as one of the most legendary heavyweights in MMA history.

Emelianenko was a successful combat sambo athlete and judoka before transitioning to MMA. He went on a dominant run through the promotion RINGS as well as the aforementioned PRIDE FC. He was the longest reigning PRIDE heavyweight champion, holding the belt from 2003 till the organization folded in 2007.

Few fighters in history can tout Emelianenko's same accolades and lay claim to achieving such feats against the level of competition Emelianenko did. He dispatched some of the best heavyweights in MMA history, including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, and Mirko Filipović during his epic 28-fight unbeaten streak. He defeated former UFC champions like Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski while floating between promotions after PRIDE's demise.

Contract discussions between Emelianenko and the UFC stalled for long periods and eventually never materialized. Emelianenko instead took opportunities to compete in promotions like Strikeforce and eventually Bellator.

Emelianenko competed for years afterward, never quite finding himself on the UFC's radar or vice versa. Unfortunately, his unbeatable aura slowly evaporated with losses to men like Fabricio Werdum and Dan Henderson in Strikeforce and then afterward in Bellator to Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader. Emelianenko prolonged his career by fighting and beating fellow veterans like Chael Sonnen and Quinton Jackson, thus proving he still had a bit left to show audiences.

Emelianenko's influence is still felt in MMA. He was one of the first fighters to put Russia on the map and demonstrate the practicality of combat sambo. He collected a litany of quality victories and is one of the few fighters in the "greatest of all time" conversation to never step foot in the Octagon.


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