Johny Hendricks & Four Former UFC Champs Who Won’t Regain Their Belts

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UFC champions don’t last forever. From greats like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre to temporary titleholders like Matt Serra and Forrest Griffin, divisional kings are overthrown one way or another.

Amidst their demise, these removed belt owners must once again prove their worth. Despite previous accomplishments and overall accolades, they are subsequently pushed back into the general population and left to reforge greatness.

In most cases, due in part to the trials and tribulations attached to father time, these ex-titleholders are incapable of regaining the dominance they once possessed. Besides an initial title shot, earning a second chance for UFC gold is sometimes more daunting than opening up a surf shop in the desert.

In accordance with that ongoing struggle, here are five former promotional champions who will not find themselves hoisting UFC gold ever again.

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5) Jose Aldo

As the first man to ever occupy the UFC featherweight throne, Brazilian striker Jose Aldo will forever be ingrained into the side of UFC’s Mt. Rushmore.

Unfortunately, his long-time reign as the 145-pound champion was temporarily swept under the rug in a total of 13 seconds when Conor McGregor knocked him out cold at UFC 194 this past December. It was easily the most dramatic finish in featherweight history, and a first-round highlight reel left hook that will cloud Aldo’s legacy forever.

What makes things worse for the former champion is the fact that he’s willing to sit out for more than a year for an immediate shot at the title or a rematch with “The Notorious.” Either way you split it, the 29-year-old has logged a career’s worth of minutes inside of the cage since making his UFC debut back in 2011. He simply cannot afford to wait in the wings while other contenders like Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, Charles Oliveira, and a returning Cub Swanson make their push.

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At this point in time, Aldo will be lucky to avoid the same fate that Anderson Silva experienced after he was first knocked out by Chris Weidman at UFC 162.

Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Silva4) Cain Velasquez

The oft-injured Cain Velasquez is a tough cookie to crumble inside of the Octagon. That is, when he actually makes it to the Octagon.

Despite one of the most terrifying skill sets in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), the former heavyweight kingpin was unable to ward off the evolved striking and world-class grappling of current titleholder Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188. His high-output motor and tumultuous ground-and-pound were no match for the Brazilian’s focused game plan, losing via third-round submission.

Since then, Velasquez has pulled out of an ultra-anticipated rematch with Werdum at UFC Fight Night 82 (formerly UFC 196), which had been scheduled for this weekend. With another injury keeping Velasquez on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, there’s no saying what can happen in his absence. Guys like Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem, and Ben Rothwell are all deserving of title shots as we speak.

When Velasquez does return, he may find it difficult to maintain the same athletic pressure and fast-paced offensive game that he usually employs, especially considering his body is already beginning to wilt at the age of 33.


3) Anthony Pettis

The jig is up. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis can be beat with the same gameplan over and over and over again.

Despite being one of the most aesthetically-pleasing striking arsenals in all of MMA, the former 155-pound champion has been unable to bypass strong wrestlers who pressure him against the cage. It happened when he lost to current titleholder Rafael dos Anjos back at UFC 185, when he was bewildered by Eddie Alvarez for three-straight rounds at UFC Fight Night 81, and in his promotional debut when he lost to Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale.

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While the 29-year-old knockout artist is still young enough to excel all facets of his game, he’s never going to be able to catch up with surrounding contenders who have wrestled since they were teenagers. And considering top-level takedown artists like RDA, Alvarez, and Khabib Nurmagomedov still stand in his way of recapturing divisional gold, Pettis may be stuck in lightweight limbo for a very long time.

While anything is possible, especially if Conor McGregor can defeat dos Anjos at UFC 196 and open up opportunities for all strikers, the Irishman’s chances of winning are more likely than Pettis becoming the best wrestler at 155 pounds.

MMA: UFC 181-Hendricks vs Lawler2) Johny Hendricks

There’s no sugarcoating Johny Hendricks’ current position in the UFC’s welterweight division.

Despite his brief stint as champion, and the fact that he almost defeated Georges St-Pierre, “Bigg Rigg” is fighting for his divisional life this weekend opposite Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at UFC Fight Night 82. While Thompson hasn’t quite accomplished as much as other seething title hunters throughout his professional MMA career, he represents one of the fastest rising contenders the welterweight picture has seen in a long time.

And even if Hendricks is able to wrestle his way past the kickboxer’s world-class versatility, timing, and range on the feet, he would then find himself among a tougher group of guys than when he held the title in 2014. Veterans like Carlos Condit, Demian Maia, Rory MacDonald, and Tyron Woodley have all elevated their entire skill sets in just the past year.

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Hendricks hasn’t been as nearly as active, he hasn’t competed on his new diet, and he has slowly been unable to dictate fights with his previously overwhelming knockout power. All of those signs put to an exceedingly demanding run at a second UFC title for Hendricks moving forward, and one that could force him to make a move to middleweight in 2017.

usp mma ufc 193 rousey vs holm 775443581) Ronda Rousey

The fall of Ronda Rousey has been a highly-documented affair. After all, she was pegged as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world prior to her knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193.

While her impenetrable UFC resume sported the remains of unproven and inexperienced title challengers, the world of MMA proceeded to construct Rousey’s golden statue on high hopes and exhausted expectations. This is one of the reasons why her demise was as troubling as it was.

At the end of it all, after Holm’s head kick momentarily detached “Rowdy” from existence, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion still commands the allure she did before losing to a more complete fighter. She has even been labeled as a favorite in a rematch with Holm.

Needless to say, Rousey is not going to make the necessary leaps in striking technique overnight to successfully round out her game. She will remain a lesser opponent when her hands are her only weapon, especially against a fighter as accomplished as “The Preacher’s Daughter.”

So as long as Holm is at the forefront of the division, Rousey will not be able to regain her divisional gold. Not to mention the former queen has openly suggested retirement if she loses the rematch, which is a decision that could limit her ongoing title aspirations exponentially.