10 Times MMA Stars Went Crazy Overseas

Some major MMA stars went crazy overseas in the early days of the sport.

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MMA is a global sport, and as such stars often find themselves traveling overseas to all kinds of exotic and outlandish locations to train or fight.

As you’ll see in this article, that can often lead to some of the craziest, scariest and most bizarre experiences of their lives.

Eddie Alvarez Knocks Out Mafia Man In Russia

Back in 2007, ‘The Underground King,’ Eddie Alvarez was the welterweight champion for Bodog Fighting Championships and traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, to defend his title against Nick Thompson.

Following the event, he attended an after-party on a yacht hosted by one of Bodog’s owners from Russia, where, according to fellow fighter Chael Sonnen who was also in attendance that night, a Russian gangster at the party punched one of the Bodog ring girls.

Outraged by what he’d just witnessed and not realizing who he was dealing with, Alvarez then stepped forward and knocked him out cold with one punch.

Sonnen says that portion of the story is 100% true, but admits that he doesn’t have concrete proof of what happened next, though the rumor was that Alvarez was then escorted from the yacht by Russian mobsters and taken out to the middle of nowhere, where a hole was dug and his life was threatened before they finally set him free.

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10 MMA Fighters Who Wasted Their Careers

These 10 fighters had the MMA world in the palm of their hands but wasted it away.

The post 10 MMA Fighters Who Wasted Their Careers appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

What if the last day you have on earth, the person you became met the person you could have become?

It’s a heavy question, but if you are honest with yourself, it’s an excellent barometer to gauge how fulfilling and productive your life was, or could’ve been. One of the saddest things in life is seeing wasted talent, or worse yet, watching someone self-destruct right before your eyes.

This scenario seems to play itself out time and time again in sports and is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives. Take John Daly, Darryl Strawberry, and Ryan Leaf for instance. All three of these athletes wasted their careers away to varying degrees and never came close to reaching their perceived ceiling. Unfortunately, mixed martial arts (MMA) is no different when it comes to athletes wasting their careers away.

This year, the sport celebrated its silver anniversary. In that time the growing number of fighters who have squandered otherwise promising careers is staggering. We here at LowkickMMA compiled a list of the 10 fighters who wasted their careers away.

The list starts here, enjoy:

 

Jon Jones

We start the list off with none other than decorated-yet-troubled former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

Jones is still in the process of writing his story, but if history has shown us anything, it’s that athletes that continually mess up usually continue to self-destruct unless a comprehensive lifestyle intervention takes place.

“Bones” makes this list because he is perhaps the best and most recent example of an MMA fighter wasting their potential away. Once considered the unquestioned greatest of all time, Jones is, unfortunately, more likely the butt of a joke than in the running for the GOAT conversation nowadays.

Jones won the UFC light heavyweight championship on two occasions; he would also become the first fighter in company history to be stripped of the same title both times.

Couple that with “Bones” well-documented controversies that include a hit-and-run involving a pregnant woman, multiple failed drug tests, and a seemingly never-ending stream of generally head-scratching outside-the-cage trouble, and it’s no wonder Jones makes the list of fighters that wasted their careers.

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UFC Lightweight Reza Madadi Sentenced to 1.5 Years in Prison For Role in Handbag Heist

“Handbag Heist” might be the sissiest sounding crime in the history of crimes committed by MMA fighters, but it doesn’t change the fact that UFC lightweight Reza Madadi is headed to a year and a half in Swedish prison for it nonetheless.

“Mad Dog,” who was arrested for stealing over $150,000 in handbags following a “dramatic car chase” (some of which was captured on the surveillance video above) back in May, was convicted of grand larceny yesterday. Aftonbladet.se has the details:

It was about five o’clock on the morning of 24 May, three men carried out the smash and grab-coup against the exclusive väskaffären Bottega Veneta on West Higgins Road in central Stockholm.

They should have brought with them bags of SEK 1.7 million. Surveillance film from the store shows the men smashing the door, enters and booms store.

Reza “Mad dog” Madadi and his friend were arrested at a workshop in Åkersberga by police just one hour after the attack. Martial Comforter stated in court that he was there to pick up a rental car.

In the workshop, the police found the cell phone, balaclava, a sledgehammer and clothes that were used in the burglary.

“Handbag Heist” might be the sissiest sounding crime in the history of crimes committed by MMA fighters, but it doesn’t change the fact that UFC lightweight Reza Madadi is headed to a year and a half in Swedish prison for it nonetheless.

“Mad Dog,” who was arrested for stealing over $150,000 in handbags following a “dramatic car chase” (some of which was captured on the surveillance video above) back in May, was convicted of grand larceny yesterday. Aftonbladet.se has the details:

It was about five o’clock on the morning of 24 May, three men carried out the smash and grab-coup against the exclusive väskaffären Bottega Veneta on West Higgins Road in central Stockholm.

They should have brought with them bags of SEK 1.7 million. Surveillance film from the store shows the men smashing the door, enters and booms store.

Reza “Mad dog” Madadi and his friend were arrested at a workshop in Åkersberga by police just one hour after the attack. Martial Comforter stated in court that he was there to pick up a rental car.

In the workshop, the police found the cell phone, balaclava, a sledgehammer and clothes that were used in the burglary.

1.5 years just for weed handbags? Damn!

According to his Wikipedia page, Madadi “was previously charged for being part of the Västberga helicopter robbery but was later freed from all charges.” Now THAT is a crime I can get behind.

Meanwhile, Lee Murray is rotting away in a Moroccan prison for his role in the most badass heist in the history of London. Do I sound like I am endorsing crime? Because that is not the case, unless it involves a stolen helicopter. I call it the Goldeneye rule of thumb.

J. Jones

UFC Lightweight Reza Madadi Reportedly Arrested For Burglary in Sweden


(Reza Madadi — the John Dillinger of purses.)

The Swedish tabloid Expressen is reporting that UFC lightweight Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi was arrested Friday on a charge of grand theft in his home country. Bloody Elbow summarized and translated the article for details of the alleged heist:

“One of Sweden’s most successful star athletes, in his sport, is suspected for a smash-and-grab burglary on Stureplan in Stockholm. The loot was luxury handbags worth a million kronor (SEK) [approximately $150,000]. The sports star, who denies [the] charges, was arrested after a dramatic car chase.

Madadi was not specifically named in the tabloid article, which referenced prior legal troubles of the Iranian-Swedish fighter — including a 2009 arrest for an alleged cash depot robbery* — but court documents later confirmed that Madadi was indeed arrested last Friday. Madadi is said to have a public defender representing him and is fighting the charges and maintaining that he is innocent. If he is convicted, BE reports that he could face up to six years in prison.

Madadi’s last fight was a submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC on Fuel 9 in Sweden. The lightweight was scheduled to face TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa next in Seattle this coming July until he encountered visa problems and was removed from the card.

After the jump: lots more details from the handbag heist, via the Expressen article.


(Reza Madadi — the John Dillinger of purses.)

The Swedish tabloid Expressen is reporting that UFC lightweight Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi was arrested Friday on a charge of grand theft in his home country. Bloody Elbow summarized and translated the article for details of the alleged heist:

“One of Sweden’s most successful star athletes, in his sport, is suspected for a smash-and-grab burglary on Stureplan in Stockholm. The loot was luxury handbags worth a million kronor (SEK) [approximately $150,000]. The sports star, who denies [the] charges, was arrested after a dramatic car chase.

Madadi was not specifically named in the tabloid article, which referenced prior legal troubles of the Iranian-Swedish fighter — including a 2009 arrest for an alleged cash depot robbery* — but court documents later confirmed that Madadi was indeed arrested last Friday. Madadi is said to have a public defender representing him and is fighting the charges and maintaining that he is innocent. If he is convicted, BE reports that he could face up to six years in prison.

Madadi’s last fight was a submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC on Fuel 9 in Sweden. The lightweight was scheduled to face TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa next in Seattle this coming July until he encountered visa problems and was removed from the card.

After the jump: lots more details from the handbag heist, via the Expressen article.

It was just before 5 AM on Friday morning when the alarm went off in the exclusive handbag boutique “Bottega Veneta” on Birger Jarlsgatan in Stockholm. The boutiques CC TV registered how three people struggled to get inside.

– They were banging against the door with a metal object. It took probably five minutes before they were inside, an employee of the store says.

– In spite of the prolonged process, the police did not get there in time.

– When the thieves came inside they cleaned out the boutique of the most expensive bags and ran out again. They knew exactly what they wanted, continues the employee, who estimates the value of the stolen good to about a million kronor (SEK).

– The police took up the hunt for the get-away car and managed to stop them.

– “We have two in custody. One of them is suspected of grand theft, and the other for aiding grand theft,” says prosecutor Olof Calmvik.

* When reached for comment from his Moroccan prison cell, Lee Murray simply stated that he was not impressed with Madadi’s alleged performance.

Elias Cepeda

Must-See Video: Real Crime Documents Lee Murray & Britain’s Biggest Heist

It might take Real Crime’s documentary on the biggest cash heist in British history some thirty minutes to get to former UFC fighter Lee Murray, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Detailing the intricate, if not mismanaged, raid of the Medway cash depot in Kent, South East England on February 22nd, 2006, Real Crime provides an enthralling look back at the whos, wheres, and hows of the meticulously planned heist unlike any other documentary in recent memory.

Managing to get interviews with everyone from Colin Dixon, the manager of the depot who was held hostage along with his family and coworkers, to Dave O’Donnell, an English fight promoter who simply cannot speak highly enough of Murray despite the evidence at hand, this documentary labels Murray “the mastermind” behind the entire escapade, which resulted in the theft of over 53 million pounds (84 million dollars). Murray and his gang utilized prosthetic masks, fake police uniforms, hidden cameras, and an arsenal of weapons that would make the cast of Predator blush to pull off their crime, only to be caught within the four months that followed it. Murray was sentenced to 10 years in Moroccan prison for his role in the heist, where he managed to pull off an even greater one: fathering a child and skipping out on the alimony payments LIKE A BOSS.

Unfortunately, the documentary fails to provide any insight regarding “Lightning’s” back alley brawl with Tito Ortiz, which is what we all really want to know about. But check out the video above, which features several highlights from Murray’s fight with Anderson Silva, and learn yourself something new. Who knows, maybe you can use this information to one day pull off an even greater robbery and actually get away with it. May the force be with you.

After the jump: A full video of Murray vs. Silva, because we’ve got to make this MMA-related somehow.

It might take Real Crime’s documentary on the biggest cash heist in British history some thirty minutes to get to former UFC fighter Lee Murray, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Detailing the intricate, if not mismanaged, raid of the Medway cash depot in Kent, South East England on February 22nd, 2006, Real Crime provides an enthralling look back at the whos, wheres, and hows of the meticulously planned heist unlike any other documentary in recent memory.

Managing to get interviews with everyone from Colin Dixon, the manager of the depot who was held hostage along with his family and coworkers, to Dave O’Donnell, an English fight promoter who simply cannot speak highly enough of Murray despite the evidence at hand, this documentary labels Murray “the mastermind” behind the entire escapade, which resulted in the theft of over 53 million pounds (84 million dollars). Murray and his gang utilized prosthetic masks, fake police uniforms, hidden cameras, and an arsenal of weapons that would make the cast of Predator blush to pull off their crime, only to be caught within the four months that followed it. Murray was sentenced to 10 years in Moroccan prison for his role in the heist, where he managed to pull off an even greater one: fathering a child and skipping out on the alimony payments LIKE A BOSS.

Unfortunately, the documentary fails to provide any insight regarding “Lightning’s” back alley brawl with Tito Ortiz, which is what we all really want to know about. But check out the video above, which features several highlights from Murray’s fight with Anderson Silva, and learn yourself something new. Who knows, maybe you can use this information to one day pull off an even greater robbery and actually get away with it. May the force be with you.

After the jump: A full video of Murray vs. Silva, because we’ve got to make this MMA-related somehow.

Part 1 (fight starts at the 6:30 mark)

Part 2

J. Jones

CagePotato Roundtable #13: Who Was the Biggest Waste of Potential in MMA History?


(Whatever happened to Harold Howard anyway? The man was athletic and explosive.)

A few weeks ago, we ran down the crappiest fighters to ever be crowned “champion.” In this week’s installment of the CagePotato Roundtable, we’re sort of doing the opposite of that — discussing fighters who had all the talent in the world (and actually were champions in some cases), but screwed themselves out of glory thanks to their own poor decisions. So who was the biggest waste of potential in MMA history? Who made chicken shit out of chicken salad? Read on and we’ll tell you. As usual, if you have a topic suggestion for the Roundtable, please send it to tips@cagepotato.com.

Seth Falvo — as dictated from a hospital bed. Long story.

“Personal Demons.” It’s arguably the most annoying phrase in sports journalism. The phrase is nothing more than a cop-out; what we use to show that an athlete’s performance has been sub-par due to his life outside the sport, while concurrently admitting that we have no business going there. Rather than just say that someone’s career is in a rut due to a crippling addiction or reckless antisocial behavior, we say that they have “personal demons.” Because it’s trashy to say it, but it’s somehow professional to imply it.

Yet “personal demons” is the perfect phrase to describe our sport’s biggest waste of potential — and the only WEC Middleweight Champion to defend the belt — Paulo Filho.

In his prime, “Ely” had all the tools that a future UFC champion would need. Even today, a fighter with Filho’s credentials would be heralded as one of the UFC’s elite middleweights before even throwing a punch in the Octagon. Filho had black belts in Judo and Jiu-jitsu, a major organization’s title, and a flawless 16-0 record with wins over guys like Murilo Rua, Ryo Chonan, Chael Sonnen, and Minowaman. This is a guy who beat Anderson Silva while training with him, who turned down an opportunity to train with Chuck Liddell (after the Iceman sought his help). He had it all.


(Whatever happened to Harold Howard anyway? The man was athletic and explosive.)

A few weeks ago, we ran down the crappiest fighters to ever be crowned “champion.” In this week’s installment of the CagePotato Roundtable, we’re sort of doing the opposite of that — discussing fighters who had all the talent in the world (and actually were champions in some cases), but screwed themselves out of glory thanks to their own poor decisions. So who was the biggest waste of potential in MMA history? Who made chicken shit out of chicken salad? Read on and we’ll tell you. As usual, if you have a topic suggestion for the Roundtable, please send it to tips@cagepotato.com.

Seth Falvo — as dictated from a hospital bed. Long story.

“Personal Demons.” It’s arguably the most annoying phrase in sports journalism. The phrase is nothing more than a cop-out; what we use to show that an athlete’s performance has been sub-par due to his life outside the sport, while concurrently admitting that we have no business going there. Rather than just say that someone’s career is in a rut due to a crippling addiction or reckless antisocial behavior, we say that they have “personal demons.” Because it’s trashy to say it, but it’s somehow professional to imply it.

Yet “personal demons” is the perfect phrase to describe our sport’s biggest waste of potential — and the only WEC Middleweight Champion to defend the belt — Paulo Filho.

In his prime, “Ely” had all the tools that a future UFC champion would need. Even today, a fighter with Filho’s credentials would be heralded as one of the UFC’s elite middleweights before even throwing a punch in the Octagon. Filho had black belts in Judo and Jiu-jitsu, a major organization’s title, and a flawless 16-0 record with wins over guys like Murilo Rua, Ryo Chonan, Chael Sonnen, and Minowaman. This is a guy who beat Anderson Silva while training with him, who turned down an opportunity to train with Chuck Liddell (after the Iceman sought his help). He had it all.

Unfortunately for MMA fans, this included a plethora of personal demons. Paulo Filho battled depression. He battled addiction. He battled his own unreliability. He battledatrocious ink. And this was all before whatever the hell he did when he finally gave Chael Sonnen a rematch. After that career-destroying performance, Filho would repeat thecycle until the guy we once called a top middleweight was little more than a punch line. Following a disappointing draw against fellow underachiever Satoshi Ishii, Filho would retire from MMA competition after what had become a routine performance for the embattled Brazilian: He pulled out of his bout against Mamed Khalidov at KSW 17 at the last minute.

This isn’t to say that people weren’t willing to give Filho a second chance. DREAM’s gamble on him paid off with a come-from-behind victory over Melvin Manhoef. Sao Paulo’s Memorial Fight Qualifying event booked him to crush Chilean can Daniel Gabriel, who was so pitiful that even a blatantly out of shape Paulo Filho couldn’t lose to him. Impact FC went all-in with Ely by attempting to book him twice in two weeks, and paid dearly for it with a lackluster draw against Denis Kang. And then there was Bellator, who not only had to watch their scheduled superfight between Paulo Filho and Hector Lombard get cancelled when he was unable to obtain a visa, but also had to put up with Filho accusing them of causing his visa issues when they found out he was actually in shape. This doesn’t even include the people he owes money over his drug debts.

When objectively looking at Paulo Filho’s career, it’s impossible not to see the potential. Yet it’s equally impossible to truly appreciate it considering how badly his career fizzled out. Paulo Filho truly had everything a mixed martial artist could want, and his demons took it all away from him.

Ben Goldstein

Through his entire career, Anthony Johnson has never once competed in the right weight class. Just because he could make 170 pounds most of the time in the UFC didn’t make him a welterweight — it just made him a poor misguided bastard who ruined his health in order to pursue an absurd size advantage over his opponents that he didn’t even need in the first place. When Johnson decided to move up to 185, it seemed like he had finally accepted the hulking figure that was looking back at him in the mirror. Instead, his body called an end to the 40-pound weight cuts that were part of Johnson’s routine. A man who used to put himself through hell to make 170 now couldn’t go any lower than 194. The chickens had come home to roost.

I don’t think Johnson could have ever held a UFC belt in any weight class, but what if he had started out as a middleweight and was conscious enough about his diet so that he didn’t balloon up in the off-season? Rumble was blessed with savage knockout power, and enough wrestling ability to lay on top of a striker he didn’t feel like banging with. Sure, he might have collected three rear-naked choke losses on his record, but he wasn’t utterly helpless on the ground, in a Melvin Guillard sort of way. A guy with those tools could be a perennial top-five contender at 185, talented enough on his best day to beat guys like Michael Bisping, Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch, Alan Belcher, or Brian Stann. Honestly, Johnson could have been a star. Now he’s considering a light-heavyweight debut in Titan FC — way off-Broadway, so to speak — and the only way that fight is going to make headlines is if he misses weight again. Always a possibility, by the way.

Jared Jones

As was likely the case for every one of his remedial English teachers in grade school, I find myself at a loss for words when trying to assess Nick Diaz. All the pieces to the puzzle are there, floating aimlessly in an abyss of bong resin and Gatorade, but they’ve been burned, scribbled on, torn, soaked, and folded so many times that they have reached the point of unrecognizability, leaving behind a mish-mashed, eroded, Jackson-Pollackian mess of what was once a beautiful mountainside landscape, happy trees and all.

To say that Nick Diaz has (or had) the potential to be something truly amazing is akin to saying that Legend of the Hidden Temple was a difficult game show: an understatement of massive proportions. His cardio is unmatchable, his chin is unbreakable, his Jiu-Jitsu is impregnable, and he has the ability unlike any other athlete in the game to instill this undying sense of fear in his opponents, to throw them off of their game. For Christ’s sake, he turned Carlos Condit, a slayer of men and beasts alike, into a Goddamn fox-trotting ninny for five rounds, using only the intimidation that his skill set and ego bring to the table.

Diaz knows that he can outmatch anyone damn near anywhere, yet somehow, he has become best known for sabotaging his career in between moronic, incoherent, cuss-filled rants on Youtube in which he continuously denies holding any responsibility in the issue at hand. The man is as unreliable and foundationally solid as a crackhead’s Jenga tower, more destined to implode than any spaceship with a self-destruct sequence in a 1990s science fiction film. And it pains me to see him disintegrate as a martial artist simply because he treated a few simple rules and inconveniences with the subtlety and grace ofSimple Jack on a four day bath salt binge.

Although my Internet is currently not working to confirm any of this, let’s see what I can list off the top of my head concerning Nick’s inability to control his emotions and make one correct decision when called upon to do so:

-He has been involved in at least two post-fight in ring brawls, neither of which occurred following a fight he was actually involved in.

-He was released from the UFC the first time for deciding to start the fourth round against Joe Riggs in a hospital hallway after their fight at UFC 57.

-After returning to the UFC and scoring a win over Josh Neer (at either UFC 62 or 63, my memory is clogged with a considerable amount of bong resin as well), Diaz opted to sign with Gracie Fighting Championships for a fight that was eventually cancelled, even though the UFC had guaranteed him another fight

-He brought the legend of Takanori Gomi to a crashing halt, then tested positive for marijuana for the first time, and was subsequently suspended for six months. The victory was overturned to a No-Contest.

-He was supposed to fight Jay Hieron for the Strikeforce Welterweight championship back in 2009, but he was removed from the fight and replaced by Jesse Taylor when he refused to take a pre-fight drug test.

-After actually becoming Strikeforce champion, Diaz came back to the UFC once again, beat BJ Penn into temporary retirement, and proceeded to squander a title shot against GSP by failing to attend a press conference.

OK, enough of the list format, as I feel I am running out of literary breath.

After all of this, Diaz was still rewarded for his insolence with a shot for the interim title against Carlos Condit, which he lost by narrow UD. He thought that, even though he was/is still arguably in his prime, that now would be the best time to throw his hands in the air and retire from the sport, because surely there was no way he could ever get back into title contention before he was a withered old man. And, oh yeah, he tested positive for marijuana (metabolites this time), and was suspended for 12 months following a lengthy hearing with his buddies in the NSAC.

Let’s forgo the discussion of the whole Braulio Estima thing for the time being. The raining ashes from all the bridges Diaz has burned is already chest high.

As Marlon Brando once said, you coulda been a contender, Nick. You coulda been a somebody. But look at you now.

George Shunick

There have been plenty of fighters who have failed to live up to their hype, but very few have failed to live up to their actual potential like Todd Duffee. Duffee, also known as Duffman, the Duffstroyer, and Vanilla Gorilla-Lite, (sadly, he is not actually known as any of these) had it all. He was genetically pharmaceutically blessed with exceptional athleticism and size. He wasn’t lacking for talent either; his first two opponents met their ends in 31 seconds combined. His next two opponents fared better, but still couldn’t make it through a round (combined, again) before falling victim to Duffee’s merciless onslaught. UFC and Pride veteran Assuerio Silva provided Duffee’s most competitive test to that point, astounding spectators by lasting a full minute into the second round before succumbing to his inevitable, violent fate.

After sending the UFC a video resume showcasing his conquests, the world’s preeminent MMA organization signed Duffee and attempted to match him with Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC 99. Duffee, however, was injured and pulled out of the fight. (Remember this; it becomes a career motif.) He then fought Tim Hague at UFC 102, where he set the UFC record for fastest slaughter of a Canadian at 7 seven seconds. While this mark was later tied by Chang Sung-Jung and surpassed — upon review — by Duane Ludwig, it established Duffee as a legitimate threat to the heavyweight division.

Duffee was then scheduled to face Paul Buentello at UFC 107. But Duffee got injured and pulled out of the fight. He was then matched up with Mike Russow at UFC 114. On paper, it was an enormous mismatch. In person, it was even more of a mismatch; Duffee dominated Russow for two and a half rounds, even breaking Russow’s arm with a kick. But in the final round, Russow connected on a right cross that severed the connection between Duffee’s brain and his body, ending the fight. But before Josh Rosenthal could rush in to save the injured Duffee, Russow connected on the most gruesome, violent, bone-jarring hammerfist in the history of MMA. It made Wanderlei Silva’s stomps and soccer kicks in Pride look like sorority pillow fights. No man, not even Todd Duffee, could ever recover from it.

The UFC attempted to offer Duffee a rebound fight against Jon Madsen at UFC 121, but Duffee got high and just sort of wandered off got injured and pulled out of the fight. Frustrated with Duffee’s Towelie-esque reliability and “attitude” issues, Zuffa released him shortly thereafter. Understandably perturbed, Duffee tried to silence the critics who claimed he had suffered irreversible brain damage from Russow’s Hammerfist of Doom by making sound career choices in an attempt to get back in the UFC and resume his run for the title. And by “sound career choices,” I mean he chose to fight Alistair Overeem on two weeks’ notice. Which went about as well as you would expect.

Since his ignominious destruction at the hands of Ubereem, Duffee has fought only once — a bout this past April against Neil Grove, who he managed to knock out in the first round. He also appeared in Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, in which he plays…well, I don’t know. I’ve never actually watched Never Back Down 2. Who has? When you go from the next big thing at heavyweight to starring in a straight-to-DVD sequel, you’re — without question — the biggest bust in MMA history.

Nathan “The12OzCurls” Smith

For a guy who spent a grand total of 1:47 fighting within the UFC Octagon, Lee Murray sure did leave a mark on the sport. What could have been a UFC championship career was instead parlayed into a 25-year sentence in a Moroccan prison. The Brit was 6’3” 185 lbs. of lean muscle that was capable of knocking anybody out with his quick hands, earning him the handle “Lightning.” Though his preference was using his speed and power, he was also a skilled submission artist who was barely scratching the surface of his capabilities. When it was all said and done, the aforementioned “mark” he left on the sport, ended up being more of an unsightly Marvin Eastman-esque forehead gash. Not pretty.

Before Murray ever set foot in the UFC Octagon, there was already an aura surrounding him. Much like the Gene Lebell vs. Steven Seagal story that is filled with contradictory claims, Murray was involved in a similar encounter. An alleged street fight pitted the Huntington Beach Bad Boy (yeah, this was prior to that dipshit “Peoples Champ” nonsense) and “Lightning” going mano y mano outside a London nightclub back in 2002. You have to remember; Tito was the light-heavyweight champ and the “face” of the UFC back then. As the legend goes, Ortiz and Murray squared off and after Tito missed with a punch, Murray unloaded a five-punch combo that would have made Ryu proud. All the strikes landed flush and Tito crumbled to the ground. Being a true British gentleman, Murray stomped on Tito’s giant noggin twice before leaving the scene.

AWESOME!!! RIGHT? Well according to Ortiz, it never happened. But according to Pat Miletich during an ESPN interview, it definitely did. Also, Matt Hughes corroborated the story in his book Made in America: The Most Dominant Champion in UFC History (WTF?) on page 168. Regardless, much like the Lebell/Seagal saga — we are left to draw our own conclusions. (For the record, I believe Tito got his ass beat and I believe that Lebell literally choked the shit out of Seagal.)

Murray was brash and charismatic, and had the budding talent to back it all up. In his lone Octagon appearance, Murray donned an orange prison jumpsuit as well as a full Hannibal Lecter mask during his entrance to the cage. He dispatched of Jorge Rivera in less than two minutes and then immediately went to the microphone to call out Tito. It was a classic. Nobody in the crowd knew who the Brit was, yet he launched into this great diatribe of insults calling out the “man” of the UFC.

If Murray continued to be dedicated to his training he could have been the face of the UFC. If he was able to handle a bigger Tito on the streets, who is to say that he couldn’t pack on a few more pounds of muscle and take the LHW strap? If “Lightning” didn’t get mixed up in things like alleged road-rage incidents, getting stabbed at a British glamour model’s birthday party and (Oh ya, I almost forgot) masterminding the largest single monetary heist in history — he could have had it all.

Lee Murray is not the first and he most certainly will not be the last athlete to see their limitless potential squandered on an excessive amount of “ifs.” So, he will sit in a small Moroccan prison cell for 23 more years — pondering all the could-haves or should-haves, while dreaming about what might have been.

Doug “ReX13” Richardson

Lady and gentlemen of the Potato Nation, I submit to you that the man who has wasted the most potential in his MMA career is one Mr. Jay Dee Penn, a man who could have won all the things, actually won most of the things, and cared about winning almost no things.

Perhaps the intervening years have made us forget, but there was a time when we called BJ Penn “The Prodigy” because it was infuriating (and just a teensy bit scary) how quickly he excelled in competition. Penn had only been training in BJJ for a couple of years when he took 3rd place in the brown belt division of the Mundials in 1999 (an achievement that established him as the definition of a world class grappler). The following year, at the tender age of 21, he took first place in the black belt division, inspiring normal dudes everywhere to just say “fuck it” and take up yoga.

But he wouldn’t be satisfied with merely being a BJJ whiz with nutso flexibility: Penn would go on to display the kind of striking skills that gives Freddie Roach an uncomfortable erection. (A shaky, uncomfortable erection. Freddie Roach is The Human Vibrator, in theaters Summer 2014! [I’m sorry.]) With hand speed that was scientifically evaluated as somewhere between “blazing” and “young Vitor Belfort,” Penn was smoking dudes so fast that people were missing his matches while they went for a bathroom break. When Penn actually fought for his first title, there was a sizable contingent of fans who were confused about who this asshole was fighting Jens Pulver, because they’d never seen him in a cage before. If you fast-forwarded a VHS tape (ask your parents) from UFC 31, 32, or 34, you likely skipped his fights altogether and you never knew until just now. You’re welcome.

Penn’s UFC run will absolutely earn him a Hall of Fame nod one day, and it’s perhaps that knowledge that makes his inconsistency so frustrating. Eventually, BJ always decides that surfing and Doritos are way cooler than being a champ, and he blows up like a pufferfish and gives exactly zero fucks about MMA. While a bad loss can occasionally light a fire in his belly to train like a warrior madman…sometimes it won’t. While it is generally accepted that a Motivated Penn is a thoroughly dangerous opponent, it’s anyone’s guess what actually motivates Penn.

With his next bout scheduled for September against a young prodigy named Rory MacDonald, I can tell you with no confidence whatsoever that Penn will be fully engaged and ready to do violence this fall. But I also cannot tell you, with any certainty, that BJ Penn is washed up and done. The man has the raw talent and skills to be competitive at any level, but no inclination to stay competitive at any level.

Had he been born in the Brazilian favela, BJ Penn would still be wrecking shop in the UFC, probably in two weight classes, and people wouldn’t even be interested in arguing his place atop the pound-for-pound listings. As it is, though, he’s rich as hell, he kicks it on the reg on sunny Hawaiian beaches, and this is his wife. I guess when you’re winning this hard at life, it’s hard to stay mad at Frankie Edgar.