Throughout the nearly three-decade history of mixed martial arts, fighters have come and gone, worked their way up to the top and worn out their welcome. During that time, many have attached themselves to different brands such as Urijah Faber’s synonymous tie to WEC, DC’s link to Strikeforce and Kazushi Sakuraba’s unmistakable identity as a PRIDE FC fighter.
Sometimes, the long, winding road to the Octagon takes fighters to places that got lost in the shuffle of MMA memories.
Here is a shortlist of fighters who have made a pit stop you may have forgotten about.
The fight the catapulted one of the greatest champions in women’s MMA history into the UFC was Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s right hand ending the career of Rosi Sexton at Cage Warriors 69 in 2014.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rosi Sexton here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/42433
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It was the last “bolt tightening” fight for Jose Aldo before he went on to light the WEC, and eventually the UFC, on fire. And after the decision victory, it was clear Jose Aldo was destined for the brightest of lights.
Jose Aldo vs Shoji Maruyama here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/41636
Robbie Lawler was basically a WEC career short of fighting for every major fight promotion on the planet. While many may remember him from the early UFC era, EliteXC, KOTC, Strikeforce and others, they might not remember his 22-second stint in PRIDE.
Robbie Lawler vs Joey Villasenor here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/31107
Already making waves in the MMA community, the 209’s favorite son, Nick Diaz, got the call from the WEC to challenge for their welterweight title in his promotional debut. After winning, Diaz would opt to vacate the title.
Nick Diaz vs Joe Hurley here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/33606
How is it possible that one of the UFC’s biggest fan favorites managed to sneak two fights by most fans in promotions as big as Pancrase and Strikeforce? Well that’s exactly what happened in Diaz’s second and third career MMA bouts.
Koji Oishi vs Nate Diaz here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/59535
Nate Diaz vs Tony Juares here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/33317
One of the godfathers of the “go for broke” style, Jens Pulver was looking to right his post-UFC ship, and shortly after a two-plus-year WEC run, Lil’ Evil found himself in the Titan FC Cage.
Brian Davidson vs Jens Pulver here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/42761
Possibly the most surprising addition to the list. Yes, Rich Franklin fought at AFC 1. And yes, it’s “that AFC.” After going 2-0 on the UFC Rich Franklin made a trip up to Anchorage to put on a sub-60 second submission clinic before coming back to the Octagon three months later and submitting Jorge Rivera at UFC 50.
Rich Franklin vs Ralph Dillon here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/53827
The man fought in 127 MMA fights in his career, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he fought everywhere. It is, however, interesting that in the later run of the WEC geared towards promoting lower weight classes, “The Beast’s” victory in the main event of the inaugural event has gone unintentionally buried.
Dan Severn vs Travis Fulton here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/33810
Commentator Jason “Mayhem” Miller got a front row seat to DC’s MMA incubation. Daniel Cormier, then 3-0, took to the KOTC cage against Tony Johnson. Same style, same tucked in shirt, same DC, just five years before winning UFC gold over a different “Tony Johnson.”
Daniel Cormier vs Tony Johnson here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/39611
Possibly the least surprising entry on the list is Vitor Belfort stopping by Strikeforce between his second and third stint with the UFC to take on Alistair Overeem. Unfortunately for Belfort, the outcome was the same as their previous matchup in PRIDE only 14 months earlier.
Alistair Overeem vs Vitor Belfort II here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/30883
After finishing second in TUF 8, Vinny Magalhaes put together a disappointing 1-4 record in the UFC and was looking for a new full time home. In his search, the BJJ phenom stopped by Titan FC, where he submitted Jason Brilz.
Vinny Magalhaes vs Jason Brilz here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/38207
Despite not having any previous MMA experience, Cain Velasquez was an enormous favorite in his debut against Jesse Fujarczyk and he quickly showed why in this one round, one-sided beatdown.
Cain Velasquez vs Jesse Fujarczyk here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/31536
Back in late 2013, Kamaru Usman was coming off his only MMA loss and fighting in Victory FC. The relatively barebones promotion hosted the current welterweight champ in only his third professional fight, and if you watch the graphics closely there just may be a “Marty” sighting.
Kamaru Usman vs Rashid Abdullah here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/37705
Just over three months before making her UFC debut against Liz Carmouche, 8-2 Jessica Andrade made the trip from Brazil to Rostov Oblast, Russia to put future Invicta strawweight Milana Dudieva in a second-round guillotine.
Jessica Andrade vs Milana Dudieva here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/49433
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