The average professional MMA career lifespan is very short. It depends on how long you can stay at the top, and even then, due to the violent nature of MMA and the physical and mental limitations of the human body, it isn’t very long. Just ask people like Ronda Rousey.
However, there are times in which fighters have managed to make successful comebacks. Their stories prove that it’s not impossible. Here are some of them:
- Matt Brown – Brown was an Ultimate Fighter alum who had a promising early career, but suffered a three-match losing streak in the UFC. He was in a slump until he faced the hot Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, whom he managed to defeat. The win gave Brown confidence to go on a six-match winning streak.
- Mauricio Rua – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua entered the UFC with a lot of hype from Pride, but lost in his debut due to many factors. He took time off and bounced back with a couple of lopsided wins to earn a title shot against Lyoto Machida. He barely lost to Machida, which set up a rematch that he decisively won.
- Anthony Johnson – Johnson was released from the UFC after losing to Vitor Belfort due to being overweight. He finally decided to move up to the light heavyweight division, where he physically belonged and dominated there after being picked up by the UFC again.
- Nick Diaz – The legendary UFC fighter suffered a lot of hiccups early in his career, including drug test failures and controversial losses. That lit a fire in him that enabled an 11-fight winning streak and his current status in the UFC.
- Alistair Overeem – This living legend went through a brutal losing streak in Pride, but managed to reinvent himself by moving up to heavyweight and eventually dominating the UFC later in his career with a four-fight winning streak.
- Frank Mir – Mir started out promisingly but encountered a horrific bike accident that injured his leg. He would make a return to the UFC, but he lost his fights before scoring a huge upset against Brock Lesnar, boosting his confidence. Mir would go on to beat Antonio Nogueira to become UFC Heavyweight Champion.
- Mark Hunt – Dana White would come to regret signing the explosive K1 veteran after he lost his UFC debut, but Hunt would stay and eventually mount a four-fight winning streak, earning his spot. He would also defeat Brock Lesnar in Lesnar’s first UFC comeback attempt.
- Andrei Arlovski – Arlovski would find success to leave UFC, but lost a match and his momentum to Fedor Emelianenko. He would eventually scrape his way back up in smaller fights against lesser opponents – enough to earn a return to the UFC.
- Randy Couture – Couture actually retired at 42 years old after a long UFC career but decided to mount a comeback two years later. He would eventually beat UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at 44, proving that he still had it.
- Robbie Lawler – The promising UFC welterweight lost against the equally-promising Nick Diaz, and his fight after that, forcing him to leave the UFC. He didn’t fare too well when he moved to Strikeforce, going 3-5, but UFC re-signed him, after which he delivered fantastic performances at welterweight, eventually winning the division championship.
What other amazing comebacks do you know about in the UFC?