5 MMA fighters who ducked their biggest fights

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

April 9th, 2020

Self-preservation is as important to a fighter as cardio and mitt work. Your favorite fighter knows their capabilities better than anyone else, and more often than not, they get where they are by walking a delicate path.

Risk doesn’t necessitate reward, and on a fighter’s road to glory, they are more than willing to steer clear of the kind of troubles that could send them back to a day job.

These are five fighters who sidestepped their biggest challenges.

Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar

McGregor held titles at both featherweight and lightweight at the peak of his popularity, though he failed to defend them.

Edgar would have been a stern test for McGregor stylistically, but we never got the chance to see them collide.

Jon Jones vs. the heavyweight division

Jones has spent enough time at light heavyweight to leave the division void of marketable fights.

Still, Jones resists the heavyweight division to feast on the scraps at light heavyweight. Because Jones knows all the advantages he has at light heavyweight will be lost with a trip up the scales, he’s resisted the calls to move up.

Greatness isn’t found in familiar places and there’s still time for Jones to change his mind.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva

St-Pierre vs. Silva is the biggest fight to never happen, and it has no reason to be. Both fighters were in their prime and Dana White wanted nothing more than to stage this battle for the ages.

The problem was GSP knew he was no match for Silva and downplayed the fight every time it was brought up. When Silva was finished as a prime-time fighter and no longer in the division, GSP ended a lengthy retirement and defeated Michael Bisping to win the middleweight belt.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg

Sometimes company lines give a fighters a safety net, because there was no way Rousey wanted any piece of Cyborg. The dream fight could have been made, if the UFC wanted it badly enough, but they protected Rousey from the Strikeforce champion.

Rousey was already gone when Cyborg finally came to the UFC, and now the only chance we’ll get to see this fight happen is in the WWE.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. UFC

Emelianenko’s decision to avoid the UFC during his prime only added to the mystique of how good he really was. “The Last Emperor,” then retired, snubbed the UFC, during a time when fights with Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar would have broken the world.

Emelianenko joined Strikeforce, after he told White he had no intention of fighting in the UFC. It was probably for the best, as Emelianenko looked a shell of his former self and went 1-3 in his next four fights.