Monday, August 8, 2022

Five Unforgettably Disappointing UFC Debuts

By Matt Molgaard
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer

In the wake of the awkward UFC 149 event, I found it rather fitting to highlight some of the major promotional acquisitions that resulted in not fireworks, but full blown duds. Over the years the sports powerhouse promotion has signed some very highly touted prospects. Some have proven every bit as amazing as billed, while others have underwhelmed on embarrassing levels. When a professional athlete ascends to the greatest level of competition it's bound to happen. I don't think many predicted we'd see something of such nature transpire at UFC 149, but that doesn't alter the fact that we definitely did. Hector Lombard dropped the ball, in a big way.

Hector Lombard: Lombard has long been considered one of the sports elite middleweights. For five years and 25 fights the powerhouse Cuban remained unbeaten. Not only did he remain unbeaten, he built a reputation for destroying foes, obliterating the likes of Jesse Taylor, Trevor Prangley, Jay Silva and Jared Hess. The man looked like a monster poised to challenge the seemingly invincible champion Anderson Silva. Apparently, it was not meant to be so. On Saturday night Lombard made his debut, set to tangle with the massive, resilient wrestler Tim Boetsch. Lombard entered the cage a solid favorite, but the wind would not propel his sails on said night. Boetsch, who didn't truly do a wealth of damage in the fight himself, managed to keep Lombard at bay for the majority of their meeting, utilizing a variety of rangy kicks to keep his foe off balance. While Lombard was never outclassed, and at times did indeed make the fight competitive (he scored a few nice takedowns while stuffing all of “The Barbarian's”), he appeared a cracked shell of the wrecking ball fans have grown to know. While not the most embarrassing UFC debut in history, Hector Lombard's elite status now rests in question. Is “Lightning” truly prepared to compete on the largest MMA stage in existence?

Kimbo Slice: Let's be very real with ourselves here: no one expected Kimbo to swarm through the UFC ranks and pick up a title. In fact, I don't for a moment believe that many anticipated him having an impressive career within the promotion at all. However, Slice was gifted with what seemed to be a stylistic dream match for his official debut at the season 10 finale of The Ultimate Fighter, a showdown with fellow banger Houston Alexander. The consensus belief was that someone's head was destined for the third row, and given the pure aggression typically displayed by both men, it seemed like a fair bet. What transpired was an impression of the “running man” from Alexander, who refused to engage Slice. But Alexander certainly shouldn't take the brunt of the blame alone. Slice seemed completely incapable of cutting off the octagon and closing the distance. His fluent body movement proved useless, and his power was never able to manifest itself inside the cage. By the time the bout ended both men had invested extended periods of time leaning over, hands on knees, gasping for air. If you're not even fit to job for fifteen minutes, the UFC probably isn't the place for you.

Rolles Gracie: Rolles was supposed to be the modern day Gracie Jiu-Jitsu heavyweight ace. Upon seeing his debut at UFC 109, it became obvious – rather quickly – that Rolles would not only sputter in the UFC's heavyweight division, he would prove to be a bit a massive disappointment to both fans and the Gracie clan. Rudimentary in just about every sense imaginable, Rolles did little more than flail about the cage. His opponent, Joey Beltran entered the competition with a reputation for being tough but a bit rough around the edges. Rolles could not capitalize on any of the holes in Beltran's game, and by the time the bell sounded signifying the launch of round two, his gas tank was completely depleted. 90 seconds later Beltran used his fists to put an end to a hype train that should have never parted the station.

Jason Miller: “Mayhem” finds himself in an interesting position here, because you can almost say that this man had two separate octagon debuts, and completely fumbled in each. Way back at UFC 52 Miller debuted as a welterweight, meeting future champion Georges St. Pierre in what now truly resonates as baptism by fire. Not surprisingly, GSP ran roughshod over Miller, battering him on the feet, battering him on the ground… everywhere the fight went, Miller was drastically outclassed. It was a disappointing debut, but given the talent level of GSP, it wasn't downright awful. Fast forward six years and – after picking up a load of quality wins for other major promotions – Miller once more returned to the UFC. This time, his opponent would be opposing TUF Season 14 coach, Michael Bisping. Most anticipated a thrilling affair, as Miller's got a heart the size of Texas, and had proven himself an extremely dangerous foe in recent outings. This time, Miller's performance was indeed awful. He gassed after a single round, and seemed to have completely forgotten the fundamentals of striking. “The Count” ran over “Mayhem” inside of three rounds and left UFC brass Dana White questioning his decision to bring Miller back into the fold. Jason has since retired from the sport.

Art Jimmerson: The truth is, there are probably very few following the sport today that actually remember this travesty unfolding (ah the good old days). Jimmerson looked the clown when he entered the octagon to battle Royce Gracie at UFC 1… wearing just a single boxing glove. These days, it's not shocking to know that Art was handily whooped by Gracie, a wizard in the submission department, but in 1993 there was still some hype behind Jimmerson. The man was a National Golden Gloves Middleweight champion, and when he stepped into the cage on that fateful day in November of 1993, he sported a professional boxing record of 29-5. By all accounts, Art was a fine boxer who, had he been matched up with someone less hazardous on the mat, could have picked up a W or two inside the cage. Instead, he was treated like a child by the legendary Royce Gracie, who – believe it or not – put the combat veteran away by simply smothering him. Talk about tainting a future legacy. Royce even seemed to ruin Jimmerson's boxing career: Art earned just four victories in his next 17 bouts.

Got a recommendation we missed? Drop us a line in the comment box. As cruel as it is, we love dwelling on those who unexpectedly faceplant!

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