10 Careers Ruined By Self-Sabotage
In a sport where the athletes substitute a 9-5 in exchange for the pursuit of becoming the world’s best fighter, it doesn’t take the biggest stretch of imagination to believe many fighters often find themselves doing whatever it takes to succeed or finding themselves in controversial situations outside of MMA. In extreme cases, fighters end up sabotaging the final portion or entirety of their professional careers. People often say, there’s a fine line between greatness and craziness, and this list goes to prove that.
Number 10: Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller
Jason Miller’s antics outside of fighting have definitely overshadowed his career. Miller has a 28-10 record, defeating the likes of Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy. He also fought for the DREAM and StrikeForce middleweight titles. He coached season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter and had his own MTV reality show called Bully Beatdown. However, Mayhem battled with mental health problems, which led to regular run-ins with the law. In his second UFC stint, Miller went 0-2, losing to Michael Bisping and CB Dolloway. Prior to the Dolloway bout at UFC 146, Miller publicly stated on Twitter that he would retire if he lost. The UFC jumped in and fired Miller before he could retire, with Dana White saying Miller was being a ‘clown’ in his wardrobe choices, after attempting to walkout wearing a gasmask. From 2013-2017, Miller was arrested at least 7 times for numerous felonies, including domestic violence and assaulting police officers. Amidst his troubles with the law, Miller returned after a 4-year absence in Italian Promotion, Venator FC. Miller was scheduled to fight for the middleweight title against Luke Barnatt, however, Miller missed weight by a whopping 24lbs and was instead scheduled to fight at light heavyweight where he lost by submission and has not competed since. The following year, Miller was convicted of domestic battery and is serving a 3- year probation.
Number 9: Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is the epitome of an MMA veteran. He holds a 31-15 record and has fought for what seems like almost every major promotion, here is only some of the organizations he has fought for, King of the Cage, DREAM, StrikeForce, Impact FC, KSW, Cage Warriors, WSOF, ACB, the UFC and he has had two stints on The Ultimate Fighter. On TUF Season 7, Taylor advanced to the finals after winning 3 bouts in the competition. When the show was finished filming, Taylor and four other cast-mates stayed in Las Vegas for an extra night. Things got wild as Taylor was caught kicking out a limousine window on video and causing all kinds of trouble in their hotel. White famously kicked Taylor off the show before he could compete in the final. Taylor then got the opportunity at redemption on Season 25 on the show where he would return and end up submitting Dhiego Lima in the final to win the competition and all had seem forgotten. That was until Taylor failed a USADA drug test the following month and was suspended by the UFC for one year. He is still under suspension and is able to return September 13th 2018.
Number 8: Nick Diaz
Ok, bear with me for this one. The argument isn’t that Nick Diaz has sabotaged his whole career, but is sabotaging the final portion of his career. The former WEC and StrikeForce welterweight champion has always wanted big money fights and now is his time to be cashing in. Diaz’s stock has remained incredibly high for a man who hasn’t fought in over 3 years and hasn’t won a fight since 2011. Fans always wonder when and if Nick Diaz will return because him and his younger brother Nate are highly entertaining characters in MMA. However, Nick Diaz has put some obstacles in the way of his return including testing positive for marijuana in his most recent bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 183. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Diaz for 5 years, yes, 5 years but the suspension was reduced following an appeal. Diaz became eligible to compete in August of 2016. Diaz was then suspended for a year due to failing to report his whereabouts to USADA. He became eligible again in April of 2018 but still has not competed. Diaz is currently 35 and could have been involved in big fights with the UFC over the past few years if he was willing, but father time is now catching Diaz and we await to see if he will return.
Number 7: Josh Grispi
Josh Grispi made his WEC debut at the age of 19 in 2008 after racking up a 10-1 professional record. Grispi went on a tear in his four WEC fights, finishing them all inside the first round, defeating the likes of Mark Hominick and former UFC lightweight champion, Jens Pulver. When the WEC merged with the UFC, Grispi was the #1 contender to Jose Aldo’s UFC featherweight title. The two were scheduled to meet at UFC 125 in the first ever UFC featherweight title fight, however, Aldo pulled out of the card and Grispi risked his title shot against Dustin Poirier. Poirier dominated Grispi and won by unanimous decision. Unexpectedly, Grispi went on to lose his next 3 fights with the UFC and was released in 2013 at the age of 24 and has not competed in MMA since. The following year, Grispi was found guilty of domestic violence against his wife, with one police officer saying it is ‘the worst case of domestic abuse I’ve ever seen.” In 2017, Grispi was sentenced to five and a half years in prison due to various crimes, including assault and battery, drug possession, witness intimidation and improper storage of firearms.
Number 6: Brian Bowles
Old school fans will remember Brian Bowles as the former undefeated WEC Bantamweight champion who knocked out Miguel Torres to end Torres’ 17 fight win streak at WEC 42 to claim the title. In his first title defense, Bowles suffered the first loss of his career against Dominick Cruz by doctor stoppage due to a broken hand. Before Bowles could step back into the WEC cage, the organisation merged with the UFC in late 2010. Bowles made a good start to his UFC career. He won back-to-back fights within five months as he defeated Damacio Page and Takeya Mizugaki. Bowles then faced former WEC featherweight champion, Urijah Faber at UFC 139. The fight was a bantamweight title eliminator and Faber submitted Bowles in the second round. Bowles took 18 months away from MMA and was unsuccessful in his return against George Roop at UFC 160. However, Bowles failed a drug test with elevated testosterone to epitestosterone levels. The allowed ratio is 6:1, although Bowles tested for over 20:1 and was suspended for 9 months. In 2015, Bowles was arrested with various drug and weapon charges and the UFC released Bowles two months later. He has not competed in MMA since his release in 2013 and holds a 10-3 record.
Number 5: Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly entered the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record, finishing all 7 fights. Throughout his UFC tenure, Kelly picked up a 5-4 record with the UFC and was known for being an extremely exciting striker who has said he would actively go after a performance bonus for the money. The Liverpudlian was released at UFC 126 following a submission defeat to Donald Cerrone. Kelly went on to fight a further 3 times outside the UFC and currently holds a 14-5 record. However, it was Kelly’s desire for money that landed him in controversy. Two months after his most recent fight in 2013, Kelly was found guilty of heroin trafficking and was sentenced to 13 years jail time. In an interview with Liverpool Echo, Kelly said he was guilty of drug dealing, but was not associated with the violent gang called Croxteth Young Guns that the police had targeted for their trouble in Liverpool. Kelly was released from prison in late 2017 and has been training with his old gym, Team Kaoban. In 2017, Kelly spoke to MMAFighting and said the only fight he’d return for would be against Paul Daley. Kelly says he has the utmost respect for Daley, but feels that’s a fight British fans always wanted.
Number 4: Rousimar Palhares
Rousimar Palhares is well known for being a submission specialist, and more recently for undergoing one insane body transformation. Over half of his 19 MMA wins have come via heel hook, a submission you don’t want to play around with. Palhares was suspended by the UFC for 90 days after holding onto a heel hook at UFC 111 against Tomasz Drwal, despite Drwal’s urgent tapping and referee Kevin Mulhall’s attempt to break Palhares’ grip. 5 fights later in the UFC and Palhares was surrounded by bad press again as he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels following a KO loss to Hector Lombard and was suspended for 9 months. In his comeback fight, Palhares submitted Mike Pierce via heel hook, but in an all too familiar story, Palhares held onto the heel hook for too long and was released by the UFC the following day even though he had an 8-4 record with the organisation. Palhares then signed with WSOF where he won the welterweight title and beat the likes of Jon Fitch and Jake Shields. However, Palhares again held onto a submission for too long against Shields and he was stripped of his title and released by the organization. He has since gone 1-3 with 1 no contest in various organisations, being KO’d three times.
Number 3: Evan Tanner
The late Evan Tanner was once a formidable force in MMA. In 2003 he made a run for the UFC’s middleweight title defeating Phil Baroni twice and Robbie Lawler. He became the third middleweight champion in UFC history as he defeated David Terrell at UFC 51. At that time, Tanner had an impressive 31- 4 record, with one of those losses being to Tito Ortiz for the UFC’s light heavyweight championship at UFC 30. It was revealed that Tanner suffered with serious alcohol addiction prior to winning the UFC title. The addiction took a serious toll on Tanner’s health. His kidneys were causing him too many issues to train as hard as a professional athlete should. The training problems stemming from his addiction would hamper his fighting performances, as Tanner would lose his next bout in the UFC. He would defeat Justin Levens at UFC 59 but take almost two years away from MMA to focus on his alcohol problem. Tanner would return to the UFC sober, but was unable to find his old form, as he would go 0-2 on his return. Going from 31-4 as the UFC champion, to 32-8. Tragically, Tanner would pass away just three months removed from his final UFC bout.
Number 2: Mark Kerr
Mark ‘The Smashing Machine’ Kerr retired with a 15-11 record. Although that sounds ordinary, the story of Kerr is anything but. Kerr won the UFC 14 and 15 heavyweight tournaments, running through 4 opponents in a combined 6 minutes and 10 seconds. At the time, Pride had just hosted their first event, selling 47,000 tickets and was looking to be the new powerhouse of MMA and Kerr made the move to Japan. Kerr went on a four-fight win streak in Pride to move to 11-0 overall and was widely considered one of best fighters in the world. Although Kerr had the physique of a body builder, his internal health was a story of steroid and painkiller abuse. Kerr faced adversity at Pride 7 where Ukrainian opponent Igor Vovchanchyn knocked him unconscious at the very end of the bout. It was overturned to a no contest but Kerr would overdose on painkillers after the bout and fight for his life in hospital. Kerr would later lose against Kazuyuki Fujita in the Pride open weight Grand Prix, a bout he was expected to win and sadly would never find his form again. Kerr took a near 3-year lay off as he reduced his steroid intake and returned at Pride 27 looking like a former shell of himself. Kerr knocked himself out going for a takedown in the opening minute of the fight against Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who holds a 14-25 record. Kerr’s substance abuse had clearly taken its toll as the former great lost 7 of his next 9 bouts and the last 5 in a row.
Although never a championship fighter, Matt Riddle may have made that jump had he continued in MMA. Riddle made his pro debut with the UFC and would have held a 9-3 record with the UFC if it weren’t for his use of medical marijuana. Marijuana caused two of Riddle’s victories to be overturned to no contests. Riddle was released by the UFC in 2013, due to his reluctance to give up smoking. He was only 27 when the UFC released him. He had one more MMA fight, a victory with Titan FC in 2014. Riddle recently signed with the WWE in July of this year.
How can we not mention the infamous Lee Murray? Dana White once called Lee Murray a scary individual, not in reference to his fighting. Murray compiled an 8-2 record from 1999-2004. His biggest win came against Jorge Rivera at UFC 46 and Murray also fought Anderson Silva in Cage Rage, which remains his most recent bout. Murray was stabbed in a street fight in 2005 and was resuscitated four times during his immediate recovery that halted his MMA career from continuing. However, Murray is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence for his role as the ‘mastermind’ of the largest cash robbery in British history as he and others stole over £53m from a bank in Kent.
Number 1: Jon Jones
Controversy aside, Jon Jones is widely accepted as the best martial artist of all time. He has defeated the who’s who of the light heavyweight division and DQ’s aside, has never lost a fight. Jones’ problems stem from his actions outside of the Octagon. In 2012 Jones drove his car into a pole whilst under the influence and the best fighter in the world was bailed out by none other than mother, how cool. Jones first faced his rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 and defeated him by unanimous decision. Three days later, it was announced Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites. However the metabolite was not on the banned substance list and therefore no punishment was granted. A few months later and Jones was involved in a hit and run incident, leaving a pregnant woman injured as he ran. The UFC stripped Jones of his title and suspended him. Jones returned to capture the interim title at UFC 197 against Ovince Saint Preux. Prior to his scheduled rematch at UFC 200 against Cormier, Jones tested positive two days before the event for clomiphene and letrozole and was subsequently stripped of his interim title. Jones returned again at UFC 214 and defeated Daniel Cormier by KO to win another UFC title. Less than a month later and USADA announced Jones had tested positive for the anabolic steroid turanibol and was stripped of his third UFC title. Jones is awaiting a suspension from USADA that has the potential to be as long as 4 years.