September 25 is “One Hit Wonder Day.” Radio stations across the country will probably be playing songs like Taco’s Puttin’ on the Ritz and I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz non-stop today. But the music industry isn’t the only place you can find one-hit wonders. Not at all. The MMA world has it’s share of them as well. So let’s tackle the top 10 one hit wonders in MMA history, shall we? Now let me pop in my Toni Basil cassette. “Hey Mickey you’re so fine you blow my mind…”
Here are my qualifications for a one hit wonder in MMA.
- A fighter has a “coming out” party. A big win, a noteworthy high profile fight, etc.
- People (fans, promoters, media) tend to pull that achievement out to justify that that fighter MUST be better than they really are.
- Despite the accomplishment—and the fanfare that is attached—the fighter maintains a level of mediocrity and never really lives up that one defining moment.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 10 One Hit Wonders in MMA History, Gangnam Style (oh yes I did! Sorry Psy!).
10. Valentijn Overeem. Remember when Jose Canseco went 40/40 and he tried to tell us his brother Ozzie was even better? Yeah, well he wasn’t! Ozzie Canseco sucked ass. And Valentijn isn’t nearly as good as Alistair either. He did however have one shining moment back in 2001 when he beat Randy Couture in Japan in only 56 seconds. He was sure to continue that right? Uh, no. He went on to lose 10 of his next 12 fights! In fairness, he did defeat Marcin Różalski earlier this year. Valentijn in neither Rico nor Suave. He’s number 10.
9. Stephan Bonnar. Is it considered a “hit” if you don’t win? In Bonnar’s case, yes. He was part of the most significant fight in UFC history with Forrest Griffin at the TUF 1 Finale. Although he lost, he was able to parlay that performance into an entire career. He has been able to fight some of the top stars in the sport (Jones, Rashad, Coleman, Machida) and lose to all of them. With his recent surge of defeating a few other middle-of-the-pack fighters, he’s even secured himself a fight with another legend, Anderson Silva. That’s kinda like Lou Bega getting Prince to do a duet to Mambo No. 5.
8. Carlos Newton. Still somehow considered a legendary figure, Newton’s career has been defined by one moment. Somehow he managed to grab the UFC welterweight belt from Pat Miletich back in 2001. He’s gone 6-10 since and has made a mockery of matchmakers everywhere who think Newton is actually good. He’s fought well known guys like Matt Hughes (twice), Anderson Silva, Matt Lindland, etc. and continues to lose to all of them. His last fight was a loss to Brian Ebersole, that helped put the Hairrow on the UFC’s radar.
7. Brett Rogers. Andrei Arlovski was one of the top heavyweights in the world in 09. Rogers was Arlovski’s first Strikeforce opponent. Rogers KO’d Andrei in like 22 seconds, setting the table for fans all over the country to call Rogers the next big thing. He parlayed that “one hit” into a fight with the biggest name in MMA history, Fedor. Alas, as happens to all one hit wonders; we realized he didn’t have much talent after all. On his way to dropping off an application to Sam’s Club, Rogers was granted a new beginning in Bellator. Let’s see if he can follow up his “hit” with another Rock Me Amadeus moment with his new employer.
6. Tank Abbott. Ask any casual fan about Abbott and they’ll tell you he’s a one man wrecking crew who can destroy entire villages with his fist, then pound a couple beers to celebrate. The reality is he dropped a couple bombs on two guys nobody’s ever heard of at UFC 6 and voila, he’s bigger than My Sharona. His career record is 10-14. I just threw up in my mouth. Tank is the one hit wonder who has that hit everyone (including YOU) loved, then 10 years later you say “that song sucked anyway.” Let’s call Abbott the Vanilla Ice of MMA.
5. Matt Serra. We all knew this one was coming. I thought I’d give Serra a little more respect than to put him at #1, but not much more. Look, he KO’d the best fighter in the world. It was an accident. Even Serra must know it was a fluke. That was in 2007, and he’s fought exactly 4 times in the next 4 years, and it looks like he’ll never fight anything again–other than his waistline. By the way, he lost 3 of them and his last fight with Chris Lytle was a horrible exhibition of drunken brawling. Enough already, I got over the whole Serra thing faster than the opening riff to Europe’s Final Countdown!
4. Steve Jennum. UFC 4 was chock full of legit fighters like Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Kimo, even Keith Hackney and 2,000 pound Emmanuel Yarborough. Jennum won the tournament without fighting ANY of them. I bet he even got a trophy. Jennum is obviously the Milli Vanilli of MMA, because no one is quite sure what he did to deserve a
Grammy UFC tournament championship. Luckily for Jennum, he must’ve realized he had no business on that level and simply drifted away after getting finished 3 straight times over the next couple years.
3. Dennis Hallman. OK I’m cheating. Hallman is a 2-hit wonder. But if The Macarena was released again and it became a hit again, I’d still call those guys one hit wonders. Hallman inexplicably beat Hall of Famer Matt Hughes TWICE, in a combined 38 seconds. He’s spent the rest of his career living off the royalties. He’s had no significant wins since then (unless you call beating a guy named Mathias–yes, Mathias–Hughes significant), but get this…he’s still in the UFC–only now, he’s wearing women’s undergarments! I get the feeling Hallman’s one of those guys who goes to bars with a t-shirt that says “I beat Matt Hughes.”
2. Brandon Vera. Remember back in 2006 when Vera beat Frank Mir? Everyone forgot Mir was in his few months back after his motorcycle accident and started to believe Vera when he claimed he wanted to win the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles. Since then, Vera has done two things of note…jack and squat. In fairness, he did beat Andy Reece Reece Andy. But that’s kinda like Tommy Tutone following up hit 867-5309 (Jenny) with something called 555-BARF (Vera). Regardless, it’s really not a good sign when people start condescendingly applauding Vera for a “quality” loss to Shogun. I feel like they’re telling him, “nice try.”
1. Gabriel Gonzaga. It really is amazing the clout Gonzaga has in the business. People to this day consider him a former upper-end fighter with a great career. That’s why we’re here; to tell you that’s just wrong. Gonzaga head kicked Cro Cop into oblivion back in 07. It was his first significant win ever. And, much like 4 Non Blondes, there would be no more thereafter. He’s lost to guys like Werdum, Carwin, Couture, Schaub and Dos Santos. But I repeat, he has NEVER won a significant fight in his entire career besides Cro Cop (who himself hasn’t won a significant fight since). Gabriel Gonzaga is the exact definition I was looking for while researching MMA One Hit Wonders.
Let’s hear what you fans think. Did I forget anyone? Do you disagree with any of these? Let’s hear it.
For the record, my top 10 One Hit Wonders in my iPod are…
- Relax … Frankie Goes to Hollywood
- 99 Luft Balloons … Nena
- Safety Dance … Men Without Hats
- Tainted Love … Soft Cell
- Cars … Gary Numan (the horrible video is worth a watch)
- What is Love … Haddaway
- I Ran … Flock of Seagulls
- Unbelievable … EMF
- True … Spandau Ballet
- Because I Got High … Afroman