Did you think based on the title that this article would be about seven hot UFC prospects under 30 years of age? Nope. I am talking about the seven fighters with 27 or more UFC fights to their name – guys who are within three fights of reaching the record of 30 official bouts in the UFC Octagon. So who will be the first to achieve this record? Here’s the list of candidates, in the order of probability (in my opinion of course).
But first, a few notes:
- While for most purposes we ignore No Contests (i.e. treat them as if the fight never happened), for the purpose of this record they are considered as valid fights. Once the Octagon doors close and the referee signals the start of action, it’s a fight – no matter if it’s eventually ruled a No Contest. This gives a one-up to Jim Miller and Gleison Tibau (questionably – more on that later).
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house fights – generally termed “pro-exhibition bouts” are not counted. If they were included, TUF alumni Diego Sanchez and Michael Bisping would have three and two additional fights each, respectively.
- Though Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir both have 27 UFC bouts, they are not included in this list as the probability of either fighting in the UFC again – let alone three more times – is infinitesimally small.
- The ‘Average Fights Per Year’ calculation does not include any fights which took place in 2018. The year of fighter’s UFC debut is included in the calculation only if the fighter fought two or more times in their first calendar year; any fights in other promotions in the same year but prior to the fighter’s UFC debut are not inocluded.
That said, here’s our magnificent seven:
[#7 MW] Michael Bisping
UFC Fights: 29
UFC Debut: Jun 24, 2006
Current Streak: L-2
Average Fights Per Year: 2.41
While the current record holder for most fights in the UFC will never be in consideration for one of the ‘GOATs’, he is guaranteed a future spot in the UFC Hall of Fame, and his accomplishments in this sport cannot be denied. For most of his UFC career, ‘The Count’ scrapped with the elite fighters in his weight class, but was never quite able to cross that threshold himself – he was good but not great, and seemingly always lost the fights that mattered the most. After a period between 2012 and 2014 where Bisping alternated wins and losses, he has had a late career resurgence, winning five straight in a streak that included capturing and defending the middleweight title, as well as scoring a decision victory over the former 185 lbs king Anderson Silva, and avenging two of his three stoppage losses at the time.
A victory over Georges St. Pierre would have been the crowning feather in Bisping’s countly headgear. Alas it was not meant to be, as Bisping was chocked unconscious in the third round, losing the middleweight title which GSP then promptly relinquished. Motivated by the loss, Bisping decided to get back in the cage as soon as possible, taking on the rising prospect Kelvin Gastelum a mere three weeks after the GSP fight. This proved to be disastrous for The Count, who suffered a brutal knockout loss in the very first round. It might have been the perfect opportunity for him to retire, but not many athletes can admit that it’s time to walk away from the sport they love – especially coming off a bad loss. Bisping has mulled retirement since then, but all signs point to him fighting at least one more time. More than a few middleweights threw their name in the hat to play the role of Michael’s final opponent, and it seems that Luke Rockhold trilogy is the matchup that interests Bisping the most. Should this fight happen some time in the near future, Bisping will almost certainly become the first UFC fighter to step into the Octagon for the 30th time.