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Six Top-Level Fighters Who Have Fallen Into Decline In The Past 12 Months

Following Frankie Edgar’s stunning KO loss at the hands of Brian Ortega, we take a look at six fighters whose form seems to have dipped in recent times.

UFC 222 has now come and gone and while the night’s action – all things considered – was warmly received, one of the main talking points was the vicious KO of the legendary Frankie Edgar at the hands of Brian Ortega.

It’s not often that you find the MMA community in unanimous agreement on anything, but for a short time after the fight, there was a major outpour of respect for the former-lightweight champion. It might be too early to say that ‘the Answer’ is on the decline but with this stunning upset in mind, we take a look at six other fighters who may well have seen their best days pass in the last twelve or so months.

Donald Cerrone

Cerrone’s electric victory over Yancy Medeiros last month was a strong reminder of the unhinged chaos he is always capable of bringing with him into the octagon, but in the trio of defeats at 170lbs that preceded it, we may well have finally seen the chink in his armour at long last. With a move to lightweight now apparently on his radar, however, there are still more than a few fun matchups we could see Cowboy take part in over the course of the coming year or two before he finally hangs up his gloves.

Demian Maia

For a while before his UFC 214 loss at the hands of the welterweight champ Tyron Woodley, it really did seem as though the grappling skills of Maia were sufficient to see him overcome virtually anyone who would test him within the rankings at 170lbs. However, Woodley’s perfectly-executed gameplan laid out the blueprint for Colby Covington to come through with a similarly strong showing against the Brazilian in his home-country. The jiu-jitsu legend may still present a threat with the right matchup but with him now having passed his 40th birthday, it would be a long-shot to assume that he will find himself within reach of title-shot once more.

José Aldo

Aldo’s decline, in some people’s eyes, may well have started the moment he fell to the canvas at UFC 194, but following a dominant win over the former-lightweight champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, we had every reason to believe that Conor McGregor’s left-hand had only had a temporary effect on his ability to perform under the lights. Unfortunately for him, Max Holloway finished him twice in the space of six months and now, with a new champ firmly established at 145lbs, José will have to take a long hard look at his standing in the sport and reassess what he is capable of on the tail-end of his legendary run as a mixed martial artist.

Robbie Lawler

Again, not exactly a clearcut decline, but the Lawler who showed the ferocity necessary to match both Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit just didn’t seem to show up when faced with the undersized former-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos – and even at UFC 214 against Donald Cerrone. A big part of Robbie’s game over the years has been his aggression and granite chin but following his UFC 201 first-round KO loss to the current-champ Tyron Woodley, it just looks as though the fire that once burned brightly within his heart just isn’t as bright anymore.

Carlos Condit

A lot will hinge on Carlos Condit’s next outing against Matt Brown in April but from what little we saw of him since his razor-thin decision loss to the aforementioned Robbie Lawler at UFC 195, his motivation for fighting just seems to have waned. Condit’s creativity, forward pressure and unshakeable determination to achieve victory saw him best some of the finest welterweights the sport has ever produced but in his comeback-fight against Neil Magny, it just didn’t come together for the ‘Natural Born Killer’ and he eventually lost out on the judge’s scorecards.

Michael Bisping

2016 will forever and always be the year of Michael Bisping when the history books are opened but when the Manchester-native welcomed the returning-Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217 and then lost out to Kelvin Gastelum just weeks later, it set him down the path to his retirement. Maybe Bisping’s physical decline started a year or two before, but with his upset win over Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 – he managed to offset his advancing age and carve out a legacy worth being proud of for the rest of his life.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]