One of the great things about the sport of MMA is the constant change. There is always a new fighter looking for a place among the greats and a great fighter trying to keep his legacy alive. The constant pressure forces fighters to change and adapt throughout their careers.
Fighters change styles and weight classes, and they may even look completely different throughout their careers. Some fighters can reforge themselves and become their best selves through change, while others can crumble in the face of it. To be the best, cfu fighter must adapt to high level competition. But in doing so, they can risk their careers and this risk makes the sport all the more interesting.
ten Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira first started out as a featherweight and grappler in the UFC. He was considered an in-between talent with a lackluster strike that couldn’t compete with the best. Early in his career, every time he faced a talented guard in the UFC, he lost.
He turned the tide, honing his batting skills and becoming one of the best forwards, moving to his more natural lightweight division. He’s been on a wild ride since then, winning his last 10 fights, nine of them by finish, and winning the UFC Lightweight title.
9 Anthony Johnson
Modern fighter Anthony Johnson is a hard-hitting light heavyweight/heavyweight and just generally a really big man, but the most surprising thing about him is where he started in the UFC.
Originally a welterweight, Johnson struggled to gain weight throughout his early career. After having several catchweight bouts, he was kicked out of the UFC and later returned as a light heavyweight.
8 Jared Gunner
Contrary to Anthony Johnson’s story, Jared Cannonier originally joined the UFC as a heavyweight. Through training and a better understanding of nutrition, Connonier found his most natural weight class.
Now fighting as a middleweight, Cannonier still retains that heavyweight punching power, but at his more natural weight class.
7 Wanderlei Silva
A long career in the fighting game must take its toll on any fighter. This is probably more evident in the case of Wanderlei Silva than most other fighters.
After breaking his nose so many times, Wanderlei opted for plastic surgery on his face to allow better breathing through his nose. This drastically changed his appearance halfway through his career. The doctor also scraped a significant amount of scar tissue from Wanderlei’s face, giving him a drastically different appearance.
6 Dustin Poirier
The change is not always obvious in terms of appearance or size. Sometimes it comes down to stylistic choices a fighter makes to better their career.
Dustin Poirier was originally a brawler with a lack of respect for his opponents. He charged with rifle fire, seeking to end the fight. Since then, he has developed a defensive technical approach to kickboxing that has made him one of the best lightweights in the world.
5 Vitor Belfort
There is a running joke around Vitor Belfort’s career that Vitor would fight either normal Vitor or TRT Vitor.
Belfort is known to play fast and loose when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs and in terms of physical appearance, that’s a definite difference when compared to TRT Vitor compared to normal Vitor.
4 Jake Necklace
Another drastic weight shift saw Jake Collier, who started his UFC career at middleweight, find his way up to heavyweight. The former middleweight had an up and down career at middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.
He has yet to string together two UFC wins, but has never lost in a row. That means his UFC career has been a win and then a loss multiple times in his 10-fight run so far.
3 Alistair Overem
Change is inevitable for any MMA fighter who has a long career. No fighter has had a long career in Kickboxing and MMA quite like Alistair Overeem.
Starting out in MMA in 1999, over his 22-year career, we’ve seen Alistair grow in front of us. Fighting all-time greats along the way, Alistair’s battle-scarred face is a far cry from the fresh-faced boy he was when we first saw him fight.
2 Andrei Arlovsky
Andrei Arlovski is another fighter whose longevity has changed him throughout his career. From the monster that was the terrifying heavyweight champion with the mouthpiece of the sharp teeth to the UFC keeper.
Arlovski is now more of a father figure in the UFC heavyweight division, using diligent control of striking and grappling compared to his previous career where he was seen as a vicious striker.
1 Chuck Liddell
One of the most depressing changes that can happen to a UFC fighter is losing their chin. This is when a fighter who was once able to take every punch and keep returning now balks at certain lesser strikes.
There is no fighter like Chuck Liddell in this category. He was seen as an unstoppable force that would come down and knock out everyone in his path. However, during his final days, he was on the losing side of vicious knockout after vicious knockout. It was a really sad way to see the Iceman come out.
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