This week for the Neds Blog, The lads at the Run It Back MMA Podcast take a look at the UFC’s Anytime, Anywhere Fighters
In light of the gameness on display from Dan Hooker in taking a short-notice replacement gig against Islam Makhachev, we thought it perfect timing to highlight the fighters who truly embodied the ‘any time, anywhere’ mantra within the UFC.
These fighters haven’t just shown up as a replacement for one fight, they have demonstrated the ability to drop their plans at a moment’s notice, hope on the scales and go to war multiple times.
More recent adoptees of the sport would be more familiar with the voice of Paul Felder coming through their speakers rather than for the image of him brutalising his opponents.
But the current stand-in for Joe Rogan in the commentary booth has also made a name for himself as an incredibly game fighter, willing to adapt to change in an instant.
Not only has Felder been the short-notice fighter or faced a replacement opponent in six of his 15 UFC bouts, on one occasion Felder lost his opponent in a card reshuffle, then took a fight on a weeks’ notice in a division above his own just to stay active.
The peak of Felder’s gameness was highlighted when, on an event he was scheduled to appear as a colour commentator, Islam Makhachev was forced out of the main event slot against Rafael dos Anjos, leaving the promotion in a bind just five days out from the event.
Without hesitation, Commentator Paul Felder turned into ‘The Irish Dragon’ Paul Felder, made the Lightweight limit and fought 5 hard rounds against a former champion, losing the split decision in a Fight of the Night winning performance.
Known as much for his high-octane lifestyle outside of the Octagon as the incredibly violent life he led inside it, Cerrone – who has the most knockdowns of anyone in UFC history, as well as the most post-fight bonuses and second most finishes – has always been an exceptionally active fighter who was more than game to say ‘**** it, I’m down’ whenever an opportunity presented itself.
Despite starting in the UFC a full three years behind the incredibly active Jim Miller, Cerrone has caught up to him, and now shares the record for most bouts inside the UFC with 37 fights in just over 10 years.
His first four fights with the promotion all took place within 8 months, and all were the result of Cerrone stepping in on short notice to replace an injured fighter.
That set the tempo for the rest of his career.
In an incredible run spanning just shy of 12 months, Cerrone defeated 6-straight opponents, including two former- or future-champions, the most impressive being his 15-day run through Myles Jury and Benson Henderson in January of 2015.
While it may be a bit of a meme to say that the ‘Cowboy’ has seen his best days in the mirror, it’d do well to remember the names of the fighters he has lost to.
His most recent loss was to a lesser-known but quite exciting prospect Alex Morono.
Outside of that, the entire list of names of the fighters in the UFC that have beaten Cerrone is quite the who’s who: Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler, Darren Till, Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor – not much to sneeze at there.
The writing was on the wall for ‘The’ James Krause even before he stepped into the Octagon.
An impressive 19-4 on the regional circuit, Krause was already displaying his ‘fight anyone, anywhere’ mantra – he had his first 8 fights (and wins) as a professional in under a year, and his last three fights before the UFC gave him a call took place over the course of 2-and-a-half months.
As is familiar for people on this list, Krause’s first fight for the UFC was as a late notice replacement fighter, going on to defeat the 12-fight veteran of the UFC Sam Stout by submission with just 13 seconds left in the fight.
Krause would move into career best form with a six-fight streak that ended in controversial fashion.
As the head coach of Glory MMA, Krause was preparing to corner debuting UFC fighter Youssef Zalal for UFC 247 when Middleweight competitor Antonio Arroyo pulled out of his bout against Trevin Giles a day before the event.
Krause was ready, however, and weighed in at the heavier weight class.
On one days’ notice, Krause would take Giles to a split decision that went against the gritty veteran, but all wasn’t kosher according to the Krause camp.
Joe Soliz, the only judge who gave Giles the first round, was a pupil at a gym owned by Giles’ cornermen.
Further to that, Soliz was not usually used as an MMA judge, and only worked that one UFC event in the year of 2020.
He also controversially scored the Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez fight 30-27 for Ewell despite all 13 media members on MMADecisions.com scoring the bout either 30-27 or 29-28 for Martinez.
Additionally on the card, Soliz scored the Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes 49-46 for Jon Jones, despite not a single media member or judge reaching the same score card, and 14/21 scoring the fight for Dominick Reyes.
Recently, Krause once more offered to save a fight on a day’s notice – Deron Winn pulled out of his fight with Phil Hawes at UFC Vegas 39 the day before the weigh in and Chris Curtis stepped in as a replacement and made weight.
Hawes, however, turned down the late replacement change, and Krause offered to step in with less than six hours to spare to weigh in and salvage the fight.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and the fight was eventually scrapped, but few can doubt Krause’s adherence to ‘anytime, anywhere’.
Kevin Holland needs no introduction to anyone who watched the UFC in 2020.
Despite having 3 fights collapse, testing positive for COVID-19 and facing multiple short notice-replacement fighters, Holland would somehow manage to secure himself 5 fights and 5 wins over the course of the most unusual year in UFC (and modern) history.
Holland would cap the year off with a downright brutal destruction of Jacare Souza enroute to being named multiple publications Breakout Fighter of the Year.
Despite his 2021 not currently living up to the same successes he showed in 2020, Holland has not lost his desire to spend most of his year locked in a cage against some of the baddest men in the sport.
Despite losing to Derek Brunson in March of this year, Holland was more than happy to back up 20 days later to replace Darren Till against dangerous title challenger Marvin Vettori, equalling the UFC record for shortest time between two main event fights.
Much more recently, at UFC Vegas 38, Holland suffered a knockout due to an inadvertent clash of heads with Kyle Daukaus.
Despite the damage caused by the headbutt, the two will rematch just over a month after that meeting, scheduled to fight on the upcoming UFC Vegas 41 card.
How can you include a list of fighters willing to fight on short notice and not include the Chechen Wolf, Khazmat Chimaev?
Chimaev’s introduction to the UFC took the MMA media by storm, with two fights and two destructions in just 10 days, a new UFC record for quickest turnaround, out striking his first two opponents 83-1.
Chimaev would set a new record with the fastest three-fight winning streak in UFC history just 56-days later, obliterating Gerald Meerschaert in just 17-seconds.
With the win, Chimaev started his UFC career with three wins, three finishes and three Performance of the Night bonuses.
Tied for a long time to a bout against Leon Edwards, Chimaev’s recent history has been plagued initially by the immediate effects of COVID-19 but more recently by the long-term effects known as Long-COVID.
After three failed meetings with Edwards, Chimaev – at just 26-years old – announced his retirement due to the damage sustained to his lungs.
And yet…after much public support, hard work and determination, we are just over a fortnight away from Chimaev’s return to the Octagon, as he appears ready to take on #11 ranked Welterweight Li Jingliang.
On the very same card that Dan Hooker will be attempting to overcome the short notice mountainous climb that exists in Islam Makhachev.
We will be watching with bated breath to see whether or not the Wolf returns to his previous, dominant form.
Who is your favourite fighter built to battle whoever they put in front of them, at a moments notice?
Did we miss anyone? Shout out in the comments if we did!