Compile a list of the best fighters to never compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Igor Vovchanchyn will rank near the top. His mixed martial arts career covered a decade, from 1995-2005, not including his stellar run as a kickboxer. From his formative years as a fighter to his landmark bouts in Pride Fighting Championships, the undersized Vovchanchyn was a force in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions.
Invited to fight at UFC 11, Vovchanchyn could not commit due to visa issues and his lack of satisfaction with the offer he received. The man they call “Ice Cold” retired at the age of 32, citing multiple injuries. However, Vovchanchyn remains one of the more revered figures among hardcore fans. Here are some of the numbers that came to define him:
63: Fights as a professional kickboxer. Vovchanchyn lost only twice and captured titles at the World Kickboxing Amateur Championships and the Commonwealth of Independent States Kickboxing Championships.
48: Knockouts as a kickboxer. That number accounts for 79 percent of his victories.
2: Wins to start his professional mixed martial arts career. Vovchanchyn signaled his transition to MMA with two first-round stoppages in a tournament at Ukrainian Combat Martial Arts League “Warrior’s Honour 1” on Oct. 14, 1995. He submitted to a kneebar from Andrei Besedin in the final.
36: Wins without a loss. Vovchanchyn went 36-0 with one no-contest between Jan. 28, 1996 and May 1, 2000. During his run, he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba, Gary Goodridge (twice), Paul Varelans, Akira Shoji, Edson Carvalho and Alexander Otsuka.
38: Victories by knockout or technical knockout. Vovchanchyn wielded some of the hardest punches in MMA history but varied his standup with soccer kicks, knee strikes and various other techniques.
8: Wins by submission. Vovchanchyn’s list of victims includes Bob Schrijber, Valentijn Overeem and Gilbert Yvel.
27: Appearances in Pride, good for second on the promotion’s all-time list.
2: Fights with former UFC champions. Vovchanchyn was struck into submission by Mark Coleman at Pride Grand Prix 2000: Finals and tapped to Quinton Jackson after being injured in their match at Pride 22.
1: Loss by knockout. Vovchanchyn suffered his only clean KO defeat to Mirko Filipovic via head kick at Pride Total Elimination 2003. “Cro Cop” brought it to a close 1:29 into the first round, authoring one of Pride’s most iconic finishes.
14: Seconds needed to knock out Nick Nutter with a knee strike at World Vale Tudo Championship 5 in February 1998. Nutter was an NCAA All-American wrestler at Ohio State University, where he teamed with the aforementioned Coleman.
45: Years of age. Vovchanchyn was born on August 6, 1973 in Ukraine.