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It’s hard to make it to the UFC.

Thousands of professional fighters try every year – and most fail. For a small percentage, however, they sign their names on the dotted line to fight for the biggest MMA promotion in the world.

Sometimes the opportunity comes a bit too soon. Other times, they’re faced with difficult matchups that time proves were bigger challenges than originally anticipated.

When the pink slip comes and a fighter departs the promotion, there is often a phrase they hear on the way out: “Go get a few more wins, and the UFC will consider bringing you back.”

Easier said than done.

For the vast majority, they won’t be back. However, it’s not impossible. A number of fighters have done it over the years. Just look at former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. He was released from the promotion, built his way back, became a contender, and then won a UFC title.

Current roster members Nicolas Dalby, Dustin Jacoby, Modestas Bukauskas, Kurt Holobaugh, Roosevelt Roberts, and Rhys McKee are among those who have reinforced the possibility.

With the new year upon us, here are 20 former UFC fighters who could return to the promotion in 2024.

Note: Fighters considered for this list had to have competed in at least one UFC bout.

Humberto Bandenay

Aug 10, 2019; Montevideo, MO, Uruguay; Luiz Eduardo Garagorri (red gloves) vs. Humberto Bandenay (blue gloves) during UFC at Antel Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 29

Weight class: Lightweight

Overall record: 22-8

Record since UFC departure: 8-1 (four-fight winning streak)

Humberto Bandenay created some hype early in his UFC tenure as a 22-year-old Peruvian who won his debut by head kick knockout. Things went downhill for Bandenay thereafter, as he lost three straight fights en route to his promotional exit. Since then, however, it’s been up and up for Bandenay, who’s only loss outside the promotion in nine appearances came by decision against Rafa Garcia, a current member of the UFC’s lightweight roster. Bandenay currently rides a four-fight winning streak with three straight submissions.

Talita Bernardo

Age: 36

Weight class: Bantamweight

Overall record: 10-4

Record since UFC departure: 4-0

Talita Bernardo has only won since she left the UFC in 2019, following a 1-3 promotional stint. Her wins post-departure have included Lucie Pudilova, Yana Gadelha, Katharina Lehner, and Taneisha Tennant in succession. That’s combined opposition record of 30-14. She most recently competed in January when she won the Invicta FC bantamweight title and aligned herself for another potential UFC call-up.

Dakota Bush

Age: 29

Weight class: Lightweight

Overall record: 11-4

Record since UFC departure: 3-0

Dakota Bush’s entrance and exit from the UFC were less than a year apart from one another. He first lost a unanimous decision to Austin Hubbard and then was finished by a Viacheslav Borshchev liver shot in less than one full round. It was back to the drawing board for Bush, who has apparently figured things out. He’s won three straight unanimous decisions and was one of the last casting cuts for “The Ultimate Fighter 31.”

Shane Campbell

Age: 35

Weight class: Welterweight

Overall record: 22-8

Record since UFC departure: 12-2 (seven-fight winning streak)

Dana White has always said, he’s not interested in bringing in 35-year-olds. Well, Shane Campbell should be the exception to that rule. Following a 1-4 stint in the

Author: Staff

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