In MMA’s formative years  a number of well known stars made their debuts in the UFC simply because it was the only show in town at that time.

However, as the sport began to grow and more promotions became involved the vast majority of MMA fighters had to start their careers in the smaller MMA show’s, building their way up into major organisations.

Evetually, some fighters over the years had the chance to head straight to the big leagues and opted to ‘go big or go home, grasping the opportunity with both hands.

Here are six fighters who have done just that and gone on to become stars of the sport.

Alexander Emelianenko

The younger brother of MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko, Alexander Emelianenko’s close connection may have been a major reason why he made his MMA debut in Pride, but his skill ensured him a long MMA career. His debut was a split decision win over Assuerio Silva at Pride Bushido 1 in October 2003.

Emelianenko has since enjoyed a diverse MMA career, having fought primarily in Japan and his native Russia, amassing a record of 23 wins and six losses along the way.