BlogKick: Top 10 Fighters that should be in the UFCPosted on December 29, 2010, 08:07 PM by overhand right
While the UFC boasts an impressive roster of fighters, many of which are the best in the world at their weight, there's still a lot of talent out there that are hungry to prove themselves on the big stage. Before I continue, let me clarify that the following list is not a popularity contest, rather it takes into account what these fighters have achieved and the quality of opponents they have beaten. Furthermore, fighters that compete in more competitive weight classes are given a slight edge over those that are somewhat shallow in the talent department. For example, the UFC hosts the most impressive collection of light heavyweights out of any promotion and it is their most stacked division, so dominant light heavyweights outside the UFC aren't put ahead of say, a heavyweight, middleweight or featherweight, divisions that are at a similar level of competitiveness outside the UFC. The following are the top 10 fighters who have proved themselves worthy of fighting against the best in the world:
10. Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza: A heavily decorated grappler, Jacare has won ten out of his sixteen fights via submission. While he has had notable success on the JMMA scene and has recently become the Strikeforce middleweight champ, we have yet to see Jacare put together a string of victories against high calibre opponents (a loss to Gegard Mousasi and a no contest against Jason Miller stunted his progress somewhat). Although a win against former UFC contender Robbie Lawler will be a step in the right direction and people may begin to take more notice of this cunning ground warrior. If he ever makes it to the UFC, a fight between he and Demian Maia would be an exhibition of BJJ technique for the ages.
9. Alistair Overeem: Many would place the Dutchman higher up on this list. The reason I have 'The Reem' at 9 is simply because it has been so long since he defended his Strikeforce heavyweight gold. No doubt his one round destruction of Brett Rogers was impressive, but it's been seven months since Overeem last donned a pair of six ounce gloves, and he is in dire need of some top level opponents. While his clean sweep at the K1 World Grand Prix was an amazing achievement, kickboxing is not MMA. That being said, Overeem would be a fearsome match for any heavyweight on the UFC payroll. Boasting a streak of five wins that have all ended devastatingly in the first round, Overeem has the physique to match his record: 6"5 of horse-eating muscle-bound freak, his pure athleticism alone is a testament to the promise the Strikeforce champ holds.
8. Nick Diaz: Diaz is the kind of fighter that improves with age. Having been cut from the UFC back in 2006 after a series of losses, the Cesar Gracie student seems to have polished up all aspects of his game. Not only is he a BJJ whiz, but it seems he's not a half bad striker, having opted to stand with KJ Noons in their title bout, the Strikeforce welterweight champ got the better of the boxer, taking him the distance in a fight that was nominated for fight of the year. Diaz is on an impressive eight fight win streak against fighters like Zaromskis, Shamrock and Smith and has managed to finish all but Noons. It's unlikely we'll see Diaz back in the octagon anytime soon though, having recently signed a 'multi-year deal' with Strikeforce.
7. Gegard 'The Dreamcatcher' Mousasi: One of the few light heavyweights outside the UFC that could contend for the belt, Mousasi would be equally dangerous at middleweight, if not more so. Mousasi is one of the most exciting fighters around today, with a nice habit of finishing the fight, whether it's via a nasty upkick or choke, this guy always delivers. His cool and calm demeanor is reminiscent of Fedor's. A loss to then Strikeforce champ, Muhammed Lawal, was a major upset earlier this year but it is likely The Dreamcatcher will get a chance to redeem himself in 2011. For the time being, Mousasi continues to dominate his opponents in Dream. At only 25, the future is certainly bright for the young and infinitely talented Armenian.
6. Gilbert 'El Niño' Melendez: Another Strikeforce champ that would be a fantastic addition to the UFC's already ultra-competitive 155 divison. Melendez is like a smaller, more explosive Cain Velasquez, with both using their elite wrestling skills and technically efficient striking to overwhelm their opponents. Melendez has been on the MMA circuit for a while now, beginning his career in the WEC, he came became their first lightweight champ. One would think that surely the UFC would have taken notice of El Nino's undeniable talent, perhaps the champ's more recent victories over top lightweight competition (Thomson and Diaz) will have sparked an interest.
5. Dan Henderson: A great fighter who left the UFC due to being disrespected and under appreciated by the powers that be. Henderson was on a three fight win streak following his loss to Anderson Silva. Having worked his way back, Henderson felt he was the number one contender and deserved another shot. Instead the UFC found a fight between Silva and Vitor Belfort to be more marketable. Henderson was displeased, to say the least. With that he bid adue to Dana White and found himself enveloped by the loving arms of Scott Coker. And it looks as though he's back to his best at his natural weight of 205, violently beating down Renato Sobral earlier this month. Hopefully one day White will realize the folly of his ways and bring back this old war horse.
4. Jorge Santiago: A lot of you may have never heard of him but Santiago is the current Sengoku middleweight champ and the possessor of some of the most devastating knees in MMA. If not, then don't let me convince you of his skills, see for yourself by watching his last fight against Kazuo Misaki, which could easily have won fight of the year thanks to the true heart and grit shown by both combatants, ending with Santiago mounting Misaki and pounding out a victory in the dying seconds of the fifth round. A truly rousing performance. Santiago would inject some raw talent that is badly needed into the UFC middleweight division.
3. Shinya 'The Tobikan Judan' Aoki: Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and that if Shinya Aoki gets you on the ground, you're losing a limb. Never has a nickname been so fitting, Tobikan Judan translates as 'master of flying submissions', and Aoki is certainly worthy of that title. He pulls of outstanding flying manoeuvres, many of which pop up on 'top 10 mma submissons' videos, and rightly so. Aoki even created his own submission, a technique he used against Katsuhiko Nagata, which has been dubbed the 'Aokiplata'. Not only does Aoki make a lot of people tap out, he makes a lot of very tough people tap out. He's submitted Kawajiri, Hansen, Alvarez and Hirota and even holds a win over current UFC rising star, George Sotiropoulos (although it was due to a DQ). Here's hoping that we see the Dream champ and his rainbow tights get a UFC contract in the near future.
2. Fedor 'The Last Emperor' Emelianenko: Fedor's allure has waned somewhat since suffering the first loss of his career at the hands of BJJ grappling ace, Fabricio Werdum. But whether you're a Fedor fan or hater, we all want to see how he'd do against the UFC heavyweights. Realistically, it's highly unlikely we'll ever see Fedor in the UFC, but he certainly deserves to be there, considering his unbeaten streak which spanned an entire decade. However contract disputes and conflict of interests between M1 Global and the UFC have damaged any chances there might have been of Fedor ever fighting a current UFC champ. M1 wanted co-promotional rights, similar to the deal they have with Strikeforce and Affliction prior to that, however it seems there is a line that Dana White won't cross in order to sign Emelianenko and that's co-promotion. Some speculated that Fedor losing to Werdum would eradicate the need for protecting his record and so any inhibitions about fighting in the UFC he might have had would be put aside. This is obviously not the case, Fedor and M1 are perfectly happy where they are with Strikeforce and unless that promotion folds, in all likelihood Fedor will retire without ever having tasted UFC gold. Sad face.
1. Fabricio 'Vai Cavalo' Werdum: Yes Fabricio Werdum is ahead of Fedor. Well he did beat him didn't he? And let's just get one thing straight, Fabricio was never cut from the UFC because of his performance. He had won back-to-back fights and was actually next in line for a title shot before being KO'D by Dos Santos, a fighter who few people respected at the time but has advanced since then to become the number one contender and a top five heavyweight. No, the real reason for Werdum leaving the UFC is not dissimilar to Henderson's, an argument over him and his contract being undervalued broke out and as a result the UFC opted to terminate his contract. Guess that's what happens when you cross Dana White. Vai Cavalo decided, as many a UFC refugee does, to move to Strikeforce where his talents would be better appreciated. Since then he has been in top form, dispatching of a respectable Mike Kyle and putting away behemoth Antonio Silva. Of course his, as would be any fighter's, most impressive win came back in June against the greatest fighter to ever live, Fedor Emelianenko. You can say it was a fluke, but the fact is he beat him fair and square and should be applauded for doing so. It's almost surprising that White didn't immediately voice interest in welcoming Werdum back. After all, he did save White a lot of hassle by silencing the hype surrounding Fedor and his unbeaten streak. But Vai Cavalo has bigger things on his plate, with an upcoming springtime confrontation with Overeem in the books, a fight that he'll no doubt once again come into as the underdog, we may see Werdum doing Dana's dirty work for him once again by defeating another supposed heavyweight Strikeforce elite.