Ten Fighters I'd like to See in the UFC/WEC
Posted by mmaplayground Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:00 AM
Submitted By Andrew D
This is a list of the fighters that I think would bring the most to the table from the UFC’s standpoint. It is NOT a list of the ten best fighters fighting for other promotions, although there is definitely some overlap. I’ve tried to focus on the weight classes that the UFC lacks star power in and on fighters who have styles that would distinguish them from the majority of fighters the UFC already has under contract. This means no Jake Shields who is a great fighter, but would be yet another well-rounded wrestler in a division that contains may great fighters with that style already. I’ve also omitted anyone who has previously fought for the UFC so names like Barnett, Lawler and Arlovski won’t be on here either. With that disclaimer, here is a list of ten guys that would be great additions for the UFC:
1. Fedor Emelianenko: Fedor is the obvious first choice on the list. He is the best fighter in the world in the weight class that contains the fewest number of great fighters, both overall and in the UFC. His absence from the UFC is the most conspicuous counter-argument to the UFC claim to be the undisputed top promotion in the world. If Fedor retired today he would be remembered as the greatest HW MMA has seen to date. It would be a shame if that legacy didn’t include fights in the UFC promotion as well.
2. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto: One of those fighters you have to “see to believe”, Kid is the GSP of the lighter weights. A guy who can wrestle with an Olympians and strike with K-1 champions, he seems too fast, too strong and too aggressive to make fighting MMA at his best weight of 135 pounds seem fair. As a matter of fact, 145 doesn’t seem fair either and so much of his career has been spent beating up bigger lightweights. Already a superstar in Japan, his looks, fighting style and American roots could make him an American star as well. Not sure if he’s big enough for the wrestler-heavy UFC LWs, but he would be an instant title contender against whoever is unlucky enough to fight him in the WEC. A great story would be to have him fight for titles at 135, 145 and, provided he wins those two, 155 in consecutive fights.
3. Alistair Overeem: It always seemed like a bit of a squeeze for a muscular guy who was 6’ 5” tall to make LHW and as soon as Overeem moved up in weight his body seemed to expand in relief. Now he’s a 255 pound fighter who can strike like a K-1 contender (ask Badr Hari) and who can submit people with a guillotine who shouldn’t be submitted that way (ask Igor Vovchanchin). Overeem is definitely the best HW in the world not fighting for either the UFC or Affliction, but that leaves him with few credible opponents. His physical gifts and fight experience would make him a threat to any HW in the world, including champions Mir and Lesnar.
4. Cung Le: A fighter unlike any other in MMA because of his background and athletic ability, Cung Le is already a superstar in northern California and he’s well known in the kickboxing world. A top juco wrestler, a good K-1 kick boxer and one of the world’s best in the thin talent pool of San Shou, Cung offers a very interesting style match-up for any MW out there, including that one guy nobody can beat. His dynamic kicking makes him deadly on his feet and his wrestling makes him tough to take to the ground. Le also has charisma and a track record as a successful ticket-seller for Strikeforce. In other words, he’s a fighter people want to see.
5. Antonio Silva: Antonio Silva is a talented athlete who cuts weight to make the 265 pound HW limit and yet fights like a LHW. He can wrestle, strike and do submissions all with a fluidity and speed that very few men his size possess. I would love to see him matched up with the other big, athletic HWs like Lesnar, Gonzaga and Overeem, but issues over possible steroid use may make this impossible.
6. Shinya Aoki: Aoki will be an exception to my general rule of avoiding fighters in the UFC’s strongest weight classes. Although the UFC has enough talent at lightweight already, Aoki is a unique fighter. He’s one of the few modern fighters who can win consistently from his guard and the way that he does so makes him a guy who fans immediately notice, and most often root against. He would be a great asset if the UFC wanted to put on shows in Japan.
7. Gegard Mousasi: Mousasi edges out Jacare and Manhoef on this list because of his wins over them in Dream last year. He would add needed depth and a new face in the UFC’s MW division, a division that is running out of marketable matchups for champion Anderson Silva. Twenty four MMA wins for a guy twenty three years of age makes Mousasi the kind of fighter to make an investment in.
8. Ricardo Arona: A boring style, but one that is hard to beat, Arona is simply too talented not to be on the list. He is maybe the best LHW in history to never hold either the Pride or UFC title. He is an ADCC Absolute Division champion and he has big MMA wins over Wanderlei Silva, Alistair Overeem and Dan Henderson while in Pride and his top control submission wrestling style was nearly enough to beat Fedor Emelianenko early in both of their careers.
9. Roger Gracie: I’m not sure how dedicated the biggest and best of the new generation of Gracie fighters is to MMA, but if he wants to make a career of it, he has the talent to do so and it would be a great story to watch him fight his way up the ranks to try to revive the family glory in the UFC. He’s an ADCC absolute champion who is generally considered to be one of the top three BJJ stylists in the world (along with Garcia and Jacare). He may be a bit small for a heavyweight, but he’s young and may fill out his frame more. Plus, does anyone really want to take this guy down? His presence would bring a sense of legacy to the UFC which is one thing this new sport has trouble garnering.
10. Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson: I’m sure this will be a controversial pick and I can understand why. Kimbo has not had the type of accomplishment in the sport that guys like Manhoef, Akiyama and Shields have. But what he does bring to the table is star power. He is a proven headliner who became the biggest non-UFC star in American MMA. Any fight with him is sure to be a big, well-covered event and—like it or not—that’s what makes a promotion successful. Did Royce Gracie deserve a shot at Matt Hughes? Did Brock Lesnar deserve top billing for his 2nd MMA fight against Frank Mir? The answers are “no” based on accomplishment but those events were big successes and I think any fight featuring Kimbo Slice would be as well. Plus, much like with the other two examples, the lucky UFC fighter who gets to fight him will probably get a lot of press and a likely victory to boot.
All these fighters have something that the UFC should value. While some may eventually end up here, I think now would be the best time for all of them.
(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)
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