The 25 Most Overrated Strikers in MMA Today
As the saying goes, "Everyone has a puncher's chance." It's often a comment we make about a fighter who simply doesn't match up well against his opponent.
For the people on this list, it should be a comment made in each of their fights.
The people on this list are credited with having "world class striking" in some cases and in others, "crazy knockout power." But regardless of what hyperbole Joe Rogan wants to grant to these fighters, the truth is that these fighters are extremely overrated.
Some are overrated due to their lack of technical skills, while others simply don't have the knockout power to warrant such accolades. Let's get the controversy started!
Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy
Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy likes to talk about how he's going to get into the Octagon and beat up whoever is standing across from him.
The only problem is that Hardy's game fails to stack up to his talk.
Looking at his time in the UFC, Hardy has won only one fight via KO in his UFC career, against Rory Markham back in 2009. If you need more evidence at the lack of Hardy's power, look at his fight against Carlos Condit.
Both men connected roughly at the same time with hooks. Condit merely stumbled backwards while Hardy collapsed to floor.
Hardy has the technical ability, but fails to generate enough power to finish a fight.
Brandon "The Truth" Vera
Joe Rogan likes to credit Brandon Vera with having dangerous Muay Thai, but the truth is that's a complete lie.
Vera's last KO win came against Mike Patt all the way back at UFC 96. Prior to that, Vera's last win via KO was against an overweight and unfocused Frank Mir.
Now some people will say that Vera hasn't had the chance to show off his striking due to the opponents he's faced. That may be true, but with Vera's Greco-Roman wrestling background, he should have the ability to fend off takedowns, and keep the fight standing.
You could argue that Vera is not only one of the most overrated strikers in MMA, but also one of the most overrated fighters in general.
The current Bellator Women's 115-pound champion, Zoila Gurgel, is thought to have some of the best Muay Thai in all of WMMA.
The problem with that though is that she only owns one KO victory throughout her career. I will give her credit for it being a highlight reel knockout, and her leg strikes against Michelle Ould caused a verbal submission.
Two out of Gurgel's past three fights have resulted in disputed split-decision victories.
Take a look at this picture. This is what Josh Koscheck looked like after being hit with a jab for five rounds.
"Kos" is the definition of "a puncher's chance," with regard to his standup. He always goes for the same 1-2 punch combo, which tends to end with an ugly overhand right.
Combined with headkicks that usually put "Kos" on his butt, and you can clearly see that his striking is extremely overrated.
Like "Rampage" Jackson, he has KO power but not the technical ability to land his power punches.
Paul "Semtex" Daley
Paul Daley's hands could be considered another form of semtex. They're explosive and tend to knock people off their feet when they connect.
The problem is that Daley has fallen in love with his left hook.
It's arguably his best punch, but the fact that he's fallen in love with it means that he tends to force the issue. Look at his KO over Scott Smith. Yes it was a flashy KO, but look at how many times Daley threw a left hook during that sequence. Those punches would've never landed if Smith possessed any striking defense.
The main reason Daley is overrated is due to the fact that every time he's faced an elite level fighter at 170-pounds, he's failed to land his "semtex punches."
Rashad Evans is one of the best fighters when it comes to using strikes to set up his takedowns. However, in a straight standup battle, Evans shouldn't be held in as high of regard as he is.
Hearing Joe Rogan along with many MMA fans talk about Evans' striking ability, one word that comes up all the time is "speed." Yes, Evans does possess a lot of speed, agility, and is a great athlete, but it takes more than just speed to be good at striking.
Evans is likely a victim of his own success. After KO'ing Chuck Liddell in their matchup, it was clear that Evans was too confident in his hands, and it cost him in his first title defense against Lyoto Machida.
"Sugar" clearly has some KO power, but needs to work on setting up his power punches, and not crossing his feet: something he does quite often in his fights.
Pat "HD" Barry
Perhaps the biggest false advertisement of "K-1 level striking" in MMA is Pat "HD" Barry.
Looking at his kickboxing career, Barry has a respectable 18-6 record. Nothing to be ashamed of, but certainly not "world class" like Joe Rogan loves to tell us every time Barry graces the Octagon.
I love Barry and hope he can turn his career around, which seems to be on the upswing, after his victory over Christian Morecraft.
Barry seems to have finally developed that killer instinct that was lacking earlier in his career. Here's to hoping that Barry can mix up his punches with those devastating kicks.
For someone with the kickboxing credentials of Cheick Kongo, one would expect his career to be a non-stop highlight reel of knockouts.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Kongo's career has been a rollercoaster ride of wins and losses.
Kongo did knockout Pat Barry in their fight, but only after being nearly finished himself. Glancing at Kongo's record, you'll notice that his last KO win was all the way back in 2009.
It's never a good thing when someone considered one of the best kickboxers in the heavyweight division is known more for his groin strikes than his legal strikes.
Cyrille "The Snake" Diabate
Looking at Cyrille Diabate's kickboxing record of 32-8, with 28 wins coming by way of KO, one would expect the Frenchman to be one of the most dangerous guys on the feet.
However, Diabate hasn't been able to transfer his kickboxing success into the MMA world. He's another guy credited with "K-1 level striking," based on the fact he's competed under the K-1 banner.
Based on his track record in MMA, it'd be safe to say Diabate's striking may be technically strong, but he's not a walking knockout machine. His last KO win was against Luiz Cane (who's shown some defensive issues of his own) and prior to that, you'd have to go all the way back to 2006 for his last KO win.
I know what you're saying. How can the former UFC Heavyweight champion be overrated?
When Cain Velasquez dethroned Brock Lesnar, we were ready to enter "The Velasquez Era" in the heavyweight division. Velasquez had shown to have good striking to go along with his NCAA Division I level wrestling.
The only problem was that people forgot about his fight with Cheick Kongo. In the fight, Kongo showed that against another striker, Velasquez had defense issues and could be rocked.
And looking at Velasquez's KO victories, you could argue that the ones against upper level competition really aren't noteworthy. His TKO over Ben Rothwell was a questionable stoppage, he knocked out an over the hill Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and his KO against Lesnar only confirmed our thoughts that Lesnar can't take a punch.
I believe Velasquez has the tools to be a great striker in the heavyweight division, but he will need to work on his defense and keeping his chin out of harm's way.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
There was a time when Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was one of the most dominant 205-pounders in the world. He combined his jiu-jitsu black belt with devastating Muay Thai techniques.
Since moving to the UFC, we've seen an entirely different "Shogun" grace the Octagon.
It's clear that knee injuries have severely hindered Rua's career, and he simply isn't the same fighter that we saw in Pride. Yet whenever he's on the card for a fight, we are treated to a highlight reel of strikes from his Pride days, with Joe Rogan declaring him to be one of the most devastating strikers in the 205-pound division.
I'll give him props for the win against a game Lyoto Machida, but it was clear that his other two recent KO wins (Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell) don't belong in the Octagon, or aren't taking the sport seriously anymore.
Stephan Bonnar holds a black belt in Taekwondo and also won the Chicago Golden Gloves. One would think he'd be a pretty proficient striker right?
Well, if by some reason you don't know by now, Bonnar forfeited any of those skills in order to be a fan favorite, by brawling against his opponents. Before his victory of Krzysztof Soszynski, the last win Bonnar had via KO was against Eric Schafer back in 2007.
Bonnar is a great example of "what if" given his talents and proficiency in not only grappling, but striking as well.
Chris "The Crippler" Leben
Chris Leben has built his career on giving or receiving exciting knockouts. Unfortunately for Leben, he seems to be more on the receiving end of the punishment this late into his career.
His last KO win of note (sorry but I'm not going to consider his win against a chinless Wanderlei Silva noteworthy) was against Aaron Simpson in 2010. Leben's last win against another striker came when he faced another overrated striker, Alessio Sakara, in 2008.
Leben has the raw power to knock out anyone that's in his way, but the problems for "The Crippler" arise when his opponents don't simply stand in front of him. There's more to striking technique than simply standing in one place and swinging as hard as you can.
Thiago "Pitbull" Alves
Another victim of the Joe Rogan hype machine, Thiago "Pitbull" Alves gets credited with being a much better striker than he really is.
His last win via KO came against an aging Matt Hughes in 2008. You could dispute that win, however, as Alves was virtually a middleweight while Hughes made the weight requirements.
Alves looked impressive in his win over John Howard, but still couldn't finish the fight. Other than the Howard bout, it's clear that Alves' lack of grappling skills will hinder his Muay Thai talent.
Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva
Everyone loves Wanderlei Silva. Perhaps there's no fighter in the history of MMA who's been able to gain as much fan support as "The Axe Murderer."
But to consider him to be the same talent he was during his Pride run is crazy.
Silva still uses his ultra-aggressive style, but it's clear that his chin can't handle the shots he takes while making his way in. There's no doubt that Silva will go down in history as one of the greatest strikers of all time, but at this point in his career, Silva is always one strike away from having his lights turned off.
Yoshihiro Akiyama likes to fancy himself the Japanese version of Manny Pacquiao. Despite having an impressive judo game, "Sexyama" would rather trade punches with his opponents on the feet.
The only problem with Akiyama believing himself to be a professional boxer like Manny is that he's not even in the same stratosphere as "Pac Man."
Akiyama was knocked out cold in his fight against Vitor Belfort and prior to that, was out-pointed in strikes by Michael Bisping. Maybe dropping a weight class will help Akiyama's standup, because as of now he should drop the boxing routine and focus more on his judo/ground skills.
Martin Kampmann suffers from the "Dan Hardy Syndrome." Both men have good technical skills that make fans (and analysts) believe they're better strikers than they actually are.
Kampmann's last win via KO came against Alexandre Barros back in 2008. Besides not having a lot of KO's to his credit, Kampmann obviously just doesn't have the power to end a fight.
The perfect example of this is his fight with Diego Sanchez, where Kampmann landed the more technical strikes, while Sanchez landed more power shots that eventually won him the bout.
KJ Noons sports quite an impressive resume outside of his MMA game. He has only four combined losses in his professional boxing and kickboxing careers.
One would expect to see a crisp, technical fighter when Noons steps inside the cage.
What fans are treated to instead, is a fighter who swings way too wildly for someone with his boxing/kickboxing accolades.
Prior to the trainwreck of a fight with Jorge Gurgel, Noons hadn't knocked anyone out since 2008.
Dennis Siver is the definition of a one-trick pony in the UFC. Both his KO's in the UFC have come by way of spinning back kick, and it's clear Siver tends to force the issue with that particular move.
His latest loss against Donald Cerrone proved that Siver still has holes in his game, both offensively and defensively.
Maybe a drop in weight will help fix some of those holes in his striking game.
Matt "The Terror" Serra
If you still want to consider Matt Serra an active participant in MMA, you have to include him on this list.
Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan always point out the fact that Serra is on the smaller side of 170-pounds, but always counter that with the argument that Serra has dynamite in his hands.
Well, Serra's dynamite must be a dud nowadays. Serra's only recent win on the feet came against a way over the hill Frank Trigg. His next most recent KO came in his historic match with Georges St-Pierre, in which GSP openly admitted he didn't take the fight seriously.
Serra attempted to show he was still game in the UFC by engaging Chris Lytle in a standup battle at UFC 119, but that bout only highlighted the fact that Serra's standup skills are extremely limited.
Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout
The man with "Hands of Stone."
Talk about false advertisement. During his UFC career, Stout has one knockout to his credit. All his other bouts have gone to decision.
Stout has solid technique, but with a nickname like his, he needs to work on actually finishing his opponents.
Donald "The Cowboy" Cerrone
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone possesses one of the more exciting fighting styles in the UFC.
There's no doubting that he has skills in his striking game. Where there is doubt is with Cerrone's skills against other strikers.
The fight against Nate Diaz showed that Cerrone can be taken out of his game by his emotions. He let Diaz get into his head, much in the way he let Jamie Varner did earlier in his career.
Cerrone could be a much better fighter if he's able to keep his emotions in check, and resist the temptation to brawl with his opponents.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Whenever Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fights in the UFC, we're always treated to lines of Joe Rogan dialogue about how Little Nog has trained with the Brazilian national boxing team.
Rogan's claims about Nogueira's boxing feats are confounding, given the way the Brazilian has underperformed in the UFC. His KO of Luiz Cane was a highlight finish, but given the fact that Cane has serious defense issues in his standup, you could toss that win out the window.
Nogueira at one point was a good standup fighter who balanced that out with his jiu-jitsu skills, but these days his boxing skills simply can't keep up with his aging body.
Whenever Alessio Sakara fights, Joe Rogan likes to go into a tangent about how Sakara is this great professional boxer who trains with the Roman Colosseum as his background.
Not sure what the Colosseum has to do with Sakara's fighting talents, but regardless, he's nowhere near as great a striker as Rogan likes to make him out to be.
If you don't believe me, just watch his last fight with top prospect Chris Weidman, and watch as Sakara is out-struck by a wrestler.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson does have knockout power. There's no doubting that he can end a fight with one punch.
Where there is doubt is with "Rampage's" ability to deliver the knockout at this point in his career. Although Jackson looked the best he has in years against Jon Jones, the fact remains that "Rampage" is too one-dimensional to utilize his best weapons.
The fact that Jackson is too one-dimensional to succeed in today's MMA world is well-known throughout the MMA community. Yet people still think they're going to see a highlight reel knockout every time he steps in to the Octagon.
Look at his record. Jackson hasn't recorded a KO win since his victory over Wanderlei Silva in 2008. Prior to that, his other win via KO was against Chuck Liddell in 2007.
Consider the quality of both fighters' chin, as they were in the later years of their career, and the last win via KO against a credible opponent in their prime was a victory over Ricardo Arona. That was caused by a slam.
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