UFC: Featherweight Prospects the Company Should Sign

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2012

UFC: Featherweight Prospects the Company Should Sign

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    We continue the "Prospects the UFC Should Sign" series, which will take us division by division, looking at the top prospects that should be signed by the UFC. 

    The featherweight division is currently one of the shallowest divisions that the UFC employs. Although there are a number of solid fighters, the number of elite featherweights is just not where it needs to be right now.

    As of right now, Jose Aldo is the king of the division with very few opponents left to beat. The UFC has attempted to develop prospects, which is a good thing, but will continue to develop more with time.

    Here are five featherweights the UFC should consider signing, as they have the potential and skill to fit in the UFC.

    Note: Strikeforce and Bellator fighters were not included.

Lance Palmer

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    Currently a coach for Team Faber on The Ultimate Fighter, Lance Palmer has emerged as one of the top prospects in the featherweight division.

    The former collegiate wrestler currently trains with Team Alpha Male, said by many to be the best camp for lower-weight-class fighters. "The Party" is very physically strong to go with a solid knowledge of the ground game.

    He is currently 3-0, which some people will call into question, but he has been able to finish two of his opponents by submission, using a rear naked choke and arm triangle choke to secure taps. He is the definition of a prospect, but he has tremendous upside.

    Who knows? Several fighters have earned UFC contracts after assistant-coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter (Cyrille Diabate on season 9 and Tom Blackledge on season 10).

Joe Soto

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    Former Bellator champion Joe Soto ran into a couple losses in two of his latest bouts, but proves to still be a top prospect at 145 pounds.

    Soto lost the belt to Joe Warren back in late 2010 and followed up that loss with a loss to UFC veteran Eddie Yagin in late 2011. Fortunately, Soto won his latest bout in January to get back on track.

    Nevertheless, Soto is 10-2 in his career, only going to decision once. He is very well-rounded, having strong punching power and a diverse submission game. A testament to that is his 2009 gogoplata victory at Tachi Palace Fights 1.

    Soto is still a dangerous featherweight and could make waves in the UFC. 

Georgi Karakhanyan

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    Georgi Karakhanyan is a veteran of the sport, but in my eyes, still somewhat of a prospect at this point.

    The 17-3 featherweight has knocked off plenty of top competition, including wins over Isaac de Jesus, Anthony Leone and Bao Quach. He has finished 14 of his professional wins, including 11 wins by submission.

    Karakhanyan has had the fortune of fighting in such promotions as Bellator, Tachi Palace Fights and King of the Cage, so he has the experience needed to make a run in the UFC.

    He is still young at 26, so he could be a dark horse in the UFC division for many years to come. 

Doo Ho Choi

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    A top prospect from South Korea, Doo Ho Choi is an import ready for his shot in the UFC.

    The 8-1 featherweight, who has spent time in the Deep and M-1 organizations, is a finisher. Of his eight wins, he has finished six opponents, including five by knockout. In his latest win, he knocked out Mitsuhiro Ishida in just over 90 seconds.

    The UFC is trying to expand into Asian markets and Choi would be a great marketing point in South Korea if they were to sign him. 

Henrique Bilcalho

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    Henrique Bilcalho has not competed for about three years, but it is time for him to get back to fighting and earn his rightful spot in the UFC featherweight division.

    Bilcalho is an extremely talented fighter who holds a 10-2 record. His fights have never gone to a decision, which shows his "go hard or go home" mentality. 

    He holds a notable victory over Josh Grispi via heel hook, as well as a first-round armbar victory over Jason Bennett. 

    It's time for his return, as he could spark a fire in the featherweight division.