The Most Underrated Fighter in Each Weight Division
What does underrated even mean, exactly? Is it guys who deserve a title shot, but haven't got it yet? Guys who, for whatever reason, don't get enough respect from colleagues, fans or pundits? Guys who are simply not familiar to the casual fan? The hardcore fan?
Probably a little of all the above. In general, though, for this list, I'm going to define it loosely as fighters whose prospects are, because of a lack of name recognition or acceptance or some other reason, much brighter than might appear to be the case when compared with their higher-profile peers.
Is that vague enough? Good. That means it's time to get started.
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Flyweight: Jussier da Silva
If you're a dominant fighter who draws a paycheck from any promotion not called the UFC, chances are you're underrated.
Inside the cage, "The Ant" does everything well. His only loss came to Octagon title challenger Ian McCall.
Bantamweight: Eduardo Dantas
Photo: Keith D. Mills
The brand new Bellator champ blazed a trail of destruction through the promotion's pretty-darn-good bantamweight division.
Featherweight: Dennis Siver
20-8 (1-0 at featherweight)
After watching this dorm-room fridge of a featherweight take a close but clear decision from Diego Nunes in his debut at 145 pounds, it seems Siver can be a force in his new weight class. Especially if the stamina he showed in going the distance with "The Gun" was not a fluke.
Lightweight: Paul Sass
Photo: Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
13-0 (3-0 UFC)
The guy just tapped noted grappler Jacob Volkmann. It was his fourth first-round submission win in a row. He hasn't been outside the first round yet in his UFC career. Time to give the Englishman his propers.
Welterweight: Jon Fitch
23-4-1 (1) (13-2-1 UFC)
I'm buying low on Jon Fitch. The KO loss to Johny Hendricks wasn't the highlight of his career, but it wasn't the end of it either.
Fitch and his barrel-of-sludge style aren't overly palatable to many, which is understandable. But if your favorite welterweight's name is not Georges St-Pierre, I'd probably put money on Fitch to beat him.
Middleweight: Constantinos Philippou
Photo: MMA Mania
10-2 (1) (3-1 UFC)
The Matt Serra protege likes to get into close range and fire away. Think Lavar Johnson with takedown defense and a ground game.
Is the 32-year-old set to challenge for the title? No. But he's getting better with every outing, and I know I wouldn't want to draw his name.
Light Heavyweight: Gegard Mousasi
Photo: Esther Lin for AllElbows.com
Hard to believe Mousasi is still just 26. The current DREAM and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ always seems to stumble at inopportune times and in inopportune fashion. People just don't seem to be able to talk themselves into his corner.
He's on the shelf with an injury through the fall, but if he can build on his tidy two-fight win streak when he comes back, it might be a sign he's finally putting it all together.
Heavyweight: Cole Konrad
While the non-UFC-heavyweight-watching set trains their collective eyeballs on Daniel Cormier and Strikeforce, Konrad just keeps winning. Last weekend, he threw a third submission win onto his resume when he defended his Bellator belt against Eric Prindle.
No, he's not excessively charismatic. But he's good. Real good. As far as I'm concerned, from this point forward, as long as Konrad remains undefeated, he'll also remain most underrated.