UFC: European Fighters That Should Be Signed in Each Weight Class
The MMA scene in Europe has been taking shape for some years now. Stars such as Michael Bisping, Alexander Gustafsson and Alistair Overeem all boast their upcomings from the land across the pond.
Currently, there is some top-notch talent in Europe that needs to be exposed in the UFC. Hailing from countries like the United Kingdom, Poland and France, Europe's influx of talent is gold waiting to be discovered.
Here are fighters from each weight class that should be signed by the UFC from Europe.
Flyweight: Artemij Sitenkov (Lithuania)
Artemij Sitenkov is arguably a top-25 flyweight in the world currently, holding a professional record of 14-7. Notably, all 14 of his wins have been by submission, even though five of his losses are by submission.
Just take a look at the list of submissions he has won by. He owns several wins by kneebar, armbar (and flying armbar), guillotine choke and rear-naked choke.
That kind of exciting submission style and skill would add nicely to the flyweight division. It would also give the UFC its only Lithuanian fighter in the company.
Runner-up: Phil Harris (United Kingdom)
Bantamweight: Sirwan Kakai (Sweden)
Hailing from Sweden, Sirwan "Zohan" Kakai is one of the best bantamweight prospects in Europe, if not the world. Kakai is 7-1, finishing six of his fights by submission or knockout.
Kakai has fought in Sweden's two biggest promotions, Superior Challenge and The Zone FC. He has found success in those respectable organizations, going 3-0 there.
He has scary knees, which he has used to win a couple bouts. In addition to that, his submission game is well-versed and could be competitive in the UFC's bantamweight division.
Runner-up: Spencer Hewitt (United Kingdom)
Featherweight: Deividas Taurosevicius (Lithuania)
Deividas Taurosevicius has a good run in WEC, but left the organization after his first loss. The talented Lithuanian is a talented submission artist with striking that allows him to incorporate his game plan.
His last two wins came in the Ring of Combat organization, where he has submitted notables Marlon Moraes and Ronnie Rogers. In his career, he has notably defeated Mackens Semerzier, Javier Vazquez and Bart Palaszewski.
His addition to the division would definitely increase the competition. He is highly skilled and experienced enough to give anybody a run for their money.
Runner-up: Ronnie Mann (United Kingdom)
Lightweight: Ivan Buchinger (Slovakia)
Slovakia's Ivan Buchinger is young at 26, but he has proven to be formidable in all of his outings. At 20-3, Buchinger has faced most of his bouts and come out a winner.
He owns 12 submissions and 5 knockout wins to his credit. His latest win came to notable Diego Gonzalez by knockout in the Cage Warriors promotion.
With some development, he could be a top European talent in the UFC.
Runner-up: Daniel Weichel (Germany)
Note: I was going to pick Niko Puhakka from Finland as the fighter the UFC should sign, but considering he has numerous neo-Nazi tattoos, I simply could not consider him.
Welterweight: Gael Grimaud (France)
Gael Grimaud has flown under the radar for a long time, but now, he has to be considered a top-35 to 40 welterweight in the world.
Grimaud is a veteran of Cage Warriors and M-1. In his professional career, Grimaud is 15-5, winning by submission 10 times and knockout twice.
In his most recent outing, Grimaud defeated UFC veteran Jesse Taylor via armbar submission to hold the Cage Warriors welterweight strap. Bringing him to the UFC could be a good way to help France get on the map.
Runner-up: Jim Wallhead (United Kingdom)
Middleweight: Mamed Khalidov (Poland)
To most MMA fans with decent knowledge, Mamed Khalidov is one of the biggest names they currently do not possess in any division.
Khalidov, who is 25-4, is a well-rounded machine that is arguably top-10 in the world. His list of victims overseas includes UFC veterans Rodney Wallace, Jesse Taylor, Matt Lindland, James Irvin and Jorge Santiago.
His hands are lethal, his submissions are vicious and his work is quick. He has 24 finishes in 25 wins, so it shows his killer instinct.
Runner-up: Michal Materla (Poland)
Light Heavyweight: Jan Blachowicz (Poland)
Jan Blachowicz is a highly dangerous adversary from Poland who currently holds a 15-3 record. Of those 15 wins, he has finished 11 opponents by knockout or submission.
Blachowicz's list of victims include Rameau Sokoudjou, Mario Miranda and Toni Valtonen. That type of resume deserves a look by the UFC.
Runner-up: Moise Rimbon (France)
Heavyweight: Damian Grabowski (Poland)
Damian Grabowski of Poland is definitely a top-30 heavyweight in the world. Performing in organizations such as Bellator, Grabowski has run his MMA record to 16-1, with his only loss coming to Cole Konrad.
The Pole owns 14 stoppage victories by either submission or knockout. His list of victims includes Dave Huckabla, Eddie Sanchez and Joaquim Ferreira.
His power and well-roundedness could translate to a solid UFC career. I'd say give him a shot to earn his place in the world's largest promotion.
Runner-up: Michal Kita (Poland)