No Strikeforce Fighter Can Ever Really Be a Top-5 Guy While UFC Reigns

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC
Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterJuly 16, 2012

After his awesome knockout of Tyron Woodley, a win that crowned Nate Marquardt Strikeforce welterweight champion, the former UFC star said something outrageously, outlandishly and ridiculously hilarious.

"I really feel like it's my time," he told MMAjunkie.com. "I'm one of the best in the world, and actually, I feel like I'm the best in the world, the best welterweight."

Now, there's nothing wrong with confidence. A fighter needs it just to strap on his jock and step into the cage against another snarling, highly skilled beast of a man. And, leaving aside Georges St-Pierre's iron grip on the title of world's best welterweight, it may even be conceivable that Nate is right. Maybe, in the moment, he's the best guy in the world.

The problem with that statement is less Marquardt's ability and more his promotional affiliation. Times have changed in mixed martial arts. The days in which a fighter could compete in one of a handful of promotions around the world and still claim to be the best of the best are long gone.

The truth is, the best fighters compete in the UFC. No one can claim to be a top-five fighter in today's sport without stepping into the Octagon. That's a fact. I will grant no exceptions and issue no apologies.

I don't deny that there are fighters outside the UFC with the potential to be top fighters. It's obvious by watching him that Daniel Cormier is something special. Gil Melendez is also a very skilled fighter, and I watch Bellator's Michael Chandler with awe.

As great as they are, none of those guys can lay claim to a spot near the top of any sensible rankings. Their level of competition just doesn't warrant it.

The UFC is the sport's ultimate proving grounds. Nothing is real until it happens under the bright lights in front of thousands of screaming fans in the arena and millions more on television. The UFC is the home of the world's best. Anything else is foreplay.

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