It’s no secret that the UFC has descended on the MMA landscape and obtained the services of virtually every top flight fighter alive. Notice I said virtually every fighter.
There are still some amazing talents competing outside of the octagon, and while it seems inevitable that these men may one day find themselves active competitors on the UFC’s expansive roster, it hasn’t happened yet.
You can bet your pocket books that Dana White and Joe Silva (as well as their scouts) have an eye on the contenders competing outside of the UFC. Whether or not they’ll manage to ever see the pen meet the promotion’s paper, remains to be seen.
But for the sake of good discussion, and perhaps even a little advice, it’s time to examine 10 fighters competing outside of the UFC ranks who should definitely be afforded their chance to prove their value on the world’s most competitive platform.
NOTE: I've excluded Daniel Cormier from this list as he looks to be just about a shoo-in for the promotion. Expect a UFC debut from DC before long. Also, take a mental memo that everyone on this list possesses an aesthetically pleasing style, which could go a long way if the proper money is invested in the marketing machine.
“Pitbull” really lives up to his name. This man is a tornado in the cage, and very few survive the whirlwind of terror. If they do, they tend to exit the cage with a face that resembles a pizza or a brain as scrambled as the perfect batch of eggs.
Well-versed everywhere the bout goes, Patricio gives fans exactly what they want: big action!
Factor in a good, positive attitude and a hunger to learn, and you’re looking at a man who could easily find himself in the upper regions of divisional rankings.
This is definitely a man to watch out for, so long as the injury bug takes a vacation.
Straus is a big, aggressive wrecker with a respectable measure of resilience. It’s tough to break this man, and that keeps him in the fight constantly.
Wrestling is his true forte, but he’s got a way of putting meaningful punches together, and his workrate is absolutely unrivaled. The fact that he’s capable of using brute force to impose his will isn’t exactly surprising: He’s competed in a few different weight classes and it’s likely he’s learned to adapt quite well.
An easy victory is something that won’t be accomplished when tangling with this beast, and that’s evidenced by his recent MMA run, in which he’s compiled a 16-1 record in his last 17 outings.
After a loss to Mousasi and a no contest to Jason Miller, Jacare has put together six victories against a single loss. He held the Strikeforce middleweight title and he’s toppled admirable opponents in the past.
While he may be a nightmare on the mat, he’s improved his striking in a major way over the last few years and it’s begun to make him a man to fear in all aspects of a fight.
The UFC’s middleweight division could use a hint of extra talent, and if a few select signings are made, fans will be eyeing the deepest 185 division yet.
"Jacare" could play a major role in that growth.
The UFC could use some more talent at 135 pounds: building both the bantam and fly classes, fans will be treated to some much needed depth. Eduardo Dantas, despite recently coming up short in a rather careless performance against Tyson Nam, is a guy the UFC must sign ASAP.
Beautiful strikes, extremely crafty footwork, an ability to fight quite well from his back, execute sweeps and finish fights, from ever position imaginable: this kid isn’t just an amazing fighter, he’s brilliant to watch with so much potential it’s ridiculous.
This is a man who could really mix things up at 135 pounds.
Just about everyone enjoys watching a good boxer with no fear enter the cage to try and claim heads. Eddie Alvarez is that guy.
Alvarez’s boxing is far superior to what most believe, and critically underrated. His overall submission game may benefit from some work, but his defensive wrestling is solid and he’s great in scrambles. Did I mention he’s got an iron chin?
There are countless wars that could be made inside the UFC with Alvarez’s name attached. It’s time we see them.
Seeing a wrestler who isn’t afraid to bang, doesn’t mind mixing up his attacks and constantly keeps his foot on the gas pedal is a joy. It just so happens that’s exactly what Michael Chandler prefers to do.
Cast aside the idea that wrestling bases automatically lead to boring fights and fighters. This is a guy who completely blows that stereotype out of the water.
At 10-0, Chandler’s gone the distance just twice. He’s a finisher with a great attitude. Let’s make the move happen.
I’m a firm believer that outside of the UFC, Curran is the best featherweight in the game. His evolution as a fighter is nearly tough to follow, he improves so much, so quickly.
A great striking game, head full of rocks, diversity in his offense, solid wrestling defense and a capable submission game, make Pat a UFC must-have. This guy is so well rounded he’s amazing to watch.
Furthermore, it appears he’s practically run out of challenges in Bellator. Give the man the respect he deserves: the chance to battle the best in the world. We could be looking at a future champion.
Mousasi reminds me of a disoriented nomad. Who knows what’s going on with him, who knows where the hell he is… who knows when he’ll fight next?
That said, he’s a very impressive striker who enters professional combat with a level of calmness that is an extreme scarcity in this sport. Nothing seems to faze Mousasi, and that’s a valuable tool, especially in times of deep danger.
Mousasi may not have the personality to win over casual fans, but he’s got the skills to compete with the best, no doubt about it.
And here we have our other major middleweight to toss into the mix. If Souza could make things interesting in the division, Rockhold may be able to tear it apart.
This man brings some truly precise striking to the game. He’s also surprisingly crafty in regards to defense. It’s much easier to eat a shot from Luke than to deliver one on the chin.
A handsome gentleman with a fan favorite style, there’s no reason not to bring this wrecking machine into the Ultimate Fighting Championship fold as soon as legally possible.
Long considered a top three lightweight, Gil Melendez has certainly proven one fact: No one gets a free ride if they stand inside a cage opposite the California resident.
This guy is a ball of fire, for as long as it may require. Mixing up nice punches, sturdy knees and fair kicks, the guy has serious tools to reach for. If he aims to keep the fight vertical, he will. If he aims to outwrestle his opponent, he will.
Never one to give up, and loaded with that “Scrap Pack” mentality, Gil could be a goldmine with the right matchmaking and enough promotional attention.