One Fighter Per Country the UFC Should Sign

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

One Fighter Per Country the UFC Should Sign

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    With the UFC's continued global expansion, fans must expect to see new and familiar international faces entering the world's largest MMA promotion.

    Asia has been a major driving force in the global expansion, but expect that drive to move into Europe more, as well as other major markets.

    Here are fighters from 23 different countries that UFC should sign.

    Note: Strikeforce fighters will not be included, as they will likely make the jump over to the UFC when Strikeforce folds. Bellator fighters currently under contract were also not considered, as their contracts are tricky due to the matching clause.

Canada: Josh Hill

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 9-0

    Likely the best fighter from Canada not under the Zuffa banner, Josh Hill has quietly put together a solid resume fighting north of the border. 

    Holding wins over the likes of Diego Wilson and John Fraser, Hill has proven to be of high quality. "The Gentleman" needs to be signed by the UFC before an international talent snagger like Bellator gets at him.

Brazil: Bibiano Fernandes

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 12-3

    Bibiano Fernandes may be a top-five bantamweight in the world and he still has not come to his senses and signed with the UFC. The UFC has offered him a contract recently, but he opted to go with One FC.

    The UFC needs to be more aggressive in signing him, as he would be an immediate title contender upon his signing. Fernandes is extremely well-rounded and one of the best fighters not currently in the UFC.

Cuba: Alexis Vila

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 11-2

    Alexis Vila of Cuba may be getting up there in age at 41 years old, but he is still a wrestling powerhouse with heavy hands.

    The Bellator veteran, who is now a free agent, has used his knockout power to put seven opponents to sleep. He also uses his Olympic-level wrestling to control opponents and fish for submissions.


Japan: Mamoru Yamaguchi

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    Weight Class: Flyweight

    Record: 26-6-3

    The flyweight division is currently the least populated division in the UFC and the addition of Mamoru Yamaguchi would greatly pad it.

    The Afro'd Japanese legend is one of the greatest fighters in the 125-pound weight class and would be a couple of wins from title contention.

    His striking is his main attraction, as he is a mix of powerful and technical. He makes fights exciting with his style, which would bring great pleasure to UFC fans.

China: Tuerxun Jumabieke

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 14-0

    The UFC is looking to create a big market in China, so they need to take a long look at the best fighters they have available. 

    Tuerxun Jumabieke is definitely one of the best they have to offer.

    It was surprising at UFC on Fuel 6 in China when Alex Caceres needed a late replacement and the UFC didn't sign this Chinese prospect. Jumabieke is undefeated in the Chinese regional scene, showing to be quite well-rounded.

    It's time for Jumabieke to try his hand at the big leagues. 

South Korea: Doo Ho Choi

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    Weight Class: Featherweight

    Record: 9-1

    South Korea is beginning to produce some very talented fighters, and young gun Doo Ho Choi seems to have a great future in MMA.

    The 21-year-old South Korean is a lethal striker that has developed a great ground game. His biggest win to date came recently when he knocked out Mitsuhiro Ishida with knees and punches.

Russia: Rashid Magomedov

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    Weight Class: Welterweight  

    Record: 15-1

    There is a lot of top-notch talent coming out of Russia these days, but Rashid Magomedov looks to be one of the top prospects from the country.

    Magomedov is a sound striker whose technical skills and power are a dangerous combination. He owns notable wins over Alexander Yakoviev, Yasubey Enomoto and Ultimate Fighter quarterfinalist Igor Araujo.

Australia: Gustavo Falciroli

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    Weight Class: Bantamweight

    Record: 13-4-2

    Australia's talent is starting to be seen with their addition to The Ultimate Fighter scene, as they are currently entangled in a feud season with the United Kingdom.

    Gustavo Falciroli is a talented grappler whose striking is coming along well. He has good experience as a 135-pounder, stepping in the cage with such notables as Bibiano Fernandes, Soo Chul Kim and Richie Vaculik.

    His addition to the UFC bantamweight division would add more depth to an already exciting division.

Mongolia: Jadamba Narantungalag

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    Weight Class: Lightweight

    Record: 8-2

    Mongolia is not known for their MMA as much as their amateur wrestling, but Jadamba Narantungalag may be one of the best international lightweights on the market.

    Narantungalag uses his wrestling and submission ability to control and defeat opponents. After starting his career 0-2, the Mongolian has won eight straight in the Japanese and Chinese MMA scene.

Thailand: Rambaa Somdet

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    Weight Class: Flyweight

    Record: 10-2

    A guy that could actually compete at strawweight (115 pounds), Rambaa Somdet is still a guy that could be a top contender as a flyweight. His speed and Muay Thai arsenal are tough for any fighter to deal with.

    Though most of his wins are by decision, his opponents don't walk out of the cage unscathed. He is brutal with his strikes, and he punishes whoever steps in the cage with him.

Croatia: Maro Perak

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    Weight Class: Heavyweight  

    Record: 22-3-1

    Croatian heavyweight Maro Perak is a lighter heavyweight at 233 pounds, but his power and skills more than make up for his "lack of size."              

    Overseas, Perak has made a splash with his 11 knockouts and seven submission wins. Notables wins have come over Travis Wiuff, Bob Sapp and Miodrag Petkovic.

Finland: Juha-Pekka Vainikainen

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    Weight Class: Lightweight

    Record: 20-5-1

    Finland is coming on as an MMA talent pool, and Juha-Pekka Vainikainen is one of the best the country currently has to offer.

    He has defeated several UFC veterans, including Kyle Watson, Steve Lopez and Brian Geraghty. Vainikainen is extremely well-rounded and coming into his own lately.

    It would be good to get the Finnish youngster in the Octagon.

Norway: Joachim Hansen

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    Weight Class: Featherweight

    Record: 22-11-1

    Joachim Hansen has stated that he doesn't want to work for Dana White, but giving him an offer he can't refuse wouldn't be a bad idea. Hansen is a top-level featherweight that would make some great memories in the UFC.

    The well-rounded Norwegian has beaten notables such as Sami Aziz, Hideo Tokoro, Shinya Aoki, Yves Edwards and Gesias Cavalcante, among others. His grappling is great, as is his striking.

    He needs to put aside pettiness and take on a UFC contract.

Sweden: Ilir Latifi

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    Weight Class: Light Heavyweight

    Record: 7-2 (1 NC)

    Sweden is another hotbed for MMA right now, with a great example of up-and-coming talent being Ilir Latifi. 

    Latifi has only been around since 2008, but he has shown to be a very talented fighter. He has beaten the likes of Jorge Oliveira, Tony Lopez and Denis Bogdanov, which shows that he has what it takes to compete in the Octagon.

    He has good submissions, but he hits like a train, which is his biggest weapon.

Poland: Mamed Khalidov

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    Weight Class: Middleweight 

    Record: 25-4-2

    Likely the best middleweight not currently employed by Zuffa, Mamed Khalidov has long been awaited to join the UFC.

    The Polish middleweight, who could likely make a drop to welterweight if he really wanted to, is a beast in the ring and the cage. Twenty-four of his 25 wins have been finishes and he owns notable wins over numerous UFC veterans such as Rodney Wallace, Jesse Taylor and James Irvin.

Germany: Andreas Kraniotakes

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    Weight Class: Heavyweight

    Record: 15-6

    If you like exciting heavyweights, Andreas Kraniotakes is a guy who you should keep your eye on. All 15 of his career wins have been by knockout or submission, which shows that he is aggressive when looking to finish the fight.

    Kraniotakes is a mid-sized heavyweight, weighing in at 240 pounds. He has defeated the likes of Dave Keeley and Nandor Guelmino, both respected in the European MMA scene.

Austria: Nandor Guelmino

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    Weight Class: Heavyweight

    Record: 11-3-1

    Nandor Guelmino of Austria is another heavyweight on the lighter side, but he compensates for being just 230 pounds by finishing opponents with his knockout power and solid submission game.

    "The Hun" is a rare talent from Austria, which does not offer much in terms of MMA. The only thing more scary than his shoulder tattoo is his mean mug.

Netherlands: Melvin Manhoef

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    Weight Class: Middleweight 

    Record: 26-9-1 (1 NC)

    Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef has an astounding 24 wins by knockout. He is one of the most powerful strikers and exciting fighters in mixed martial arts today.

    Manhoef may not be the greatest talent that the Netherlands has to offer, but he is a fan favorite with sickening power. He is a draw in himself.

France: Moise Rimbon

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    Weight Class: Light Heavyweight

    Record: 19-9-3

    Moise "Swamp" Rimbon is a grappler by trade, but he has become a true mixed martial artist along the way. The 205-pound powerhouse has stepped into the cage with many notable light heavyweights in his decade-plus career.

    He is incredibly difficult to finish, as six of his losses have come by decision. He possesses a black belt in BJJ, as well as a ranking in judo, which is a testament to his ground skills.

United Kingdom: John Phillips

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    Weight Class: Middleweight  

    Record: 16-5 (1 NC)

    The man known simply as "The White Mike Tyson" is a powerful striker who could easily earn a cult following in the big time. He also has a developing submission game to go along with his powerful boxing.

    All of his 16 wins have been finishes (13 knockouts, 3 submissions). His excitement factor and potential make him a great pickup should the UFC realize his skills.

Ireland: Conor McGregor

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    Weight Class: Featherweight 

    Record: 11-2

    Ireland's Conor McGregor may be the country's most promising prospect, as well as one of Europe's best lighter weight competitors. 

    McGregor has won 10 of his 11 bouts via knockout, which is a testament to the power he possesses in his hands. Should he work on his ground game and submission defense, McGregor could be a star. 

Spain: Daniel Tabera

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    Weight Class: Light Heavyweight

    Record: 17-5-3

    Daniel Tabera is one of the few high-level Spanish fighters to currently compete in the MMA world. Spain is starting to come onto the MMA scene, and guys like Tabera are leading the way.

    Tabera is a well-rounded fighter that has stepped in the cage with such notables as Attila Vegh, Glover Teixeira, Ricco Rodriguez and Mikhail Zayats. He has good knockout power as well as an educated ground game.

United States: Darrell Montague

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    Weight Class: Flyweight

    Record: 11-2

    There are plenty of fighters from the United States that the UFC should sign, but it is the flyweight division that is in need of additional depth.

    Darrell Montague is one of the top flyweights not currently in the UFC. He is an extremely well-rounded fighter that has stepped in the cage with some of the best at 125.

    He even owns a notable win over UFC flyweight Ulysses Gomez.