UFC on FX 7: Where Does Michael Bisping Rank Among UK MMA Fighters?
Michael "The Count" Bisping has been the face of English MMA ever since he won Season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter. That is a heavy burden to carry for nearly seven years, but Bisping has done a solid job of representing his homeland.
The fact that one star has remained on top for so long doesn't mean to suggest that the UK hasn't developed some killer talent over the years. New prospects have emerged recently, and if they can continue their forward momentum, they could one day carry the torch for the UK.
Here's a look at the 10 best active fighters from the United Kingdom, ranked on their overall skills.
11. Terry Etim
It would be hard to imagine Terry Etim watching the World MMA Awards for 2012. After all, the wheel-kick knockout that he received from Edson Barboza was earmarked to win top honors for 12 months.
Etim, though, is a solid fighter who has competed inside the Octagon 10 times. At the end of 2009, Etim had a four-fight winning streak which included a victory over notable Sam Stout.
A submission artist by trade, Etim has won Submission of the Night honors on four occasions.
10. Tom Watson
As far as the record books go, Tom Watson lost his UFC debut back in September. However, based on the accounts of most who watched the fight with their eyes open, "Kong" did enough to defeat Brad Tavares.
With a striking-heavy attack, Watson has seven knockout wins to his credit, including a third-round stoppage of PRIDE star Murilo Rua.
Watson faces undefeated Stanislav Nedkov on February 16 in London. It is a tall drink of water for any fighter, but the Brit is ready to prove that he can compete with the best middleweights on the planet.
9. Paul Sass
Lightweight Paul Sass took the UFC by storm when he used superior grappling to earn a trio of first-round submissions.
Most impressively, Sass utilized a triangle armbar to shutdown the intense momentum of Jacob Volkmann at UFC 146. The win improved his record to 13-0 with 12 victories by way of submission.
Recently, the Brit was stunned by Matt Wiman, who did the unthinkable when he secured an armbar that finished Sass in front of his hometown crowd.
8. Che Mills
Welterweight prospect Che Mills might have run into a buzzsaw named Rory MacDonald in 2012, but that isn't going to deter him from dropping bodies inside the Octagon.
Before being signed to a UFC contract, Mills put together a 13-4 (1) record which includes two knockout wins over DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis.
After completing three Zuffa contests, Mills has stopped two opponents via TKO in the first round.
Mills will face Matthew Riddle at UFC on FUEL 7 in February.
7. Paul Daley
The resident bad boy of Nottingham, England, is none other than Paul "Semtex" Daley.
After being booted from the UFC for striking an opponent after the bell, Daley has brought his technical-yet-powerful striking into the Strikeforce, BAMMA and Bellator cages.
Daley has been criticized for his repeated failure to make weight and his one-dimensional style, but that hasn't stopped him from picking up KO victories over the likes of Martin Kampmann and Scott Smith.
6. Jimi Manuwa
Jimi Manuwa is one of the scariest fighters on the planet. Holding a flawless record of 12-0, Manuwa's impressive striking game has ensured that the judges don't have the opportunity to hand him an undeserved loss.
Debuting in September against Team AKA's Kyle Kingsbury, Manuwa lit up his opponent so badly that Kingsbury was not allowed by cageside officials to answer the bell for Round 3.
Manuwa meets fellow striker Cyrille Diabate in a light heavyweight contest at UFC on FUEL 7.
5. Brad Pickett
Holding a professional record of 22-9, few fighters out of Britain have the experience of Brad "One Punch" Pickett.
A veteran of the bantamweight division, Pickett has traveled the globe while competing for the UFC, WEC, Bodog and Cage Rage. Through his nine years as a professional, Brad has picked up wins against Demetrious Johnson, Yves Jabouin and Ivan Menjivar.
Although many stars from the U.K. train out of their home country, Pickett fights out of American Top Team, alongside Dustin Poirier and Yves Edwards.
Authors Note: As embarrassing as it may be to admit, Pickett was actually an oversight on the original list. He is undoubtedly deserving of Top 5 status.
4. Dan Hardy
In case you haven't figured it out yet, most of the talent coming out of the UK centers on impressive striking. Dan Hardy is a shining example of this, as "The Outlaw" has utilized his ravaging left hook en route to six UFC wins.
Nottingham's finest challenged Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight championship in 2010, and that loss kicked off a heart-breaking skid of four losses. However, Hardy is currently riding the momentum of back-to-back wins over Duane Ludwig and The Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah.
In his most recent performance, Hardy displayed his newly developed grappling game, as he utilized well-timed takedowns and some ground-and-pound en route to a unanimous decision victory.
3. John Hathaway
It might not always be pretty, but British welterweight John Hathaway knows how to get the job done.
Now holding a UFC record of 7-1, the 25-year-old Hathaway has notable victories over Diego Sanchez and Rick Story. The fight against the former put "The Hitman" on the map, as he dominated Sanchez for three rounds.
Hathaway is currently riding the momentum of a three-fight winning streak after outgrappling John Maguire in a September snoozer. Currently, he does not have another fight on the docket.
2. Ross Pearson
Michael Bisping isn't the only The Ultimate Fighter winner produced by the UK.
Ross Pearson was actually coached by Bisping en route to winning Season 9 of the popular reality program.
"The Real Deal" now holds a 5-2 record in the UFC lightweight division, and his 2011 decision loss to Edson Barboza was about as close of a fight as they come.
After his own coaching stint on TUF, Pearson defeated one-time title contender George Sotiropoulos via third-round TKO.
Despite a preferred kickboxing attack, Pearson is about as well-rounded as they come. He holds four wins by way of TKO, five by submission and another five by decision.
Although no opponent has been announced, expect to see Pearson square off with a high-profile opponent in the spring.
1. Michael Bisping
Did you really think someone else would get the top spot in this countdown? Come on. Bisping's name is in the title!
All jokes aside, Michael Bisping is the face of British MMA for a reason. Now holding an impressive record of 23-4, "The Count" is 13-4 inside the Octagon and growing ever closer to an elusive championship opportunity.
Bisping impressed many by pushing Chael Sonnen to the limit at UFC on Fox 2. Although he was unsuccessful in that contest, it showcased how much the TUF winner's wrestling has improved.
If successful against Vitor Belfort at Saturday's UFC on FX 7 event, Bisping will finally get to challenge for the UFC middleweight championship.
Will he pull off the much-needed win? If so, does he stand a chance of defeating Anderson Silva, and becoming the first British UFC champion in history? Let me know what you think in the comments below.