Top 10 Outside the UFC & Strikeforce:
|Many fans of the great sport of mixed martial arts are only aware of the top two organizations in the US which are the UFC and Strikeforce. But MMA is a global sport that is big in Japan, Brazil, Russia and China as well there are many more organizations and fighters that you should be aware of if you want to be a true MMA fan. Here are the top ten fighters that are not in the UFC or Strikeforce but will certainly be entertaining and make you want to keep watching for more.
10. Kazushi Sakuraba - Dream - A true MMA legend who made the transition from professional wrestling to MMA. Sakuraba has been a true innovator in the sport of MMA with a never say die attitude as well as an extremely talented submission game. Sakuraba has fought in the UFC, Pride and now Dream. Sakuraba has wins over Ikuhisa Minowa, Carlos Newton, Vitor Belfort, Ken Shamrock, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as well as being donned the “Gracie Hunter” by beating Ryan, Royler, Renzo and Royce Gracie.
9. Joe Warren - Dream - A Greco-Roman wrestler who won the 2006 Pan American and World Championship in Greco-Roman wrestling. Warren began his transition into the world of MMA in 2008 training with experienced wrestler and MMA veteran Dan Henderson. Warren entered the Dream Featherweight Grand Prix tournament with no professional MMA fights. He defeated experienced WEC veteran Chase Beebe in the first round of the tournament at Dream 7. The second round of the tournament matched up Warren with fan favorite Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto many felt that Warren was being fed to the wolves in his second MMA fight but the talented wrestler showed his determination and strength winning a unanimous decision victory. For the last round of the tournament Joe was matched up with Ju-Jitsu stylist Bibiano Fernandes who defeated Warren quickly by submission. With only three MMA fights and two wins over game experienced opponents Warren is a rising star to watch out for in 2010.
8. Masanori Kanehara - World Victory Road Sengoku - Kanehara is not the undefeated unstoppable fighter type. Kanehara is defensibly a fighter who goes into a fight preparing for a war. Kanehara was not always a fan favorite but his never say die attitude and determination has made him more popular as of late. Kanehara is a veteran of DEEP, ZST, and the Pancrase organizations but now is competing in the featherweight division of World Victory Road Sengoku. Kanehara was announced to be competing in the World Victory Road Featherweight Grand Prix. Kanehara advanced to the semi-final round of the Grand Prix after two close decision victories over Jong Man Kim and Chan Sung Jung. Kanehara lost his semi-final bout to Hatsu Hioki but ended up replacing Hioki after Hioki could not continue due to medical clearance. Kanehara then a 17-to-1 underdog faced off against Michihiro Omigawa in the finals of the Grand Prix. In true underdog fashion Kanehara won the tournament with a split decision and becoming the World Victory Road Featherweight Champion. Recently Kanehara shocked fans again by defeating Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto
7. Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa - Dream - A true rags to riches story with this Cinderella fighters rise to the top. Minowaman does not have the greatest record in MMA but he should be applauded for his heart and determination. Minowa has fought in DEEP, Pancrase, Cage Rage, K-1 Heros, UFC, Pride and now Dream. Minowa has faced such game competition such as Paulo Filho, Wanderlai Silva, Gilbert Yvel, Murilo Bustamante and Don Frye. Minowa has recently made dreams into reality by winning the Dream Super Hulk Tournament. Minowa was the smallest fighter in the tournament beating three huge men (Bob Sapp, Hong Man Choi, Sokodjou) to win it all for the glory of Japan.
6. Bibiano Fernandes - Dream - Fernandes is a highly talented Ju-Jitsu stylist with multiple grappling trophies and championships to his credit. Fernandes has fought K-1, King of the Cage, and now the Dream promotion. Fernandes has made improvements to his stand up game since switching over to MMA and shows increased hand speed and striking set ups for his take downs. Fernandes entered the Dream Featherweight Grand Prix and defeated tough opponents Takafumi Otsuka, Masaakazu Imanari, Joe Warren and defeated Hiroyuki Takaya in the finals to win the Grand Prix belt as well as being crowned Dreams first ever Featherweight Champion.
5. Tatsuya Kawajiri - Dream - “The Crusher” does just that to his opponents with his devastating take downs and vicious ground and pound. Kawajiri is relentless and pushes hard for the win in every fight. Kawajiri is a former Shooto champion and also competed in Pride with wins over Yves Edwards, Vitor Riberio and several other high profile fighters. Kawajiri is always challenging himself, as of late he competed in K-1 against possibly the best kick boxer of his generation Masato Kawajiri. He would not quit but was eventually finished in the second round. Kawajiri is always a game opponent and always exciting to watch.
4. Joachim Hansen - Dream - A veteran of Shooto and Pride this tough Norweigian is always a dangerous opponent to face. Hansen has a dangerous stand up game as well as being a talented grappler this makes him twice as dangerous because he has limited holes in his game. Hansen has beaten very talented opponents such as Takanori Gomi, Gesias Calvacante, Caol Uno and Shinya Aoki. Hansen has held the Shooto Welterweight title, Brazilian Judo European Champion as well as being crowned the Dream Lightweight Champion as well as the Dream Lightweight Grand Prix championship. Perhaps Hansen's crowning achievement was a loss on his record against Eddie Alvarez where both fighters put on one of the top fights of 2008.
3. Eddie Alvarez - Dream - A tough hard nosed fighter from the fighting streets of Philadelphia. A true Rocky story with Alvarez using fighting as an outlet to escape hard street life and using his fighting career as a means to elevate himself and his family out of a bad situation. Alvarez is known best for his skill in boxing as well as his willingness to trade with his opponents always fighting with a crowd pleasing style. Alvarez made it to the semi-finals of Dreams Lightweight Grand Prix but could not continue due to an eye injury. Alvarez has beaten fighters such as Tatsuya Kawajiri, Aaron Riley as well as a stunning war with Joachim Hansen. In his short career Alvarez has captured the BodogFIGHT Welterweight Title as well as well as the Bellator Lightweight Title.
2. Shinya Aoki - Dream - Aoki is a grappling master with some of the most creative submission moves ever seen in MMA. Aoki is so phenomenal at grappling that his matches basically use little to no striking by Aoki which is that much more impressive that he has so many wins under his belt. Aoki has wins over fighters such as Joachim Hansen, Vitor Riberio, Eddie Alvarez, and Gesias Calvacante. Aoki is the current Dream Lightweight champion, the WAMMA Lightweight champion, as well as the Shooto Middleweight champion. Watching Aoki is your best bet to see something that you have never seen before.
1. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai - Dream - Sakurai is a skilled fighter who has skill on the feet, a wrestling prowess as well as a granite chin. Sakurai has fought in DEEP, Shooto, Pride, UFC and now Dream, and he has defeated fighters such as Caol Uno, Frank Trigg, Dave Menee, Jens Pulver, and Shinya Aoki he also gave past UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes a run for his money back in Matt's prime. Sakurai was also running a 20 fight win streak until running into Anderson Silva who is now the UFC Middleweight champion. Sakurai is an opponent that will take you the distance and test your will. Sakurai is a veteran who still has many years of top competition left.
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