Overlooked or Overrated? How Six of MMA's Top Dogs Really Rank
How good are some of the "best" in MMA, really?
Yeah, on the surface, it may seem like maybe someone is "the man," but take a closer look at that person.
What's he done in the sport?
Who's he beaten?
Is he worth spending 45-50 bucks on watching?
In the case of some MMA fighters, the record doesn't justify the hype.
But what if the hype is low for a fighter who has a not too shabby record with victories over some top people to show for it?
Which fighters are overrated in MMA, and which fighters are simply overlooked?
I now presensix men:
Three of these six are overrated—i.e. good, but they get more cred than they deserve.
Likewise, three of these six are overlooked—i.e. the people who are good but thought less of because of the way certain wins on their record went down.
Got anyone you'd throw in? Let me know.
For now, enjoy the slide show.
Who is he? A fighter currently WEC Bantamweight Champion.
What's he done? In a 16 fight pro career, "The Dominator" has beaten every opponent he's faced except Urijah Faber. The majority of his wins have come either by form of KO or by decision.
Who he's fought: Besides Faber in a Featherweight bout, he's fought Joseph Benavidez in one of the WEC's most electrifying bantamweight fights, and he snapped the perfect pro streak of Brian Bowles, who was coming off of a shocking upset over Miguel Angel Torres.
The Verdict: Overlooked.
Name me a bantamweight that isn't at least a little bit overlooked.
It's MMA's best kept secret that some of the best fighters in MMA are actually in the lighter-weight divisions. It's easy to overlook Cruz for two reasons:
#1. The loss to Faber.
#2. He's a new face in the big picture of MMA.
Still, it's pretty tough to overlook a champion with the talent and promise that Cruz brings. With time, this kid could become a major player in the world of MMA, and that time could begin when he faces Joseph Benavidez at WEC 50.
I've said it with many fighters in the past and I'll say it here: Sleep on Dominick Cruz now, and you'll be quite surprised to find what he becomes when you wake up.
50/50 Pick #1: Chael Sonnen
Who is he? One of the WEC's gifts to the UFC Middleweight division, and on August 7th, he's the man that promises to "retire" the enigmatic Anderson Silva—taking Silva's Middleweight belt in the process.
What's he done? He's the only fighter to put a blemish on Paulo Filho's record, and before Alexander Shlemenko, he was the only fighter to do the same to Bryan Baker. He shocked the MMA world by defeating top UFC middleweight fighter Nate Marquardt, the third of three victories assembled after being submitted by Demian Maia at UFC 95.
Who he's beaten: Besides Marquardt, Chael's beaten the likes of Yushin Okami, Dan Miller, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, and Tim Credeur.
The Verdict: 50/50.
In a way, Sonnen manages to get less attention than he deserves while somehow getting more cred than he may deserve.
Why he's overlooked: Because believe it or not, most WEC or ex-WEC talent are actually some of the sport's most underrated fighters. Sonnen is a good wrestler who has one hell of an endurance factor, which he showed against Nate Marquardt.
Why he's overrated: Because few names on his record really stand out like Nate Marquardt's. In reality, the only name of note beside maybe Filho and Baker is Marquardt.
Yeah, Okami beat Silva, but it was a DQ win over Silva.
I don't see why you'd count Sonnen out of his fight with Silva. Especially with the number of people outraged by his UFC 112 debacle. But other than Marquardt, what name and victory on Sonnen's record justifies the belief that at UFC 117, he WILL be the man to shatter the longest win streak in UFC history?
Who is he? The man who ended an eight year reign of lightweight dominance held by former UFC Welterweight and Lightweight champion, BJ Penn.
Fun fact for "LOLs": He's also one of the guys that Gray Maynard has beaten.
Who's he beaten: Besides Penn, this New Jersey scrapper has beaten Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Tyson Griffin, Spencer Fisher, and Jim Miller in his pro career. To say that it's a who's who at lightweight without even mentioning Penn would be an understatement.
The Verdict: If he loses the belt to Penn, he'll unfortunately fall to "possibly overrated", but I think he's overlooked.
The way the decision for Frankie went at UFC 112 may have been controversial, but a win over Penn is a win over Penn.
Besides, just because he didn't really want Penn on the ground or on the feet too much doesn't mean that he's not god on the feet or on the ground.
He's got good stand-up and some good wrestling as well.
I was one of the many that thought Penn's Boxing and BJJ would have been too much for Edgar.
Hey, Frankie, at least I'm honest about it.
Anyways, with the pool of contenders at 155 in the UFC—and in the sport in general—even the champ can get lost in the mix, especially if the champ is no longer a guy known as "The Prodigy."
Frankie's got what it takes to prove that the judge who had all five rounds for him against Penn was actually justified in doing so.
All he needs to do is walk into the TD Garden in Boston and do it one more time.
Fedor Emelianenko... Recently, NOT Overall
Who is he? The Russian-born Sambo expert who was untouchable in 28 professional fights before suffering the real first loss of his career against Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce's last event.
What's he done? Nothing special. Just dominated the likes of Minotauro Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Coleman.
It's not like any of those names were ever major in MMA, were they?
Who he's beaten: Every name above that I sarcastically said "didn't" get beat by Fedor, plus Matt Lindland, Hong Man Choi, and Zuluzinho.
The Verdict: If Werdum had lost to Fedor, he wouldn't have even made this list.
It also helps you realize that maybe Fedor wasn't the unstoppable force that he was for about a decade.
Hey, he IS a man. I can't fault him for being born a human being.
Looking back on the wins over Brett Rogers, Arlovski, Sylvia, and even some of the pre-Affliction fights with Choi, Zuluzinho, people (myself included) were putting Fedor up on a higher throne than what The Last Emperor may have deserved.
After all, Fedor didn't beat the same Tim Sylvia that dominated in the UFC before Fank Mir or Randy Couture. The Pitbull that Fedor got wasn't the same Pitbull that was kind of scary to even point out in public.
So Fedor's recent wins elevated him higher than the spot in which he belonged.
Then again, it did happen before Muhammad Ali lost to Joe Frazier.
While Fedor might be the equivalent of Ali in MMA, the recent pre-Fabricio wins give me enough motive to deliver a painful verdict:
Overrated, thy description is finally Fedor.
Who is he? An Ultimate Fighter 1 Alumni, and of all the fighters from the show's original middleweight cast, he's the only man besides Mike Swick and Chris Leben to have never gotten a shot at a championship belt in the UFC.
What's he done? He's submitted Anthony Johnson, he handed Diego Sanchez his first career loss,and he was the recipient of the shot which shattered my hopes and Paul Daley's own chances at a future opportunity to avenge Dan Hardy's UFC 111 loss to Georges St-Pierre.
Who he's beaten? Aside from Rumble, Semtex, and Nightmare, Kos has beaten Dustin Hazelett, Chris Lytle, and Frank Trigg.
The Verdict: I'd say overlooked.
Yeah, he's lost to GSP and Thiago Alves, but the guys on his record are by no means a terrible string of people to beat in the cage.
Plus, he's a wrestler with some pretty good striking, but he's not a striker first, which could be a common misconception about Koscheck coming into his fight with GSP.
With the Curse of the Changing Guard running through the MMA world, who can say that GSP isn't next to fall at the hands of someone who could prove himself to be a better fighter on a given night?
I like GSP, but I can't say that at all.
Who is he? The most notable Featherweight out of Team Quest, who has beaten all but one opponent in his short career.
What's he done: Warren made his name surface in Dream before battling his way into the challenger slot of Bellator Fighting Championships' first ever Featherweight Title fight opposite reigning 145-pound monarch Joe Soto.
Who he's beaten: Norifumi Yamamoto, one of DREAM's exciting standouts and Featherweight sensation. and formerly undefeated Patricio Freire in Bellator's Season Two Featherweight Final.
The Verdict: Overrated, but it's not too late to persuade me otherwise.
The man has a reputation of a grinder — someone who does fight, but who comes out with the intention of executing a game plan that more often than not renders a decision.
He's still pretty young, career-wise, and it wouldn't be too late for him to make an impact, but it'll take more than the judges to do so in my opinion.
Warren has to finish his opposition in the cage, and it should start with Joe Soto in Bellator's Season Three if he wants to go from overrated to overlooked.
50/50 Pick #2: Eddie Alvarez
Who is he: A former DREAM standout who is now the current Bellator Lightweight Champion.
What's he done: He's fought all over the world and has established himself as a threat at 155.
Who's he beaten: Toby Imada, Josh Neer, and Aaron Riley.
The Verdict: 50/50
Why he's overlooked: Because of his fights in DREAM and in Bellator, both of which are good promotions but don't stand out like the UFC does in the mainstream of MMA.
Why he's overrated: Because the names on his record, aside from the three of note that he's beaten, are all comprised of people from DREAM or before Alavarez's days in DREAM.
Alvarez is good, but he's not yet been tested.
Maybe Dana White should take notes from that Strikeforce-DREAM alliance and try to cook something like that up for the UFC?
Maybe Alvarez gets a test then.