No Respect: The 10 Most Underappreciated Fighters in MMA
In any major sport there will always be the big stars, the breakout performers, and the face of promotions.
On the flip side there are the work horses, the guys that do the grunt work and don't get the fame, the fortune, and the respect.
With that in mind, here is a run down of the Top 10 MMA fighters who are underappreciated and don't get the respect they deserve.
Will Chris Leben make the list?
10. Jay Hieron
MMA Record: 19-4
Hieron is an MMA veteran of 23 fights with an impressive win ratio.
He has compiled a solid resume of defeated names on his record and he can also add a run as the former IFL Welterweight Champion to the list.
His last fight was a win, his seventh in a row, over Joe Riggs in Strikeforce.
Despite losing his two single fights in the UFC I am amazed that he has not been picked up by the UFC or had his Strikeforce contract renewed.
Hieron would add even more depth to any Welterweight division, as he is currently unsigned after contract talks broke down with Strikeforce. He should be a hot free agent.
With his fight record and well rounded skill set, Hieron should have promotions fighting over him. He is truly underappreciated.
9. Mike Russow
MMA Record: 13-1-1
The name Mike Russow was likely unfamiliar to a lot of fight fans going into UFC 114.
It's probably fair to say that most people now know who he is after he delivered an amazing come-from-behind KO win over Todd Duffee at the event.
That win, with a broken arm no less, advanced Russow to a nine-fight win streak and his second win in the UFC Heavyweight Division.
Russow is unassuming, not very chiseled and a grinder inside the cage, which is likely why he does not garner the attention he deserves.
However, Russow is a veteran who has fought in numerous promotions, including PRIDE, and with only one loss in a 15 fight career he certainly should be talked about more when looking at the UFC Heavyweight mix.
He makes it to No. 9 on the list.
8. Tyron Woodley
MMA Record: 6-0
Coming in at No. 8 is the rising Tyron Woodley.
Since he regularly appears on the Strikeforce Challengers series it may seem odd for me to have put Woodley on this list.
However, the guy is 6-0 so far in his career and is a huge prospect. An All-American wrestler, Big 12 Champion, with 112 NCAA career wrestling wins, this guys credentials are legit.
He is underappreciated because he has only appeared on one Strikeforce Main Event card and he is rarely mentioned amongst the top fighters in the Welterweight division.
It may be too early to judge, but Strikeforce needs to be aware of the talent they have in Woodley.
7. Cyrille Diabate
MMA Record: 16-6-1
Diabate has huge MMA experience fighting all over the world for promotions such as PRIDE, Cage Rage, and DEEP.
He made his UFC debut at UFC 114, getting the TKO win over Luiz Cane in what was considered an upset.
But as his record suggests, Diabate is no rookie and, in reality, his win over the highly regarded Cane should not have been that big of a shock.
Despite 23 fights and a 10-year career in MMA it is only now that he is in the UFC that Diabate is getting the appreciation he deserves.
No. 7 on the list. You agree?
6. Hector Lombard
MMA Record: 26-2-1
A real veteran of the sport, with 29 fights at the age of 32. Lombard is the current Middleweight Champion for Bellator.
Lombard has gone an amazing 19 fights without losing, with his last defeat coming back at PRIDE 13 against Gegard Mousasi in 2006.
With undoubted talent and an impressive resume it is amazing to find that Lombard is not yet in the UFC, no offense meant to Bellator. With the constant claims of a lack of depth in the 185 lbs. division surely Lombard would be a great candidate.
Conjecture aside, Lombard has captured the Bellator Middleweight Title and looks set to take on all challengers in the growing promotion.
Hugely underappreciated and No. 6 on the list.
5. Jim Miller
MMA record: 17-2
Miller is a rising star in the UFC Lightweight division, but he is still not getting the attention he should and I'm not sure the UFC appreciates how good he is.
6-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming against Gray Maynard, Miller is quietly building towards title contention.
Set to face Gleison Tibau at the Ultimate Fight Night card in September, should he win then he will be right in the mix.
Underappreciated? You betcha!
4. Michael Bisping
MMA Record: 19-3
Bisping is easily one of the most divisive figures in MMA today. You either love him or hate him, and for whatever reason most seem to hate him.
However, Bisping is severely under estimated and underappreciated for what he has done in the sport. A TUF winner, a pioneer of the growth of MMA in the UK, and an impressive resume suggest this.
Yes, he has an annoying personality and you can argue his win over Hamill well into the night, but when your only losses are Rashad Evans, Wanderlei Silva, and Dan Henderson, you can hold your head high.
A perennial contender, Bisping is truly underappreciated.
3. Evan Dunham
MMA Record: 11-0
Talk about an unheralded rise to prominence.
Dunham is undefeated and has won his first four UFC fights over highly regarded fighters like Tyson Griffin and Marcus Aurelio.
Dunham has answered all questions put in front of him, yet still seems to be overlooked. He is not at the forefront of peoples thoughts in the ultra competitive UFC Lightweight division, which he should be.
He has fought against a teammate when asked and has amassed a very credible resume.
Dunham is a worthy No. 3 on the list.
2. Gerrald Harris
MMA Record: 17-2
Joe Rogan put it perfectly at UFC 116 when he said to Harris in his post fight interview, "no more pre-lims for you sir!"
Harris has won all three of his UFC fights, all by TKO or KO, and has looked great in every fight, most recently delivering a power slam KO for the win at UFC 116.
A welcome addition to the Middleweight contender ranks, Harris is a great prospect. I am sure he will garner more appreciation as he continues to win in the UFC.
1 - Johny Hendricks
MMA record: 8-0
An NCAA Division I wrestling champion, Hendricks is yet to taste defeat in his short MMA career.
Starting out in the now defunct WEC Welterweight division, Hendricks has transferred to the UFC and won all three of his fights.
No. 1 on this list may be a bit surprising for many, but I feel that it is testament to how overlooked and underappreciated Hendricks is at the moment.
Being given Charlie Brenneman at UFC 117 shows that to me.
This guy is a very real contender at 170 lbs. That's why he is my No. 1 pick.
Who is yours?
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