MMA Yushin Okami and The 10 Most Underrated Fighters

Matt MalepeaiContributor INovember 9, 2010

MMA Yushin Okami and The 10 Most Underrated Fighters

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    Photo by Sherdog.com

    Fighters will inevitably fail to live up to expectations.

    Seemingly invincible prospects will be beaten, legends will fall, and champions dethroned. In the fickle world of sports, one loss can totally derail a once promising career.

    When put in context of MMA things become even more complicated. If you win in a boring fashion, drop a razor close split decision, or dismantle a talented yet questionable opponent, your entire career can be curtailed.

    Without the right coverage, you can produce classic fights night after night but and become unappreciated.

    As UFC 122 draws near it seems more and more people are already planning for a Nate Marquardt title shot.

    Nate is a popular fighter and his opponent is an unknown by the general public: Yushin Okami. In the eyes of most fans Okami is just some Japanese guy. Upon looking deeper you see a talented fighter with the capabilities to defeat some one at the level of Nate Marquardt.

    This list deals with the Okami's of the world. Fighters who are underestimated, but who have shown the ability necessary to bring the fight to whom ever they may face.

    These are the 10 most underrated fighters in MMA today...

Number 10: Tim Sylvia

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    Photo by Sherdog.com

    It wasn't long ago when Tim Sylvia was highly respected by the MMA community.

    He had knocked out the likes of Ricco Rodriguez, Tra Telligman, Gan McGee and Andrei Arlovski over the course of two title reigns. Despite losing two fights via submission he was widely regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world

    Then came the losses.

    First he was beaten up by Randy Couture for five rounds and lost his title. After a comeback against Brandon Vera he lost an interim title bout to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira despite dominating much of the fight.

    He bumped into a guy named Fedor Emelianenko and submitted in 36 seconds. He lost all respect when he was knocked out by aging boxer, Ray Mercer, in only nine seconds.

    Everybody loses and Tim Sylvia just happened to lose to some of the best. He is underrated because people haveforgotten everything he did before his losing streak.

    His record overall is still impressive at 27-6 with 21 finishes.

    I will not make the argument that Tim Sylvia is one of the best at 265. I will that say he is certainly underrated by a community that used to endorse him.

Number 9: Phil Davis

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    Photo by Fred Haas for Sherdog.com

    In a division as diverse and talented as the UFC's light heavyweight division, it's easy to forget about certain up-and-comers not named Jon Jones. Phil Davis is one of those that gets shuffled to the outer edges of the division.

    While Davis is on the same level as a Jon Jones or Ryan Bader he is most certainly an underrated prospect. Most fans haven't heard of "Mr. Wonderful" but he has an elite wrestling game, strong ground and pound, and a strong submission game as well.

    Davis' next fight is later this month at UFC 123 where he will take on Tim Boetsch.

    He surely has the skill set to pick up the victory here. If he can he will prove why he shouldn't be on this list.

Number 8: Lyle Beerbohm

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    Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com

    With a nickname like Fancy Pants, it's easy to understand how you can under underrate Lyle Beerbohm. Once you get past his colorful shorts and unique name, what you find is an extremely talented fighter.

    His three most notable wins are against Duane Ludwig, Vitor Ribiero, and Rafaello Oliveira. Even though these are the only notable wins he's achieved so far, the guy is definitely talented. He has finished seven of his career wins by TKO, six by submission, and only two by decision.

    He has mainly spent his career bouncing around the undercard of various Showtime events, Beerbohm is showing all the promise of a future star. The spotlight for now shines on the WEC and UFC but Beerbohm is a worthy adversary who just needs enough face time to prove so.

Number 7: Yushin Okami

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    Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com

    For many people, UFC 122 will be their first introduction to Yushin Okami.

    He's beaten guys like Alan Belcher, Evan Tanner, Mike Swick, and most recently Mark Munoz. Okami uses his wrestling prowess, strength, and frequently improving striking to handle opponents.

    He may not be the Korean Zombie, but as his 25-5 record shows, he gets the job done. Okami is underrated because he is hard to market to an American audience. He doesn't have three round slugfests or slap on fight winning triangles with seconds left on the clock; what he does is win.

    Win or lose this Saturday, this is the publicity that Okami needs to move out of the ranks of the underrated and gain more respect for his achievements in MMA thus far.

Number 6: Anthony Pettis

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    Picture by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com (Pettis in the white trunks)

    Anthony Pettis is the current number one contender for the WEC lightweight championship.

    Many people I've spoken to don't know if he has what it takes to compete with competition the level of Benson Henderson. With the WEC's recent merger with the UFC, I've heard even more doubt voiced about how successful he can be in the future.

    From what I've seen of Pettis thus far, I have no worries. He will be able to succeed at any level of competition. His striking has been honed under the tutelage under Duke Roufus, while his submission game is a constant threat. I think were it not for his split decision loss to Bart Palaszewski there would be even less doubt of how good "Showtime" truly is.

Number 5: Gerald Harris

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    When I think back to the Rampage vs. Griffin season of the Ultimate Fighter, I always have the image in my head ofAmir Sadollah laying into Gerald Harris for a TKO.

    How does this play in to how he's under rated? The fact that he was handling Sadollah easily until getting sloppy in the second round. 

    To top that off, since the show ended he has gone undefeated and since entering the UFC has finished all of his fights by TKO or KO.

    Though he has to live with his poor decisions in the Sadollah fight, he has shown that he is a far superior fighter to Sadollah in the aftermath of TUF.

    People underrate the strength and pure power that Harris packs into all of his punches, slams, and strikes from top position. He has a great all around game and can put anybody out at any time.

    The TV show gave people a reason to underestimate him, maybe this video of his fight with Dave Branch will give everybody a reason to reevaluate where he stands.

Number 4: Chris Leben

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    Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    He's been beat up and beat down, but Chris Leben gives just as much punishment as he receives.

    Though he may not be championship material; Chris Leben is a total bad ass. 

    People underrate Leben mostly in part to his insane antics on the Ultimate Fighter, and blatant unwillingness to move his head when a fist is coming towards it.

    However, time and time again (except against Anderson Silva), Leben showed that he'll take any shot and deliver one back. He showed in a major way after getting beaten down by Terry Martin, then knocking Martin out while Leben himself seemed to be out on his feet.

    People constantly fail to take into account just how much of a beating this guy can take. They forget that behind his madman exterior is the mind of a mixed martial artist. His submission wins against Yoshihiro Akiyama and Edwin Dewees proved that for sure.

    However, I think Leben can be happy about being underrated, I think it has played a big role in many of his wins.

Number 3: Martin Kampmann

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    Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com

    Martin Kampmann has survived brutal shots from Drew McFedries, rolled through Jorge Rivera, take out Carlos Condit, and make Paulo Thiago look like a fool.

    Despite that, people assumed that Jake Shields was going to come into the UFC and dominate Kampmann.

    Shields came into the UFC and though he won, he was definitely not the better man that night.

    Martin Kampmann has an underrated ground game, stand up, cardio, work ethic, and just about everything else. People have taken his losses to explosive strikers in Marquardt and Daley as weakness. In reality he made some missteps and was caught.

    Kampmann is an amazing fighter but is vastly underrated for his skills. He proved to Jake Shields that he was certainly near the top of the food chain in the UFC welterweight division, and as time progresses I believe the fans will see that as well.

Number 2: Eddie Alvarez

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    Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com

    The current Bellator lightweight champion has been forced to live in the shadow of names like BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar, Shinya Aoki, Gray Maynard, and Gilbert Melendez. Being the champion of such a small organization as Bellator has placed a stigma on Alvarez for the time being.

    It seems that no matter who Alvarez beats, he still hovers around the lightweight pound-for-pound rankings at around fifth. Since his loss to Aoki in 2008 he has finished all of his six fights, five by submission, and one by TKO due to doctor stoppage.

    Though he is a champion in Bellator, it's used as an excuse to keep him out of the ranks of the top three in his weight class, because of the organizations youth and size. Since he's not fighting in a big organization like the UFC, Strikeforce, or even DREAM, people underrate him as not being good enough to hang with the big boys of MMA.

    Though if his last four wins over Toby Imada, Katsunori Kikuno, Josh Neer, and Roger Huerta mean anything (which they do) then Alvarez has already proved he is at least top three material.

Number 1: Fabricio Werdum

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    Fabricio Werdum did what many said was impossible when he beat Fedor Emelianenko. Sadly, immediately after his monumental victory people began to pin the loss on luck, Fedor's foolishness, or jumped immediately to how Fedor would win in a rematch.

    A big part that was missing from the conversation was a grandiose congratulations for Werdum after beating the widely considered best heavyweight of all time. It seems like win or lose, people just find reasons to underrate Werdum. 

    Now that he has a shot against Alistair Overeem people are questioning if Werdum has what it takes to beat him...despite having beaten him decisively in the past already. Werdum is the most underrated person on this list because of all the great things he has done, somebody always tried to take it away from him.

The End

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    Hope you guys enjoyed! Have a Freeman filled day!