10 Fighters That Dana White and The UFC Need To Sign
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As the number one mixed martial arts promotion in the world, the UFC is the gold standard for ultimate fighting. The biggest names within mixed martial arts have competed under the UFC banner.
Iconic figures like Royce Gracie, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, and Matt Hughes (and the list goes on and on) have proudly represented the UFC worldwide.
With the explosion of MMA here in the States over the past few years, there are still a number of very deserving fighters who are not signed to a UFC contract. These fighters are all very skilled and have the reputation of leaving it all out on the line when they step foot in the cage.
Whatever the reason for their absence, whether contractual disputes or personality clashes, these fighters will bring value to the UFC and provide entertainment for the fans regardless.
Here is my list of the 10 fighters whose reputation and fight game is deserving of a UFC contract. I look forward to your comments.
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#10: Brett "The Grim" Rogers
Brett "The Grim" Rogers
At 6'5" 265 pounds, Brett "The Grim" Rogers comes to the octagon for one purpose: to knock you the f**k out! He possesses absolutely no ground game and does not hide his intention that he is in the cage to channel all his discontent through the face of his opponent.
With an 11-2 record, he has finished all of his opponents via (T)KO, minus his most recent decision victory over Ruben Villareal.
Willing to stand and trade with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and current Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem, Rogers does not change his game plan for any fight.
Obviously limited in his overall mixed martial arts talent, Brett Rogers will stand and trade with any fighter who is put in front of him.
How about a match up against Roy "Big Country" Nelson? These two heavyweights can beat the stuffing out of one another.
All joking aside, Brett Rogers will provide a stand up contest against any of the UFC's heavyweights.
As he becomes more seasoned with the intricacies of mixed martial arts, he will begin to develop a ground game making him a more polished mixed martial artist. However, his propensity for exchanging strikes will always provide him with the foundation that fans love and Dana White and the UFC brass desires.
#9: Strikeforce's Middleweight Contender: Tim Kennedy
America loves a hero. And America loves its mixed martial arts. The combination of hero and MMA should be a perfect fit for the UFC.
I realize that being a hero does not translate into ultimate fighting fame. However, serving as a Ranger in the United States Army is a tremendous foundation to build the work ethic and dedication needed to be successful in such a demanding sport.
Currently, Kennedy is 12-3 with one loss to Scott Smith due to a cut and a debatable five round loss recently to Renaldo Souza at Strikeforce: Houston in August, 2010.
Possessing not only an outstanding work ethic which provides non-stop pressure and action on his opponents, Tim is a very solid stand up striker mixing in various punches and kicks to win victories on his feet. Additionally, his physical strength is a tremendous asset with his wrestling background as he continually dominates from the ground.
With the recent urgency within the UFC to finish fights, let it be known that Kennedy has finished 11 of his 12 victories either by submission or (T)KO.
Obviously possessing the necessary talent to be competitive within the UFC as well as the military background adored by millions, Tim Kennedy would be an invaluable addition to the UFC middleweight division.
#8: Dan "Hendo" Henderson
Dan "Hendo" Henderson
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I realize that my No. 8 pick may not be on the top of some people's lists. At 40 years old, Dan Henderson may be conceived as over the hill or as losing some of his octagon skill. However, even with years of experience over some of the UFC's elite fighters, Dan Henderson's fight game should not be overlooked.
The only ultimate fighter to concurrently hold two titles in two different weight classes in a major MMA promotion, Pride Fighting Championships, Henderson is also the UFC 17 middleweight, Pride 2005 welterweight and 1999 RINGS King of Kings tournament champion. Additionally, "Hendo" is the No. 7 ranked pound for pound middleweight fighter on Sherdog.com.
With an upcoming fight against Renato Sobral at Strikeforce: St. Louis, the winner of this fight will be the No. 1 contender for the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship.
A world class Greco Roman wrestler, Dan Henderson also possesses dynamite in his right hand and has vicious knockout victories over current UFC contenders Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva.
Re-signed to the UFC in 2008, his 3-2 record recently warranted his exit from the promotion. I understand his release, however, large in stature and naturally a strong and competitive light heavyweight mixed martial artist, signing to the UFC's stable of light heavyweight fighters will enhance that division and provide an interesting challenge at the top for Mauricio Rua and Rashad Evans.
#7: Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos
Possibly more popular for being the husband of the current Strikeforce women's middleweight champion, Cristiane Santos, or for having a Mike Tyson tattoo on his stomach, Evangelista Santos has earned his nickname "Cyborg" in the cage for being a relentless stand up striker with a ferocity and tenacity paralleled to that of his former Chute Boxe Academy teammate, Wanderlei Silva.
If you have never watched Cyborg fight, please do yourself a favor and witness this mixed martial artist unload a fury of strikes from all angles and with all appendages onto his opponent. You will be happy that you researched this tremendously gifted Brazilian import.
With an overall MMA record of 18-13 with significant losses against Joey Villasenor and Gegard Mousasi, Evangelista has holes in his fight game that are exposed by more talented fighters.
With that said, this welterweight firecracker can finish a fight in a heartbeat. Possessing explosive punches and absolutely devastating leg kicks, Santos' stand up game is challenging for every opponent he faces.
Is Evangelista Santos a more gifted mixed martial artist than the current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre? That answer is no.
But would I be glued to the television each and every time Santos steps foot into the octagon knowing that he can finish a fight in the blink of an eye? That answer is a resounding YES!
#6: Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef
Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef
As the counter faction to the epic stand up striking battles with my No. 7 pick, Evangelista Santos, this Dutch kick boxing sensation combines a relentless pace with an aggressive fighting style to unload a barrage of explosive strikes.
Matching "Cyborg's" intensity and striking ability, "No Mercy" combines pinpoint punches, knees and kicks with the ability to maneuver swiftly increasing striking angles resulting in amazing knock outs.
With (T)KO victories in 23 of his 24 wins, like Brett Rogers, Melvin fights on his feet, and only on his feet. Limited in his ground game, Manhoef would need to excel at his take down defense and jiu-jitsu skills to compete against the middleweights in the UFC.
Like Evangelista Santos, Melvin Manhoef's legitimate one punch knockout power is a fight changer. Every one of his opponents will cautiously engage with this Dutch star.
I realize that the UFC is more than kick boxing. And Melvin has had mediocre success transitioning into MMA.
However, Dana White wants action! And with Melvin "No Mercy" Manhoef, action is all he knows.
#5: Current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem
Alistair "The Demolition Man" Overeem stands 6'5" weighing 255 pounds of brute muscle. Another Dutch kick boxing prodigy, Alistair's transition to mixed martial arts has been tremendously successful.
The current Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Overeem's technical knock out victory over top heavyweight contender and my No. 10 pick, Brett Rogers, was the quickest TKO loss of Rogers' career.
Competing in mixed martial arts since 1999, Alistair's list of opponents comprises many prolific MMA fighters including UFC hall of fame inductee Chuck Liddell, current UFC top middleweight contender, Vitor Belfort and current UFC light heavyweight champion, Mauricio Rua.
Decades of fighting experience including years in the octagon as an ultimate fighter and years in the ring as a kick boxer has created an extremely talented and equally vicious mixed martial artist.
Matching the size of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and the stand up striking skills of current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem would be an ideal addition to the UFC stable of heavyweight fighters.
#4: Former UFC Middleweight Competitor, Gerald "Hurricane" Harris
Gerald "Hurricane" Harris
Recently released from his UFC contract after a "staring" competition in the third round of his previous loss to Maiquel Falcao, Gerald Harris possesses a 17-3 overall MMA record with a 3-1 UFC record.
Finishing all three of his fights in the UFC by (T)KO with two knockout of the night awards, "Hurricane" is a tremendously explosive wrestler who is incredibly strong and powerful.
Improving on his stand up game after his release from the UFC, I look forward to the return of Gerald Harris as a more well-rounded fighter.
His release by Dana White was unquestionably a shock by many MMA experts and fans. Instead of growing discontent with Dana White and the UFC, however, Gerald Harris vows to improve his fight game.
"I know what I have to do. I promise you this: The next time you see me fight, you're going to see a different person," Harris told MMA Junkie.
In due time, Gerald "Hurricane" Harris will be a part of the UFC roster once again. When that occurs, his recent release will be labeled not only a motivational tool, but a wake up call for all the fighters of the UFC.
#3: Strikeforce Middleweight Contender, Cung Le
Cung Le's vicious assault on Frank Shamrock
Known worldwide for his accurate and devastating kicks, Cung Le's powerful strikes have earned him devastating knockout victories in the octagon.
Most notable for breaking Frank Shamrock's arm in March of 2008 from a vicious round house kick, Cung Le's kicks have also taken out Strikeforce challengers Scott Smith and Sammy Morgan.
A former undefeated San Shou champion and Strikeforce middleweight champion, Le has a very impressive 7-1 mixed martial arts record.
Undeniably one of the greatest strikers from his feet, Cung's wrestling background and San Shou brilliance equip him with the necessary tools to be a lethal all-around fighter within the cage.
At times distracted by his drive to be a major player in Hollywood, a focused and driven Cung Le is a force to be reckoned with within the UFC middleweight division.
Can this tactical stand up striker exchange with the likes of Anderson Silva? I am very eager to find the answer to that question.
#2: Nick Diaz
Brash, arrogant, conceited; All words to describe Nick Diaz's personality.
Effective striker, master jiu-jitsu practitioner, tremendous cardiovascular conditioning; All words to describe Nick Diaz's fight game.
Whether you love him or you hate him, Nick Diaz's talent as an ultimate fighter is undeniable. Unorthodox boxer, flexible and action packed jiu-jitsu specialist and supreme confidence are the tools that Diaz counts on in the cage.
Competing worldwide for Pride Fighting Championships, Elite XC, Strikeforce and formerly a member of the UFC, Diaz has victories over K.J. Noons, Scott Smith and Frank Shamrock.
Additionally, Diaz's victory, and subsequent reversal for a positive marijuana test, against Takanori Gomi won fight of the year honors with his marvelous gogoplata submission victory.
With years of octagon experience and high level competition to his credit, Nick Diaz would be a tremendous addition to the UFC welterweight division.
Rumors swirl regarding Diaz's release from the UFC in 2006.
Regardless of the credibility and substance of those rumors, I believe the UFC should re-evaluate Diaz's worth as a fighter as well as a marketable talent.
His brash and cocky presence draws fans and his performance within the cage substantiates his worth.
#1: Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko
Emelianenko had been widely considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world for the last seven years. As of October 27, 2010, Sherdog.com ranks him as the No. 4 fighter in the heavyweight division.
He holds the distinction of having held five separate major championships including the Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight crown, a title he never lost.
Many analysts, as well as former and current fighters, consider Emelianenko to be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
Until tapping to Fabricio Werdum on June 26, 2010 from a triangle choke, Fedor was considered undefeated with a 32-2 MMA record. The only previous loss of his career occurred after he had been illegally injured and subsequently eliminated from a tournament.
With victories over the biggest names in MMA history including Andre Arlovski, Mirko Crocop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mark Coleman, "The Last Emperor's" methodical and precision striking and highly effective ground and pound has dominated every opponent who has stepped foot in the ring.
Like a Hollywood couple at each others throats, Dana White and Fedor's management team, Red Devil Sports Club, could use therapy sessions to alleviate their differences. Constantly hampered with contractual disputes, the reality of Fedor fighting for the UFC is very low.
Optimistically, I would love to have Emelianenko sign a UFC contract.
Watching Fedor compete against the world's top heavyweights would remind me of a time when Mike Tyson sold out arenas and set records for pay-per-view buys as fans were glued to their televisions to watch a living icon at the peak of their game.
With each passing year that Fedor Emelianenko is not a part of the UFC, his relevancy within mixed martial arts is diminished and the window of opportunity to watch this living legend compete against the sport's elite closes.
With the hopes that the Dana White and the Red Devil Sports Club can check their egos at the door and ink a contract for "The Last Emperor," I anxiously await Fedor Emelianenko's arrival to the UFC.