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Phil Davis, Frankie Edgar, Jon Jones and the UFC's Top 10 East Coast Fighters

Jesse CurranContributor IMarch 26, 2011

Phil Davis, Frankie Edgar, Jon Jones and the UFC's Top 10 East Coast Fighters

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    I'd like to start off by clarifying that this list is only going to be fighters who are from the East Coast, not fighters that just happen to train there.

    Now then, on to business.

    For years the East Coast has produced some of the world's best fighters, from former champions to current champions and everything in between.

    Mainly hailing from the Tri-State area, these fighters display not only a tremendous fighting ability, but also avid devotion and respect for the sport and a generally great sportsmanship attitude. Thus, they exude the essence of a true martial artist.

    Really quick, I'd like to give a small shout out to a couple who didn't make the cut: Ricardo Almeida (Notable wins over Matt Brown, Kendall Grove, and Nate Marquard), Dan Miller (Notable wins over John Howard, Jake Roshalt and Joe Doerksen) and Joe Lauzon (Notable wins over Jens Pulver, Jeremy Stephens, and Gabe Ruediger).

10: Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino: Point Pleasant, N.J.

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    Prior to dropping his last two fights in a row, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Kurt Pellegrino had an impressive four-fight win streak over the likes of Thiago Tavares, Rob Emerson, Josh Neer, and Fabricio Camoes and was well on his way up the Lightweight division's steep ladder. 

    With a record of 4-2 in his last six fights and 16-6 overall, the future is still bright for the 31-year-old.

9: Matt "The Terra" Serra: Long Island, N.Y.

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    Matt Serra sports a professional MMA record of only 11-7, but many would still consider him to be a pioneer of the UFC.

    Serra won Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter and went on to be the only person ever to knock out Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and earned the Welterweight title for himself.

    Other notable fights include wins over Chris Lytle (won TUF season 4), Frank Trigg (won Knockout of The Night), and a loss to longtime rival Matt Hughes, a fight in which they both won Fight of the Night honors.

8: "The All American" Brian Stann: Scranton, Pa.

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    Aside from being a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and a highly decorated war hero, "The All American" has been a successful mixed martial artist as well.

    Stann is one of only two men ever to knock out long time UFC veteran Chris "The Crippler" Leben (the other being UFC Middleweight champ Anderson Silva).

    Matched up in May against former Sengoku Middleweight champion Jorge Santiago, Brian looks to win his third straight fight and continue his rise in the UFC's Middleweight division.

7: Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis: Harrisburg, Pa.

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    To start off, the only reason I have Phil Davis before Brian Stann is because Davis has a head-to-head decision victory over "The All American."

    Davis, having been an All-American all four years at Penn State and having won the NCAA Division I title in 2008, is one of the most highly decorated wrestlers in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division.

    In only a short stint thus far in the UFC, Phil has posted a perfect 8-0 record and has also shown to have good grappling and submission skills, winning two of his four UFC fights by submission.

    His win at UFC 123 over Tim Boetsch via "Mr. Wonder Lock" was awarded Submission of the Night and Submission of the Year by MMANews247.com.

    Phil's next opponent, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, whom he fights tonight at UFC Fight Night 24 in Seattle, Wash., will be by far his toughest test.

6: Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian: Westwood, Mass.

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    Kenny Florian has a career record of 14-5, and he holds wins over notable fighters such as Alex Karalexis, Sam Stout, Din Thomas, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi.

    So for years, Kenny Florian has been regarded as one of the best lightweights in the world.

    Ken-Flo fought for the UFC Lightweight title on two occasions coming up short in both. He dropped a five round decision to Sean Sherk and lost via Rear-Naked-Choke in Round No. 4 against B.J. Penn.

    Coming off of two straight wins over Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi (a fight in which Florian earned Submission of the Night honors) his next opponent was Gray Maynard for No. 1 contender status yet again.

    Florian lost a unanimous decision and not too long after that announced that he was going to drop down to the UFC's new Featherweight division.

    His first fight at his new weight of 145 pounds is scheduled to be against WEC transfer Diego Nunes at UFC 131 in June.

5: Josh "Kos" Koscheck: Waynesburg, Pa.

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    The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 produced a great deal of talent. Whether you hate him or love him, few fighters are more skilled or more popular than TUF 1 vet Josh Koscheck.

    Highly regarded as one of the premiere wrestlers in the UFC's Welterweight division, "Kos" has improved his overall game, but especially his striking, immensely since his debut back in 2005.

    Between 2009 and 2010, Koscheck KO'd Frank Trigg, submitted Anthony Johnson, and won a dominant unanimous decision over Paul Daley, which earned him a title shot and a rematch against Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 124 on Dec. 11, 2010.

    St-Pierre picked Koscheck apart with his superior boxing and scored a couple of key takedowns toward the end of the fight. 

    Josh lost a one-sided unanimous decision and due to a broken orbital bone currently does not have another scheduled fight. Koscheck is still, however, ranked as one of the top 10 welterweights in the world.

4: "Suga" Rashad Evans: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

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    Former Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans boasts an impressive professional record of 15-1-1.

    Rashad won winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 as a heavyweight. Following his victory over Brad Imes at the TUF 2 Finale, Evans dropped back down to his natural weight, Light Heavyweight.

    Rashad then went on to go 6-0-1 through his next seven including wins over Stephan Bonner, Michael Bisping and a legendary KO of former champ Chuck Liddell which earned him a title shot against Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 in December of 2008.

    The two fighters put on a Fight of the Night performance, but Evans got the better of Griffin and won via TKO in the third round to earn himself the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

    Just five months later, Evans went to defend his title against undefeated Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. Machida showcased superior striking and KO'd Evans in round No. 2 to take his Light Heavyweight gold.

    Since the Machida fight, Rashad has won unanimous decisions over Thiago Silva and longtime rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, thus earning himself another title shot against recently crowned champ Jon Jones.

    A date and event have yet to be determined.

3: Jim Miller: Sparta, N.J.

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    Coming off of his seventh consecutive victory, Jim Miller has vaulted himself to the top of the UFC's highly competitive lightweight division.

    Miller is one of only a handful of fighters to post a perfect 4-0 mark in 2010. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Jim has finished 11 of his 20 wins via submission.

    Most people never really thought of Miller as much of a striker, but since early 2009, where he has gone 7-0, we've seen Miller's striking improve by leaps and bounds.

    The most recent example of his greatly refined striking was his destruction of undefeated WEC transfer Kamal Shalorus. Miller took the first round finding his distance and sizing up the Iranian.

    In the second Miller scored a tremendous take-down and controlled Shalorus' back for the remainder of the round.

    In the third and final round, Jim rocked Shalorus with a vicious counter uppercut, knocked him down with a knee to the head, and finished him off on the ground.

    Miller is 9-1 in the UFC ,20-2 overall, and has never been finished in his career. The only two men to better the Sparta, N.J., native are current Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and current No. 1 contender Gray Maynard.

    There is yet to be any word as to when Dana White and the UFC will give Miller a title shot or a top 5 opponent but until then, as the opposition keeps lining up, Jim is likely to keep knocking them down.

2: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar: Toms River, N.J.

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    Frankie Edgar is arguably the best wrestler the UFC's Lightweight division has ever seen.

    Although, unlike many wrestlers in MMA who are relatively boring fighters, Edgar is far from that stereotype.

    Having earned Fight of the Night honors on four different occasions, Frankie is one of the more exciting fighters in the sport.

    Edgar collected wins over Tyson Griffin, Mark Bocek, Spencer Fisher, Hermes Franca, former UFC Lightweight champ Sean Sherk, and Matt Veach before finally earning a title shot.

    UFC 112 in April 2010 marked the change of an era. Frankie was matched up against the greatest Lightweight Champion the UFC had ever seen, B.J. Penn. Edgar came into the fight a huge underdog and understandably so.

    It was a very fast-paced fight that went back and forth for all five rounds, and when the judges finally rendered a decision the 28 year old from Toms River was the new UFC Lightweight Champion of the world.

    Edgar's victory over Penn marked one of the greatest upsets in history and was later nominated for Best Upset of the Year at the 2010 ESPY awards.

    The fight was so closely contested that the UFC set up an immediate rematch which was to be at UFC 118 in August 2010.

    Edgar dominated Penn throughout the entire fight by out striking him and powerfully taking him down on several occasions looking much quicker, faster, and stronger than the significantly larger former champion; thus defending his title for the first time.

    The only loss on Edgar's stellar record, Gray Maynard, would be his next opponent. The rematch between these two excellent wrestlers would take place on New Year's Day 2011 in Las Vegas, Nev.

    In Round 1, Maynard rocked Edgar with a flurry of punches, and the champ went tumbling to the ground and all over the Octagon looking absolutely helpless. All 12,874 fans in attendance were sure that a new champion was soon to be crowned.

    Somehow, through what seemed like an act of God, Edgar managed to survive the round and regain his composure. Edgar came out guns blazing for Round 2 and put on a very solid performance for the rest of the fight.

    Since the first round was so one sided the judges scored it a 10-8 round in favor or Gray Maynard. The two battled for all five rounds and all 25 minutes.

    When all was said and done one judge scored the bout 48-46 in favor of Maynard, one judge scored it 48-46 in favor of Edgar, and one judge scored it an even 47-47 resulting in a draw.

    Later that night, it was announced that Edgar and Maynard would have an immediate rematch and would face off for the third time.

    This fight is scheduled for UFC 130 on May 28, 2011 in Las Vegas and is sure to be a fight you don't want to miss.

1: Jon "Bones" Jones: Endicott, N.Y.

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    The vast majority of MMA fighters fight a maximum of four times a year. Newly crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones is no different. Although, that's not how Jones started his career.

    At just 20 years of age, Jones burst onto the MMA scene in April 2008 and fought a whopping seven times between April and August. Fighting for smaller promotions, Jon won his first six fights in a row, four of which were within less than a month.

    Shortly after his 21th birthday, Jones got called up to the big leagues. He made his UFC debut on Aug. 9, 2008 at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, Minn.

    He defeated Andre Gusmao via unanimous decision to improve his professional record to 7-0 and hasn't looked back since.

    "Bones'" meteoric climb up the Light Heavyweight standings included wins over Stephan Bonner, Jake O'Brien, Brandon Vera, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ryan Bader. Each win was significantly more dominating than the last.

    Lumped amidst all these victories lies the lone loss of Jones' career. At The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 Finale, Jones was matched up against veteran Matt Hamill. JBJ went on to get the better of Hamill on the feet and eventually take him down.

    Once on the ground, Jones immediately got full mount and rained down elbows that landed like a cross between hammers and razor blades. Hamill wasn't able to successfully defend himself as he got badly beaten and battered.

    A bloody and helpless mess, Hamill was seconds away from defeat and Jones was looking at his 10th consecutive victory. However, in a split second everything changed. 

    Referee Steve Mazzagatti pulled Jones off and warned him about throwing illegal, "12-6" elbows. When Hamill was too injured to continue, Jones was controversially disqualified for the illegal strikes.

    Just four months later, Jon was right back at it and was matched up against Brandon Vera. Jones made short work of Vera, getting the TKO victory in the first round.

    Jones then went on to dominate former IFL Light Heavyweight champ Vladimir Matyushenko by way of TKO in the first round and top contender Ryan Bader via Guillotine Choke in Round 2, thus earning himself a title shot against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

    March 19, 2011, at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., was the site of UFC 128: Shogun vs Jones.

    JBJ came out immediately with a flying knee that landed pretty hard and didn't look back. Jones significantly out-struck, out-wrestled, and overall out-classed the veteran, Rua.

    In the third of five rounds Jon took Shogun down and started ground-and-pounding him with his classic elbows and started doing some serious damage. Rua was looking for an exit and was able to get off of his back and to his knees.

    From that position, Jones landed a vicious knee to Shogun's body, which prompted him to stand up, where Jones then caught him with a couple punches.

    Rua started to stagger backwards and Jon connected with a knee to Shogun's head which caused referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight.

    At 2:37 of Round 3, Jon "Bones" Jones defeated the legend Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and became the youngest champion in UFC history at 23 years, 242 days old.

    Immediately following Jones' victory, and while still inside of the Octagon, it was announced that his next opponent would be his former teammate and former UFC Light Heavyweight champ, Rashad Evans. A date, location, and event have yet to be decided.

    Looking back on Jon Jones' dominance throughout arguably the toughest division in MMA, there is no reason to think that Jones won't defeat Evans, continue running through opponents, and possibly one day become the greatest champion the UFC has ever seen.

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