MMA: The Top 5 Mixed Martial Artists Outside of the Zuffa Banner
Now that the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce are under the same banner, 95 percent of the top-tier fighters are contracted by Zuffa.
There are five individuals that stand out who are currently not employed by either the UFC or Strikeforce.
Here are the top 5 mixed martial artists outside of the Zuffa banner.
5. Hatsu Hioki
Hioki is currently the Shooto lightweight champion as well as the Sengoku Featherweight champion. Like his fellow countrymen, Shinya Aoki and Takanori Gomi, he is a long time Shooto veteran.
Mostly all of his fights have came from Japanese promotions like Sengoku and the legendary PRIDE Fighting Championships.
Hioki holds notable wins over Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran and Mark Hominick (who is scheduled to fight Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 129.)
Hioki is currently ranked the No. 2 featherweight in the world by Sherdog.
4. Joe Warren
Despite having only seven fights in his career (6-1), Warren is the current Bellator featherweight champion.
Warren's only loss came at the hands of Bibiano Fernandes in the DREAM featherweight grand prix semi finals, where according to Warren, the ref mistook him from submitting to an armbar.
Warren holds notable wins over former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto, former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe, and Patricio Freire.
Joe Warren is currently ranked as the No. 8 featherweight in the world by Sherdog.
3. Hector Lombard
Hector Lombard (28-2-1) is the current middleweight champion of Bellator Fighting Championships.
His only 2 losses to date have both occurred during his time with PRIDE, where he lost to Gegard Mousasi and Akihiro Gono by unanimous decision.
Lombard holds the rank of black belt in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo, in which he holds many championships and awards.
Lombard is currently on a 21-fight winning streak and is a tough fight for anyone at 185 pounds.
Hector Lombard is currently the No. 10 ranked middleweight in the world by Sherdog.
2. Ben Askren
Ben Askren (7-0) is the current welterweight champion for the Bellator Fighting Championships. After competing in wrestling at the 2008 summer Olympics, Askren decided to try his luck in MMA.
After winning a few fights in his local state of Missouri, he got the call to compete in the welterweight tournament for Bellator. After three hard fights, he had won the tournament and earned the right to fight the former Bellator middleweight champion Lyman Good.
Askren is only 26 years old and has a very bright future ahead of him. If his success continues, look for Dana White and the UFC to add this young man to their roster.
Ben Askren is currently ranked as a notable mention in the welterweight division by Sherdog.
1. Eddie Alvarez
Eddie Alvarez (22-2) is the current lightweight champion for the Bellator Fighting Championships. He is a long time mixed martial artist, fighting for organizations like Bellator, Dream and Bodog.
Alvarez's only losses have came to Shinya Aoki and Josh Thompson. He has long been touted one of the best fighters never to step into the UFC octagon.
Though Alvarez has stated that he wants to stay with Bellator for the near future, one can only hope to see him compete against the top lightweights in the world under Zuffa.
Eddie Alvarez is currently the No. 5-ranked lightweight in the world by Sherdog.