UFC 129: Randy Couture and 10 Fighters with the Most Underrated Striking in MMA
There are many striking styles that are underrated in MMA, and there are fighters at the top of their weight divisions that are underrated for using them.
Whether or not they are underrated strikers, because they have a dominant wrestling or grappling style that makes it not look as good when they stand, every one of these fighters has shown improvement in the areas where they are most underrated.
This is a list of the top 10 most underrated strikers in MMA.
No. 10 Matt Wiman
When lightweight Matt Wiman steps into the Octagon to take on dangerous German kickboxer Dennis Siver at UFC 132, his underrated striking will be put to the ultimate test.
Going into that bout, expect to see a lot of KO predictions for Siver. Wiman is one of the more underrated strikers in the division where the most dangerous strikers are Kenny Florian, Melvin Guillard and Siver.
Wiman, like a lot of wrestlers in the division, have used their dominant grappling style to adjust to the challenges that come with learning the standup part of MMA, and it's starting to pay off for the 27-year-old.
Keep an eye on him as he continues to improve his current three-fight win streak.
No. 9 Stephan Bonnar
Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar has seven submission wins to his credit, but he also has a striking game that has developed over the years since putting on his historic bout with former UFC light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
Through blood and cuts, "The American Psycho" doesn't leave many fights like he went in. His defense may lack when it comes to defending strikes, but his solid chin and heart makes up for it.
He used his striking to stop Krzystof Sosyznski in the second round of their rematch and has used a variety of strikes including elbows, kicks, knees and punches to mix up his attack against various opponents.
No. 8 Sean Sherk
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk is still one of the top lightweights in the world. He just hasn't fought consistently enough to keep his top spot in the division.
Sherk's tight peek-a-boo style works to his advantage in the fights where he has distinct height and reach disadvantage. He is often criticized for standing and trading with opponents when he clearly has the wrestling advantage. He is so good at wrestling that his standup isn't seen as being too effective, which it sometimes is.
In his bouts with B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, Evan Dunham and Tyson Griffin, Sherk held his own in the standup before falling short in two of the four exciting lightweight matchups.
The 37-year-old is talking about returning in the summer, and with all of his losses being to current or former UFC champions, deserves another top contender.
No. 7 Gegard Mousasi
With kickboxing, MMA and amateur boxing experience, former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi has a ton of experience that carries the success he has had in the sport.
Nobody talks about Mousasi's striking as being something that could be challenged by the very best in the division. With a 30-3-2 record and 17 knockouts, Mousasi is one of the more dangerous strikers in Strikeforce and could hold his own versus some of the very best in the UFC's middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions.
He struggled in his last fight versus Keith Jardine, which resulted in a draw, but it was the takedowns that gave him trouble, not the standup.
Once he fixes his takedown defense, expect to see a much more fluid and technical, effective standup attack from the Dutch-Armenian fighter.
No. 6 Josh Barnett
Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett may be one of the more underrated fighters, especially when it comes to stand up.
If you look at his first fight versus Pedro Rizzo and the second fight, you can see the drastic change in his approach and success in the striking department. He knocked out Rizzo with a perfect shot in their second fight to put the Brazilian to sleep.
He also shown good boxing versus Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who is a very good boxer himself.
His next fight will be versus Brett "The Grim" Rogers at Strikeforce on June 18th. That should be an intriguing battle that may be another opportunity for Barnett to show off his improved striking.
No. 5 Kazuo Misaki
Japanese fighter Kazuo Misaki has had a very successful MMA career using his underrated standup and boxing to defeat 24 of his 38 opponents.
With an extensive background in judo and kickboxing, Misaki has taken his career into deep waters fighting some of the very best, including Jake Shields, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Frank Trigg, Phil Baroni, Nate Marquardt and Ed Herman.
He also beat current Strikforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson using boxing only and has knocked out Joe Riggs, Akira Shoji and Joe D'Arce.
No. 4 Frank Mir
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir may be underrated all together, but he has shown he is better now than ever before, especially when it comes to striking.
He really showed off his striking ability when he took on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92. He became the first man ever to finish Nogueira in a very important fight that catapulted his career back into the top spot of the sport.
He also finished the legendary kickboxer Mirko "Cro Cop" Flipovic in their bout at UFC 115. After standing three rounds with the dangerous striker, Mir put him to sleep with a knee to the chin in the final minutes of the bout.
No. 3 Gray Maynard
Gray Maynard was criticized by everyone for being a wrestler that just liked to smother his opponents and win decisions. They were right about the second part. His last nine fights have gone the distance.
He really opened fans' eyes to how good his striking is in the first round of his championship bout with Frankie Edgar. He dropped the lightweight champion three times in the first round with vicious uppercuts and hooks. If it weren't for the heart and will of "The Answer," we'd be looking at a new lightweight champion. The fight resulted in a draw after Edgar rallied in the rest of the fight.
Like the other wrestlers on this list, Maynard's striking is often overlooked because of his one dominant skill on the ground, but he is continually improving as a fighter and a striker.
No. 2 Michael Bisping
There can be one of many things keeping Michael Bisping on the list of underrated strikers.
Maybe it's his lack of knockout power. Maybe it's because he gets rocked in almost every one of his fights. The knockout suffered at the hands of Dan Henderson still lingers in fans' minds whenever his next fight is announced. Or maybe fans just don't like him for his attitude.
Whatever it is, Bisping still remains one of the most underrated strikers in the sport. He has used his standup to beat opponents like Chris Leben, Jorge Rivera, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Dan Miller. Many of his fights are fought exclusively on the feet.
Without having any considerable KO power, he takes on the same distinctions as fighters like Frankie Edgar. With constant movement and fast hands, he is able to keep his opponents on the outside for the majority of the fight.
He does make very blatant mistakes sometimes, but he has shown he can also be very successful on the feet. He will need to if he ever has plans of fighting guys like Anderson Silva or Vitor Belfort.
No. 1 Randy Couture
Former UFC light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Randy "The Natural" Couture will possibly be having his final MMA bout this weekend.
His opponent, Lyoto Machida, is one of the toughest opponents to figure out, and Couture will have to apply his underrated standup skills to keep "The Dragon" at bay at UFC 129.
As a Greco-Roman wrestler with brutal dirty-boxing, Couture is able to dominate his opponents in the clinch. It's very possible this next fight will be fought entirely from the outside as Machida likes to utilize movement and striking he learned as a third-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate.
The 47-year-old's boxing will need to be at an all-time best to tag his defensive-minded opponent. The good thing is that he can do it, and he has every intention of leaving the Octagon and the sport with a win.