The Top 5 MMA Fighters Not Currently Fighting Under the ZUFFA Banner
Everyone should now be aware of the fact that ZUFFA, the parent company of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce.
Strikeforce was a rival MMA organization owned by Scott Coker, and as with Pride, ZUFFA bought them out.
Many said Strikeforce had a better heavyweight division, and even if they didn't, the general talent in Strikeforce could not be denied.
Strikeforce does house some of the world's best fighters, and according to some, may house the world's best lightweight.
Now that ZUFFA owns both the UFC and Strikeforce, it could only be a matter of time until these two organizations have cross-promotional fights, or they just merge together completely.
This leaves some to wonder, what other fighters out there are currently not under control of ZUFFA?
Here are the top five fighters who are not under the ZUFFA banner.
Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki
Shinya Aoki (27-5 [1 NC]) is the current DREAM lightweight champion, and is one of the best lightweights in the world.
Aoki is only listed as an honorable mention, because I'm not totally sure how his contract works.
He fights in DREAM, but in addition to DREAM, he fights for Strikeforce.
I would assume he has to be under some type of ZUFFA control, but I can't be sure, so he will have to sit with an honorable mention.
Honorable Mention: Fedor Emelianenko
Fedor Emelianenko (31-3 [1 NC]) is in the same exact situation as Aoki.
He fights for Strikeforce, but I believe his contract is through the promotional company M-1 Global.
Everyone knows of the mystique of Fedor, about how he was basically undefeated throughout his career, until he went on a two fight losing streak.
Even with that streak, many still consider Fedor a top-10 heavyweight (probably somewhere around the No. 8 or 9 range).
Because I can't be sure if Fedor is technically under the ZUFFA banner, he too will get an honorable mention.
Eddie Alvarez (22-2) is the current Bellator lightweight champion, and is a top lightweight in MMA.
Alvarez won the season 1 Bellator lightweight tournament and hasn't looked back. He entered the tournament coming off a loss to Shinya Aoki, and then submitted all three of his opponents on his way to winning the Bellator belt.
After winning the belt, he has won four more fights, only one of which was a title defense.
Alvarez is quite possibly a top-five lightweight in the world, and I'm crossing my fingers for him to fight in Strikeforce sometime soon.
Hector Lombard (29-2-1 [1 NC]) is the current Bellator middleweight champion.
As the Bellator announcers made very clear during his last fight, Lombard holds the longest unbeaten streak in all of MMA. It is currently at 23 fights (22 wins, 1 draw).
His last loss? November 5, 2006, to a person you may have heard of: Gegard Mousasi.
Lombard is a ferocious striker, and he has world-class judo. That's a deadly combination.
Lombard was supposed to make his UFC debut several years ago, but he could not get a visa and never got to fight in the UFC.
It's time he comes over to see what he can do.
Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2) is the current Shooto lightweight champion and Sengoku featherweight champion.
Hioki is ranked as the No. 2 featherweight in the world according to Sherdog, and he can sure back it up.
He holds two wins—yes that's right, two—over the last man to fight Jose Aldo for the featherweight title, Mark Hominick.
Hioki is a black belt in BJJ, and half of his victories have come by way of submission.
If Hioki were to come to the UFC, we may finally get to see Aldo's jiu-jitsu game.
Ben Askren (8-0) is the current Bellator welterweight champion, and a former Olympic wrestler.
Askren has been calling out fighters under contract with ZUFFA lately, and it's clear that he wants to start something and fight them.
Askren has said he wants to be the best in the world, and he realizes that he cannot do that while with Bellator.
It is only a matter of time until Askren makes the transition to ZUFFA control and tries to take on the best in the world.
Joe Warren (7-1) is the current Bellator featherweight champion.
Warren was doing commentary for the Bellator event this past Saturday, and he was very well-spoken and knew what he was saying.
Warren would make a nice addition to the UFC featherweight division, and is a very strong wrestler.
He could put on some great fights with some of the best featherweights around.
He is going to defend his title against Patricio Freire, who he originally defeated in the Bellator season 2 final to win the title.