UFC 130 Fight Card: Brian Stann and the 10 Best MMA Role Models for Kids
For a long time, mixed martial arts was an underground sport that drew a lot of resistance from the mainstream media.
With Sen. John McCain notoriously likening MMA to "human cock fighting", it's been a long and tough journey to get the sport to where it is today.
As fans cringe with each public appearance that a Brock Lesnar or Nick Diaz makes, there are a few fighters out there that help promote the sport in a positive manner.
Here are the top 10 fighters that are giving the sport a good reputation while acting as great role models for the younger fans out there.
10. UFC Light-Heavyweight Matt Hamill
UFC light-heavyweight Matt Hamill has one of the best biographies in the sport.
Born deaf, Hamill has overcome so much adversity en route to becoming a contender in the UFC. With the support of his family, Hamill succeeded at wrestling in high school and college before turning to MMA.
With a movie detailing his life story due out later this year, Hamill is one of the most inspirational athletes today.
9. Former UFC Middleweight Champion and UFC Light Heavyweight Rich Franklin
Former UFC Middleweight champion and current UFC light-heavyweight Rich "Ace" Franklin shows the kids out there that brains are just as important as the brawns.
Earning his bachelor's degree in mathematics and master's degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, Franklin's formerly taught math at Oak Hills High School in his hometown of Cincinnati.
A class act in and outside of the cage, the former champion is heavily involved in charities around the Cincinnati area and is an active member of the Disabled American Veterans organization.
His sportsmanship displayed after his loss to Forrest Griffin just goes to show how great of an ambassador Franklin is to the sport.
8. Former WEC Featherweight Champion and UFC Bantamweight Urijah Faber
A cut physique, great smile and charming personality make former WEC Featherweight champion and current UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber a perfect spokesman for the sport.
He's just plain likable.
Featured in commercials for Amp Energy and K Swiss, "the California Kid" has been gaining more exposure as of late.
Also involved in many charities, Faber has the potential to become the Derek Jeter of the UFC - a champion who has mass appeal to younger fans.
7. Female Strikeforce Middleweight Gina Carano
There are few female fighters in MMA that are more known than Gina Carano.
One of the first female athletes to put women's fighting on the radar, Carano is a pioneer in women's MMA.
She's one of those woman athletes whose beauty and winning ways are what help her to excel in what many consider a "male" sport. The current Strikeforce female fighter is reminiscent of Danica Patrick or Mia Hamm.
Carano is a great role model for all the girls watching.
6. Former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture
Five-time champion and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture has been an ambassador for the sport his entire career.
The model spokesman, Couture has always been a humble champion, showing kids that humility inside and outside the Octagon can lead to a long and prosperous career.
Gaining more cross over appeal now that his focus is on acting rather than fighting, "the Natural" is one of the most altruistic stars of the UFC. Couture has donated his time and money to help the wounded vets at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
A former member of the U.S. Army, Couture will no doubt continue to serve as a role model for fans of all ages.
5. UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre
Welterweight champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre is the UFC's golden boy.
His appeal to such a wide audience has helped the sport immensely in its quest for mainstream acceptance.
Refusing to exchange in a war of words with the volatile Josh Koscheck while coaching the Ultimate Fighter, GSP constantly displays a level of professionalism and class while performing at the highest level.
Showing kids how true champions act, St. Pierre is the face of the UFC.
4. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten
A legend of the sport, Bas Rutten still gains fans despite his fighting career being over.
Co-host of Inside MMA on HDNet, Rutten remains a figurehead of the sport with his insightful analysis stemming from an illustrious career.
Rutten has been featured on many commercials on Cartoon Network encouraging kids to get out and go play.
3. Former Power Ranger Jason David Frank
Jason David Frank has been entertaining children since 1993.
The former green, white, red and black Power Ranger is a high ranking karate blackbelt which has translated well to the MMA world. Sporting a perfect 4-0 amateur and 1-0 professional MMA record, Frank continues to win over fans.
Turning in his morpher for a pair of four ounce gloves, JDF has by far one of the best youth focused public images in all of MMA.
2. Former WEC Light-Heavyweight Champion and UFC Middleweight Brian Stann
Praised by former President George W. Bush and awarded with the Silver Star for his actions while serving in Iraq, former Marine Brian Stann is an all American role model for every fan.
Retaining his discipline and honor while fighting in the UFC, the former WEC champion is the model fighter the promotion.
This American hero continues to gain support as he pummels through the UFC's middleweight division.
1. Bellator Lightweight Roger Huerta
Coming from a broken and abusive home, Bellator lightweight Roger Huerta has overcome so much hardship in life.
Abandoned by his father when he was only 18 months old, Huerta's mother physically abused him before leaving him with his grandparents in a civil war ridden El Salvador.
Winding up alone on his father's doorstep, Huerta endured even more abuse by his father and his adoptive mother.
Surviving these years of torment, this top ten lightweight was able to break into the athletic world with the help of friends and faculty.
Using his experiences to help other kids with similar backgrounds, Huerta has become one of the true good guys in MMA, a gentleman and altruist.