Ranking MMA's Top 10 Middleweights Outside of Zuffa Banner
As we continue down the weight chart ranking the best the world of mixed martial arts has to offer, outside of the control of Zuffa, we begin to see a more international trend.
Globalization has long been a goal of Zuffa, but in reality, the globalization of MMA has been happening for decades. While the UFC name has taken the sport by storm, the reality is, the sport existed long before the acronym reached the level of the NFL, NBA or MLB.
Bellator has been snatching up these international talents left and right, showing not only the talent of their scouting division, but just how deep they are willing to reach to bring in talent untouched by the Zuffa companies.
How many Americans managed to crack this month's rankings?
#10. Giva Santana
Despite a 16-1 record and appearances with ShoXC, Taichi Palace Fights and M-1, Santana has gone widely unknown to casual MMA fans.
A 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Santana has earned the nickname "The Arm Collector" on his way to finishing 14 of his victims by submission, 12 of them by armbar.
After choking former WEC Middleweight champion Doug Marshall unconscious at Taichi Palace Fights 10 in just 29 seconds, Bellator quickly signed Santana and is planning an appearance for him during the upcoming season.
#9. Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
Vasilevsky has built his 15-1 record fighting mostly in Europe for the M-1 promotion.
A 2010 M-1 Global Light Heavyweight champion, Vasilevsky is a combat sambo and judo specialist who holds wins over notables Xavier Foupa-Pokam and, most recently, Robert Jocz.
Also a two-time World Champion in combat sambo, Vasilevsky awaits official word of his next fight.
#8. Bruno Santos
Santos has built a 12-0 record fighting in Brazil, most notably for Bitteti Combat.
Santos emerged victorious in the Bitetti Combat middleweight grand prix, taking out Angel Orellana, Vitor Nobrega and Julio Cesar dos Santos along the way.
Despite his impressive record, Santos has been given the feared "boring" label by many, having earned nine of his wins by way of decision.
Santos recently signed with Bellator and is expected to make his debut in the fall.
#7. Norman Paraisy
Paraisy has built a 10-1-1 (1 NC) record fighting all over the world for notable promotions. His stops include M-1, Bellator, CWFC and a short-lived stint on The Ultimate Fighter.
Despite the disappointment showing at welterweight on TUF, Paraisy has become a feared man worldwide. The Frenchman has defeated notables Paulo Filho, Jack Stone and Hidehiko Hasegawa.
At just 25 years old, Paraisy is long from finished adding to that list, and is looking to get back into the cage before the end of the calendar year.
#6. Tom Watson
Watson has built a 14-4 record while winning and twice defending the BAMMA middleweight championship.
With crisp, powerful striking, Watson has taken out notables Murilo Rua, Matt Horwich and Travis Galbraith.
Originally scheduled to face Frank Trigg at BAMMA 7, Watson was forced to pull out, citing a back injury as the cause. He hopes to make his return before the final bell rings on 2011.
#5. Jesse Taylor
Most known as the man who's drunken tirade cost him a shot at winning The Ultimate Fighter, Taylor has built a 19-7 record a bit under the radar following his dismissal from the show.
Having won five straight including big wins over Tom Watson and Denis Kang, Taylor's winning streak was snapped by Hector Lombard by way of a rear naked choke at Australian FC 2.
Despite the setback, Taylor is confident and determined to get back into the win column, and his impressive skill set should get him there sooner rather than later.
#4. Jake Rosholt
Jake Rosholt has one of the best set of wrestling credentials the sport has to offer as a four-time NCAA Division 1 All-American during his time at Oklahoma State.
Since being served his walking papers by the UFC after being submitted by Kendall Grove at UFC 106, Rosholt has gone 6-1 with one no contest, avenging the loss to Matt Horwich in his most recent outing at Shark Fights 17.
With notable wins over the aforementioned Horwich, Chris Leben and Nissen Osterneck, Rosholt isn't far off Zuffa's radar for a return.
#3. Alexander Shlemenko
With 25 of 40 wins by way of (T)KO, Shlemenko has proven to be one of the more potent strikers at 185 pounds in the world.
Technically crisp with a flair for flash, Shlemenko has two knockouts by way of spinning back fist on his resume.
The Bellator Season 2 middleweight tournament champion fell short by way of unanimous decision to Hector Lombard in his Bellator title shot, but has railed off three straight to rebuild momentum heading into the Bellator Season 5 middleweight tournament, where he meets Zelg Galesic in the first round on September 17th.
#2. Mamed Khalidov
With a 23-4-2 professional record, the black belt karate expert is quickly becoming a household name.
Despite his extensive karate background, Khalidov is no one-trick pony. With the 2007 ADCC Poland Championship keeping his KSW Middleweight Championship company, Khalidov has shown the versatility needed to compete at the highest level of mixed martial arts.
Riding a three fight win streak highlighted by first round submission wins over James Irvin and Matt Lindland, Khalidov also holds big wins over current UFC fighters Jorge Santiago and Igor Pokrajac.
#1. Hector Lombard
Lombard, the reigning and defending Bellator and CFC Middleweight champion, has built his professional MMA record to 30-2-1-1 on the heels of a remarkable 23 fight undefeated streak.
The black belt, in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, hasn't lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Gegard Mousasi at a 2006 PRIDE event.
With notable victories over Jesse Taylor, Brian Ebersole, Jared Hess, Alexander Shlemenko, Jay Silva, Joe Doerksen and Falaniko Vitale, Lombard has proven to be one of the world's best.
Lombard recently secured his third championship when he submitted Taylor for the Australian Fighting Championship on September 3rd.
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