By definition, a gatekeeper is someone who controls access to something.
With the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship booming, nearly every MMA fighter in the world is looking to join the promotion. Unfortunately, there isn't room for all of them.
But who belongs in the UFC and who does not?
This is where gatekeepers become important. To use a cliche, they sort the men from boys.
Many fight fans acknowledge the presence of gatekeepers in the UFC, however I believe there are two separate types.
The first gatekeepers, the more recognized type, is the fighter that allows Dana White and Joe Silva to determine if a fighter has the talent to belong in the UFC.
The first gate keeper is usually on the fringe of losing his job, but too valuable to cut for the organization. He tends to win the fights against "immature" fighters that lack experience and they receive mixed results against average fighters.
Each division tends to have multiple first gatekeepers.
The second gatekeeper generally goes unrecognized. He is tougher to recognize.
His job is to determine which fighters are the elite in a division (ie top ten talent) and which fighters are average. The second gate keeper usually is a decent fighter that is not at risk for his job, but not considered in title contention either. More of a wild card, this fighter generally beats the average fighters but will likely lose to elite talent.
There is only one true second gatekeeper in each division. However, this position is fluid and can change if the current second gatekeeper strings together wins or losses.
First Gatekeepers: Sam Stout, Hermes Franca, Marcus Aurelio
Second Gatekeeper: Clay Guida
First Gatekeepers: Matt Brown, Luigi Fioravanti, Jonathan Goulet
Second Gatekeeper: Chris Lytle (Possibly becoming Karo Parisyan)
First Gatekeepers: Ed Herman, Jeremey Horn, Chris Leben
Second Gatekeeper: Patrick Cote
Fist Gatekeepers: Houston Alexander, James Irvin, Eric Schafer
Second Gatekeeper: Keith Jardine
First Gatekeepers: Antoni Hardonk, Cheick Kongo, Heath Herring
Second Gatekeeper: Cain Velasquez (could be Frank Mir if he loses to Nogueira)
These are the men that divide the talent in the UFC. They aren't the best fighters or even title contenders, yet they are invaluable to the organization nonetheless.