5 Exciting Fighters Who Need to Improve Their Wrestling

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

5 Exciting Fighters Who Need to Improve Their Wrestling

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Wrestling has evolved into one of the most useful foundations for any fighter seeking prolonged Octagon success.

    It helps create substantial balance, exceptional defense and the ability to ward off any opponent unwilling to stand and bang.

    Even though a fighter can find ultimate success without the tools to defend a takedown or gain proper leverage cageside, it doesn't hurt to have the technique on standby.

    Here are five exciting fighters who would benefit immensely from a full summer at wrestling camp.

Costa Philippou

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    As one of the hardest-hitting strikers in the UFC's middleweight division, Costa Philippou is at his best when he's able to stay on his feet.

    Even though his strength has fueled a pretty sufficient takedown defense in the past, it failed him earlier this year when Francis Carmont took him down five times and won in a unanimous decision.

    It was Philippou's first defeat since early 2011, when he dropped another decision on the heels of poor wrestling.

    In any case, the future is still bright for the boxing-heavy bruiser who possesses a knockout ability that can fold almost any chin in the weight class. 

    If he can learn some new techniques, utilize his innate strength to pester takedown suitors and stay patient, his winning ways will resurface.

Cub Swanson

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    Currently the beneficiary of an unprecedented five-fight win streak, including four finishes, featherweight Cub Swanson has been one of the hottest fighters in the game.

    He's been able to dominate the Octagon through sensational conditioning, ungodly timing, vicious ground-and-pound and the patience that only a resurgent veteran can exude.

    But he hasn't been perfect.  At times, Swanson's unorthodox mentality has left him vulnerable on the feet. 

    He's one of the more versatile fighters in the division, so when he throws spinning backfists, winding kicks or wild punches, he becomes susceptible to the takedown.

    As a matter of fact, he has been taken down in each of his last four fights.  Fortunately for the 30-year-old, none of his opponents during that span is known for his punishing ground game.

    Either way, Swanson has been so exceptional lately that it seems unfair to say he's a bad wrestler.  So let's just say he needs work.

Uriah Hall

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    Equipped with cartoon-like kicks and unmeasured power, Uriah Hall truly has the UFC middleweight division at his fingertips.

    The only problem, on top of a sometimes questionable will to win, is that Hall's wrestling rarely exceeds average.

    When he goes to the ground, he seems downright uncomfortable.  He doesn't look like he knows how to avoid costly transitions.

    It's a shame.  Keeping a versatile striker like Hall on the ground is like keeping your Ferrari in the garage on a hot sunny day.

    In the future, if Hall is able to harness his takedown protection through top-level athleticism and precise game planning, he should be able to start knocking dudes out.

Carlos Condit

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    Alongside Anderson Silva, Gilbert Melendez and the next name on this list, Carlos Condit is arguably the best fighter in the world without a title.

    He's been so impressive throughout his career that it seems almost distasteful to pick apart any aspect of his game.

    But despite elite-level striking, unmatched guts, thunderous transitions and an iron chin, Condit's wrestling abilities have never truly flourished.

    Over his last three fightsa five-round title fight opposite Georges St-Pierre, a fourth-round TKO victory over Martin Kampmann and a Fight of the Year candidate with Johny Hendricks"The Natural Born Killer" has been taken down a grand total of 25 times.

    For a fighter of his caliber, one who deserves to be mentioned alongside guys like GSP and "Bigg Rigg," that's simply inexcusable.

    As a matter of fact, it's downright shameful.  Condit is so prolific on his feet and so dominant in the trenches that it truly takes away from his championship potential.

    Luckily for him, as well as any fan who loves a brawl, Condit draws the formidable Matt Brown later this month.

Junior dos Santos

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    Junior dos Santos is arguably the best technical and most formidable boxer to ever grace the center of the Octagon.

    He's become one of the best heavyweights in the world over the past five years by smashing nearly ever opponent in his way.

    But during an era in which wrestling, conditioning and persistence reign supreme, dos Santos has fallen far behind the ranks of current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

    The bottom line is that dos Santos has been completely destroyed on two separate occasions by a stronger and more equipped wrestler.  He's been unable find a home for the majority of his strikes due to the pressure and takedown tenacity of Velasquez.

    If JDS can ever cement himself as a fighter who can stay on his feet at every turn of a fight, he'll be borderline unstoppable.

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