Ranking the 5 Best Foreign UFC Fighters
The minds behind the UFC are determined to use foreign fighters such as Alexander Gustafsson, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dong Hyun Kim to take their product worldwide. These athletes are just three of the top five foreign fighters who will help expand the product in new markets.
The UFC roster is comprised of many competitors from across the world. While American-born fighters are still dominating the title scene, there is great value in the competitors who are popular on foreign soil.
These top five fighters are not only the individuals who are consistently winning, but they also present the most promotional value in critical areas of expansion. These athletes are winning their bouts while promoting themselves to the desires of fight fans.
These are fighters who are not born in either the United States or Brazil, which are already highly profitable markets for the UFC.
England has always been a valuable country for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Luke Barnatt has a prime opportunity to become the face of the promotion anytime they appear on British soil. Before suffering his first career defeat at UFC Fight Night: Munoz vs. Mousasi he was on a seven-fight win streak that included three straight in the Octagon.
“The Fireball Kid” may be past his prime, but he still draws viewers when he fights. After his win at UFC 172 he's expected to compete later this year when the company returns to Japan. Gomi was once considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He's still a major star in the Asian fight scene, and he will bring a lot of attention to the UFC any time they travel to the East.
Dagestani fighters are surging in the UFC and Ali Bagautinov stands as a prime example. He is set to face Demetrious Johnson at UFC 174 for the flyweight title. With a victory he will be the first fighter from his country to carry UFC gold.
Number 5: Rory MacDonald
Thanks to Georges St. Pierre, Canada is a hotbed for mixed martial arts. With “Rush” taking some time away from the sport, he's left room for Rory MacDonald to fill the void. His fellow Tristar teammate shows flashes of the greatness that is expected of him, but he has stumbled along the way. His peculiar personality makes him interesting for fans and media experts to discuss, which adds value to him being among the best in the sport.
As E. Spencer Kyte of The Province said: "With Georges St-Pierre on hiatus from the UFC, MacDonald is unquestionably the top Canadian talent in the UFC today."
Number 4: Dong Hyun Kim
The UFC longs for a fighter from an Asian continent to perform well in the Octagon. Dong Hyun Kim has built up quite a resume as a UFC welterweight. Recently, he's taken to using an excitement-first fighting style that has created two vicious knockouts in a row. The South Korean native finds himself a favorite in one of MMA's toughest divisions.
"I don’t want to just try to win the main event," Kim was quoted as saying by MMA Junkie's Dann Stupp and John Morgan. "I want to really come out and leave a memorable result."
Number 3: Conor McGregor
With just two UFC fights under his belt, the Dublin native is a major star for the promotion. Conor McGregor is having such an impact that his main event feature on July 19 is one of the most anticipated shows of the year.
McGregor's willingness to promote himself as a fighter and his potential to back it up in the cage have made him a valuable commodity.
"None of these guys are on my level - not one of them," McGregor said to Kevin Francis of the Daily Star. "None of them are prepared for what I'm bringing. I already know what's going to happen."
Number 2: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Russia has been on the UFC's radar for years. The country has produced a number of fighters that have been important to the growth of MMA.
The recent push of fighters from Dagestan is helping the sport to grow in the area.
Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to be the fighter with the most potential to become a UFC champion. At 22-0 he's headed down the right path toward stardom in the sport.
Number 1: Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson made the most of his controversial defeat to Jon Jones in 2013. With another shot at the champ on the horizon, Gustafsson is becoming the biggest European star that the promotion has to offer. Capturing the title will cement his place as the most important fighter on the roster to originate from outside either of the Americas.
"This kid is the biggest star over here, and he's only going to get bigger," UFC President Dana White is quoted as saying by Gareth A Davies of The Telegraph. "Look how he won the vote to be on the cover of the EA Sports game."