The Best Wrestler in Each UFC Division

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2015

The Best Wrestler in Each UFC Division

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Wrestling has developed into one of the most useful mixed martial arts tools in all of the UFC.

    Some say it's the foundation for elite fighters.

    Now while it may be difficult to compare wrestling's overall effectiveness against other pedigrees like jiu-jitsu, we can at least marvel in its excellence.

    Driven by strength, discipline and determination, the art of wrestling has given us the double-leg takedown, power slams and the always popular ground-and-pound.

    It's a major reason why some of MMA's most prized entities remain on top.

    Here are the best wrestlers in the UFC today in each weight class.

Women's Strawweight: Carla Esparza

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Carla Esparza without a doubt offers the best wrestling at 115 pounds.

    With a strong base, raw power and the need to secure takedowns, Cookie Monster feeds on opponents she brings into her domain.

    Her elite ground-and-pound could easily dismantle any strawweight in the game, despite her recent defeat at the hands of striker and current divisional champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

    Add in a sound submission game and you have one of the best ground practitioners in women's MMA today.

Flyweight: Henry Cejudo

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    As an Olympic gold medalist, flyweight rising contender Henry Cejudo is expected to flourish inside the cage.

    But what his wrestling helped him do against veteran Chris Cariaso at UFC 185 can be considered Octagon homicide.

    With arguably the most skilled wrestling pedigree in all of MMA, the 28-year-old should be able to ground and pound his way to an eventual title shot opposite pound-for-pound standout and UFC champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.

    Johnson is nearly unbeatable, but Cejudo's slick takedowns are the perfect remedy to thwart the king.

Women's Bantamweight: Sara McMann

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    Over her last eight professional fights, UFC women's bantamweight contender Sara McMann has recorded a total of 34 takedowns.

    That's incredible, especially considering she has never been taken down herself.

    With Olympic blood pumping through her veins, McMann has the ability to suffocate opponents for as long as she wants.

    She implements a solid top game, although her finishing rate needs improvement.

    In any case, McMann is one of the best female fighters in the world when the action is nose-to-nose.

Bantamweight: TJ Dillashaw

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    Arguments can be made for Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz, but the fact remains that UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is the best wrestler in the division.

    Paired with exceptional quickness and athleticism, the Team Alpha Male standout has never been dragged to the Octagon canvas, posting 14 takedowns in the process.

    His ability to combine strikes with a shot is often overlooked when dissecting his growing potential, but Dillashaw makes fighters pay nonetheless.

    A matchup with Cruz would truly be something to watch.

Featherweight: Chad Mendes

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    Hailing from a collegiate wrestling career that landed him NCAA Division I All-American honors twice, featherweight phenom Chad Mendes is an elite athlete to the core.

    With countless slams to his credit, Money is known to overpower his opponents and dictate where the action takes place.

    His elite-level quickness and power allow him to manipulate his wrestling to set up readily available combinations with his hands, which has transformed him into one of the division's best power punchers.

    In all, Mendes' wrestling reigns supreme over all other featherweights, including guys like Frankie Edgar and Dennis Bermudez.

Lightweight: Khabib Nurmagomedov

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Khabib Nurmagomedov is unlike any other lightweight before him.

    Molded by elements of pankration and Sambo, the young Russian is a master of combat in close quarters.

    With some of the best power takedowns in all of MMA, Nurmagomedov has utilized his well-rounded wrestling to remain undefeated at 22-0.

    If his 21 takedowns of Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 taught us anything, it's that The Eagle represents the new breed of ground-and-pound grinders.

Welterweight: Johny Hendricks

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    Despite a collection of fellow welterweight wrestlers such as Rory MacDonald, Tyron Woodley, Jake Ellenberger and Demian Maia, former UFC champion Johny Hendricks surpasses all of them on the mat.

    His performance opposite Carlos Condit at UFC 158 demonstrated Hendricks' ability to take over any fight should he decide to score the takedown.

    Because no matter how prolific he is on the ground, Bigg Rigg loves to throw leather.

    But based strictly on his talent level and core features, Hendricks is the best wrestler at 170 pounds today.

Middleweight: Yoel Romero

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    Middleweight powerhouse Yoel Romero is as decorated as they come.

    Ranging from his 1999 world championship to his second-place finish at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the Cuban crusader may be the most skilled wrestler to ever step inside the Octagon.

    Now while much of his allure on the ground is lost when Romero opts to throw patented knockout blows, the potential is always there for him to secure a timely takedown.

    If he can maintain health and his chin, Romero's raw strength and perfected wrestling technique could eventually land him a UFC title shot.

Light Heavyweight: Daniel Cormier

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    Currently regarded as one of the best wrestlers in all of MMA, if not the best, light heavyweight title contender Daniel Cormier simply brings too much to the table.

    From over-the-shoulder slams to underrated leg sweeps, the former Olympian knows how to score points and bewilder his opponents in the process.

    Now while he was taken down by former UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones three times at UFC 182, Cormier was able to become only the second fighter ever to take Bones down.

    That speaks wonders for an ex-heavyweight who consistently has to fend off rangier opponents like they were the plague.

Heavyweight: Cain Velasquez

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    With the motor of a runaway train, UFC heavyweight mainstay Cain Velasquez fuses an irregular capability to sustain pressure with unparalleled athleticism in order to remain the baddest man on the planet.

    His appetite for complete and utter dominance can be credited to his wrestling capabilities, which have grown throughout his training days alongside the aforementioned Cormier.

    Velasquez has been ridiculed for training too hard leading up to his title defenses, but how can you knock a guy for putting his all into his craft?

    In any case, the champ should continue to dominate in fashion, sticking to lethargic foes like a fly on a candy wrapper.ย 

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