UFC 130: Frankie Edgar and The 10 Most Underappreciated Fighters in MMA Today

First LastCorrespondent IMay 4, 2011

UFC 130: Frankie Edgar and The 10 Most Underappreciated Fighters in MMA Today

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Frankie Edgar, UFC lightweight champion, poses during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by M
    Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    When lightweights Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard battle it out for the third time at UFC 130, not only the title will be on the line but respect will be as well.

    It's something neither of them really get, but as they continue to fight and beat the best, it should gradually come.

    Whether or not the 10 fighters on this list are at the top of their divisions, they deserve more respect than they probably get.

    Some are UFC champions or have been UFC champions and others number one contenders and title challengers.

    They all deserve more recognition for fighting the best and leaving their mark in mixed martial arts.

No. 10 Jim Miller

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    Lightweight contender Jim Miller is currently on a seven-fight win streak, and you wouldn't know it unless someone told you.

    He is one of the few lightweight challengers that deserve the shot more than anyone else. Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida will be battling it out for a title shot on June 4th, but this is the man who deserves it most.

    His only two losses are to the top two lightweights Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. His is worthy of a rematch no matter who it is.

No. 9 Keith Jardine

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    Not many people pick Keith Jardine to win his fights, and they usually pick him to get knocked out.

    Is this the type of respect to show to a guy who has consistently fight the best, including Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Brandon Vera and Matt Hamill?

    Bloodied and bruised, Jardine fights his heart out in every fight, and his fighting ability usually goes unnoticed.

No. 8 Tim Sylvia

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    Tim Sylvia may be the victim of his own gluttonous ways, but the man formerly known as "The Grizzly Bear" was a former UFC champion with legitimate wins over Ricco Rodriguez, Andrei Arlovski, Jeff Monson and Brandon Vera.

    A string of losses took his credibility as a top heavyweight away for good, but that doesn't take away from him carrying the sport in its darkest times.

No. 7 Ricardo Arona

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    If Brazilian fighter Ricardo Arona ever does return to the ring, hopefully his fight gets some attention.

    He hasn't fought since 2009 but diehard fans have been calling for him to get a shot in the UFC.

    It won't be long before people start calling him off if he does sign with the leading organization. He deserves a lot more attention and demand for his presence in the Octagon.

No. 6 Rashad Evans

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    LAS VEGAS - MAY 28:  UFC fighter Rashad Evans weighs in for his fight against UFC fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
    Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    There haven't been many fights where former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has been the favorite.

    With only one defeat to Lyoto Machida, Evans finds himself in this list due to fans' opinion that newly-crowned UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones would have no trouble in taking out the former champion.

    A lot of fans would pick both Rampage Jackson and Thiago Silva to beat Evans, even though he has two solid victories over them if a rematch was announced.

    Evans is no stranger to being the underdog, and if he is the underdog come fight night with Phil Davis, he may just be the most underappreciated fighter in MMA.

No. 5 Yushin Okami

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    With a 10-2 record inside the UFC, Yushin Okami is set to finally get the next title shot against middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva.

    If that wasn't hard enough, it will be even harder to get anyone to pick him to win the fight. Silva's last defeat was to Okami by disqualification for throwing an illegal upkick, but that isn't the reason Okami should get the next shot. 

    With his combination of wrestling and submission defense, he will be Silva's toughest test to date. Fans may realize this, but they probably won't mention it.

No. 4 Vladimir Matyushenko

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - APRIL 04:  Vladimir Matyushenko in the green and white trunks of Midwest Combat lands a left hook on Jamal Patterson of the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the International Fighting League match at the Izod Center on April 4, 2008 in East
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko is 40 years old and has been fighting for what seems like forever.

    His only five losses are to the very best of his 14-year career in the sport. Three of them are to former UFC champions, including Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski and current UFC champion Jon Jones.

    His recent 20-second knockout win over Jason Brilz should open fans' eyes up a little bit, but it probably won't. In fact, many have probably forgotten about it already.

No. 3 Frankie Edgar

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13:  Frankie Edgar, UFC lightweight champion, speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by
    Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    When Frankie Edgar takes on Gray Maynard, it will be the defining moment of the lightweight champion's career.

    With two wins over all-time great B.J. Penn, who just gave welterweight Jon Fitch a run for his money, Edgar deserves all the respect in the world for defeating him convincingly.

    Many fans don't like his fighting style, but it's the hardest thing to do in MMA. Keeping opponents at bay for five rounds is the toughest thing to do, but Edgar is one of the few who can pull it off.

    If he defeats Maynard convincingly, he should start to finally get recognition from the fans.

No. 2 Jake Shields

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    HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17:  Strikeforce World Middleweight Champion Jake Shields attends the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
    Valerie Macon/Getty Images

    Even in defeat to Georges St. Pierre, former EliteXC welterweight champion and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields impressed many people last Saturday.

    He stood five rounds with one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters and lost a unanimous decision. Many picked him to get knocked out quick if he didn't get to the fight to the ground.

    He never did get the Canadian superstar to the floor, but he did manage to do more damage than what was done to him.

    A move to the middleweight division and a possible shot at Anderson Silva may be the only thing holding him back from getting the fans' attention.

No. 1 Jon Fitch

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    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27:  Jon Fitch of the USA looks across the octagon at BJ Penn of the USA before the start of their welterweight bout part of UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Yes, there isn't anything pretty about Jon Fitch's style, but he does win fights, and he does it against the very best in one of the deepest divisions.

    With new up-and-comers like Rory MacDonald making their way to the top of the division, you will start to see a lot of fans turn on Fitch even more for his wrestling-oriented style.

    He likes to grind opponents down and win a decision. He's done it in seven of his last nine fights.