Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

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The MMA Free Agent Market Is Full

1.       Jake Shields

Record: 22-4-1

Key Wins: Nick Thompson, Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, Yushin Okami, Dane Menne, Hayato Sakurai

Key Losses: Akira Kikuchi

MMABlog Ranking: #3 Ranked Welterweight

Jake Shields is no doubt the best free agent on the market now due to the collapse of EliteXC.  However, I do not know if there is much competition for his services.  I believe most people are pretty sure that Shields will sign with the UFC.  There is a lack of welterweight talent everywhere else.  Look for Shields to be in the Octagon by Spring ’09.  Not only will Shields be in the UFC he will be competing for a title shot immediately.

 

2.       Eddie Alvarez

Record: 15-1

Key Wins: Tatsuta Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen

Key Losses: Nick Thompson

MMABlog Ranking: #4 Ranked Lightweight

Alvarez gained a lot of fame in MMA circles with his performance in the DREAM lightweight tournament.  Alvarez fought very well as a welterweight, but the drop down to lightweight is a good move for Alvarez.  Alvarez, who made it to the finals of the DREAM lightweight grand prix.  Alvarez is  a top tier lightweight.  I look to see him back in Japan seeking to get the lightweight DREAM belt that he feels is rightfully his.

 

3.       Yoshihiro Akiyama

Record: 12-1

Key Wins: Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, Katsuyori Shibata

Key Losses: Jerome LeBanner

MMABlog Ranking: #14 Ranked Middleweight

The rumors that have been swirling have been that Akiyama has been in discussions with Sengoku and with the UFC.  As much as I’d like to see him in the UFC and as much as I think the UFC would like to have him, I would be shocked if he ended up there.  I would give a definite advantage in negations to the Japanese organization.  However, the UFC is seeking a worldwide expansion and adding another Korean fighter of a top caliber would be a huge plus.  Akiyama is a top 10-15 middleweight without a doubt.  I’d like to see him up his level of competition though.

4.       Robbie Lawler

Record: 16-4

Key Wins: Scott Smith, Frank Trigg, Joey Villasenor, Murilo Rua, Chris Lytle

Key Losses: Jason Miller, Nick Diaz, Evan Tanner

MMABlog Ranking: #5 Ranked Middleweight

Most people consider Robbie Lawler a top 5 middleweight in the world and many have him as high as number 3.  There is no doubt that there will be a lot of offers out there for Robbie Lawler, but the odds on favorite has to be the UFC.  He seemed to like the idea of a return to the octagon.  The problem with that for Lawler is that he will go from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond.  The UFC is always looking for good competition for Anderson Silva and what better competition than the EliteXC middleweight champ.  If the UFC could add Lawler it would be huge.  Think about this, the UFC middleweight division has been the one touted as being weak.  Dana White has said that it is not weak it just appears weak because of Anderson Silva.  It is possible that the UFC in a matter of a few months will have added the #2 middleweight in Paulo Filho and the #3 middleweight in Robbie Lawler as well as vying for guys like top 10 Akiyama.  Lawler is an instant challenger for the belt and there will be much clamoring for Silva vs. Lawler.  If he is not with the UFC I’d be shocked.  In his first run in the UFC, Lawler went 4-3.  Let’s see if he can do better in a second stint.  Other promotions will come calling so the UFC isn’t a lock, but they are bound to give a good offer.

 

5.       Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante

Record: 7-1

Key Wins: Wayne Cole, Travis Galbraith

Key Losses: Marcio Cruz

MMABlog Ranking: #21 Ranked Light Heavyweight

Feijao has the potential to be a UFC champion.  He trains with the Nogueira and Anderson Silva and has looked very impressive.  He has all the tools to be a champion.  I look for Feijao to land in the UFC.  That is where he can be best developed.  The UFC would be smart to slowly work him up.  I would be shocked to see him sign elsewhere.  I would go as far to say that he is a top priority for the UFC, especially among the EliteXCers.

 

6.       Tito Ortiz

Record: 15-6-1

Key Wins: Ken Shamrock (x3), Forrest Griffin, Patrick Cote, Evan Tanner, Wanderlei Silva, Vladimir Matyushenko, Vitor Belfort

Key Losses: Frank Shamrock, Chuck Liddell (x2), Randy Couture, Lyoto Machida

MMABlog Ranking: #20 Ranked Light Heavyweight

Tito Ortiz has been rumored to be everywhere.  First, it was rumored he was going to Affliction and signing a record deal.  Then we heard he was headed to the EliteXC.  Those both fell through.  Now, following back surgery we are waiting to see where Ortiz will land.  Say what you want about Tito, he is still a top draw.  I do not like him as a fighter, but he is worth big money because of his fan base.  His record is impressive as well.  He boasts big wins over big names and his losses have come to the best of the best.  However, the past few years have been a different story.  Ortiz has struggled to get wins.  He has not won a fight in 2 years.  That has to hurt the size of offers.  Tito is about 2 things: Money and Tito.  Whoever will give him the most money and the most camera time will get Tito.  We know of his feud with the UFC and with Dana White, so I still doubt he will end up there, but it is possible.  I still have to guess that Affliction is his best bet.  We will see though, he very well could end up back in the UFC.  Ortiz only has one fight outside the UFC, so it would be weird to see him somewhere else, but I think that is what we will see, but overall I think Tito doesn’t care to fight anymore and perhaps he is past his prime.

 

7.       Antonio Silva

Record: 11-1

Key Wins: Justin Eilers, Ricco Rodriguez, Wesley Correira

Key Losses: Eric Pele

MMABlog Ranking: #19 Ranked  Heavyweight

The giant heavyweight is a solid fighter that would be a good add anywehere.  However, he is currently under suspension from the CSAC because of an alleged failed steroid test.  He will be out until July on ’09.  This will hurt his marketability.  Nevertheless, he is a solid add to any organization.  I would have to believe that most promotions will extend him an offer.  For him to get into the UFC he may need a win or two under his belt (or maybe not).  I am sure the UFC would like to ass another great heavyweight, but I’d look for him to start fighting in Japan.  DREAM would be my prediction. 

 

8.       Ricardo Arona

Record: 13-5

Key Wins: Alistair Overeem, Wanderlei Silva, Kazushi Sakuraba, Dean Lister, Murilo Rua, Dan Henderson, Guy Mezger, Jeremy Horn (x2)

Key Losses: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Shogun Rua, Fedor Emelianenko, Quintion Jackson, Wanderlei Silva

MMABlog Ranking: #17 Ranked Light Heavyweight

No one really knows where the Brazilian Tiger has been in the fight world.  Arona is ranked in the top 20 by most in the light heavyweight division, despite being out of action since April of 2007.  I do not know if PRIDE’s collapse or Sokoudjou’s KO of him has kept him out, but we are waiting to see Arona again.  Just look at his wins over top named fighters.  Wow!  His only losses has come to top notch fighters.  Arona has said before that the UFC is a perfect place for him to fight.  He could end up there, but I still think he ends up somewhere in Japan first.  However, if he wants to fight long term he will need to be in Affliction of the UFC.  I’d like to see him in the UFC and make a re-match between him and Sokoudjou, but I am not holding my breath.

 

9.       Denis Kang

Record: 31-10-1

Key Wins: Akihiro Gono, Murilo Rua

Key Losses: Gegard Mousasi, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Kazuo Misaki, Jason Miller, Joe Doerksen

MMABlog Ranking:

There was a period between 2003 and 2006 when Denis Kang went 22-0-1.  The Canadian middleweight is coming off of an impressive win over Marvin Eastman on October 25th and is now a free agent.  I imagine he will get some offers and attention.  I haven’t heard anything about which direction he will go, but I would guess Affliction would be a good place for him.  I would guess the UFC would make him an offer, but I don’t know if he will land there.  He has done some fighting in Japan so DREAM is a possibility as well.  I look for this signing to happen sooner than later.

10.   Joey Villasenor

Record: 26-6

Key Wins: Jorge Santiago, Ryan Jensen, Phil Baroni, David Loiseau

Key Losses: Murilo Rua, Robbie Lawler, Ryo Chonan, David Terrell

MMABlog Ranking:  #19 Ranked Middleweight

Smokin’ Joe is a solid fighter who trains out of Team Jackson.  I would be surprised if he does not land a stint with the UFC.  He has said that is what he wants and I think they will make an offer to him.  He was scheduled to fight Lawler for the EliteXC middleweight title in November, but EliteXC’s collapse ended that.  How about Lawler vs. Villasenor in the UFC?  

 

11.   Nick Diaz

Record: 18-7

Key Wins: Gleison Tibau, Josh Neer, Drew Fickett, Chris Lytle, Robbie Lawler, Takanori Gomi

Key Losses: K.J. Noons, Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez, Joe Riggs, Karo Parisyan

MMABlog Ranking: #23 Ranked Lightweight

Nick Diaz is a liability for any promotion.  There is no doubt that he is tough and a good fighter, but he is a horrible representative of MMA.  Dana White has criticized him and I think Nick’s attitude after fighters will keep him out of the UFC. 

I think Nick Diaz is a bad a**. Nick Diaz is a tough kid. Nick Diaz doesn’t handle himself right all the time in public. I like him — I respect him as a fighter. I love his attitude. I love the way that kid fights. But you can’t do the stuff that this kid does in public. You can’t get into fights when the fight is over … you can’t do that stuff.”

I look for Diaz to sign somewhere, perhaps DREAM or World Victory Road.  He likes fighting in Japan and I think that is where he will go.  Until then I hope he works on his attitude because he is hard to like when he acts like a street thug.  He has a lot of issues such as: recreation drug use, attitude, and making weight.  Nevertheless, he will land somewhere and be just fine.

 

12.   Nick Thompson

Record: 36-10-1

Key Wins: Eddie Alvarez, Chris Wilson, Josh Neer

Key Losses: Jake Shields, Karo Parisyan, Yushin Okami, Ed Herman

MMABlog Ranking: #14 Ranked Welterweight

Thompson is a crafty veteran who has fought nearly everywhere.  Most people agree he is a top 20 welterweight in the world.  I am not sure about Thompson’s contract status, but I assume he was signed to a contract with ProElite.  Thompson has not fought since his loss to Jake Shieds.  “The Goat” has been around, including having gone 1-1 in the UFC.  I would not be shocked to see Thompson signed to fight in Japan somewhere.

 

13.   Dave Herman

Record: 10-0

Key Wins: Kerry Schall, Ron Waterman

Key Losses: None

MMABlog Ranking: #22 Ranked Heavyweight

Herman is another one of the spoils of EliteXC’s collapse and in my opinion is a top notch prospect.  I think he is a solid add.  I think the UFC would be a good fit, but he would need to be slowly built up.  He has great potential as a fighter, but please do something about that nickname (“Pee Wee”).  I would not be shocked to see him land in Strikeforce either, but UFC is a good place if he wants exposure and tough fights. 

 

14.   David Loiseau

Record: 18-8

Key Wins: Evan Tanner, Tony Fryklund, Joe Doerksen,

Key Losses: Joey Villasenor, Mike Swick, Rich Franklin, Jeremy Horn

MMABlog Ranking: NR

There is no question that the former number one contender, Canadian David Loiseau wants back in the UFC.  He is coming off of a win over Solomon Hutcherson and he hopes that earned him an offer, but he may need one more win.  I expect that he will be given one more chance in the UFC sometime in 2009.

 

15.   Brett Rogers

Record: 8-0

Key Wins: James Thompson, Jon Murphy

Key Losses: None

MMABlog Ranking: #24 Ranked Heavyweight

Rogers is a hard hitting prospect who was with the EliteXC.  Rogers looked very impressive in his KO win over Jon Murphy that aired on CBS’ debut card.  Rogers seemed to be unhappy that Kimbo Slice was getting the hype when he felt he deserved it, and he was probably right.  He has been untested, but he hits hard.  He has a place in a big time promotion.  I do not know if the UFC would gamble with him, but that is the best place for him.  Affliction may be a bad move because they would not have time to develop him like the UFC could.  I would love to see a TUF featuring hevayweights like Rogers, Herman and even Kimbo, but they don’t need TUF to get offers.

 

16.   Wilson Reis

Record: 6-0

Key Wins:

Key Losses:

MMABlog Ranking:

The EliteXC’s featherweight champ is sure to land a job.  I think that the best place for him would be in the talented pool of the WEC.  He could be a solid contender among some of the best featherweights.  Zuffa would be smart to pick him up.

 

17.   Benji Radach

Record: 19-4

Key Wins: Murilo Rua, Ryan McGivern

Key Losses: Chris Leben, Sean Sherk, Matt Horwich

MMABlog Ranking:

Radach is coming off of an impressive KO win over Murilo Rua at EliteXC’s last event.  He is sure to find a home somewhere.  He wanted back in the UFC, but they hinted that he needed one more fight somewhere else.  He could end up back in the UFC.  He is hard hitting and talented, but I think he may head to Affliction or Strikeforce, but don’t count out the UFC just yet.

 

18.   Bao Quach

Record: 15-8-1

Key Wins:

Key Losses: Waggney Fabiano

MMABlog Ranking:

Another solid featherweight who ought to head to the WEC.  The WEC moved out their light heavyweight and middleweight divisions to focus on the lighter classes and they need Quach. 

 

19.   Frank Shamrock

Record: 29-3-2

Key Wins:  Bas Rutten, Tito Ortiz, Jeremy Horn

Key Losses:  Bas Rutten (x2), Renzo Gacie, Cung Le

MMABlog Ranking:

Shamrock is in the same boat as Tito Ortiz.  Both guys are legends and both are popular, but both seem to be past their prime.  Ironically, both have feuds with Dana White.  The UFC is unlikely for Frank.  I think he is Affliction bound.  Anywhere he goes he will be a crowd attractor. 

 

20.   Scott Smith

Record: 13-5

Key Wins: Pete Sell

Key Losses: Robbie Lawler, Ed Herman, Patrick Cote, David Terrell, James Irvin

MMABlog Ranking:

Smith looked really good against Robbie Lawler, but his record does nto show many solid wins.  He is exciting and always puts on a show.  I like Scott Smith and think he is a good sign for someone, but likely it will not be UFC.  I think Strikeforce or even DREAM would be a good sign.

 

21.   K.J. Noons

Record: 7-2

Key Wins: Nick Diaz, Yves Edwards

Key Losses: Charles Bennett

MMABlog Ranking:

The much aligned EliteXC lightweight champ.  He refused to fight Nick Diaz again for the title and was stripped of his belt just before EliteXC’s collapse.  One may wonder if he was a one hit wonder.  He beat Nick Diaz, but I do not know if he can hang with top level guys.  He could do well in the WEC lightweight division.  I hear he may want a boxing career, but if he opts for MMA, the WEC would be a good move on his behalf.

 

22.   Paul Daley

Record:  18-7-2

Key Wins:  Duane Ludwig, Jess Liaudin

Key Losses: Jake Shields

MMABlog Ranking:

Daley in the Cage Rage champion and he is coming off of a loss to Jake Shields at EliteXC’s last event.  He could opt to go back to Cage Rage, which may still hang around despite ProElite’s fall.  However, he may look to go to a big stage like the UFC.  The UFC is trying hard to market the U.K. and what better way than a solid U.K. fighter like Paul Daley.  That is a good option.  Maybe he could do TUF 9.

 

23.   Robert Drysdale

Record: 0-0 (1-0 Amatuer)

Key Wins:

Key Losses:

MMABlog Ranking:

Drysdale is a pure prospect as well.  He is widely regarded as the best jiu jitsu guy in the world.  He trains and teaches at Xtreme Couture.  Drysdale recently made his move into MMA with a win on the amateur level.  He could be a big time fighter one day.  He has a long way to go still.  In a year he could be in the UFC, which would have to be the favorite to land him when he is ready.

 

24.   Andre Galvao

Record: 1-0

Key Wins:

Key Losses:

MMABlog Ranking:

Galvao is a prospect, not a star.  He is know for superior grappling and jiu jitsu skills.  He will be a great fighter in the likes of Demian Maia.  I do not know if he is ready for the big leagues yet, but the UFC ought to keep tabs on him as should the other organizations.  Within a year I look to see him on a big stage somewhere.

Others: Gina Carano, Kimbo Slice, Murilo “”Ninja” Rua, Phil Baroni, Jon Murphy, Ryan McGivern

Where Will the EliteXC Fighters Land?

Here is a prioritized list (somewhat) of EliteXC prospects and where they may land…

1. Jake Shields – I believe Shields is EliteXC’s best martial artist.  I guess he is their highest ranked fighter.  Shields has said that he wants better competition and this is his way out.  I am sure places like Affliction, DREAM and World Victory Road will come calling.  Perhaps they will offer lucrative deals.  Perhaps they can make one or two exciting fights, but the reality is the best welterweights are in the UFC.  If Shields wants to fight the best he needs to be in the UFC.  I expect him to land in the UFC.  He is the top prospect from EliteXC and whoever signs them picks up a great fighter and a instant contender for the belt.  There are countless exciting fights in the UFC for Shields.  This from GracieFighter.com

We are confirming that EliteXC has folded. What this means for our fans and supporters is that there will not be a Nick Diaz vs. Eddie Alvarez fight on November 8th. However Jake Shields in the UFC has now become a real possibility. We will be updating our site for future developments.<!– –>

2. Gina Carano – She may hurt the most from this as women’s MMA hasn’t taken off yet.  Dana White has said many times he has no plans to start a women’s divison.  The only other organization that has a solid women’s divison is AFL.  They could contend for Carano’s services.  Gina is a huge draw, probably the top women’s draw out there and I still want to see Carano v. Cyborg happen.  Perhaps Proelite’s collapse may motivate someone like Affliction to start women’s MMA.  I lean towards Carano at AFL.

3. Rafael Feijao – I believe he is a top prospect.  He is rapidly climbing the rankings.  He is a great light heavyweight who trains under the Nogueiras and Anderson Silva.  I think he could be the best some day.  A report came last week that Feijao would be in the UFC in a year, and it looks like it couldbe sooner.  I do not know if he wants to geta  few more fights first, but the UFC is his goal.  I expect he will land in the UFC.  I just hope Dana and others do not sleep on this guy’s potential. 

4. Eddie Alvarez – Alvarez made a huge impression at the DREAM lightweight tournament.  He still feels that belt is rightly his.  He became a sort of star in that tournament.  Alvarez is young and super talented.  Any promoter would be dumb not to bring big offers for Alvarez.  In the end I think Alvarez ends up somewhere like DREAM or Affliction.  I say Affliction because they would allow him to fight in DREAM as well.  I’d love to see him in the UFC, but I doubt it will happen.

5. Antonio Silva – He is serving a steroids suspension which may hurt him, however my gut tells me he is innocent in this one.  He may really have some type of hormonal problem.  I do not know where he will land, but he is a top tier heavyweight and I believe can compete with most heavyweights in the world.  Affliction and UFC have the best heavyweight divisons.  If he wants to fight and win he may go somewhere like DREAM where there is limited competition.  If he wants to really compete with the best it will be Affliction or the UFC.

6. Robbie Lawler – Robbie Lawler is tough guy to figure out.  He is a consensus top ten middleweight in the world.  Surely the UFC would give him a chance, but he struggled in the UFC.  I still think the UFC should try to sign him, but I wouldn’t be shocked to shocked to see Lawler in Affliction or even Strikeforce. 

7. Dave Herman – Dave Herman is a solid prospect at heavyweight.  I’d like to see him get some attention from this.  He should be one of the top names out there.  He isn’t a top 15 heavyweight right now, but he is doing very good.  He would be a solid add for someone like the UFC, who has a weakend heavyweight divison.

8. Wilson Reis – Where can he got but to the WEC?   He is a solid fighter, but the lighter guys don’t have many options.  The WEC is quickly putting togetehr the best featehrweight and bantamweight divisons in the world.  For Reis the WEC provides a chance to fight the best guys in the world in his weight class.

9. Brett Rogers – I think he is very good.  Perhaps one dimensional, but he can knock someone out.  If I was the UFC I would worry about personality here.  He is very WWE.  He comes into fights with an entourage.  He talks smack.  He is talented and perhaps a guy on the rise, but he is a gamble.  Someone will sign him.  However, Rogers will go where the money is.  I don’t blame him for that.  I doubt it will be the UFC.

10. Joey Villasenor –Villasenor has fought nearly everywhere, except the UFC.  He has a solid record and impressive resume.  He is for sure a top ten EliteXC fighter.  Promoters will come hard after Villasenor.  He is better than some the UFC has under contract at 185 lbs, but will they offer Villasenor?  I think they will offer him, but I don’t know that is where he will land.  For some reason my gut tells me he ends up at Affliction.

11. Nick Diaz – I cannot imagine the UFC wanting Nick Diaz back, but I think I remember Dana saying he would give Nick another chance.  I don’t see him back in the UFC.  His antics are too crazy.  I think he ends up in Japan at either World Victory Road or DREAM.

12. Benji Radach – Rumor has it that when the IFL closed Radach called the UFC and talked to them about coming back to the UFC.  Apparently, the UFC told him he needed to get another fight first.  Then Radach signed with EliteXC and won huge over Murilo Rua on CBS.  The question is, does Radach still want the UFC or is he angry with them?  I do not know that answer, but I am pretty sure the UFC would want him now.  regardless, Affliction will be the number one contender.

13. Murilo “Ninja” Rua – Rua is talented, but he has struggled.  He has been an on and off fighter.  I think he is a solid pick up for anyone and he is worth a contract.  He could join his brother in the UFC, but he is not a top ten guy right now at his weight class or even in the UFC.  If he wants a title he betetr find somewhere else to go.  He could be another Affliction add.  I think Affliction boosts their middleweight divison through this.

14. Frank Shamrock- He is not like his brother, he can still fight.  I think he ends up at Strikeforce, but Affliction will come calling.  One thing is for sure, he will not be in the UFC  he and Dana White hate each other’s guts.

15. Scott Smith – As good as Smith looked against Lawler, I do not see him being a hot commodity, but he will land somewhere.  He has tried his hand in the UFC.  I doubt that will happen, although that bridge probably isn’t burned.  I would say Smith will be around and maybe fight in some smaller shows or go to Strikeforce.

16. K.J. Noons – I don’t know what to make of K.J.  He is a decent fighter, but not the best lightweight.  He has expressed intrest in boxing, so maybe that is where he will go.  However, I have a feeling he will try his hand at MMA still.  I think the WEC would be a good fit for Noons, but Affliction is another real option.  They may be more willing to allow him to box and do other things.

17. Paul Daley – He is a good welterweight, and maybe the UFC would like to consider going hard after another U.K. fighter.  He is no Bisping in terms of skills, but he isn’t bad either.  That may be a very real possibility to see Daley in the UFC.  Put him on the Ultimate Fighter 8! Not really, but UFC is very possible.

18. Phil Baroni – He isn’t going to the UFC.  He looks better at 170 though.  I don’t know what Baroni will do.  I have a feeling he will be a wanderer.

19. Ricco Rodriquez – Does he still fight?  He is perfect for Affliction.  He is a former UFC champ, who is past his prime. 

20. Kimbo Slice – I considered putting Kimbo near the top of my list.  Like it or not he is the face of EliteXC.  He is a big draw.  I decided to put him where he belongs talent wise.  With all the Kimbo bashing, I still think he is a good investment.  I still think he can fight good fighters and compete to some degree.  I think he is way overrated and overhyped, but some organization would love to have him.  I think the AFL would be a good choice.  Also, Affliction could get into the mix.  One more thing, do not be surprised to see a Japanese promotion making an effort to pick up Kimbo.  Bas Rutten, his trainer, loved Japanese venues and could influence him here.

I say that Dana and the UFC will go after 10-12 of these guys, but will come away with about 5 or 6.

Best Non-UFC Fighters

Here are the best non-UFC fighters.  This shows where the UFC is stacked and where they lack.  There competition is mainly in Affliction at heavyweight and DREAM at lightweight.  Here are the best non-UFC guys that the UFC should look to sign if possible. 

Rank

Heavyweight

Light Heavy

Middleweight

Welterweight

Lightweight

1

Fedor Emelianenko

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Paulo Filho

Jake Shields

Takanori Gomi

2

Andrei Arlovski

Ricardo Arona

Matt Lindland

Carlos Condit

Shinya Aoki

3

Josh Barnett

Rafael Feijao

Robbie Lawler

Jay Hieron

JZ Calvancante

4

Tim Sylvia

Vladimir Matyushenko

Kazuo Misaki

Nick Thompson

Eddie Alvarez

5

Ben Rothwell

Babalu Sobral

Gegard Mousasi

Mach Sakurai

Mitsuhiro Ishida

6

Mirko Cro Cop

Tito Ortiz

Vitor Belfort

Mike Pyle

Joachim Hansen

7

Roy Nelson

Steve Cantwell

 “Jacare” de Sousa

 

Tatsuya Kawajiri

8

Aleks Emelianenko

Brian Stann

Jason Miller

 

Josh Thomson

9

Antonio Silva

 

Melvin Manhoef

 

Gilbert Melendez

10

Alistair Overeem

 

Murilio Rua

 

Vitor Ribeiro

11

 

 

Cung Le

 

Jamie Varner

12

 

 

Denis Kang

 

Ryan Schultz

13

 

 

Joey Villasenor

 

KJ Noons

14

 

 

Frank Shamrock

 

Nick Diaz

15

 

 

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

Caol Uno

16

 

 

Jorge Santiago

 

 

17

 

 

Chael Sonnen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Shamrock to Fight the Lawler/Smith Winner

Frank Shamrock said on his blog that he was most likely going to fight the winner of the Lawler vs. Smith fight at tonight’s EliteXC event.  The thoughts of a Lawler vs. Shamrock fight are intriguing and I am sure it would make for a great fight, but I wonder is he the EliteXC middleweight who is the number one contender?  In my opinion, Frank Shamrock is the fourth ranked EliteXC middleweight.  Obviously, right now Robbie Lawler is 1 and Scott Smith is 2.  Behind Scott Smith I have Joey Villasenor and Murilio “Ninja” Rua.  I think either of those guys should get a shot before Shamrock.  How many guys get a title shot coming off of a loss?  I know Frank fought well against a great fighter in Cung Le, but he lost, and he needs a win before he gets a title shot.  In my opinion, give Villasenor the next title shot and on the same card have a match between Ninja Rua and Frank Shamrock with the winner to get a title shot.  EliteXC needs to clean up some.  I think they have some good fighters and some big name draws, but they need to have some type of way to give guys like Villasenor more chance.  Shamrock is a part of the good ol’ boy network and that is why he will get a shot, not because he is mroe deserving.  Don’t get me wrong Frank is a good fighter and I would tune in to see him fight for the belt, but I don’t know if he is more deserving than Villasenor or Rua.  He may draw more viewers, but that doesn’t mean he deserves it.

EliteXC Rankings

Came up with some EliteXc rankings.  This is a work in progress for me.  I will post it in the MMA Rankings page, as I intend to develop my rankings for all MMA, UFC, DREAM, EliteXC, and Affliction. 

Heavyweight

1. Antonio Silva

2. Brett Rogers

3. Dave Herman

4. Kimbo Slice

5.  Jon Murphy

Light Heavyweight:

1. Rafael Feijao

Middleweight

1. Robbie Lawler

2. Scott Smith

3. Joey Villasenor

4. Murilio “Ninja” Rua

5. Frank Shamrock

6. Kala Hose

7. Giva Santana

8. Kyle Noke

9. Phil Baroni

Welterweight

1. Jake Shields

2. Drew Fickett

Lightweight

1. K.J. Noons

2. Eddie Alvarez

3. Nick Diaz

4. Yves Edwards

5. Paul Daley

6. James Edson Berto

7. Mike Aina

The Good, Bad and Ugly of EliteXC on CBS I

The Good:

·         Brett Rogers was impressive with his striking and quick KO of Jon Murphy and I think Kimbo will be up next for him.  I’d like to see that fight. 

·         Joey Villasenor looked far superior than Phil Baroni and could be a serious contender

·         Gina Carano unfocused and under trained is still one of the best women fighters in the world

·         Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith had an exciting fight going on

·         Kimbo Slice proved he can be a MMA fighter.  I don’t think he was great, but he showed some ground game, he had a good reversal or two.  Most of all I liked that he said afterwards that he knew he had a lot to learn.  He is a work in progress, but showed he is a serious MMA fighter.  I don’t have a problem with that stoppage as I think Thompson was on his way out. 

·         I thought the commentators did a pretty good job, and I liked the way Frank Shamrock covered the MMA basics for potential new viewers

The Bad:

·         I thought the show was tasteless.  From the nasty dancers who I have no idea why they were there, to the Busta Rhymes performance.  Phil Baroni led the way in tastelessness with his entrance.  He showed exactly what mixed martial arts is not about.  I was sickened by him coming in dancing with women dancing all around hum while they rubbed him down.  And could someone please tell me what was with all the fat guys in red after Rogers’ win.  It was way showier than I would have liked.  Joey Villasenor said in his post fight interview that Baroni was a good entertainer and I think he is right.  What a difference in how the two took the fight in their own minds, and look who won.  I would have liked more focus on the fights and less talk and less show. 

·         I thought the stoppage of the Laweler/Smith fight was sad.  Yes, I think Smith was doomed to be KO’d as Lawler was starting to pick him apart, but that stoppage nearly ruined the night.  I wanted to see it finish.  I think the stoppage was premature and Smith could have continued. 

·         Gina Carano, although she looked good needs to decide what she wants to do with her life.  She spent a lot of time videoing American Gladiators and too little time training.  If she trains more she will be dominant.

·         I didn’t like that Gary Shaw seemed to have his thumb on everything.  He stood over every fighter’s shoulder during every interview

·         Did anyone else notice that the former UFC sponsor “Mickeys” was a sponsor at this EliteXC event. 

The Ugly:

·         James Thompson’s ear.  That thing was nasty before the fight can you imagine it now?  I would have to get that thing fixed somehow. 

·         When the fans were booing the Lawler/Smith fight I was frustrated.  What a sorry bunch of fans!  They must not know anything about MMA, that was shaping up to be a great fight.  There was great action and good striking. 

·         The bottom line is that this show came nowhere near a UFC show and proved to me that UFC is far superior to EliteXC.  I argued constantly that EliteXC could compete with the UFC and now I am proven wrong and I will go eat crow.  They emphasized the show to the loss of the fights; they could have gone quicker and showed an undercard fight.  They could have pulled Phil Baroni aside and taught him that this is Mixed Martial Arts and now a Wrestling league. 

·         Overall, I think the show was only so-so.  I thought there were a few good fights and some good KO’s.  There was some good stand up fights, but I would have liked to see some technical ground fighting and jiu jitsu on display for America and MMA newcomers to see.  I thought the lack of class of the dancers, Baroni, and Rogers’ big boy posse proved that point and I am sure left a bad taste in some people’s mouths.  People will now think of WWE when they think of MMA.  I would like to see different guys next time like Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Antonio Silva, or Paul Daley.  In other words, EliteXC on CBS I made it, but not as grand as it could have been.