Could A New Year Bring New Faces Into the UFC?

A new year brings new possibilities.  Not to mention the fact that the UFC is being intentional in its global international expansion which could mean going hard after some of these very marketable guys.  Could we see these guys in the UFC in 2009?  Their names have been linked to the UFC recently.  Check out the possibilities.

  • Mirko Cro Cop – says he wants a farewell fight in the UFC, probably would be late in 2009.  Click here for more
  • Satoshi Ishii – is in exclusive negotiations with the UFC.  He won’t debut in the UFC, but the UFC will help with his training and development.  The 2008 Olympic Judo gold medalist will be in the UFC in some way barring a failure in his debut.  It is likely that he would be on TUF 10 which may featue heavyweights.
  • Alistair Overeem – Has been linked to negotionations with the UFC and will be at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland. Check it out here.
  • Jeff Monson – He may fight once more in Japan or he may come straight over to the UFC.  I know there was talk about a Monson vs. Kongo match.  He is a great grappler which would be a good add to the heavyweight division and a tough fight for Kongo.
  • Mike Russow – He is rough around the edges but he could be a good prospect
  • Bobby Lashley – His only 1-0 in MMA, but he looked impressive a la Brock Lesnar.  He just signed a 2 fight deal with PFC and if all goes well there we could see Lashley in the UFC by late 2009.  He could have a big impact and be a big crowd draw.  Knock him all you want, but he has potential and he really thinks he could hang with guys like Lesnar already.

Keep an eye on: Dave Herman and Brett Rogers

Light Heavyweights:

  • Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante – He has made it no secret that his ultimate goal is the UFC.  How soon he gets there will depend on the future of ProElite.  It could be 2009.
  • Antwain Britt – I do not know how much thought there is to signing Britt, but he looked good in his TUF 8 fight-on fight.  He was forced off due to injury and has looked good sense.  It may be wise to lock him up.

Keep an eye on: Muhammad Lawal and Robert Drysdale

Middeliweights

  • Robbie Lawler – He is the EliteXC champ.  I would say since he is widely viewed as the number 2 middleweight in the world that he may be offered a good contract in the UFC provided EliteXC dies.
  • Joey Villasenor –  Following the collapse of EliteXC, Villasenor was one who mentioned his desire to fight in the UFC.  The status of ProElite is the barrier here.  He could end up in the UFC, but watch for Bellator and Affliction to make runs at Smokin’ Joe.
  • Yoshihiro Akiyama – Many think he is a top 10 middleweight in the world.  He could come over to the UFC since it was reported he was in negotionations with Sengoku and UFC.  Then is came out that negotionations with Sengoku broke down.  That may be a clue…or it may not
  • David Louiseau – A couple of wins since leaving the UFC and Louiseau finds himself knocking on the UFC door again.  He may be signed for the next Canada card, but he may need one more win.  Nevertheless, look for the former number 1 contender to be given another chance. 

Welterweights

  • Jake Shields – He has made no bones about it that he wants in the UFC and that he wants a fight with Georges St. Pierre.  Right now the UFC is the only place for a welterweight to go to really test themselves.  One more time ProElite is an issue here, but I am confident that eventually Shields will fight in the UFC.
  • Paul Daley – Daley said in a recent interview that he expects to be in the UFC in 2009.  He must clear his contract with ProElite first.  He is a tough English fighter who could be a good add as the UFC looks to expand worldwide.
  • Phil Baroni – He is re-invented at 170 lbs.  In a recent interview with FiveOuncesofPain Baroni said he would like to be in the UFC in 2009.  I think he could get a chance.  He may need one or two more wins though.  Baroni has said he is tired of being a “journeyman” which means he may want to fight for a US based organization.
  • T.J. Grant – He has been called the best Canadian not in a major organization.  I look for the UFC to snatch him up.  The UFc wants to push in Canada and Grant is a good prospect.  He may be signed sooner than later as the UFC will be in Canada several times in 2009.

Lightweight

  • Gilbert Melendez- He has one more fight left with Strikeforce, which should come by March.  Then I look for him to hit the free agent market.  His next fight could determine his value.  A win could make him worthwhile.  He has mentioned the UFC in several interviews as a possible home.

The UFC addes several prospects in 2008.  Look for more guys to burst onto the scene in 2009.  Some have already been signed and will make their debut in 2009 such as Denis Kang, Ronnys Torrys, Stefan Struve, Neil Grove, John Howard, etc. 

I look for about half these guys to sign in the UFC and I expect some surprises which could be dictated by the futures of Affliction and ProElite as well as the quality of TUF competitors.

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Who Will Sign With the UFC in 2009?

  • I am pretty sure these guys are on the UFC’s radar.  Obviously these guys could get into the UFC and have a career there.  They would all be good adds.  Some of the UFC future signings depends on things like the future of ProElite and Affliction. 

Jeff Monson

 

Nickname

Snowman

Weight class

Heavyweight

MMA Record

27-8

Ranking

Credentials

·          UFC veteran

·          World class grappler

Mike Russow

 

Nickname

Weight class

Heavyweight

MMA Record

11-1

Ranking

Credentials

·          Solid heavyweight prospect

Alistair Overeem

 

Nickname

Demolition Man

Weightclass

Heavyweight

MMA Record

29-11

Ranking

Credentials

·          Good name recognition

·          Good all around fighter

Mirko Filipovic

 

Nickname

Cro Cop

Weightclass

Heavyweight

MMA Record

23-6-2

Ranking

Credentials

·          A legend in the sport

·          Huge popularity (would be great for the Germany card)

·          Great striking ability

Rafael Cavalcante

 

Nickname

Feijao

Weight class

Light Heavyweight

MMA Record

7-1

Ranking

Credentials

·          One of the best light heavyweight prospects

·          Trains with Anderson Silva and Nogueiras

Antwain Britt

 

Nickname

The Juggernaut

Weight class

Light Heavyweight

MMA Record

Ranking

Credentials

·          TUF 8 cast member who won his way into the house, but an injury forced him out

 

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

Nickname

Weightclass

Middleweight

MMA Record

12-1

Ranking

Credentials

·          Top ten middleweight in the world

·          Huge Japanese fan base

David Lousieau

 

Nickname

The Crow

Weightclass

Middleweight

MMA Record

16-8

Ranking

Credentials

·          A solid Canadian fighter

·          Trains with St.Pierre and Cote

·          UFC vet and former number 1 contender

Joey Villasenor

 

Nickname

Smokin’

Weightclass

Middleweight

MMA Record

26-6

Ranking

Credentials

·          Has fought everywhere

·          Can hang with the best middleweights in the world

Jake Sheilds

 

Nickname

Weightclass

Welterweight

MMA Record

22-4-1

Ranking

Credentials

·          EliteXC Welterweight Champ

·          11 fight win streak

·          Great Jiu Jitsu Skills

·          A Top 5 welterweight

T.J. Grant

 

Nickname

Weightclass

Welterweight

MMA Record

13-2

Ranking

·          The best Canadian fighter not signed to a major promotion

·          A great prospect

Credentials

Gilbert Melendez

 

Nickname

Weightclass

Lightweight

MMA Record

Ranking

Credentials

·          A top tier lightweight

·          Would challenge for title right away

MMABlog’s Lightweight MMA Rankings

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

B.J. Penn

UFC

St. Pierre (#1 WW) 1/31

2

Takanori Gomi

World Victory Road

Golyaev (NR), 11/1

3

Shinya Aoki

DREAM

 

4

Eddie Alvarez

EliteXC?

 

5

Sean Sherk

UFC

T. Griffin (#15), 9/25

6

Mitsuhiro Ishida

DREAM/Strikeforce

 

7

Tatsuya Kawajiri

DREAM

 

8

Kenny Florian

UFC

Stevenson (#10), 11/15

9

Josh Thomson

Strikeforce

Edwards (NR), 11/21

10

Joe Stevenson

UFC

Florian (#8), 11/15

11

Gesias Calvancante

DREAM

 

12

Joachim Hansen

DREAM

 

13

Gilbert Melendez

Strikeforce

 

14

Jamie Varner

WEC

 

15

Tyson Griffin

UFC

Sherk (#5), 9/25

16

Roger Huerta

UFC

 

17

Gray Maynard

UFC

Clementi (NR), 9/25

18

Frank Edgar

UFC

Wiman (NR), 12/10

19

Vitor Ribeiro

 

 

20

Nate Diaz

UFC

 

21

K.J. Noons

EliteXC?

 

22

Joe Lauzon

UFC

 

23

Nick Diaz

EliteXC

 

24

Spencer Fisher

UFC

Gugerty (NR), 9/25

25

Caol Uno

DREAM

 

 

Others Considered: Clay Guida, Hermes Franca, Marcus Aurelio, Jim Miller, Jorge Masvidal , Rich Clementi, Matt Wiman, and Mac Danzig.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid Year MMA Awards

Best Knockout

Honorable Mention: Luis Arthur Cane KO Jason Lambert, Shane Carwin KO Christian Wellish, Murilio Rua TKO Tony Bonello, Matt Wiman KO Thiago Tavares

5. Anthony Johnson KO Tommy Speer

4. Wilson Gouveia KO Jason Lambert

3. Brian Stann KO Doug Marshall

2. James Irvin KO Houston Alexander

1. Wanderlei Silva KO Keith Jardine

Best Submission

Honorable Mention: Antonio Nogueira submits Tim Sylvia by Guillotine, Yoshiyuki Yoshida submits Jon Koppenhaver by Anaconda choke, Nate Diaz submits Kurt Pellegrino, Cole Miller Submits Jorge Gurgel by Triangle Choke

5. Demian Mia Submits Ed Herman by Triangle Choke

4. Frank Mir Submits Brock Lesnar by Kneebar

3. Rousimar Palhares Submits Ivan Salaverry by Armbar

2. Dustin Hazelett Submits Josh Burkman by Armbar

1. Shinya Aoki Submits Katsuhiko Nagata by Aokiplata

Best Fight

Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias Calvancante, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

4. Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith

2. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

1. Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda

Best Fight Card

5. WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver

4. UFC 80: Rapid Fire

3. UFC 81: Breaking Point

2. DREAM 4

1. UFC 84: Ill Will

Upset of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Jason Day over Alan Belcher,

5. Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan

4. Kevin Burns over Roan Carneiro

3. Fabricio Werdum over Gabriel Gonzaga

2. Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez

1. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson

Fighter Of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez

5. Miguel Torres

4. Forrest Griffin

3. Thiago Alves

2. Shinya Aoki

1. B.J. Penn (2 Impressive wins over Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson)

Best UFC Newcomer:

Honorable Mention: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar

5. Rousimar Palhares

4. Dong Hyun Kim

3. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

2. Goran Reljic

1. Cain Velasquez

Worst Calls By A Ref. or Judges

5. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson –  Not just that Forrest got the win, but that it was unanimous.  Many, including me scored the fight either a draw or to Jackson

4. Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum- Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in round 1 when Werdum was mounted on Vera throwing down punches.  There was just 10 seconds remaining and Vera seemed to be defending himself well. 

3. Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites — Leites got the win, but lost the fight.  He lost the fight due to two points taken away from Marquardt.  One point was justified, but the other was due to elbow to the back of the ehad that wasn’t to the back of the head.  I will confess, that another point could have fairly been deducted for an illegal slam, but I hated to see Marquardt get a loss on his record that I feel he won

2. Phantom split decisions — How was Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove a split deicsion?  How was Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo a split decision?  The right person got the decision, but how was it split?

1. Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson – Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in the 3rd round while Thompson was still standing and failed to stop it when Thompson was mounted on Kimbo raining down elbows

If I Could…

Okay, let me play dreamer for a minute.  If I was employed by the UFC and I could sign 3 guys from each weight class, who would I sign…?

Heavyweight:

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Josh Barnett
  • Randy Couture

Also Considered: Roy Nelson, Brett Rogers, and Ben Rothwell

Light Heavyweight:

  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Ricardo Arona
  • Valdimir Matyushenko

(Also Considered: Babalu and Brian Stann)

Middleweight:

  • Ronaldo “Jacare” de Souza
  • Paulo Filho
  • Robbie Lawler

Also Considered: Lindland and Jason “Mayhem” Miller

Welterweights:

  • Jay Hieron
  • Jake Shields
  • Carlos Condit

Also Considered: Hayato Sakurai and Nick Thompson

Lightweights

  • Takanori Gomi
  • Gilbert Melendez
  • Gesias Calvancante

Also Considered: Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki and Urijah Faber if he would move up

Who Benefited Most From PRIDE’s Collapse?

When PRIDE fell they were clearly the biggest competitors with the UFC, having many of MMA’s top guys.  They had some big time stars. Then PRIDE got into trouble and was bought by Zuffa.  So who benefited the most from PRIDE’s deminse?  There was a mad scramble to sign those guys who were now unemployed. I have been critical of the UFC’s ability to sign top PRIDE guys like Fedor, Gomi, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Arona, Kang, Mousasi, Melendez, etc. However, it looks like the UFC has done great due to PRIDE’s fall.  I ranked the PRIDE guys at the time of their collapse in order of who I would want to sign and the UFC benefited from it.  Now, the guys they have signed haven;t had huge success, but they are popular and will win eventually.  Can you imagine the UFC heavyweight divison without the influx of Nogueira, Werdum, and Herring???  The light heavyweight divison also was greatly boosted with the signings of Shogun, Wanderlei, Dan Henderson, Nakamura, and Sokoudjou.  UFC just struggles to get the lightweights. UFC signed 13 of those guys I listed and they have faired well, this doesn’t even include other guys who came in before the fall of PRIDE like “Rampage” Jackson.  Out of those guys you have some stars now in the UFC, some guys that can draw a crowd and one of them owns the belt (Nogueira).  DREAM and Affliction seemed to clean up what UFC couldn’t sign.  DREAM picked up the ligtweights, signing 8 of those PRIDE guys.  Affliction has a few signings.  So while I am critical of the UFC, let us give Dana and the UFC brass some credit for signing many of the top PRIDE guys.  I still would like to see the best of the best in one place, but it won’t happen, so this puts things into perspective and the UFC did good and benefited the most from PRIDE’s fall.

 

Name

Fight Organization Signed With

Fedor Emelianenko

Affliction

Wanderlei Silva

UFC

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

UFC

Mirko Cro Cop

UFC (DREAM)

Takanori Gomi

World Victory Road

Dan Henderson

UFC

Josh Barnett

Affliction

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

UFC

Paulo Filho

WEC

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

HCF

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

UFC

Ricardo Arona

 

Gilbert Melendez

Strikeforce

Fabricio Werdum

UFC

Gegard Mousasi

DREAM

Denis Kang

DREAM

Aleksander Emelianenko

Affliction

Marcus Aurelio

UFC

Akihiro Gono

UFC

Kauo Misaki

DREAM

Ricardo Almeida

UFC

Heath Herring

UFC

Joachim Hansen

DREAM

Ryo Chonan

UFC

Kazuhiro Nakamura

UFC

Tatsuya Kawajiri

DREAM

Mitsuhiro Ishida

DREAM

Alistair Overeem

Strikeforce

Kevin Randleman

 

Phil Baroni

EliteXC

Hayato “Mach” Sakurai

DREAM

Murilio Bustamante

 

Murilo “Ninja” Rua

EliteXC