1. Jeff Monson
Monson just lost at Bitetti Combat to Pedro Rizzo, but he had been super active and on a big winning streak. Monson, a former UFC fighter is a longtime journeyman who could decide to settle down somewhere. 8 months ago there was a lot fo talk about the UFC wanting to sign Mosnon and match him with Cheick Kongo, but that fell through and his current legal troubles may make him a liability for a big time organization. He could land with Strikeforce and work his way to a Fedor fight, but I would say Monson is Japan bound for a while.
2. Aleksander Emelianenko
Emelianenko stands in the shadows of his brother, but he is a solid fighter as well. He backed out of a upcoming fight citing a lack of communication with the promoter and is now a free agent. There are two problems with Aleks. One is that he is managed by the same Russians that manage his brother which make the UFC very unlikely. Second, no one knows the full extent of his medical problems. Speculation arose following being pulled from the first Affliction card. Aleks said it was due to not getting some medical papers there in time other speculated it was Hepatitis. Whatever the case may be those things could hinder him from making it to the big stage.
3. Pedro Rizzo
Rizzo rebounded from a tough loss to Gilbert Yvel with a decision win over Jeff Monson this past weekend. The former UFC fighter is a solid fighter who may have his best days behind him. Rizzo however proved against Monson that he can still be a top 25 fighter. Rizzo is most likely going to land with Strikeforce, but I would not be shocked to see UFC seek him to keep him away from Strikeforce.
4. Ricco Rodriguez
Ricco, a former UFC champ has been down for a while, but a recent win and a few upcoming fights could catapolt him back into the fray. I would not be shocked to see Ricco in a big organization by year’s end.
5. Seth Petruzelli
The former UFC fighter and TUF veteran is best known for KO’ing Kimbo Slice and essentially KO’ing EliteXC. A recent win may have moved him back to the UFC. An interview with MMAWeekly indicates that Joe Silva is trying to get Petruzelli a fight. Petruzelli vs. Kimbo at the TUF Finale anyone?
6. Andrei Arlovski
He is torn between professional boxing and MMA. A string of bad losses put him in bad shape. Strikeforce does not want him. UFC does not want him. It looks like it will be smaller shows for now for the “Pitbull”. A few wins could change that however.
7. Tim Sylvia
Tim Sylvia got embarassed by former boxer Roy Mercer. Before that Sylvia got beat by Fedor badly. He has looked bad and out of shape. He has said he want to be back in the UFC, but Dana White said that he can get back only if he goes on the Ultimate Fighter. Sylvia has an upcoming fight at Adrenaline’s event, which he needs to win to get back into consideration for the big time. Again, I dount he will land with Strikeforce or the UFC.
8. Fabio Maldonado
He just earned a win at Bitetti Combat. It helps that he is Anderson Silva’s sparring parner. I have long thought that Maldonado would end up in the UFC, but he did not look particullarly good in his win Saturday. He may need another win. Also, it would be likely that he would fight at 205 in the UFC. Also, I would not be shocked to see Strikeforce use him for a Challengers event.
9. Gilbert Yvel
I have heard nothing regarding his status following the demise of Affliction. I would assume he has 1 or 2 fights left on his Affliction contract which the UFC certainly would honor. Yvel has said before he wanted to go to the UFC. The question is not whether he is good enough to get a chance in the octagon or not, but it is whether or not he can behave himself inside the cage. He may be a bit of a liability, but I think he ends up in the UFC.
10. Paul Buentello
He is for sure not going to Strikeforce as they parted ways. He is UFC bound, but no confirmation yet. I don’t look for the AKA trained heavyweight to wear a title, but he is certainly better than many of the UFC heavyweights and could make for some exciting match-ups.
Two other guys that could make a move…
– Alistair Overeem – his manager does nto like Strikeforce’s partnership with M-1 and called them crooks. It is rumored that the Strikeforce champ wants to part ways. He may opt to go the K-1 rout and he is in an upcoming K-1 tourney. The UFC has also expressed intrest in the Dutch Heavyweight.
– Sergei Kharitnov – He has been inactive for a while. He may be locked up with DREAM, but that could mean he fights some with Strikforce.