Both the UFC and WEC have continued to be aggressive in snatching up new fighters and building their roster. Slightly more than halfway through 2010 we have seen the UFC and their counterpart, the WEC sign some good prospects who could really make a dent in their respective weight classes.
The Big Names
1. Jake Shields – The biggest signing of the year so far for the UFC. The Strikeforce middlweight champion will jump into the UFC welterweight division with his sights set on Georges St. Pierre. He willd ebut against the tough Martin Kampmann at UFC 121. Shields can really make a splash.
2. James Toney – Who knows what will happen when he takes on Randy Coutre at UFC 118. The boxer wanted to prove that boxers can hang with mixed martial artists. The odds are against Toney, but he will certainly be a draw and has been a great trash talker.
3. Takanori Gomi – The former PRIDE lightweight champ finally made his way over to the UFC, but lost his debut to Kenny Florian. He will face Tyson Griffin Sunday. Gomi hopes to prove his is still a top 10 fighter in the world.
1. Court McGee – Court is a real prospect in this division. He showed great heart and toughness. People love his story of overcoming drug addiction. I don’t know if he can seriously contend for a title, but I believe he has a career in the UFC.
2. Mario Miranda – When Miranda was signed to the UFC I thought he would be the best prospect picked up in a while. He was one of my top prospects for a while. Miranda lost his debut to Gerald Harris, but rebounded with a win over veteran David Loiseau. I still think Miranda has a huge upside with great BJJ, judo and striking skills. Keep an eye on Miranda.
3. Rafael Natal – A tough middleweight with career wins over UFC veterans Travis Lutter and Danillo Villefort. I think Natal can notch some wins in the UFC.
4. Renan Barao – This guys is a highly touted featehrweight who is a huge addition to the WEC fold. Barao is on a 23-fight win streak. The Nova Uniao trained fighter won his WEC debut and expect him to be a force in the divsion. However, don’t expect him to take the title because his trai8ning partner Jose Aldo is the current champion.
5. Travis Browne – Browne had a spectacular UFC debut with a win over James McSweeney. Next for Browne is Cheick Kongo which may be biting off more than he can chew, but should he win he proved to be a force in a talent full division.
6. Chan Sung Jung – An exciting fight with Leonard Garcia has built his stock. He showed heart that cannot be taught.
7. Willimay Freire – A shooto champion who can really make in impact in the UFC. Was forced out of his debut fight with Thiago Tavares, but he will be back and look for him to be a big impact.
8. Stanislav Nedkov – A lot of people are raving about Nedkov. He will debut at UFC 120 against Steve Cantwell. He has fought at heavyweight, but will compete in the UFC’s 205 pound division. I think he could be a guy to watch as well.
9. Charles Oliveira – a 12-0 fighter who some believe can really be a threat to anyone in the UFC 155 lb. division. He will debut Sunday against Elkins. We will see if the hype is warranted.
10. Chad Corvin – A heavyweight with a lot of hype. People seem to think Corvin can be an elite level guy, but a few injuries have forced him to push back his debut. Still waiting on word of his debut fight.
11. David Mitchell – He will face Anthony Waldburger in September. I look for Mitchell to be a solid welterweight.
12. Paul Sass – One of the top U.K. prospect. Sass, who is known for his slick submissions from the bottom will debut at UFC 120 and expect him to be a threat to anyone. I like Sass, he may be underrated.
13. Dong Yi Yang – A Korean fighter who will compete at Middleweight. His is aggressive and he will win fans quickly. He fights Chris Camozzi at UFC 121, expect a war. Yang could be a guy the UFC could market in Asia.
14. Pat Audinwood – I expected Audinwood to compete on TUF 12, instead he will go straight into the UFC and will be thrown to Aaron Riley. Audinwood is a big lightweight. Should he get bu Riley at UFC 119 he will be seen s a real threat.
15. Claude Patrick – The Canadian welterweight is 1-0 in the UFC and has another fight scheduled against James Wilks at UFC 120. Patrick is a tough veteran with a solid all around game. I think he can compete with higher level guys.
16. Karlos Vemola – I had ranked Vemola as one of the top heavyweight prospects, but he disappointed with a debut loss to Jon Madsen. I think he may be too small for heavyweight, but he still is very skilled and could make an impact at 205 if he will make the cut.
17. Ricardo Romero – He looked great in his debut against Seth Petruzelli. He got beta up and showed tons of heart. He has sick ground skills. I am a fan of Romero.
18. Amilcar Alves – Soon to debut against Mike Pierce (a tough debut). I think Alves is legit. I don;t know if he can compete with the upper echelon guys, but he could clear out the lower level guys.
19. Greg Soto – I once regarded him as my top welterweight prospect. A debut loss to Matt Riddle hurts his stock. However, I think Soto is still a legit threat.
20. Rob Broughton – He is an experienced heavyweight who can notcha few wins. I don’t see him beating Lesnar or anything, but I think he is the U.K.’s top heavyweight, so he may do well.
The guys who did better than one would expect….
1. Joey Beltran – I never expected him to win his first fight against Rolles Gracie let alone his second fight against Tim Hague. He will shoot for 3 in a row in the UFC against Matt Mitrione at UFC 119.
2. Cyrille Diabate – I have always liked Diabate, but I never expected him to walk through Luis Cane like he did. He is a real force for anyone at 205 lbs. He may be the most skilled striker in the division. I expected him to do well, but he has been a pleasant surprise.
3. Charlie Brenneman – He looked good against Jason High in his debut. He will look to build his resume with a win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 117.
1. Mark Hunt – A suprise signing by the UFC seeing as how he lost 5 fights in a row. He was contractually owed a fight bu the UFC and he will get one at UFC 119. He isn’t in his prime, but Hunt is exciting to watch. He fought some of the best in PRIDE. While his five fight skid seems bad to his credit they came to Gegard Mousasi, Melvin Manhoef, Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett. He will have an easier time at UFC 119 against Sean McCorkle, but still no push over.
2. Joe Doerksen – The veteran debuted with an impressive win over Tom Lawlor. Next up: C.B. Dolloway.
3. David Loiseau – A disappointment….again. Already received the axe…again.
4. Tim Boetsch – The Barbarian is back in the UFC and will return against Todd Brown at UFC 117. Much better fight for him than Thiago Silva.
5. Kyle Noke – I list him as a veteran even tohugh he was on TUF. I think Noke is a good fighter who can be marketed, especially in Australia.
6. Seth Petruzelli – I think he is more relevant than most people. “The Kimbo Killer” looked good against Romero, but he just ran out of gas. He will get another fight int he UFC.