There are a lot of guys who should be in the big leagues who are not. There are a lot of up and coming prospects who I’d like to see UFC snatch up. There are a lot of veterans who are better than a lot of guys currently in the UFC. However, there are some guys who stick out at UFC ready. There are some guys that it shocks me that they are not in yet. Here are the top 15…
1. Alexander Sarnavskiy – This guy may be the hottest free agent right now. The Russian has a record of 20-0. Having finished his oppresive M-1 contract he is now on the market. I would have to assume that Bellator would be the favorite to land Sarnavskiy, but don’t be shocked if UFC makes a run as well. Nevertheless, I would expect his next fight to be for a North American promotion.
2. Jussier da Silva – I have no clue why he is not in the UFC. Jussier is a top 3-5 flyweight in the world. If the UFC really wants to build that division they need Jussier. While there is a lot of hype to sign him among hardcore fans, I believe he may need one or two more wins on smaller shows.
3. Chris Gruetzemacher – This guy just picked up an impressive win over the weekend, bringing his record to 12-1. His stock is certainly aided by the fact that he is a training partner of UFC lightweight champion, Ben Henderson. However, there are a lot of folks that feel “Grtiz” is UFC worthy. Don’t be shocked if he is signed sooner rather than later. If the UFC won’t take him, I am quite certain that Bellator would love to bolster their featehrweight roster.
4. Tom Niinimaki – Niinimaki is another guy who many fans are perplexed is not in the UFC yet. Niinimaki picked up a win this weekend as well. He has made his intentions known that he wants to be in the UFC. He has trained stateside. He should be on a premiere roster soon as well.
5. Jimi Manuwa – Manuwa has been offered two fights in the UFC. He has twice turned them down. He is widely regarded as the best light heavyweight prospect. He still has 3 fights left on his BAMMA contract, but I believe if the UFC offered again he may accept. Perhaps even for their September card in Nottingham.
6. Tom Watson – I would be shocked if Watson is not at leas seriously looked at for UFC’s next U.K. card. Watson may not make a run at the UFC title, but he can put on some great fights and be competitive high up the ranks.
7. Lyle Beerbohm – Beerbohm is a Strikeforce veteran who has an impressive resume. I know that “Fancy Pants” is on the UFC radar. He has said that the UFC offered him a fight with Edson Barboza on short notice, but he had to turn it down. I would imagine he may be high up the list for a fight. He may have to do the short notice fight thing to get in though.
8. Darrell Montague – Montague is another top 5-10 flyweight who should be in the UFC. I would expect that when the UFC decides to pick up a few flyweight he will be near the top of the list. The question is when will they be willing to add to their flyweight roster?
9. Adriano Martins – Martins is the Jungle Fight lightweight champion. He is the best lightweight prospect in Brazil. I would expect him to sign with the UFC soon. Typically, the UFC has snatched up Jungle Fight champions. It is expected that Martins will fight Neilson Gomes in a fight between the top 2 Brazilian lightweights not in a premiere organization. The winner would certainly have to be UFC bound.
10. Michael Materla – Materla is a KSW fighter who has made clear he wants in the UFC by the end of the year. I think he needs one more win. He has the resume to get there as well.
11. Jan Blachowicz – Blachowicz will fight at the next KSW event and if he wins he could be bound for either UFC or Bellator. I believe Blachowicz has had UFC offers before. He would not turn down the next one.
12. Jimmie Rivera – Rivera had his chance. He was a TUF 14 cast member who lost in the prelims. It was quite shocking since he was an early favorite. However, for some reason he fought on TUF as a featherweight. His future is in the bantamweight division. I would imagine he could be on the radar for a late replacement fight in the UFC.
13. Ulysses Gomez – Gomez has moved up and down between 135 and 125. His future really is at 125. In my opinion, he could be a real force in the UFC’s flyweight division. I would think that he is certainly on Sean Shelby’s radar.
14. Sirwan Kakai – I was blown away that Kakai was not called to be on the UFC show in Sweden. I would expect that he is firmly on the UFC radar. I would be shocked if 2012 passes without him being signed.
15. Michel Trator Prazeres – I don’t know how well he would do in the UFC or Bellator, but he is 16-0. That speaks for itself. It is time for him to test himself against stiffer competition. His time should be coming soon..