5 Featherweights Ready for the Big Show

The featherweight division is among the deepest talent pools in terms of up coming prospects.  There are many guys that the UFC and Bellator could look at and sign.  Here are the top 5…

1. Tom Niinimaki – Niinimaki is the guy that perhaps most people are surprised is not in the UFC yet.  I also believe he will be there soon.  He has some hype from the hardcore fans, especially the Scandanavians.  He is a top level fighter who could do very well in the UFC and he is ready.  If the UFC will not take him, I would bet that Bellator surely would.

2. Chris Gruetzemacher – “Gritz” is another guy that is surprisingly not in the big show yet.  He is a training partner of UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and he has proven himself on the regiomal scene.  He needs a step up in competition.  What better place for that than in the UFC or even in Bellator’s tournament.  I would be surprised if he isn’t in one or the other soon.

3. Chas Skelly – A  Team Takedown fighter, who has a very impressive resume.  He has two wins over UFC fighter Daniel Pineda and has appeared twice under the Bellator banner, which makes that a logical move.  Skelly fights on July 28th and win may get him in a big promotion.

4. Lance Palmer – Lance Palmer has the most upside of any featherweight prospect in the world. He has elite wrestling credentials.  He trains at Team Alpha Male and he has looked good in his few fights.  He will fight again in the begining of August and then he will probably fight under the RFA banner.  However, Palmer is destined for the UFC.  I think he could hang in there right now.  A few more wins under his belt and it will be a reality.

5. Guan Wang – I do not know if Wang is the fifth best featherweight available, but I would expect him to have a special appeal since the UFC will be headed to Macau, China in November.  He would certainly have to be on their radar.  So do not be surprised if the UFC snatches him up.

Others: Brandon Bender, Doo Ho Choi, and Anthony Gutierrez, Dustin Kimura and Georgi Karakhanyan

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5 Bantamweights Ready for the Big Show

If the UFC or Bellator are looking for bantamweight prospects to add to their roster, here are the 5 most big show ready 135ers in the world….

1. Aljamain Sterling – Sterling is the top bantamweight prospect in the world. In my opinion, he is a can’t miss guy. He will fight in August and then he should be UFC ready.

2. Sirwan Kakai – When the UFC went to Sweden, I was blown away that they did not sign Sirwan Kakai for that card. There is no doubt he is on the radar. I would expect him to be strongly looked at in the near future.

3. Jimmie Rivera – Rivera had a chance in the Ultimate Fighter, but lost in the elimination round. I still believe Rivera has tons of potential. He is the King of the Cage and Ring of Combat champion. He will fight in September for Ring of Combat and if he wins there he could get a chance in the UFC.

4. Josh Hill – Hill may not quite be ready for the UFC. However, it could be a great place for him to develop. In my opnion he is one win away from a trip to the UFC. He will fight John Fraser on August 25th. If Hill wins, he will be the best bantamweight prospect in Canada and will probably be UFC or Bellator bound.

5. Kyoji Horiguchi – I am not sure how well he would do in the UFC, but he has potential to be a different type of Japanese fighter. He trains with Kid Yamamoto. He has power in his hands. He could be a guy seriously on the UFC radar.

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The Jiu Jitsu Invasion of MMA

There is no denying the impact of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the sport of mixed martial arts. After all, it was a pure jiu jitsu stylist who really began the sport. All fighters today train in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Many fighters today hold the rank of black belt. However, we are going to see in the next year an invasion of high level, world champion Brazilian jiu jitsu stylists in the world of MMA. We have already seen some elite jiu jitsu players find success in high levels of MMA. Fabricio Werdum has been very successful in MMA. We have seen Demian Maia and Jacare Souza do very well in MMA. We are seeing Roger Gracie emerge into a high level mixed martial artist. World champion Robert Drysdale appears to be on the rise as a MMA fighter. Vinny Magalhaes has found success in MMA. Sergio Moraes made to the finals of the inagural season of the Ultimate Fighter Brazil. Antonio Braga Neto is one of the more promising prospects in the sport. Gunnar Nelson has recently signed with the UFC. Andre Galvao has done decent as a miced martial artist. These guys entered MMA as elite grapplers who are among the best in the world at their art. Granted, success in BJJ does not guarantee success in MMA, but it certainly is an advantage. There are several other BJJ elites who may be on the brink of transitioning from being Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors to mixed martial arts fighters.

1. Braulio Estima – Estima has talked about fighting MMA for a long time. He was even scheduled to fight at the infamous Shine Fights event that got cancelled last minute. However, it looks like the time has come. He has a date and an opponent set. He will fight August 24th in Titan Fighting Championships. Braulio will compete in the welterweight division. Braulio is a multiple time world champion in BJJ. He has won at Abu Dahbi, the Pan-Ams, the Euro champonships and the world championships. The bottom line is that it does not get much better in terms of BJJ credentials. Estima is training along with Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem and Blackzilians, which certainly should help his overall game, especially his striking. However, Estima is 32 years old. He is jumping into the game a little late. He certainly can and will have an impact, but the chances of him being a world champion in MMA are not great. Nonetheless, he is certainly a threat to anyone because of his submission capabilities.

2. Ryan Hall – It also appears that Ryan Hall may transition into MMA. He is a Felipe Costa blackbelt who is among the most respected in the BJJ world. Hall has already laid the groundwork for an MMA career by stating that he would train at Tristar gym with Firas Zahabi. Hall would compete as a bantamweight in MMA.

3. Gilbert Burns – Gilbert Burns has already made the transition to MMA.  In fact, he is 1-0 in his professional career.  I am not certain what is next for Burns, but I do know that he is training with Vitor Belfort.  Many people consider Burns the number 2 BJJ player in his weight class.  His dynamic back attack style could be great for MMA.

4. Bruno Malfacine – Bruno has mentioned a desire to move to MMA.  However, he has been quiet on that front recently.  Time will tell if he will make the move to MMA.  However, if fans are looking for BJJ guys to keep an eye on in MMA, Malfacine should be mentioned.

5. Caio Terra – Caio Terra is one of the most amazing jiu jitsu players in the world.  He has won absolute tournaments and world championships.  He would msot likely compete in the flyweight division in MMA.  Terra is probably one of the best BJJ teachers in the sport.  Terra has spoken about a possibile MMA move (HERE) and that he would train under the famed Cesar Gracie fight team.

6. Rodolfo Viera – He speaks about wanting to comepete in MMA (HERE), but he does not seem to be in a rush either.  However, it seems that eventually he will make the move to MMA too.

Others: Rafael Lovato, Jr, Rafael Mendes, Guilherme Mendes, Marcus Buchecha. Bernardo Faria, Victor Estima and Leo Nogueira

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Chinese Fighters the UFC Could Sign

The UFC has expressed its intention to bring live shows all around the world. UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said, “We are going everywhere.” It looks like he meant it. The UFC will host a live show on November 10, in Macau, China. The UFC has been very intentional about expanding into the Asian market. They have opened an office in Beijing and hired former NBA Asian director Mark Fischer as their director of Asian operations. They held a show in Japan in February and now will have their second Asian even in 2012.

It is expected that the UFC would also pick up some Chinese talent for the event. Sean Shelby has recently been to China to scout talent and left without signing anyone.  The word on the street in that Chinese fighters are a step behind others in all around skill set.  However, there are a few fighters who are making waves in Asian promotions such as RUFF and Legend FC.  Currently, the UFC only has one Chinese fighter on their roseter and that is Tiequan Zhang.  I would certainly expect the roster to gain a few more Chinese or Asian fighters for this card.  It is not uncommong for the UFC to sign 4 or 5 local fighters when they expand into a new market like they did for the Sweden shown.

1. Tuerxun Jumabieke – 12-0 – 135 lbs – He would be the leading candidate to be signed by the UFC.  I think he will be in the UFC one day and what better time to sign him than the show in Japan.  The one question is that some have assumed that he signed to an exclusive deal with RUFF that he may not be let out of.  Anyone with a 12-0 record gets some notice.  Jumabieke is only 26 years old so he has time to grow as a fighter too.  This would seem to be just the type of guy the UFC would want to lead the China expansion.

2. Guan Wang – 9-0 – 145 lbs  – He may be the Chinese fighter with the most upside.  He too may be locked into RUFF, but I would bet that if UFC wants a few Chinese fighters on the Macau card, Wang is on their radar.  At only 26 years old, Wang is a guy to watch.

3. Jadamba Narantungalag – 8-2- 155 lbs – Techinically, Jadamba is not Chinese, he is Mongolian.  However, he would be a logical choice for this card as well.  The same problem exists for him.  He signed a multiple fight contract with Legend FC.  Also, Jadamba is 36 years old.  He is the highest ranked fighter the UFC could add specifically for this card, but he is certainly not a prospect.

4. Jingliang Li – 7-2 – 170 lbs – The China Top Team product is still a solis prospect and would have to be at least on the UFC radar.  He is coming off of a win and at 24 years old has some upside.

5. Eddie Ng – 5-1 – 155 lbs – “The Magician” probably isn’t UFC bound any time soon.  He is locked into a OneFC contract, but he would be a great add to the UFC in general and the Macau card if the UFC could sign him away from OneFC.

6. Zilong Zhao – 7-2 – 205 lbs – Zhao is listed on Sherdog as a light heavyweight, but he probably would need to compete at middleweight to have any chance.  The problem with Zhao is that he has not fought anywhere near decent competition.  The advantage he has is he is heavier and it is rare to see Chinese fighters in the heavier weight classes.

7. Zhuo Yang – 6-0 – 145 lbs – Yang is a guy who has some buzz behind him.  If I am not mistaken his record is actually better than the recorded 1-0 from Sherdog’d fightfinder.  He would be a logical addition, but he may have to wait until UFC’s second trip to China whenever that may be.

8. Xian Ji – 9-1 – 135 lbs. –  He may be one of the sleeper picks.  He has legit skills and has comepted with some of China’s better competition.  Ji is coming off of an impressive win over Jack Gooderham which could give him some momentum.

9. Honggang Yao – 7-3-135 lbs – He lost a split decision to Jumabieke, but rebounded with a nice win.  He probably isn’t the first choice, but he may get a shot by default.

8-0 welterweight Hailin Ao would probably top the list, but he has not fought since November of 2009 and I am not sure what his fighting status is right now.  Also, 5-0 middleweight, Li Gao Bao would be on the list, but he hasn’t fought since 2009.

Other Possible Asian Targets:

Fransino Tirta (14-0, Indonesia), Mark Striegel (10-0, Philippines), Myung Ho Bae (13-5, Korea), Doo Ho Choi (8-1, Korea), Kyoji Horiguchi (7-1, Japan), Takasuke Kume (13-1, Japan), Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (11-2, Japan), Justin Cruz (18-4, Philippines)

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Who Should Coach The Ultimate Fighter 16?

The UFC is nearing the launch of the Ultimate Fighter season 16, which will debut on FX in September. The question arises, who will be the coaches for the reality show? The UFC has always tried to put solid coaches on the show as a means of boosting ratings. It should not be long until the decision is made as to who will coach the welterweight cast of the Ultimate Fighter 16. Let me throw out some possibilities.

1. Sonnen vs. Bisping – Chael Sonnen has a fight in a few weeks with Anderson Silva and this potential match up would certainly depend on the outcome of that particular fight. While the possibility of amazing trash talk would be incredible, this is probably an unlikely scenario. Bisping is coming off of an injury and Sonnen’s status is unclear until his July 7th fight with Silva.  From an entertainment stand point this is the option to hope for.  I think it is possible whether or not Sonnen wins, but unlikely.

2. Nate Diaz vs. Ben Henderson/Frankie Edgar winner – I am never a fan of win the champion of a particular division is held up with the Ultimate Fighter duty. However, in this particular instance, the champion would not really be held up any. Edgar and Henderson will re-match on August 11th. The winner of that fight would not likely fight until December anyways. Why not show case Diaz and the lightweight champion on the reality show. Anything with a Diaz is good television.

3. Demetrious Johnson vs. Joesph Benavidez – This is a highly unlikely scenario, however I am not opposed to it. The two flyweights are set to fight for the first ever flyweight title. These guys could use the exposure. I have a feeling that the UFC would like to get this fight over with before December, but there is a slim possibility of them being TUF coaches.

4. Brian Stann vs. Vitor Belfort – Both have recently been forced out of fights with injuries. The timing would be about right for them to fight in December. Both are good personalities and are very marketable. This would make for a great fight even if they don’t coach TUF.

5. Eddie Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis – Yes, I know that Eddie Alvarez is currently under contract with Bellator. No, I am not certain that he will sign with the UFC when his contract is over this summer. However, it is a real possibility. I am not sure that the UFC will make this move, but what if the UFC drops Alvarez right into a top contender match with Pettis and a stint as a TUF coach. Don’t be surprised if this happens.

6. Rashad Evans vs. Alexander Gustafsson – This fight makes sense in that particular division.  Rashad is a big name.  Gustafsson is an upcoming fighter who many think can challenge Jon Jones.  I would not complain about this match up on TUF.

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6 Elite Wrestlers Who Could Be Headed to MMA

Most mixed martial arts experts would tell you that the best base to enter the sport is wrestling. There have been tons of successful wrestlers transition into MMA. We have seen guys like Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Josh Koscheck, Ben Askren and Daniel Cormier enter MMA with a great wrestling pedigree. It seems every year NCAA national champion wrestlers, all-americans and olympic calibur wrestlers enter the world of MMA. There are currently a slew of mega talented wrestlers on the brink of entering the world of MMA. Just recently, Bubba Jenkins began his MMA career and Shawn Bunch signed with Bellator. Who is the next decorated wrestler to enter MMA?

1. Darrion Caldwell
Caldwell is a 2 time NCAA All-American and a National Champion out of NC State. Caldwell has also openly spoken of a potential move to MMA. He would likely compete at 145 lbs if he did. Caldwell could be a legit force right away in the featherweight division.

2. Chris Honeycutt
Honeycutt was the 2012 national runner-up.  Following the 2012 NCAA tournament, Honeycutt said he would move to MMA. It is also likely that he will make the move to train with Josh Koscheck in California.  Honeycutt is a Edinboro University guy, which makes the move to train with Koscheck make sense.  t is uncertain what weight class he would compete at in MMA.  He wrestled at 197 lbs, meaning that it is very likely that he will begin his career at 205 lbs.

3. Steve Mocco
Mocco is a 2003 and 2005 national champion and U.S. Olympian in 2004.  Mocco has already signed with American Top Team and will begin his MMA training.  Mocco will compete in MMA as a heavyweight.  However, at 30 years of age, he will will be getting a semi-late start in the sport

4. Jordan Burroughs
Jordan Burroughs is a University of Nebraska wrestler who is on the 2012 U.S. Men’s Olympic teams. He is a 2 time NCAA champion and 3 time all-American. Burroughs has mentioned the possibility of MMA, but it is also possible that he will elect to continue his wrestling career until 2016. If Burroughs were to move to MMA he would fight in the lightweight (155 lbs) division. I would expect Burroughs to fight eventually, but fans may have to wait for this one.

5. Gregor Gillespie
Gillespie is a national chhampion wrestler put of Edinboro University. Gillespie was rumored to be making an MMA debut in 2012, but no word has come on a potential fight. Gillespie, like Burroughs would compete at 155 lbs in MMA.

6. Henry Cejudo
There is a sense in which Henry Cejudo would be the most hyped wrestler to transition to MMA. Cejudo is an olympic gold medalist. He has spoken about the possibility of moving to MMA and has shown some interest. He has been somewhat non-committal. If he did he would most likely compete as a flyweight (125 lbs.).

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15 Fighters Who Should Be in the UFC Already

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..

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5 NotableFighters Who Will Be in the UFC in 2012

I am certain the UFC will sign more than 5 guys before the end of the year.  However, I look for these 5 notable fighters to be in the UFC in 2012.

1. Eddie Alvarez

It seems nearly inevitable that Alvarez will move to the UFC.  Eddie has one fight left on his Bellator contract and he will apparently fulfill that fight this summer. I would expect that he will make his UFC debut sometime in 2012.

2. Mamed Khalidov

Mamed Khalidov is the best middleweight not signed to a major promotion.  Khalidov is a little bit of a tricky situation.  He currently fight for the Polish promotion, KSW and is managed by them as well.  He is a huge star in Poland and he makes big money there.  In fact, he probably makes more money fighting for KSW than he would in the UFC.  He has stated his desire to fight for the UFC.  Currently, Khalidov has a offer on the table from the UFC as well.  The word on the street is that the offer is not spectacular.  So, it is very possible that Khalidov will elect to stay with KSW rather than take a financial hit to sign with the world’s premiere promotion.  Either way, we should know if he is UFC bound in a week or so.

3. Tom Watson

I am really not sure why Watson is not signed by a big promotion.  Watson is always improving and is a solid fighter.  I don’t know if he has top ten type of talent, but he certainly could be a force in the UFC’s middleweight division.  I would not be shocked to see him signed to fight on the UFC in Nottingham card in September.

4. Jake Rosholt

Rosholt came into MMA with tons of hype and he was thrown to the wolves once he went to the UFC.  Rosholt is much improved and I believe he is now ready to shine.  He has a fight coming up and should he win there (which he should), I would be shocked if he does not get another shot in the UFC.  He deserves it and he could beat half the UFC middleweight right now.

5. Bibiano Fernandes

I don’t know what Bibiano’s contract status is with DREAM.  I have heard several things.  One thing is that Fernandes has one more fight on his DREAM contract.  DREAM plans a show in July, but nothing has been made official about that.  I would expect Bibiano to fight one more time for DREAM and then hit the free agent market where UFC would be the obvious leader for his services, though Bellator could be possible.

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10 Strikeforce Guys I Want In the UFC

When Zuffa purchased Strikeforce most fans immediately started thinking of dream matches between UFC and Strikeforce fighters.  The wide spread assumption was that Strikeforce would fold and their stars would be in the UFC.  However, Zuffa re-signed with Showtime, delaying that possibility.  In fact, it look less likely that Strikeforce guys will move to the UFC in the fashion Nick Diaz did.  I have to say that it still is just a matter of time.  The heavyweight division has already moved over.  I expect that at the very most in two year, when the Showtime deal is done that Strikeforce will be done as well.  In the mean time, a guy can dream, can’t he?  Here are the 10 guys that are currently under the Strikeforce banner that I most want to see in the UFC.

Note: I did not include Daniel Cormier because his move over is inevitable after one more fight.  Also, I did not include Josh Barnett.  Barnett’s status is less certain.  He has one more fight with Strikeforce, however it is uncertain if the UFC will bring Barnett over given his past.

1. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante

Feijao has great striking and great take down defense.  He is an immediate threat to anyone in the UFC’s 205 pound division.

2. Gilbert Melendez

Some say he is the best lightweight in the world.  Personally, I am not convinced.  What better way to prove it than to let him fight Ben Henderson or Frankie Edgar?

3. Gegard Mousasi

Gegard is probably the best light heavyweight not in the UFC.  He is extremely well rounded.  When he is healthy he can make a run at the title.

4. Luke Rockhold

I have to admit that I never expected Rockhold to be so good.  He impresses me lately.  If he can beat Tim Kennedy there will be all sorts of buzz around him.

5. Tim Kennedy

Tim Kennedy is a well respected fighter.  He is also probably underrated.  Tim Kennedy is as tough as they come and he would be not only a huge talent addition to the UFC, he would be a big personality addition.

6. Robbie Lawler

The UFC veteran has found new life in Strikeforce.  Lawler is great against brawlers and strikers.  His Achilles heel is grapplers.  There are several interesting match ups for Lawler in the UFC middleweight division.

7. Josh Thomson

In my opinion, if it were not for injuries throughout his career, we could be talking about Josh Thomson as the best lightweight of all time.  Nevertheless, Thomson showed against Melendez that he can compete with anyone.

8. Jacare Souza

Jacare may be one of the best jiu jitsu guys in MMA, but he has also developed he boxing well.  Jacare is a top tiered middleweight who matches up well against a lot of the UFC guys.

9.Roger Gracie

We will have to wait and see how Roger fairs.  He is dropping to middleweight.  He has the submission pedigree to be great, but the question is his striking and his chin.  Screw it, I just want to see another Gracie back in the UFC.

10. The Prospects:  Strikeforce really has some solid prospects.  Right now Strikeforce is a great place for them to develop.  However, I am excited to see how some of them would do in the UFC eventually.  These prospects include: Derek Brunson (though I am not sure if he is still a “prospect”), Gian Villante, Guto Inocente, Ovince St. Preux, Adlan Amagov, Yancey Medeiros, Lorenz Larkin, Quinn Mulhern, Yuri Villefort, Caros Fodor and Ryan Couture.

While all the above names are the one that bring the most excitement, there are other who could make big impacts. I would be excited to see a welterweight Kazuo Misaki.  Tyron Woodley and Nate Marquardt both could be serious threats to anyone in the division.  Mike Kyle is always dangerous. Pat Healy can beat a lot of current UFC lightweights.  There are plenty of other serviceable fighters in Strikeforce such as Jason High, Danillo Villefort, Isaac Vallie-Flagg and Tarec Saffiedine.

My question really is what becomes of the Strikeforce’s women’s division?  Zuffa has been promoting the heck out of Ronda Rousey.  I think we will learn the answer to this question one day.

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Who Will Fight The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Winner?

Zuffa’s plan is for the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to fight one more fight in Strikeforce before moving to the UFC.  I am not exactly sure of the logic of that move, but that is the plan nonetheless.  The question is, who will the Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier winner fight?  I guess a lot of that depends on whether or not the winner comes away healthy.  I also would imagine that Zuffa is going to be somewhat careful picking the next opponent for the winner of the tournament.  It is risky enough for the winner to fight one more time.  If the Barnett vs. Cormier winner were to lose their “title defense” it would certainly hurt.  I also imagine that the opponent they chose may depend on who wins Saturday.  Either way I would expect that Zuffa wants the biggest name opponent that poses the least threat.

Here are a few options…

Fedor Emelianenko – This is the fight that most people will want, but it won’t happen.  Fedor’s management is still an issue for Zuffa.  The timing is also probably off as Fedor will fight in June and I would imagine that Zuffa would want to know their plan by then.  In all honesty it would be a great opportunity for Fedor, but he is too much of a threat.

Todd Duffee – Duffee is a guy that was once very promising.  I don’t know for sure, but I think he has issues.  Who knows why he was fighting Overeem at this point in his career?  Duffee is a UFC veteran who could very well be looked at for the fight.

Segei Kharitonov – Kharitonov is a top 25 ranked heavyweight who is zero threat opponent to either Cormier or Barnett (as we saw).  This won’t happen as there is obviously issues with Kharitonov wanting to do K-1.

Satoshi Ishii – Ishii was once a promising prospect, perhaps he still is.  I do have to question his managment.  He is coming off of a loss to Fedor Emelianenko (a fight he should never have fought).  However he is an olympic gold medalist in judo.  Also, Ishii had reportedly at one time signed with Strikeforce, but it evidently fell through.  Ishii maybe the right guy here.

Devin Cole – Cole is a Strikeforce veteran who the UFC did not carry over.   Cole is a solid veteran with some good wins under his belt.  However, he has fought and lost to Cormier already.  I don’t see any point in that re-match.  Maybe if Barnett wins he could be the guy, but I still doubt it.

Soa Palelei – There is some momentum to get Soa back into the UFC.  I think there is a good chance that eventually happens.  However, I don’t think he is the right type of opponent for Barnett or Cormier, but it isn’t impossible.

Jeff Monson – Monson is not a big name, but he is a decent name, a solid veteran with a credible resume.  I don’t expect this to be a reality because Monson already has career losses to Barnett and Cormier.

Tim Sylvia – There has been a serious push to get Tim Sylvia back in the UFC.  Dana White has wanted none of that.  Personally, I do not think Sylvia could hang with any of the UFC heavyweights, but he is a big name.  He also does not pose much threat to either Barnett or Cormier.  Plus, it would give him a chance and shut up those clamoring for his return.

Jared Rosholt – I like this idea, but Rosholt is too coveted of a prospect in a division where prospects do not come easily.  I also think that the target opponent will be more a veteran and than a prospect.

Rolles Gracie – This really is possible.  Rolles is a UFC veteran.  He has a big name.   He just beat Bob Sapp.  He really is very little threat to Cormier or Barnett.  Don’t be shocked if this is the opponent.

Or…Perhaps they could go with a current UFC fighter who they would cut.  Perhaps a guy like Roy Nelson if he loses at UFC 146.

Other names: (Andrei Arlovski, Mike Ciesnolevicz, Tim Hague)

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