With the UFC’s continued expansion, one thing will need to addressed (from the fans perspective): putting on fights for the viewer that have compelling and, more importantly, name combatants. The UFC could and should continue to search for the next up and coming stars from the regional circuit. However, there are a number of fighters competing internationally, racking up impressive win streaks that deserve to be tested against the mettle of the fighters already under UFC contract and in the public eye.
I've composed a list of fighters the UFC should (re)investigate for the sake of getting to showcase their talents. If the UFC is really determined to find the best fighter in the world (as well as make a buck), the fighters listed below should be able to prove they belong among the elite and earn attract some new viewers. So, here's the list of people of the UFC should take an interest in.
Soa Palelei (17-3): After a brief stint with the UFC in 2007 where he was forgettably TKO'd by Eddie Sanchez, Palelei took a 2 year hiatus from MMA and returned looking in fine form. He's won 9 of 10 fights (his one loss coming against then MMA neophyte Daniel Cormier), and he finished all of his 9 victories in that time, with 7 knockouts and 2 submissions. Those victories contained some name opponents (UFC alum Brad Morris and Pride alum Henry Armstrong Miller and Bob Sapp). He's earned his due on the regional circuit and deserves another crack at the big game.
Jan Blachowicz (16-3): This Polish fighter is the current KSW light-heavyweight champion, and is riding a 4 fight win streak. Coming off of 3 straight victories against UFC alum Houston Alexander, Mario Miranda, and Sokoudjou, and with a win over Bellator light-heavyweight champion under his belt, he's one for the UFC to keep an eye on.
Mamed Khalidov (25-4-2): After losing a decision to the man he'd just knocked out in Jorge Santiago, Khalidov returned to his streaking and finishing ways. Apart from a 3-3 start to his MMA career and the aforementioned decision loss, Khalidov has finished 24 of his 25 victories, and has been doing it against increasingly respected and dangerous opponents. His last 5 victories have come against Pride and UFC alumni, and they were all finished in the first round (a bloated James Irvin was submitted in less than 35 seconds). If the UFC doesn't get a chance to add this monstrous middleweight to their already stacked 185 division, it will be a real travesty.
Yan Cabral (10-0): As of right now, Cabral is undefeated in his mixed martial arts career, having submitted every one of his opponents. His last fight, and against his undoubtedly biggest opponent, was a dominant finish over aging Japanese fighter Kazushi Sakuraba. His preferred submission finish is the arm triangle choke, with half of his victories by way of it. An undefeated submission stylist who trains alongside UFC champs Renan Barao and Jose Aldo? That's a fighter worth looking into.
Eddie Alvarez (24-3): We all know this is a fighter the UFC has been looking at for quite some time, and with whom they are currently in negotiations with. However, with Bellator's recent decision to allow championship fight rematches, Alvarez may take a second look at his longtime home in hopes to avenge his most recent career loss to Bellator champ Michael Chandler. The UFC, if they want to snag this hot commodity, will have to work quickly and get Alvarez with a lucrative deal he can't afford to pass up. Adding him into the shark tank of 155 is every fans figurative wet dream.
Tatsuya Kawajiri (31-7-2): The longtime top ten lightweight has dropped down into the featherweight division and is currently 3-0 in his new home. While I think his chances of ruling the 145 division are slim with Jose Aldo currently breathing and alive, I would argue that he would do extremely well against any other UFC featherweight, and I'd love the UFC to prove me wrong. Kawajiri is a grinder, but more importantly to the UFC brass, he's also got finishing ability and isn't afraid to scrap. (See Gomi vs. Kawajiri for an example). Joe Silva, look into him.
Tyson Nam (12-4): The hottest prospect in the bantamweight division, Nam has a bout in the WSOF against Marlon Moraes, and should he defeat the Brazilian, he should be caught square in the UFC's cross hairs. The reason Nam is even on this list, as most of you probably know, is because of his shocking knockout of Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas. That's how you announce your free agency to the world, and the UFC should capitalize on his availability.
Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3): While Yamaguchi might have a loss in his last bout. it was to current UFC fighter Jussier Formiga who was competing for the right to fight for the UFC title. Currently ranked the #6 flyweight in the world, and rocking the meanest afro in MMA, the Japanese veteran has knockout power and formidable ground skills that have made him a fan favorite while he reigned over the Shooto promotion in Japan, and in his brief appearances at the Tachi Palace Fights stateside. The UFC should look to add the afro'd fighter to their still tiny (pun intended) flyweight division.
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