While Zuffa has signed a wealth of talent over the past few months, they haven’t locked up every top fighter just yet, including the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. Here’s your guide to the top ten fighters that currently aren’t under contract with Zuffa (UFC/WEC) courtesy of Scott and myself…
1. Fedor Emelianenko (26-1-0-1) – The best fighter in the world, period. He has beaten a who’s who of heavyweights from around the world and is looking pretty much unstoppable at this point. The only thing we have against him is that he doesn’t fight often enough but it’s technically not his fault anyway. Both K-1 and the UFC are vigorously attempting to sign the hottest free agent on the market right now. Old rumors had him going to the UFC while the latest set has him staying in Japan. Only time will tell where Fedor is going to end up.
2. Josh Barnett (20-5) – Probably the second biggest FA on the market, Barnett hasn’t ruled out signing with any organization. He’s an extremely talented heavyweight and a former UFC Heavyweight Champion at that. Has split a pair of fights with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. His ‘Achilles’ heel’ seems to be Mirko Cro Cop - Barnett has lost to him in three straight tries. Has the skill set to beat anyone in the world. Has said that he would love to return to the US but the guy is a legend in Japan.
3. Matt Lindland (20-5) – The one fighter that the UFC should have never let go. Lindland was set to challenge Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Title until the UFC terminated his contract because of an unapproved sponsor being on his shorts. Lindland has won 5 out of 7 fights since then - his only losses have been against Quinton Jackson and Fedor who both compete in higher weight classes than “The Law”. Has said that he currently does not want to be locked up by a single organization.
4. Takanori Gomi (27-3-0-1) – Gomi was the top ranked lightweight in the world for what seemed like forever until he was submitted by both Marcus Aurelio and Nick Diaz in less than a year. His losses have come against the cream of the crop and he’s beaten just about everyone else out there. Gomi is the current PRIDE Lightweight Champion as well the winner of the PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix in 2005. He has stated that he has no interest in leaving Japan to compete at this time and has publicly said he is interested in signing with K-1.
5. Denis Kang (27-8-1-1) – Reports have Kang signing with K-1 any day now. If he does indeed ink a deal with K-1, he is expected to take on Kazushi Sakuraba in September in what could possibly be Saku’s final fight. Kang put himself on the map by fighting his way to the finals of the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix, defeating Akihiro Gono, Murilo Rua, and Amar Suloev before ultimately losing a split decision to Kazuo Misaki. He is widely considered one of the most well-rounded middleweights in the world today.
Leading mixed martial arts federation, Strikeforce, will produce a historic, first-ever mixed martial arts event at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday, September 29th. Amongst those slated for action at the home of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner are undefeated Strikeforce world lightweight (155 lb. limit) champion “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez and UFC and Pride Fighting Championship veteran Josh “The Punk” Thomson.
The 10-bout fight card will also host the return of Strikeforce world light heavyweight (205 lb. limit) champion and The Ultimate Fighter season one runner-up Bobby Southworth as well as the return of former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star and Tough Enough 2 reality show winner Daniel Puder.
Today Dream Stage Entertainment officially announced two more fights set to take place on Shockwave 2006.
The first fight announced was a lightweight battle between Gilbert Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Also announced was another lightweight bout which will feature Joachim Hansen and Shinya Aoki.
The card currently looks like this…
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mark Hunt
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Joachim Hansen vs. Shinya Aoki
Sherdog.com is reporting that Gilbert Melendez has been forced to withdraw from his bout against Shinya Aoki at the upcoming Bushido show on November 5th.
Clay French has stepped up to the plate and taken the fight on three days notice. French sports a mixed martial arts record of 8-1 and he is coming off of a loss to UFC veteran Justin James at Extreme Challenge 70.