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.
The ADCC official website announced earlier this morning that Ricardo Arona is currently being hospitalized with another round of symptoms from Dengue fever, the same illness that Arona contracted just before PRIDE 34. Because of this, Arona was forced to pull out of next weekend’s 2007 ADCC Championships.
Officials from the ADCC are currently searching for a replacement opponent for Roger Gracie, who was scheduled to fight Arona in the annual Superfight of the contest…
LOS ANGELES – ProElite.com, the comprehensive and inclusive online community for MMA fighters, fans and organizations, announced today it will bring the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club “Submission Wrestling World Championship” to a global Internet audience for the first time May 5 – 6, 2007. The live broadcast stream from the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey will begin noon EST/ 9:00 a.m. PST on both days
This ProElite.com and OntheMat.com Pay-Per-View presentation over two days will feature selected fights from over 75 male and 30 female fighters that include grappling’s cream of the crop from Brazil, Australia, France, Japan, Canada, Portugal and the United States. Visitors to ProElite.com before May 5 will be able to purchase the two-day event, unlimited viewing, for only $19.99, a $5 discount to purchasing May 5 or after.
Besides the two days of live fights, fans will be treated to bonus coverage that ranges from behind-the-scenes interviews to the pre-fight weigh-ins on May 4. Through ProElite.com’s powerful blogging tools, fans can connect to discuss the fighters and event in real time.
The featured “Super Fight,” scheduled for May 6, will have current Absolute Division winner Roger Gracie battling against Ricardo Arona, who replaced an injured Dean Lister on the card. Due to contractual obligations during ADCC 2005, Arona was unable to defend his Super Fight title against Lister and now he’s back in this epic match-up with Gracie.
According to The Fight Network, Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou (3-1) has agreed to face Ricardo Arona (13-4) at April 8’s PRIDE 34.
Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou (3-1) has agreed to face Ricardo Arona (13-4) at April 8’s PRIDE 34 “Kamikaze,” scheduled for the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, according to a source close to the Cameroon native’s Team Quest camp.
Sokoudjou shocked fight fans at PRIDE 33: Second Coming when he knocked out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 23 seconds into their battle. Sokoudjou came into the fight as a +1600 underdog and with the win he has thrown himself into the heat of the 205 lbs. division.
Ricardo Arona’s last fight came in September of 2006 when he submitted (strikes) Alistair Overeem at PRIDE: Final Conflict Absolute. Much like Nogueira, Arona should enter this fight as a heavy favorite.
Dream Stage Entertainment has announced two more fights for their Open Weight Grand Prix Final which is set to take place September 10th in Tokyo.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will be making his return to the ring for the first time since suffering a terrible injury to his arm in a fight against Mark “The Hammer” Coleman back in February. Shogun’s opponent will be Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate who sports a mixed martial arts record of 10-5-1.
Pride officials also announced a fight between Ricardo Arona and Alistair Overeem. Arona is on a two fight skid with losses to Shogun and Wanderlei Silva. Overeem is coming off of a loss Antonio Rogerio Nogueira so this fight should produce some fireworks.