The disbursement of talent is an important aspect in any type of sports. Leagues often institute rules that keep one team from hording all of the best talent. In mixed martial arts this concept is a little different, but still very important. While many viewers believe that the Ultimate Fighting Championship is home to the best talent in MMA, many quality athletes compete outside their realm and that of the other two large organizations in Bellator and Strikeforce. Here are a few names that are not currently aligned with any organization but can quickly become big names within the sport.
Robert Drysdale 2-0
Anyone who is involved with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any other form of grappling should know the name Robert Drysdale. The BJJ black belt is known for his numerous tournament victories and the big name stars that he teaches. Drysdale recently made his MMA debut this year and has since amassed a 2-0 record with both wins coming by submission in the first round. Drysdale has yet to be picked up by any of the larger organizations, but if I was Scott Coker of Strikeforce I would sign this fighter quickly. Drysdale has a long and storied rivalry with another famous grappler on Strikeforce’s roster: Roger Gracie. A Gracie versus Drysdale matchup would easy serve as a main card draw that would showcase the strategy and technique that is BJJ. Drysdale would also be a strong contender in the light heavyweight class of any other MMA promotion.
Gerald Harris 17-3
Gerald Harris has been the topic of a small controversy when he was released following his defeat at UFC 123. Before that, Harris had 10 straight victories including going 3-0 in the UFC and earning KO of the Night on two separate occasions. Those accolades could not save him from the chopping block as Dana White used Harris to send a message that pacifism in the cage will not be tolerated. Harris can make an immediate impact within any middleweight division. His explosive wrestling and powerful strikes make him a liable candidate to win KO of the Night during any competition. I believe the UFC did a disservice to Harris by releasing him the way he did, however I expect him to be back with the organization after some victories on smaller circuits.
Ben Saunders 9-3-2
In 2010, Ben Saunders went from potential welterweight contender to being released from the UFC. During that time he went 4-3 with a key victory against the tough Marcus Davis. Saunders defeats came against Mike Swick, Dennis Hallman and Jon Fitch. Saunders stepped in to face Fitch last minute at UFC 111 but was soundly defeated by the perennial welterweight contender. His August defeat at the hands of Hallman caused him to be cut from the organization. Since that time Saunders had rebounded with a win at a World Extreme Fighting event. I would like to see Saunders take part in the Bellator welterweight tournament and face off against the younger talent within that organization.
These names are just a few that highlight the list of potential stars. One spectacular victory can thrust you into the limelight of big name fights and these competitors are very close to reaching such a level.
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