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Top 15 Not in the Top 15

Vinny Craig

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A lot of the time we get caught up on who is ranked, where and why. The fact that the official UFC rankings are dictated by the media is great, and sometimes scary. We often forget about the fighters not in the top 15, fighters who still give cards that extra boost helping them to become better all-around events for us fans. These 15 fighters are the 15 you should be looking out for in 2016. Who knows, maybe these fighters will crack the top 15 of their respective divisions by years end?

Women’s Strawweight

Kailin Curran

In a young and relatively thin division, it’s hard to find a non-ranked fighter that is compelling. The young Hawaiian (just 24 years old) is just 1-2 in the UFC. On the opposite side, her two losses have come in third round finishes in which she looked good for the first two rounds. She recently grabbed her first win by way of a Rear-Naked choke, over Emily Kagan at UFC Fight Night 80, but it is yet unknown if she can continue her success. To her credit, she’s young and athletic in a division with very little stars to its name. Curran came out of her last fight unscathed so we should see her in the early part of 2016.

Women’s Bantamweight

Germain de Randamie

Women’s bantamweight, another division with limited potential outside of the top 15. Despite this, the newly signed Dutch striker is one of the few who could make some waves. In her return to the Bantamweight division, Randamie faced veteran Julie Kedzie at UFC on FOX 8. There she picked up her first Bantamweight win since 2011. After picking up a loss at Fight for the Troops 3, Randamie was out 16 months and returned to action at UFC 185 against Lauren Pacheco. The first round was tough and both fighters looked good, but ultimately Randamie ended the fight in the second round by TKO. At 31, the AKA product has a lot of fight left and could emerge a contender in 2016.

Flyweight

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Ben Nguyen

A viral video surfaced a while ago of a brazen tattooed coated champion being rude and forceful to a polite and clean cut contender at their weigh-in. The video ended with the champ knocked out cold and the polite contender left standing. That contender was Ben Nguyen, an American-born Australian native. He was picked up by the UFC in mid-2015 for a card in Adelaide, where he would prove he belonged with a first round KO with one second to spare. In another Australian card, UFC 193, Nguyen picked a second first round finish with a Rear-Naked choke over Ryan Benoit. The Taekwondo black belt is an exciting fighter who talks the talk and can walk the walk. With so many cards going ‘down under’, Nguyen should have plenty of opportunities to fight in 2016 and make a name in this loose Flyweight division.

Bantamweight

Rob Font

The Bantamweight title changed hands in Boston not too long ago, and Rob Font got another finish on the prelims in his hometown. Font has fought only twice in 18 months, but both have been finishes. A CES vet with six straight wins before joining the UFC, Font is well known in the Northeast and now all over. His exciting style and articulate interviews make him extremely likeable and a guy everyone will know. With a fight in January and needing to make up the time, it will be a busy year for Font in the UFC.

Featherweight

Doo Ho Choi

In one of the UFC’s best divisions, rising stars are created every card. ‘The Korean Superboy’ Doo Ho Choi is not just one of many in these circumstances. Before joining the UFC in late 2014, Choi was in DEEP and ended his time there with five straight KO/TKO wins. He didn’t lose stride in his UFC debut with an 18 second TKO win over Juan Puig. In his native home of South Korea, Choi fought Sam Sicilia on the main card. While it took a little longer, Choi picked up another TKO win in a minute and 33 seconds. That brought his total to 11 straight wins, nine by KO/TKO. The division is quite crowded at the top, but they may have to make room for Choi sooner rather than later

Makwan Amirkhani

Makwan-Amirkhani-Preps-for-His-Encore_536393_OpenGraphImage

Undefeated in the UFC? Check! Charismatic? Check! Just moved to one of the most notable teams in MMA? Check! If all of those apply, you must be Makwan Amirkhani. The Persian-born fighter became a sensation overnight with his eight-second TKO victory over Andy Ogle at UFC on Fox 14. He proceeded to take the mic from Joe Rogan and showed the world who he was. He would follow up his victory in Sweden with a submission win over Masio Fullen in Germany. In total; two wins and two finishes in a minute and 38 seconds of fight time. He trains with the now Featherweight Champion, Conor McGregor, in Ireland and will fight Mike Wilkinson at UFC London. With his charm and skill, Amirkhani is well worth watching on any given card.

Lightweight

Stevie Ray

In what, to me, is the UFC’s deepest divisions, a ton of non-ranked fighters are must watch this year. We start off with the Scot Stevie Ray who is 3-0 in the UFC. Mainly a European card guy, 2016 should be a busy year with a lot of cards happening over seas from the UFC’s main land. Ray has finishes over Marcin Bandel and Leonardo Mafra along with a decision win over Mickael Lebout at UFC Dublin. At just 25, Ray has already tasted MMA gold with the Cage Warriors Lightweight belt. The young Scot can’t take over Europe with the little Irish dude running around, but he’ll come close in 2016.

Paul Felder

A little over one year ago we saw what some thought might be the knockout of the year when Paul Felder landed a spinning back fist on Danny Castillo. One year later, that guy is 1-2 since then and is coming off of his first ever submission win of his career. After dropping two straight to Edson Barboza and Ross Pearson, a little lighter match up with Daron Cruickshank gave Felder a more even bout. The two scrapped for two rounds, with the rounds likely split going into the third. Felder went all out and eventually got the Rear-Naked choke. With another win under his belt, the ferocious Philadelphia native will look to make a statement in 2016. He should continue to get tougher match ups as he keeps winning fights.

Rashid Magomedov

The Degestan express is here! With big names like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Ali Bagautinov also from the same small area in Russia, the talent is rich in combat sports. Magomedov is no different with four straight UFC wins and 12 straight in his career. While the style may not be all that exciting for finish connoisseurs, it is very effective for winning a fight. Fighting at Lightweight for the first time in his career, the young Dargin seems to be adapting to well to more skilled fighters and a drastic weight cut. One more win, maybe over a ranked opponent, could see ‘Highlander’ in the UFC rankings.

Sage Northcutt

Sage Northcutt

Sage Northcutt

Another train rolling through! All aboard the Northcutt hype train! The young phenom who was first seen on Dana White’s Looking for a Fight, the freakishly gifted Northcutt has made the most oh his chance. He has two wins in under four months of being with the UFC. He has two finishes and is taking the next step in his career with a main card slot on FOX. He’ll face fellow undefeated prospect Andrew Holbrook at UFC on FOX 18 in Newark on January 30. If he continues his pace, Northcutt will be headlining Fight Pass cards in 2016.

Welterweight

Tim Breese

The former BAMMA standout has needed just under two full rounds in the UFC to pick up his two TKO wins. The Englishmen joined the UFC in May with a TKO over Luiz Dutra Jr. in Brazil. The Birmingham-born made his way back to the UK for his last fight with Cathal Pendred at UFC Dublin. After breaking the nose of Pendred, he broke his spirit as well later in the first round for another TKO win. With nine straight career finishes, in a market that needs some excitement, Breese should have no problem finding big fights and looking good. His year starts at UFC London against Keita Nakamura.

Warlley Alves

The former TUF Brazil 3 winner has excelled one weight class down. After beating Marcio Alexandre Jr. in the fianl, Alves went back to his natural weight class of 170. Since that point we have seen three straight wins and the last two coming by way of Guillotine. With wins over Alan Jouban, Nordine Taleb and Colby Covington in his last three, Alves is well on his way for main card slots and bigger names.

Middleweight

Sam Alvey

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In one of the most talent-rich divisions in the UFC, Sam Alvey stands out as one the top of the outsiders looking in. His last fight came in October with a TKO loss to now ranked Derek Brunson in Nashville. A win there would have pushed Alvey into the top 15. Before the loss, ‘Smile’ N’ Sam was on a three-fight KO streak over Dylan Andrews, Cezar Ferreira and Dan Kelly. Sam was expected to fight at UFC Pittsburgh next month, but suffered a broken jaw in training and was pulled from the fight

Light Heavyweight

Tom Lawlor

With many legendary names holding down-ranked positions, Tom Lawlor’s move to 205 will have to see immediate results. He did just that with a KO of top 15 guy Gian Villante at UFC on Fox 16. Lawlor had formerly fought at Light Heavyweight for TUF where he lost in the opening round to eventual winner Ryan Bader. Lawler will face a ranked opponent in Corey Andrews at UFC 196 with a chance to gain his spot among the 205’s top 15

Heavyweight

Ruslan Magomedov

No, you’re not seeing double! Ruslan Magomedov is a Heavyweight while Rashid Magomedov is a Lightweight. Ruslan has impressed as of late in a bogged down Heavyweight division. With nine straight wins in MMA competition, including two over former UFC champs Ricco Rodriguez and Tim Sylvia, Magomedov belongs in the UFC’s best. Three straight UFC wins have put him in bigger and bigger fights as we go. At just 29, and with the Heavyweight division getting older, Magomedov could be at the top at some point in his career. He fights former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC Zagreb.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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2017 IMMAF World Championships: Finals fixtures

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After 4 days of non stop action from Monday to Thursday we have our final 14 bouts to determine the 2017 IMMAF World Champions. Most of these fighters have fought four times for their slot  in the final and tomorrow will be their chance to finish off what has been a fantastic week of fights.

Kicking off the action tomorrow will be Michele Oliveira vs. Danni Neilan. Both women have looked extremely impressive in their bouts so far, Oliveira has spent less time in the cage than her opponent after finishing two of her fights. Neilan is the Irish teams last chance of a gold in this competition and comes into this after a war of a last fight. She is constantly pressuring and has solid striking with incredible ground and pound from any position on top.

Joel Aronlainen came down to featherweight after testing the water at lightweight in the European Championships. His lanky build and impressive overall skill set has seen him pick up 3 finishes in the competition so far. His opponent Delyan Georgiev is undefeated and will be a tough challenge for him. Georgiev has dominated the featherweight division at amateur, his gold medal at the European Championships could now lead to him becoming a world champion if he continues to perform like we’re used to seeing him do.

At 155lbs, Vitali Andruhovich will take on top American prospect Quintin Thomas for the gold. Andruhovich has been on the right side of two very close split decisions in this tournament so far. His controversial win over Irishman Ciaran Clarke had many people scratching their heads at the decision. He now has the chance to prove himself with a win against Quintin Thomas. Thomas is the UMMAF National Champion and a very experienced amateur fighter. Racking up 13 wins he has been a dominant fighter in most of his fights, his sole losses coming from sustaining an injury and a split decision loss.

For the Middleweight medal we have a battle of the Nordic fighters. Iceland’s Bjorn Lukas Haraldsson has looked phenomenal in his fights so far, finishing each and everyone inside a round. The Mjolnir fighter has been to many the highlight of the tournament, but has a tough task a head of him in Laallam who’s had half the number of fights in this tournament and looked impressive in both.

Bahrain’s last hope for a medal lies in the hand of Light Heavyweight finisher Murtaza Talha Ali. Ali has finished all four of his bouts so far, 3 via TKO/KO and his last being by way of submission. Standing in his way of gold will be Pavel Pahomenko from Belarus who’s proven to be lethal with submissions once an opportunity arises scoring two submission wins inside the first round.

Here is the full fixture list for the finals tomorrow:

  • Michele Oliveira  vs.  Danni Neilan 125 lbs
  • Anna Astvik  vs.  Hannah Dawson 115 lbs
  • Chamia Chabbi  vs.  Manon Fiorot 135 lbs
  • C. McCrudden  vs.  Fabiana Giampà 145 lbs
  • Gase Sanita  vs.  Kaycee Blake 155 lbs
  • Yernaz Mussabek  vs.  Serdar Atlas 125 lbs
  • Gamzat Magomedov  vs.  O. Moldagaliyev 135 lbs
  • Joel Arolainen  vs.  Delyan Georgiev 145 lbs
  • V. Andruhovich  vs.  Quitin Thomas 155 lbs
  • Sola Axel  vs.  Benjamin Bennett 170 lbs
  • B. Haraldsson  vs.  Khaled Laallam 185 lbs
  • Pavel Pahomenko  vs.  Murtaza Talha Ali 205 lbs
  • Irman Smajic  vs.  Lev Vins 265 lbs
  • Atanas Krastanov  vs.  Marcin Kalata 300 lbs
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Why It’s Time to Cherish Michael Bisping and Stop the Hate

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Ever since the Ultimate Fighter 3, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping has been one of the most hated fighters on the UFC roster. Since he was painted as the big bad Brit against the American hero Dan Henderson, Bisping has been the villain. He has played up to the reputation of being one of the biggest heels in the UFC, with his arrogance, trash talk and often disrespectful attitude.

But nothing has summed up Michael Bisping more than the events of this past week. After losing his Middleweight Championship to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 217, no one would blame Bisping for wanting a few months on the couch whilst sinking a few beers before retiring at UFC London in March.

After hearing that Anderson Silva had tested positive for a banned substance, it was announced that Bisping would fill in for Silva to face Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai. A fight that nobody else would have wanted. A fight that he has less than three weeks to prepare for.

The fight does nothing for Bisping. Gastelum is a rising, rejuvenated contender and Bisping knows he can not take him lightly. But he’s also seven places below him in the rankings. Although, this doesn’t matter anymore as Bisping has announced this will be his second to last fight ever before hanging up his gloves.

Nothing sums Bisping up better than his comment on Gastelum’s Instagram post “See you in China. Loser buys the beers”.

He sounds relaxed. Perhaps he’s enjoying his last two fights and is at peace with his impending retirement.

In an era all about money, fighters like Bisping are rare and hard to come by. Fighters that only care about one thing, fighting.

Sure, his title reign wasn’t the best. But the UFC offered him the Henderson fight, to bring back some feeling of nostalgia that has been missing in the modern times of the UFC. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to face one of the greatest ever in GSP.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 17: Michael Bisping of England steps on the scale during the UFC weigh-in inside the SSE Hydro on July 17, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It’s easy to forget amongst all the trash talk that Bisping has always played by the rules, and been anti PEDs during a time when a majority of the roster was using some form of performance enhancers. Fighting PED users has given Bisping most of his losses and has even led to him losing sight in one of his eyes.

Most of Bisping’s outrageous acts, have been him using a ‘pro wrestling’ act in order to hype up his fights and put bums in seats. That isn’t an excuse for some of his obnoxious behaviour. But when he’s not in the zone, it’s clear to see what a respectful and humble man he is. Like his moment after UFC 217, where he approached Cody Garbrandt to tell him how proud he was of him, or his post fight respect for Anderson Silva, where they both bowed on their knees to one another.

This is me and Anderson exchanging respect while being attended to by the doctors.

A post shared by Mikebisping (@mikebisping) on

The truth is, Bisping is an incredible ambassador of the sport and one of the pioneers across the pond.

Bisping should be remembered and appreciated as the workhorse warrior who brought absolutely everything he had to the cage every time he fought. He always comes to fight, whether it’s three weeks notice or more. He’s simply tough as hell.

Believe you me Michael Bisping is a true old school legend of this sport and should be cherished whilst we still have him, cause we will miss him when he’s gone.

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