With only four rounds remaining, the pressure is on our fantasy drafters to make every pick count and finish out their rosters. With round 19 in the books, you can take a look and see where each “promoter” is heading.
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To make a long story short, this is not a pound-for-pound top fighter list. What we’re doing is essentially pretending that every fighter in the world is suddenly declared a free agent with six new organizations selecting talent through a draft format.The idea is to see how six different fans would construct their organization and which fighters they would select to help them execute their vision. Much like real world MMA, every promoter has their different philosophy with each organization establishing its own identity.
The results to round nineteen are available below.
19.1 Adam Morgan: “Razor” Rob McCullough
Previous Picks: Georges St. Pierre (round 1), Kimbo Slice (round 2), Jake Shields (round 3), Carlos Condit (round 4), Diego Sanchez (round 5), Matt Hughes (round 6), Josh Koscheck (round 7), Shinya Aoki (round 8 ), Matt Sera (round 9), Eddie Alvarez (round 10), Ben Rothwell (round 11), Thiago Alves (round 12), Karo Parisyan (round 13), Gina Carano (round 14), Cain Velasquez (round 15), Tara LaRosa (round 16), Gray Maynard (round 17), and Wagnney Fabiano (round 18)
Analysis: McCullough adds an exciting Muay Thai fighter to my stable of lightweights and he’s held a title in a relevant promotion prior to this draft. He holds numerous Muay Thai titles as well and is not afraid to stand and bang with anyone in the class. Plus, he beat the piss out of Kit Cope so he’s good in my book. Razor helps me legitimize my division with a former world champion at lightweight and will always put on exciting fights, no matter the outcome. He’s the kind of guy that fans pay to watch, so I’m more than happy to take him at this spot.
19.2 Mike Huckaby: Jeremy Williams
Previous Picks: Chuck Liddell (round 1), Forrest Griffin (round 2) and Wanderlei Silva (round 3), Andrei Arlovski (round 4), Mirko Cro Cop (round 5), Rashad Evans (round 6), Tim Sylvia (round 7), Fabricio Werdum (round 8 ), Thiago Silva (round 9) , Seregi Kharitonov (round 10), Brian Stann (round 11), Renato Sobral (round 12), Roger Gracie (round 13), Shane Carwin (round 14), Brett Rogers (round 15), Melvin Manhoef (round 16), Semmy Schilt (round 17), and Pedro Rizzo (round 18)
Analysis: I’ll take the 42-5 former champion boxer who also owns the fastest knockout in California state boxing history. A knockout loss to current heavyweight champion Samuel Peter might have ended his serious boxing career but he’s made a big splash fighting in Hawaii for the ICON promotion. People wondered how he would handle a step up in competition from Auggie Padekan and he handled it via TKO in around two minutes. He’s older but he also has the potential to be the first true champion boxer to make a splash converting to MMA and he’ll put on the fights my fans want to see.
19.3 Ram Maramba: Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro
Previous Picks: Quinton Jackson (round 1), Randy Couture (round 2) , Urijah Faber (round 3), Keith Jardine (round 4), Kid Yamamoto (round 5), Lyoto Machida (round 6), Frank Mir (round 7), Gilbert Melendez (round 8 ), Miguel Torres (round 9), Vladimir Matyushenko (round 10), Nathan Marquardt (round 11), Joachim Hansen (round 12), Ronaldo Souza (round 13), Mark Hunt (round 14), Jon Murphy (round 15), Yoshihiro Akiyama (round 16), Ricardo Almeida (round 17), and Tatsuya Kawajiri (round 18)
Analysis: What the hell? What the hell is Morgan gonna do with a featherweight? Dammit. I swear to God, he’s reading my mind. First Aoki, then Velasquez and now Fabiano. Dammit. Dammit to hell. I was caught slacking again; I didn’t think anyone had any intention of drafting a 145er since, you know, no one else has anything resembling a featherweight division. I should’ve been more cautious about Morgan and his wild-ass, wheels off draft “strategy.” Christ, he’s shooting everything in sight.
Whew. Anyway, I’m taking Shaolin Ribeiro. The ground wizard with insane Jits has fallen off the radar to an eye injury that’s left him inactive for over eight months. It’s easy to forget what a stud Shaolin is, a guy who owns wins over T-Blood brothers Kawajiri and Ishida, Hellboy Hansen and Ivan Menjivar. Ribeiro will reportedly be returning to action soon in DREAM; I’m glad it wasn’t any sooner. A quick glance at this guy in action will make you a believer.
19.4 Matt Cava: Marcus Aurelio
Previous Picks: B.J. Penn (round 1), Anderson Silva (round 2), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (round 3), Jon Fitch (round 4), Matt Lindland (round 5), Sean Sherk (round 6), Paulo Filho (round 7), Aleksander Emelianenko (round 8 ), Nick Diaz (round 9), Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (round 10), Yushin Okami (round 11), Tyson Griffin (round 12), Chris Leben (round 13), Chael Sonnen (round 14), Jeff Monson (round 15), Demian Maia (round 16), Hermes Franca (round 17), and Alistair Overeem (round 18)
Analysis: I love the fighters that train at American Top Team. The 16-5 Marcus Aurelio has fought some of the best 155ers in PRIDE and has making an impact already in the UFC. I get to add yet another fighter to my roster that can go three rounds, win by submission or stand and trade. Readers are commenting that Wagnney Fabiano was a great pick last round, I think Maximus Aurelio in round 19 is even better.
19.5 Sam Caplan: Rafael Feijao
Previous Picks: Brock Lesnar (round 1), Fedor Emelianenko (round 2) and Josh Barnett (round 3), Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (round 4), Brandon Vera (round 5), Dan Henderson (round 6), Rich Franklin (round 7), Jason “Mayhem” Miller (round 8 ), Gabriel Gonzaga (round 9), Antonio Silva (round 10) , Robbie Lawler (round 11), Chris Horodecki (round 12), Frank Trigg (round 13), Frankie Edgar (round 14), Ricardo Arona (round 15) Jake Rosholt (round 16), Paul Daley (round 17) , and Jorge Masvidal (round 18)
Analysis: When I saw Rafael Feijao compete as a heavyweight in the IFL vs. Mauricio Cruz, I wasn’t overly impressed. But when I saw him in Miami make his debut as a light heavyweight, it was like seeing a completely different fighter. Feijao looked dominant against John Doyle, a fighter who I was familiar with from seeing fight on smaller shows in the Jersey-area. I have a lot of respect for Doyle as a competitor and had never seen him dominated… until Feijao. Feijao reminds me a lot of a young Wanderlei Silva. I wouldn’t call them clones though, as Feijao’s jiu-jitsu is much better with Silva better on the feet. But both are tough, aggressive fighters who not only want to win, they want to hurt their opponent. I really believe that Feijao has the potential to be top 10 as light heavyweight so I am very happy to have him become a part of SAMMA’s light heavyweight division.
19.6 Sam Cupitt: Vitor Belfort
Previous Picks: Frank Shamrock (round 1), Tito Ortiz (round 2), and Gesias “JZ Calvan” Calvancante (round 3), Takanori Gomi (round 4), Roger Huerta (round 5), Kenny Florian (round 6), Cung Le (round 7), Michael Bisping (round 8 ), Nate Diaz (round 9), Clay Guida (round 10), Joe Stevenson (round 11), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (round 12), Yves Edwards (round 13), Stephan Bonnar (round 14), Tim Kennedy (round 15), Nate Quarry (round 16), Mitsuhiro Ishida (round 17), and Josh Thomson (round 18)
Analysis: Feijao was on my mind for a very long time but I already have Little Nogueira so I thought they wouldn’t fight each other and my light-heavyweight division is thin enough without having two guys that won’t fight each other in it.
Now onto my pick, I will be taking Vitor Belfort. Sure, he hasn’t had a meaningful win since he lacerated Randy Couture’s eye with is glove seam and he isn’t exactly receiving Christmas cards from any Athletic Commissions after deciding to wave a drug suspension in order to fight in England. But, this is a fantasy draft and if Morgan is allowed to convince Diego Sanchez to let go of his weltweight dream and Huckaby is allowed to make match-ups for Roger Gracie rather than the other way round then I’m allowed a world in which I can send a heartfelt letter and a nice big pie to every Athletic Commission stating how Vitor was young and naive and that he won’t ever, ever do it again.
Now that that has been cleared up I can get on to why I chose “The Phenom.” For starters, Belfort has the title of “former UFC light-heavyweight champion” on his resume. Granted it wasn’t the most decisive victory and it wasn’t the most inspiring of title reigns but it is right there as the crowning achievement of his career. On top of that, Belfort has a split decision loss to Tito Ortiz and he has been very vocal about getting a rematch. With one victory, Belfort could start reminding everybody of that and before you know it we have a marketable main event. I will respectfully disagree with anyone who says they don’t want to see Vitor Belfort fight ever again. Vitor is the Mike Tyson of MMA except without the criminal record. When he is on, he is one of the most devastating fighters in the world but more often than not he won’t show that fire. But people will continue to watch him, just hoping for the glimpse of the Phenom of old.