Does anyone else notice the recent influx of ex-UFC fighters to Bellator? I sure do. And while I don’t blame Bjorne for swooping up guys like Rampage Jackson and Vladimir Matyushenko, I can’t help but feel he’s being a little hypocritical in not allowing his released fighters to go the other way. *cough* Eddie Alvarez *cough*
So I put together a little list of fighters I think Dana White and Co should actively try poaching away from Bellator in the spirit of sharing. Although I think there a quite a few UFC calibre fighters in the US’s #2 org, I’m only going to focus on the top Five.
#5 Andrey Koreshkov
If you weren’t watching Bellator’s. WW tourney last year, you might have missed the rise of this undefeated Russian. From one of the toughest and most unforgiving places on the planet, Siberia, Andrey is a perfect 13-0 with finishes in all but two of his fights. He’s trained at both Reign and B.J. Penns and is set to fight for the belt at the end of July.
#4 Magomedrasul Khasbulaev
The fighter reluctantly known as Frodo clocks in as my number four. Frodo may be having the best 2013 of any fighter so far. He 3-0 this year with wins over tough veterans Marlon Sandro and Mike Richman and boasts a 21-5 record overall. He’ll be taking on Pat Curran for the 145lb title sometime this year, but win or lose, he’s shown all the skills of being a top 10 main stay for years to come.
#3 Michael Chandler
If you can’t get Eddie, get the guy that beat him. Chandler is one of only a few fighters outside the UFC that can rightfully argue top 10 status, today. He’s got a perfect 11-0 record, he comes to fight (FOTY 2011) and he’s a finisher. In short, he’s everything an organization dreams of. If Dana had the choice between Eddie or Michael, I think Alvarez may have been disappointed.
#2 Pat Curran
Paddy Mike (one of the worst nicknames since J-Lau) is a rightful top 5 Featherweight. He’s beaten a who’s who of Bellator fighters and is a no brainier signing for the UFC. He’s not known as a fast starter and he faces a very stiff test in his next title defense against the #4 Frodo, but when his contract does expire, he’ll be arguably the hottest commodity in MMA.
#1 Alexander Shlemenko
With nearly 50 wins under his belt, “Storm” has more than paid his dues. Like Melvin Manhoef, Shlemenko has been in the MMA game a long time but has never graced the Octagon. Some may point to his loss to Hector Lombard as a sign that he would wash out of the UFC, but that’s like pointing to Matt Hugh’s losses to Dennis Hallman as a sign he would never be champion. Some fighters come to the UFC through a realty tv show, others through a particular fight camp, still others get invited based off a long and arduous body of work. Shlemenko falls into the latter category and he’s earned his right to fight for a seat at the table.
So there you have it, my top 5 fighters that need to be poached. Honorable mentions go to Ben Askren, Dave Rickles, Joe Warren, and Alexander Volkov. Now tell me where I screwed up and who you’d poach.